Sophomore Tutorials

The Sophomore Tutorial is a practical introduction to research in the humanities. Enrolled students will develop and complete a project in a research area of possible long-term interest. 

Spring 2016

Rachel Butler: Alcoholism has always been tied to the idea of free will in American intellectual history. The conflict between alcoholism as a disease and as   a willful moral failure has been a constant since America’s founding, and has continued to shape the way in which we conceptualize about and treat addiction today. From Dr. Benjamin Rush’s 1784 pamphlet calling drunkenness a “disease of the will,” through arguments for and against Prohibition, and on to the theoretical basis of Alcoholics Anonymous and the ideological underpinnings of addiction treatment today, I will look at how the definition of alcoholism in America has shifted over time and shaped attitudes toward the alcoholic. 

  • Yixin Huang
  • Nate Rickard: My sophomore research tutorial investigates the history of radical black feminism through a Marxist lens. Due to the Communist Party USA’s struggles to incorporate women and people of color combined with Cold War-era paranoia that served to estrange communists, the majority of civil rights activists in the 1960s and 1970s resisted identifying as communists. My project looks at where the founders of the Third World Women’s Alliance and the Combahee River Collective differed; they turned to Marxism to develop intricate analyses of the combined oppressions of race, gender, and class. In using Marxism to inform their knowledge of social organization, history and revolution without outwardly identifying as communists, my project argues they greatly enhanced the possible purview of Marxist social theory today.
  • Deb Rookey: There exists a body of literature composed entirely in American Sign Language. My tutorial explores literature composed in this language and addresses the some difficulties that arise when applying traditional analytical techniques to artistic language that exists only in a visual, non-written language. Specifically, my tutorial works with poems translated into English from ASL and vice versa, exploring the translational issues that arise when transitioning between visual and written or spoken languages.
  • Kate Taub


Spring 2015

  • Jin Seok Park:  "Neo-noir" is a technical term used to indicate films from the 1960s onward that borrowed its style from the traditions of classical film noir, yet twerked them in unique ways. I will look at Bob Rafelson's 1987 film Black Widow to explore how the conventions of film noir has been used, or not used, or altered in order to portray lesbian desire, a theme that was quite new to both mainstream cinema and neo-noir. Specifically I will look into the ideas of psychoanalysis--the idea of the female/male gaze, the erotic/oedipal triangle, and power structures--to examine in detail the text of the film.
  • Natalie Runkle:  In my sophomore tutorial I seek to interpret Socrates’ final statement in Plato’s Symposium, that the skilled dramatist should be able to write both comedy and tragedy. In my view, Socrates is asserting that the abilities of comic and tragic writers make up one skill, which is informed by one specific knowledge. Skilled dramatists must have comprehensive understanding of desire, which they use to compose comedy and tragedy, dramatic representations of thwarted desire. This knowledge of desire is none other than knowledge of Beauty, which is described earlier in the Symposium as the ultimate goal of every pursuit.
  • Joyce Zhou:   "Despite the severity of the Grand Duke of Tuscany’s political reign, Cosimo I de’ Medici “was a man who could laugh and be amused”. Satire, comedy, and wit pervade the works of art and literature done for and around him, through which the Duke’s unique sense of humor is strongly evident. By examining a selection of works by Cosimo de’ Medici’s notable court artist, Agnolo Bronzino, I will explore the theme of “playfulness” in sixteenth century Florentine Renaissance art and the unique tastes of the sixteenth century court culture."


Spring 2014

  • Oya Aktas:  The central goal of my research is to gain a better understanding of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk and the role he played in the establishment of the Modern Turkish Republic. In order to accomplish this, I intend to use Gamal Abdul Nasser as a foil to Atatürk. Both men played very important roles in the foundation of two modern Middle Eastern states—Turkey and Egypt. They both emerged from military careers to become the political leaders of their countries. The two espoused secular ideals and relied on nationalist rhetoric to solidify their legitimacy. In light of these similarities, I hope to find differences between the two men and their use of power in order to gain better insight into Atatürk. My paper will focus on a particular area of comparison between the two; possible options include their use of and relationship with the military after becoming president, the steps they took to “modernize” their countries (although the use of such a term requires nuance), their usage of nationalist rhetoric, and their approach towards religion in their countries.
  • Leora Baum:  I am planning to research the use of vertical space onstage in Golden Age Spanish theatres, specifically in public theatre (corrales) and court theatre (e.g. the Buen Retiro).  This will involve aspects of theatre architecture, scenic design, and staging, and will serve as an entry point into the nature of the symbiosis between the two entities and their relation to the culture of the Baroque.
  • Danny Cotton: Ovid’s Metamorphoses created, by both fluid gender identities and expectations, a tension between itself and Rome’s traditional gender roles.  I am first to establish this tension, primarily through studying the story of Acteon and Artemis, and then later analyze its implications with support from outside sources augmenting a further study of Metamorphoses existing structure.
  • Riva Desai: What makes depression socially, culturally, and politically significant? How does the societal construction of depression affect its “value” in terms of advocacy, research funding, media attention, etc? How is the definition of depression a product of neurophysiological components and societal negotiation?  And how does this interpretation of the disorder influence the process of diagnosis,  affected groups, and its public perception?
  • Katie Engsberg: The term “Islamophobia” is widely used, affiliated with a broad array of meanings and connotations.  I want to explore its use in England and in France, focusing on two aspects of the word: “Islamophobia” as an entity (for what is it used?) and “Islamophobia” as a term (What does it tend to mean?). These investigations should evolve into a larger question: Do people hold a common understanding of “Islamophobia,” and, if so, can we understand it as a consistent concept or a buzz-word too broadly employed to carry any practical weight?
  • Rory Heller: I will  focus on the realm of comedic representation in the films of the Holocaust and World War II, as well as on a discussion of ethics and purpose behind those representations.
  • Cassie Klosterman: I will study how representations of self-flagellation as an avenue to religious purity have changed over time in Russian literature in order to better understand the narrowing definition of what it is to be Russian Orthodox.
  • Rachel Sumption:  As an extension of my research about the treatment of Christians in modern Egyptian law, I want to engage with the complexities of Islamic law in England, where I am studying abroad in the Spring of 2014.  How can Islamic law be the supreme authority for Muslims living in a secular state?  How do Muslims use both informal and formal legal means in dispute resolution, and what legal arenas are the most important intersections of these two legal systems?  This topic will explore, as larger themes: minority culture in Britain, Islam in Europe, alternative dispute resolution, and the modern Sahri’a court.


Spring 2013

  • Samantha Rogers: Understanding the Causes for the Spread of the English Reformation in the Time of Henry VIII


Spring 2012

  • Benjamin Chu: The Metaphysical to the Material: How the Politics of the Chinese Communist Party Altered Traditional Chinese Medicine During it's Standardization 
  • William Allsopp-Dobbs: Exploring Abbasid Poetry: Ibn al-Rumi's Ritha' ahl al-Basra
  • Taylor Docking: Weber’s Disenchantment and the Current Necessity for the Humanities
  • Sarah Haik: The Language of Relationships 
  • Sean Janda: Avoiding the Risk: Applying the Concept of Uncertainty Aversion to Rawls’s Original Position


Spring 2011

  • Anna Applebaum: The Myth of the Public Intellectual 
  • Bridget Cooley: Journeys of Identity: Women and Naming in Arthurian Romance 
  • Julie Kellman: Personal Curriculums as Facilitiated by Digital Media Literacies 
  • Eugene Kown: Representation of the Past in Murakami Haruki's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (1997) and Lee Chang-Rae's A Gesture Life (1999) 
  • Daniel Michon: Space Law
  • Sophia Nunez: Reading the Real Biblioteca del Escorial: Incorporating the Dangerous Other
  • Donald Steinburk: Italian Futurists 


Spring 2010

  • Natalie Amleshi: Bergson and Artistic Creativity in Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse
  • Philip Gibbs: Creating a Mystical History: Gershom Scholem's Influence on Walter Benjamin
  • Gabrielle Surick: Notions of Chance: Representations in Philosophy, Literature, and Science
     

Spring 2009

  • Stuart Fraser, Tutor: Peter Schmelz: World War I and Wozzeck: Military Might, Emasculation, and Morality in Alban Berg's Opera 
  • Laura Jensen, Tutor: Lionel Cuille: Gender construction Through Dialogue in Madame Bovary 
  • Zac Levine, Tutor: Lionel Cuille: The Development of Identity with Regards to Psychopathology in 19th Century France 
  • Dan Merriam, Tutor: Eric Oberle: History of Economic and Political Thought from the French Enlightenment to the Rise of Neo-Classical Economics 
  • Stephen Pulvirent, Tutor: Philip Purchase: The Late 19th Century Aesthetic Movement and It's Reinterpretation of Classical Ideals 
  • Eric Rosenbaum, Tutor: Nancy Berg: The Reverse Binding: Manipulations of the Binding of Isaac Myth in Literature Critical of the Sabra 
  • Nathan Stobaugh, Tutor: Melissa Haynes: "The Nothing We Scarcely Know": The Gendered Void in Twentieth-Century Visual Art and Theory 


Spring 2008

  • Whitney Howland, Tutor: Marina McKay: T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets, and Littoral Culture
  • Dennis Sweeney, Tutor: Dan Shea: Montaigne's Legacy to Autobiographical Practice 
  • Deva Estin, Tutor: Anca Parvulescu: Representations of Adolescent Sexuality
  • Shelby Carpenter, Tutor: Jami Ake: Structures of Identity in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice 
  • Tom Butcher, Tutor: Steve Hause: French Nationalism After Napoleon 
  • Emily Silber, Tutor: Jill Downen: Feminist Curatorial Practice 
  • Andrew Hiltzik, Tutor: Michael Sherberg: Machiavelli's Use of Roman History 
  • Erica Deal, Tutor: Lynne Tatlock: German Identity and Literature During the Campaign for German Unification 
  • Evan Kuhn, Tutor: Anca Parvulescu: The Cultural Theory of Laughter,