2007 Research Fair - English Abstracts
As our world becomes increasingly international and cosmopolitan, the mixed race individual has become more universally accepted. However, problems of cultural and racial identification remain evident in American society. My project focuses on the mixed race character in American literature in the years following the Civil War -- giving special attention to the complex identities, and hidden identities, of these individuals. A close reading of Mark Twain's novel Puddn’head Wilson will highlight these complexities as developed through a deconstructionist critique of the mixed race characters – from naïve child to malicious devil to hyper-sexualized temptress. Using examples from Faulkner and other modern authors, I will discuss the cultural preoccupations with mixed race characters evident in later American literature and their continued presence in contemporary society.
"It's Just a Little Misunderstanding":
Though the Beats were not influenced by the fear of McCarthyism or felt the pressure to conform, they were not autonomous. Different artistic discourses interact and are determined by other discourses. As such, the literature of the Beats did not exist separately, but was affected by the discourse of Jazz music. Though many think that the structure of Beat literature in works such as On the Road by Jack Kerouac may have imitated and paralleled the structure of Bebop Jazz, in truth, the writing of Jack Kerouac in On the Road is not a serious adaptation of the content and forms of Jazz. Jazz music may have empowered the Beat writers, but they seriously misunderstood, romanticized, and simplified the significance of Jazz music and its importance. Rather than a novel whose form and content has been distinctively shaped by the discourse of Jazz, On the Road is simply unique stream of consciousness novel that widens the possibility of fictional material to include Jazz musicians.
Student Editors evaluate thousands of submissions--poetry, prose, and visual art--from all over the country (and sometimes, world) to produce a highly professional literary magazine. In this panel discussion, this year's editors discuss the criteria they use to evaluate submissions, and more generally, what they have learned about publishing and writing from this experience.