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Honors Research Projects Tackle 'The Body'

April 24, 2014
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Tattoos, the Islamic veil, and representations of cyborgs and the paralyzed in films were just a few of the subjects of student research presented at the annual Honors Conference Day on Thursday, April 24.

This year, students in the Junior Honors Colloquium focused on "The Body," led by Dr. Susan Canning, Professor of Art. The colloquium, a requirement for the Honors diploma, is a two-semester reading and research sequence with rotating subjects.

"In recent years, the Body has become the site of cultural discourse," Canning said, defining and articulating "the ways society defines relationships, controls ideas, and promotes dominant values."

The students brought their poster presentations to Sweeny Student Center, where faculty, staff, and fellow students discussed their research.

Magdalena Fin SAS'15, an Art Education major, explored the idea of the Islamic veil as a means of covering the body, "and what that entails in terms of protection, and personal beliefs." She began with the assumption that the veil allows women to avoid harassment, and to be judged for who they are instead of their appearance. Fin also examined the "Western obsession with bodies," and how that relates to Islam.

Sporting her own tattoos, Amanda Hernandez SAS'15, an Art and Biology major, presented on the idea of body ink "as a way of navigating one's life and body through society." Her research examined tattooing as an art form, its history, and how its perception has changed over time.

The presentation by Psychology major Rashaa Parker SAS'15 examined the theory that representations of cyborgs in films and other media are an analogy for the "queer body."

The norm is characterized as a white, heterosexual, upper-class, educated, and able-bodied male, which means that "everything existing outside of this description would have been perceived as 'other' or queer," Parker said.

The complete list of research projects coming out of the Junior Honors Colloquium:

"Potential Effects of the Declaration of the Human Rights of a Child on Vulnerable Populations," by Symone White SAS'15, Psychology. Mentor: Dr. Anne Ferrari
"The Islamic Veil: Re-defining Female Empowerment Through Erasure of the Body," by Magdalena Fin SAS'15, Art Education. Mentor: Dr. Erica Olson-Bang
"The Social, Political, and Biological Interpretations of HIV/AIDS in American Society," by Shacelles Bonner SAS'15, Biology and Chemistry. Mentor: Dr. Melanie Harasym
"Subcultural Style as a Means of Deconstructing Gender Definition," by Lee-Anne Daley SAS'15, Biology. Mentor: Dr. Amy Bass
"Inverting Abled-Bodyness by Analyzing Paraplegic and Paralyzed Bodies in Film," by Ramya Bharathi SAS'14, Biology. Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Scuro
"Gender Bias of Body Positivity in the Media," by Miranda Polat SAS'15, Women's Studies and Communication Arts. Mentor: Dr. Roblyn Rawlins
"The Immigrant Body," by Catherine Santivanez SAS'14, Art Studio. Mentor: Dr. Susan Canning
"The Tattoo: Carving Your Body, Carving Your Life," by Amanda Hernandez SAS'15, Biology and Art. Mentor: Christina DeGennaro
"Exploring the 'Other' Body: The Cyborg Analogy to Queer Body in Film and Performance," by Rashaa PArker SAS'15, Psychology. Mentor: Dr. Susan Canning

Also presenting were students in the Spring 2014 Honors seminar Topics in Identity: Gender and Sexuality.

Gendered Toys: Claudia Benitez SAS'16; Surya Brissett SAS'17; Michelle Goyke SAS'16
Third Gender: Rachel Castillo SAS'17; Anaudy Figuereo SAS'17; Brionna Grosvenor SAS'17; Stacey Mathai SAS'17
Cartoons and Sexuality: Ashley Hernandez SAS'16; Miranda Polat SAS'15

Regina Alvarado, Kayla Cummings, and Denise Dailey presented work from the yearlong Honors Senior Symposium, beased on the theme "The Legacy of the Text." Bharathi also presented "Smallpox: An Alternate History."