Oral Presentations: UC 330


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Friday, April 15th
9:00 AM

Ruskis in Hollywood

Miriam Krainacker, University of Montana, Missoula

9:00 AM - 9:20 AM

The start of the Cold War saw a change in both US international policy and American cinematic content. There was a sudden rise of Russians as the enemy, a trend which continues until this day. Despite a plethora of countries, American films again and again rely on Russian caricatures to fill their villainous roles. The rare difference in Hollywood stereotypes comes from American television, in which Russians are occasionally developed beyond simple villains or one-note characters. The demonization of Russians can be contributed to the forever-tense relationships between America and Russia, which date back to the Cold War, as well as the lack of racial tension that can arise from such a depiction. While the depiction of other countries (such as China, Iran, etc.) has elicited criticism on the basis of racism, the whiteness of the Russian population and the internalized hatred between the US and former USSR prevents such kind of protests.

9:20 AM

Ludmila Petrushevskaya’s The Time: Night: The Theme of the Unfit Mother in Post-Soviet Russia

Rebekah Wech, University of Montana, Missoula

9:20 AM - 9:40 AM

Post-Soviet Russia was a nation gripped by uncertainty, as profound political, economic, and social changes ensued. One such change was a dramatic increase in the instances of mothers who conceived out of wedlock. Research conducted in the late 1990's showed that this jump in birth rates to unwed mothers was largely comprised of undereducated, impoverished, and often teenage women who were fully reliant on family members. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, a strained and unpleasant image of motherhood began to surface in Russia’s great literary tradition, which was in stark contrast to male-authored depictions of motherhood in years prior. I argue that in observation of the disparity between the male-authored portrayal of Russian motherhood and reality, the theme of the bad mother emerges in the works of female writers.

This paper focuses specifically on one text: Ludmilla Petrushevskaya’s The Time: Night which I propose is a plausible microcosm of reality.The novella tells the story of one family through the delusional prose of elderly Anna Andrianovna: struggling poet, single mother, and grandmother. In my analysis of The Time: Night I examine the relationships that Anna maintains with each of her family members, and show that each of them is wrought with realistically gendered problems that manifest themselves in an endless cycle of chaos and despair. I show that Petrushevskaya is using the theme of the ultimate unfit mother in this fictional tale to comment on both patriarchal constructions of motherhood, and on the idea that woman must be synonymous with dutiful wife and loving mother. I argue that Petrushevskaya conveys that reality can vary greatly from this idea, as the experience of many mothers in contemporary Russia was instead marked by poverty and discrimination.

9:40 AM

Introspection and Realization in the Parallel Lives of Gautama Buddha and Saint Augustine

Charlotte E. Westwater Ms., University of Montana

9:40 AM - 10:00 AM

Gautama Buddha and Saint Augustine: two men born centuries and worlds apart, whose parallel lives tell the story of man’s struggle to find meaning in his own life, and to understand himself in terms of the divine. Some time in the middle of the first millennium BCE, the bodhisattva who would become Gautama Buddha took his final birth in the Himalayan foothills of present-day Nepal. Born a prince of the warrior caste and destined for enlightenment, the bodhisattva would escape the world of privilege and excess, before renouncing his titles and possessions and enduring much mortification on his path to Buddhahood. Many centuries later, in 354 CE, a man was born in Numidia, present-day Algeria, whom the world would come to know as Saint Augustine. Born to a Christian mother and a pagan father, Augustine’s life was that of a man in conscientious pursuit of justification, emerging from a youth of misguided hedonism, only to endure many trials on his path to piety and an intimate relationship with God.

Though separated by many years and miles, the extraordinary lives of Gautama Buddha and Saint Augustine bear a striking resemblance to one another. The lives of men like Gautama Buddha and Saint Augustine have often and long since provided insight for those in search of a deeper understanding of themselves and the divine. By examining the lives of these two men side by side, this work attempts to shed light on the fascinating phenomenon of two such polarizing individuals emerging completely independently of one another, yet following very much the same path of self-examination to their respective realizations. What is ultimately gained from this dual examination is not simply a message of enlightenment or conversion, but rather an indisputable assertion of the universal and immeasurable importance of introspection.

10:00 AM

Stigmatization: The Effect of the Montana Meth Project on People Who Use Methamphetamine

Sophia Friedl, University of Montana, Missoula

10:00 AM - 10:20 AM

Virtually all Montanans are familiar with the Montana Meth Project, but few know the effects of this project on the people who actually use methamphetamine. In order to make a full report of the impacts of the Montana Meth Project, the perspectives of people who use meth need to be taken into account. Because people who use meth are stigmatized, their points of view are often considered less important than the “average” citizen. This project aims to discover the effects of the Meth Project on people who use meth through an in-depth interview process. These interviews will be conducted with people who used meth before the Project was implemented in 2005, and who used meth until at least 2008, after the brunt of the Project’s advertising took place. This will ensure that we capture perspectives before and after the Project, making estimating the effect of the Meth Project more realistic. In stigmatization literature, few papers are focused on the perspective of the stigmatized; most come from the privileged point of view of the stigmatizer. This report will be focused solely on the stigmatized, making it somewhat unique in the field. Additionally, the research conducted by the Montana Meth Project focuses entirely on the perspectives of meth use of students aged 12-17. Their research does not cover adults or actual meth users, a large gap in the literature that this project hopes to fill. This project will inform future steps that the Project takes to reduce methamphetamine use in any upcoming projects, allowing them to take the most effective, least stigmatizing method.

10:40 AM

Globalization and Small Farmers in Latin America: Effects and Adaptations

Hope Radford, University of Montana, Missoula

10:40 AM - 11:00 AM

The intersection of agriculture and international development is an increasingly important topic with critical implications for environmental sustainability and poverty relief. As the world becomes more interconnected, it is essential that we examine how and to what extent changing consumer demands and open trade networks affect the structure of agriculture in both the developed and developing world. In particular, we must examine the implications of these changes for small farmers, providing insight as to whether the globalized food trade offers an opportunity for development and poverty relief, or only further marginalizes poor populations and encourages unsustainable farming practices. Argentina and Chile are key examples of countries whose agriculture sectors have rapidly industrialized in response to globalization, and both offer insight into how structural changes may be affecting small farmers. Previous research on the topic has relied primarily on aggregate data or survey-based research methods and has focused primarily on effects rather than responses or adaptations to these changes. This study utilizes an ethnographic case study of eight small farms in Argentina and Chile, offering a less expansive but more nuanced insight into small farmers’ experiences and responses to globalization. Though results varied, farmers' main adaptations were 1) stepping out of agriculture or otherwise diversifying both on and off-farm income or 2) establishing new models of sale that provide greater income stability.

1:40 PM

You Better Wise Up, Janet Weiss: Reclaiming the Queerness of The Rocky Horror Picture Show

dac a. cederberg, university of montana

1:40 PM - 2:00 PM

One could hardly imagine anything queerer than the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Four decades after its release, Rocky remains a primary method of introduction into the queer community, and to the idea that not everyone expresses sexuality and gender in the same way. Yet, a disturbingly large portion of academic work on the film aims to reduce it to a merely Saturnalian ritual, erasing its queer impact and dubbing it instead some kind of coming-of-age story for heterosexual teenagers. This is a strange misreading. Rocky Horror is not merely queer in its means; it is deeply queer in its ends as well. The purpose of my paper and subsequent UMCUR presentation will be to explore the queerness of Rocky Horror, and ultimately demonstrate that it, as a piece of fiction, does not allow for a return to normalcy, but represents a watershed moment in queer representation and interpretation in fiction. This piece is a continuation of the research I have done in my Literary Criticism course last semester.

The methods I employed to carry out this project were to conduct research and develop an argument based around the literary lens of Queer Theory, especially relating to David Halperin’s quote “Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant.” I employed close reading to many scenes throughout the film, with particular emphasis on the final "floor show" scene. I also paid particular attention to the character of Dr. Frank N Furter, as he is especially maligned by previous critics. My approach is original in that there is a lack of academic writing on the subject employing modern queer theory. My project is significant because it represents a modern interpretation of a culturally and socially significant film.

2:00 PM

Classifying Abnormal Network Captures with Early Response: Artificial Intelligence Defense Systems

Alaina Brown, University of Montana, Missoula

2:00 PM - 2:20 PM

Society is steadily being confronted with an increasing number of issues which bring the concept of security into question. Cyberwarfare is an important issue for our generation, and as humanity progresses towards the development of programs and algorithms that utilize artificial intelligence, it is imperative to incorporate machine learning algorithms into our intrusion detection systems. Artificial intelligence can be used to minimize the human element, which is often the weakest portion of a system, in many different situations.

This study will test the accuracy and efficiency of using multiple different machine learning algorithms to analyze sets of normal and abnormal network traffic and predict the likeliness that any particular instance of activity on a network is a malicious intruder. I will be comparing the results from a few machine learning algorithms and finding which algorithm has the most efficiency, and then comparing this to the efficiency of human monitoring.

This research will help contribute to the field of Cybersecurity by displaying how artificial intelligence could be used to increase security for nearly any network or system and help propel the combination of the Artificial Intelligence and Cybersecurity fields into the future. I will be comparing my findings to human monitoring.

2:20 PM

Technology and the Impoverishment of Experience: An Insight Through Marcuse and Heidegger

Brenna Gradus, University of Montana, Missoula

2:20 PM - 2:40 PM

The influence of technology in contemporary society is increasingly pervasive. While humankind reaps the benefits technology has to offer, these benefits do not come without costs. These costs manifest themselves in phenomena such as ecological destruction and invasions of privacy through surveillance, to name a few. Often these costs are neither articulated nor addressed. Technology, from the Industrial Revolution to the Information Age, has reestablished the way in which we orient ourselves in our world. In doing so it has, in many cases lowered our standard of human experience, thus creating an impoverishment of human experience itself. Both Martin Heidegger and Herbert Marcuse are amongst those who have articulated the ways in which technology impoverishes human experience. Heidegger and Marcuse both pose means by which society might emancipate itself from these negative consequences.

4:00 PM

Missoula’s Homeless Children: Effects of Homelessness on Mental, Emotional and Social Health

Sarah L. Shapiro, University of Montana

4:00 PM - 4:20 PM

The mental, emotional, and social health of children are greatly affected by being homeless. Being homeless as a child could effect a person’s coping skills and lead to mental health issues that increase the likelihood of substance abuse , suicide attempts, or adult homelessness. The purpose of this research project is to explore the negative effects of homelessness on Missoula children, and to identify services that could be useful in combating those effects. Methods for this project, included two data collection strategies. First, a literature review was completed for the purpose of enhancing understanding about the effects of homeless on children nationwide. Second, key informant interviews were conducted with individuals in Missoula for the purpose of exploring the differences and similarities between issues identified in the literature and issues specific to children in Missoula. The population of homeless families in Missoula is growing faster than any other homeless population in the United States. When looking at the multitude of health issues children face because of homelessness, and the long-term results of homelessness, early interventions are vital. With such a large number of homeless children in Missoula, it is vitally important to find effective interventions to put in place to help prevent future health issues.

4:20 PM

Euripides' Medea Revisited: Athenian democracy and the Peloponnesian War

Ian Siepker, University of Montana, Missoula

4:20 PM - 4:40 PM

For a number of years, Euripides' Medea has been explored predominantly by feminist approaches, highlighting woman’s struggle in ancient Greek society (Rabinowitz, 1993, Mitchell-Boyask 2008). In contrast, this proposed paper is concerned with the question of how Medea’s final act of infanticide squares with the Athenian male’s anxieties surrounding the preservation of the oikos (household) and, by extension, the dawning war with Sparta during the time of the tragedy's performance.

By looking at Medea from a historical-sociological angle, this proposed paper will argue that Euripides'tragedy mirrors the neurosis as well as blind hubris spawned by Athenian democracy. Medea then can be seen as a parable through which Euripides attempts to warn the Athenian public that their unjust dealings with their former ally, Sparta, could deal them a devastating blow akin to the blow dealt by Medea unto Jason. The major points of my argumentation will include, among others, a contextualization of the historical and political situation in Athens in 431 BC, i.e., in the year in which the tragedy was performed; a close analysis of how Medea’s societal status is defined and re-defined throughout the play; and a discussion as to how Jason's disregard for Medea’s former deeds and sacrifices provides an analogy as well as a haunting image for the injustice that ruled Athens' increasingly self-interested interactions with Sparta. Just as Athens' desire to build an empire led to the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War and ultimately to the demise of the great city-state, so Jason’s betrayal of Medea resulted in the loss of his own.

While this socio-historical reading of Medea opens up a new field of investigation for the study of ancient Greek tragedy, it also offers an approach that gives new impulses for the study of the humanities in general.

4:40 PM

Rethinking Leibniz' Infinitesimals

Jonathan Bush, University of Montana, Missoula

4:40 PM - 5:00 PM

Newton and Gottfried Leibniz both used infinitesimals—numbers which are nonzero, yet smaller in magnitude than any real number—in the early 1700s to describe instantaneous rates of change in their developments of calculus. However, they were unable to provide a rigorous foundation for the existence of these quantities, and mathematicians instead began to embrace the now-ubiquitous epsilon-delta approach to the foundations of calculus, avoiding the notion of infinitesimal numbers altogether. However, in the 1960s, Abraham Robinson finally provided these foundations through what he called “non-standard analysis,” and his work provides an extension of the real numbers to include both infinitesimal and infinite quantities: the so-called system of hyperreal numbers. My project is to reconsider the standard construction of hyperreal numbers using a relatively new approach to set theory, which is based on W. F. Lawvere's “Elementary Theory of the Category of Sets.” This approach places emphasis on sets and functions between them, rather than on sets and the notion of elementhood as in a traditional set theory, such as that of Zermelo-Fraenkel. This shift in perspective is prompted by the fact that the axioms of a function-based set theory are thought to be more intuitive and accessible to an undergraduate who is encountering foundational mathematics for the first time. During my presentation, we will consider constructions of familiar number systems, e.g., the integers, and conclude with a construction of hyperreal numbers, beginning from the axioms of this function-based set theory. We will see that the elements of these number systems may be regarded as equivalence classes of functions, and we will consider the role of the Axiom of Choice in the construction of these hyperreals.