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Titles, Un-titles, and Non-titles: A History of Evolving Poetic Functions

Sam Corfman (2013); Mentor(s): Aaron Kunin

Abstract: The title is part of what Gerard Genette calls “Paratext” – that is, something that exists outside of but still informs a text. Because of the poetic convention for each poem to have a title, there is an especially close relationship between the poetic title and the body of the poem. My research focused on the history of poetic titles and how they came to be seen as necessary components of a finished poem. I found that the title is inextricably linked to the publishing process. After consumerism began necessitating titles to poems, poets began to claim the title from publishers, expanding its function beyond the descriptive. However, while looking at Marianne Moore and the Modernist poets, I concluded that these “authorial” titles must still be mediated through a physical object (the book), which can affect the weight and meaning of the title. I will continue my research into this relationship between title and physical text as my senior thesis.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Trekking through early modern marginalia

Aliza Lalji (2013); Student Collaborator(s): Emily Brotman (2013); Mentor(s): Colleen Rosenfeld

Abstract: Two research assistants browsed chronologically through the Early English Books Online database (EEBO) in search of printed marginalia about rhetorical figures. Beginning their trek in 1473 and working through the 16th century, the assistants compiled a searchable index of marginalia found in early modern English texts. This project marks the first comprehensive attempt to catalog all references to rhetorical figures in the printed marginalia of early modern English texts. Professor Colleen Rosenfeld intends to use this index as she writes her book, Indecorous Thinking, which discusses rhetorical figures as ways of thinking rather than as mere ornaments of expression. Much of the book is dedicated to a discussion of the historical anxieties surrounding the use of rhetorical figures. Further research by Lalji traces England’s own linguistic narrative as it began to translate a framework of eloquence held primarily within Greek and Latin in order to create a more powerful English. This mode of translation became an integral part of the religious dissension at that time. As such great thinkers as Zwingli and Luther began to question key Christian elements such as the Eucharist, it started to become a question of rhetoric: Hoc est corpus meum. Was it simply a metaphor? And, more broadly, how do these rhetorical labels, in any context, construct a framework that then limits the parameter of meaning within an actual text? This is what our research sought to explore.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP

Stories Worth Sharing: Insight, Life-Lessons, and Truth from the Women at Crossroads

Theresa Pfister (2013); Mentor(s): Valorie Thomas

Abstract: Crossroads is a transitional home for women who were previously incarcerated. Since 1974, they’ve offered unconditional acceptance, support, and practical assistance to women reentering the community. In the country with the highest documented incarceration rate in the world, Crossroads is responding to a desperate need. In my research here, I’ve learned of the inefficiencies, inadequacies, and injustices of the prison system and the beauty, knowledge, and strength of the women who’ve gone through it. By writing the stories of the women who went through the courts, stood behind the bars, and are now transitioning back into society, I believe that we can encourage social change. I believe that these women’s stories have the power to break down the walls of ignorance and misunderstanding and bring forward the much-needed shift in public opinion and legislation concerning the prison system. I believe their stories are stories worth sharing.
Funding Provided by: Pomona College SURP