|Friday, April 15th|
9:00 AM - 9:20 AM
This project closely examines Seamus Heaney’s translation of the Anglo Saxon epic, “Beowulf.” Its purpose is not to understand the poem in its pre-modern context, but to know it as a work of psychological, culturally interpretive “post” art. It aims to understand Heaney’s Beowulf as its own form of production independent of the medieval original via close analysis of influence in the realm of politic, culture, and linguistics, proposing answers to such rhetorical questions as “How does the Beowulf poem speak to its Irish producer/interpreter,” and “To what extent has the Irish condition influenced Heaney in his interpretive translation of Beowulf?” By nature, the project explores the modern history and direction of Irish literature, extrapolating the cultural history that produced it, and veers toward understanding a tension-laced culture. Therefore, the conclusion of this project offers an in-depth way of understanding how the Irish speaks to the Beowulf poem, and how the Beowulf poem speaks to the Irish.
9:20 AM - 9:40 AM
James Joyce had not yet begun his most productive years of writing when he first became acquainted with the work of the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, a man whose deep skepticism about the traditional views of life and the world likely spoke to some of the young and aspiring writer’s concerns and experiences. By the time Joyce started to write his epic novel, Ulysses, he possessed a well-developed and nuanced grasp of several fundamental dimensions of Nietzsche’s thought: not only did he understand the concepts of the “death of God,” the Ubërmensch, and the eternal recurrence, but he grasped both the way that they fit together in Nietzsche’s philosophy and their larger implications. It should not be surprising, then, that these ideas find their way into Joyce’s novel. In this presentation I will introduce and discuss a final research paper that illuminates the role that Nietzsche’s thought plays in Joyce’s Ulysses and argues for the value of reading Ulysses through a Nietzschean interpretive frame. Specifically, I will discuss the ways in which Nietzsche’s ideas contribute to a new understanding of the novel’s main characters, and how this understanding helps provide us with a better sense of the novel as a whole.
9:40 AM - 10:00 AM
The playwrights of Europe contributed immensely to the flowering of cultural and artistic expression that marked the Renaissance. The most famous of these men is William Shakespeare, but his contemporary, the prolific Spanish author Pedro Calderón de la Barca, similarly lives on as one of the masters of the Spanish language. A multi-faceted man of many talents and interests, Calderón de la Barca was a Catholic priest, writer, poet, and dramatist. His work largely defined the Baroque era of Spanish comedia (theatre), a cultural phenomenon in which many aspects of Spanish society were reflected. A strictly hierarchical, highly Catholic country, rules for the theatre were just as strict as those for the rest of society. Shakespeare, meanwhile, lived in a relatively more open culture that permitted a more liberal writing style.
This study is composed of a literary analysis from a historian’s perspective of the overlapping and differing influences on the work of these two great men. In particular, I examine the function of dreams and fantasy in their work in an attempt to decipher the ways in which their separate social conditions determined the use of an alternative reality within their plays. Specifically, I concentrate on Calderón de la Barca’s famous La Vida es Sueño (Life is a Dream) and Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Side by side, it becomes easy to see the different functions that fantasy and dreams serve in their work, but also the different functions that plays and literature served within their separate societies.
10:00 AM - 10:20 AM
Critics such as Harold Bloom, John Pennington, Abanes and Arms have criticized the Harry Potter books for being immoral, infantile, destroying the genre of ‘high fantasy’ and being over simplistic. I argue these points with the help of scholars Gupta, Lurie and Falconer in hopes of proving that the Harry Potter is much more than a simplistic, infantile ‘low-fantasy’; rather, Rowling creates an extremely complex world with a mix of classic mythology and her own inventions which invokes very adult power dynamics. Throughout the seven Harry Potter novels, the Good and Evil binary so firmly established in the first novel gives way to a much more complex, multi-facet world of power relations. The dynamic then becomes about the balance of power, rather than the difference between good and evil. This shift between the early books’ “Good vs. Evil” giving way to the conflict between the balance of power is one of the many things which sets the Harry Potter novels apart from other Children and YA novels, as these genres generally simplify conflicts in order to prevent children from becoming confused or distressed. This play of the balance of power, both within and outside of the human soul, is what I will discuss—the allure of power, as well as the power of fear, the power of deception and the distrust it fosters and the power of love—and from these power dynamics I will discuss the true “magic” of Harry Potter.
10:20 AM - 10:40 AM
Objectivity, although a relatively modern concept in American journalism, has become the standard by which reporters operate in the democratic arena. Along with fairness and balance, it guides journalists in their pursuit of truth. The press began to embrace the idea of objectivity in the middle of the nineteenth century in an attempt to shuck both its partisan past and broad reliance on political parties. Instead of a zealous advocate and ally of the parties, it became a neutral and independent medium of communication, though still retaining its role on editorial pages as an opinion leader. Now, the common practice of today’s press is to sift through the facts to present news that is both accurate and objective without letting bias seep into coverage. Through the in-depth examination of candidates and prominent issues in editorials, news organizations are better able to engage readers, stimulate discussion and pontificate on politics. Nonetheless, while newspaper editorial pages still voice the paper’s political preferences, fewer papers today choose to endorse political candidates. This presentation will document my analysis, as chronicled in a comprehensive and well-documented research paper, of political endorsements as a means in which media outlets can participate in public affairs. By looking at the transition of the American press from a political party instrument to an autonomous disseminator of ideas and information, I argue that today’s endorsements, although subtle vestiges of nineteenth century partisanship, spur public discourse and help readers navigate the sea of political hype and propaganda endemic in contemporary campaigns.
10:40 AM - 11:00 AM
Dennis Rader is a convicted serial killer. In 2005, he pleaded guilty to killing ten people from to 1991 in the Wichita, Kansas area. He gave himself the name “BTK,” which stands for “Blind Torture Kill.”
Throughout his killing career, Rader was in contact with both the police and the media. He delivered cryptic packages and notes with graphic details about his killings to the local news outlets. Such packages and information could provide valuable clues to the police in order to help track down the killer. In fact, information gathered from Rader's communication led to his identification and eventual conviction. However, the American media is supposed to serve as a watchdog, independent from the government and law enforcement. The media's relinquishment of information to the police and compliance with law enforcement could damage the media's ability to remain autonomous.
I want to use the case of Dennis Rader to explore the ethical implications of the media sharing information with the police, if and when it is acceptable, and any potential ramifications of those actions. I plan to research this topic in order to write a research paper of approximately four pages and prepare a class presentation lasting approximately 25 minutes. I will condense my presentation in order to present it at UMCUR.