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Wide-Eyed Play-Going/Slit-Eyed Analysis

Elizabeth Brown ('12); Mentor: Colleen Rosenfeld

Abstract:  Shakespeare scholarship for the past several decades has turned on a series of debates on the merits of text-centered versus performance-centered interpretation, characterized by Harry Berger as “Slit-eyed analysis” and “Wide-eyed playgoing”.  These debates ask a main question: are Shakespeare’s plays with all their rich complexities most fully understood on the page or on the stage?  Rather than endorse one method of interpretation, in my research I focused on moments in Shakespeare’s plays that don’t transition smoothly from the written text to a performance: specifically, the verbal aside and the act of interruption.  I spent five weeks in London watching multiple performances of Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and comparatively studying the plays’ original texts in the British Library.  The moments of disjunction made me try to reconcile the two traditionally separate English and Theatre Department models, and generate theories informed by both interpretations.
Funding Provided by:  Pomona College SURP

Alienation and Paranoia in Urban Environments

Megan Haley ('12); Mentor: Kevin Dettmar

Abstract:  In densely populated cities, encounters with strangers are the norm, and the environment is always changing and always unfamiliar. Many individuals feel lost in the dense crowds and hard architecture. The theme of alienation that has come to characterize much modern literature has been linked to this loss of connection to people and surroundings.  City dwellers are also crowded by the surge of advertisements brought on by the rise of consumer culture.   Walking through a city today, or watching television or reading a newspaper, we have become practically oblivious to the constant noise of advertisements, but they are everywhere shaping our thoughts, wishes, and desires.  City dwellers do their best to tune them out, but the ever-present voices pulling them in hundreds of directions often result in feeling a loss of control.  In the postmodern age, people no longer complain about particular worries, but of vague feelings of alienation, schizoid detachment, and paranoia.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

James Joyce Letters Project

Joshua Rosenberg ('13); Timothy McKee ('12); Pedro Salinas ('13);Mentor: Kevin Dettmar

Abstract:  More than half of James Joyce’s 3,575 known extant letters have not been published for scholarly use.  Joyce’s estate has been reluctant to allow publication of more letters for nearly 35 years, but all of Joyce’s writings will go out of copyright in 2012.  We worked with Professor Kevin Dettmar to transcribe and annotate Joyce’s correspondence for publication in the near future.   Our main challenge was Joyce’s often-illegible handwriting, which made even simple words difficult but was especially troublesome when Joyce was using abbreviations or obscure proper names.  We had to study the existing body of transcribed correspondence in order to better decipher Joyce’s scrip.  An extensive knowledge of Joyce’s biography was also necessary so that we could use context to narrow the list of possible references. We are presenting a case study of a letter from Joyce to Ezra Pound.
Funding Provided by: Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Memorial Fund (JR, TM) Pomona College SURP (PS) 

Rethinking the Civic Education Debate

John Thomason ('12); Mentor: Dara Regaignon

Abstract:  My research surveyed historical and contemporary debates about the nature of citizenship with the goal of developing a philosophical understanding of what effective civic education should do.  I’ve concluded that civic education should distinguish between the rights accorded by citizenship and the duties required by it, and the extent to which the exercise of rights and the performance of duties are required to maintain effective citizenship.  It should also be heavily concerned with defining a ‘public interest’ and determining the extent to which it should influence both private and public action, if there is a distinction between the two.  Civic education should also investigate the way that contemporary mores – particularly the Western commitments to some form of both liberalism and capitalism – challenge or complicate notions of citizenship.  Finally, an effective civic education should interrogate the cultural signifiers of citizenship, such as suffrage and wage-earning, in order to understand how civic values are historically determined.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP   

Research at Pomona