Brooklyn Barton, Dixie State University
In this non-fiction essay, I chronicle a rite of passage I went through in high school following the death of a close friend. A teacher encouraged me to write about my grief and pass it on to my friend’s mother, a teacher at my high school in rural Utah. The essay, composed for an advanced writing course, bears the influence of Adichie, Sherman Alexie, and Virginia Woolf, utilizing elements drawn from fiction technique I have studied in other writing classes, e.g. symbol, dialogue, characterization.
Kimberly Tarnasky, Kelli Egan, Brigham Young University
The Dolly Gray ChildrenÛªs Literature Award recognizes authors, illustrators, and publishers of high quality fictional and biographical children, intermediate, and young adult books that authentically portray individuals with developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), intellectual disabilities, and Down syndrome. The Dolly Gray ChildrenÛªs Literature Award was created to make an impact toward the general publicÛªs recognition of the positive societal contributions of individuals with developmental disabilities, greater understanding and acceptance of teachers and school-aged peers of students with developmental disabilities, and encouragement of authors and illustrators to publish quality literature including characters with developmental disabilities. Eleven picture books and 27 youth and adolescent chapter books were found to be eligible for the award, and were analyzed. Preliminary results indicate a high proportion of characters with ASD compared to other developmental disabilities, almost twice as many males as females, and almost all characters who are Caucasian. Additional content analyses will be conducted and completed by January, 2018. Investigations will include: how the character with the developmental disability interacts with others, develops family relationships, and how exemplary practices are portrayed. Considering the eligible books for the 2018 award helps us come closer to conclusions regarding the trends of developmental disabilities throughout children’s literature. We will provide suggestions for using these books in K-16 classrooms.
Sara Schlagel, Southern Utah University
Postmortem photography is a phenomenon which both horrifies and fascinates. What seems a strange obsession with death, and troubling fixation on corpses, is more accurately understood as an obsession with memory ÛÒ and the lengths people will go to in order to capture what they can of their lost loved ones. The most interesting information studying postmortem photography provides is not the facts of Victorian mourning and burial practices, but something less explored: how the Victorians formed attachments to their friends and family while alive. It is true that these photographs were taken due to the relative newness of photography at the time and families often possessed no image of the deceased while they were alive. Because of this, and high child mortality rates, the majority of post-mortem photographs feature infants and children. What then should catch our attention is the rarer images of teenagers and young adults. The photograph is often personalized to fit the character or interests of the individual, the name, age, and even cause of death of the person is often known, and the photographs were generally reproduced multiple times to be distributed to non-immediate family and friends. This reveals, quite simply, the level of investment that the mourners had in their deceased family and friends. Infant/child death was so prevalent that Victorians took steps to ensure they did not form strong attachments until the child had grown and come of age. The deaths of teenagers were, then, more devastating, as they had impacted the lives of many individuals, and their family and friends could usually expect to enjoy a long and happy life with them (the Victorian lifespan being relatively close to ours today, if infancy was survived). This paper observes the variety of post-mortem photographs available to us today, and uses them to illustrate what we can learn both about Victorian mourning practices and the way familial relationships were invested in before the death of their subjects. This is a unique approach to studying these photographs, as previously they have typically been used to draw conclusions about standard burial practices ÛÒ when in fact they have so much to teach us about how the living Victorians protected themselves in a world of prevalent death.
Francesca DeMartino, Utah Valley University
According to results from the 2014 National Survey and Health from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Association, 21.5 million people over the age of twelve had a Substance Use Disorder. This includes 17.0 million people with an alcohol addiction, 7.1 million with an illicit drug addiction, 4.2 million with a marijuana addiction, and 1.9 million with a non-medical prescription pain reliever addiction. These numbers represent 8.1% of the American Population. As an intellectual choreographer, I questioned if the physical and psychological problems that an addict experiences could be translated into the formative properties of dance. In this research project, several criteria that contribute to the Substance Use Disorder are explored through dance by working with the properties of time, space, and focus. The symptoms that are explored are withdrawal reactions, cravings, inability to cut down or control the substance use, and continued usage despite having persistent physical or psychological problems that are correlated with substance use. In this piece, I played with levels to create the up and downs that happen physically and emotionally to the users. I also experimented with circle and spiral patterns to show that it is a repeated problem that also bringing the person down. I also utilized two groups of dancers to further my intent. In one group were the dancers who were experiencing the symptoms of the addiction. These dancers are known as the users. The second group of dancers were the physical manifestation of the drugs control over the individuals, i.e. the addiction. In contrast, the individuals who represent the addiction have linear and direct movement pattern. In order to create a sense of uncertainty, the dancers also work with irregular accents while playing with very slow to very fast timing. It is my intention for the outcome of this piece to illuminate the struggles of an individual who is dealing with the Substance Use Disorder through dance by playing with properties of time, space, and focus.
Rachel Kuhr, Westminster College
How do creative writers use research? I spent the summer of 2017 conducting personal research, a combination of imagination and hands-on exploration, on the Wasatch Mountain Range. I used works by UtahÛªs Terry Tempest Williams and Amy Irvine, who write about their love for and challenges with the region, as a backdrop for my own research. With funding from the Institute of Mountain Research, I chose to write about my own relationship with the Utah mountains. What do these mountains tell me about my life, family, history, and more importantly, how do they help me process trauma? My research included hiking along the Wasatch range, reading Williams and Irvine, taking pictures, and interviewing people. Sometimes I was alone, and other times I was accompanied by my fiancÌ©, using the landscape to reflect on the death of his father. I turned a compilation of memories, reflections, and experiences into a long-form work of creative nonfiction, with multiple stories presented in vignettes. These are stories about people and nature, about trauma and healing, about loss and discovery. I hope to be given an opportunity to share these stories with an audience. You can view snippets of my writing here. The final product will be published on this website later this year: https://medium.com/the-mountain-commons/summer-2017-research-project-report-7a49e882f9e3
Dagan Pielstick, Brigham Young University
Jenica Heaton, Southern Utah University
Music has been shown to be a catalyst for emotion and that many people use music to help regulate their emotions when in aversive situations (Thoma et al., 2012). Many other studies have been done within the realm of music and emotion, but little research has been done to show whether the music itself, the lyrics, or a combination of both are the cause of emotional change. Around two-hundred participants volunteered to be exposed to one of six random conditions: an original score of music, the original score without lyrics, an altered version of the original score, the altered version without lyrics, the lyrics without music, and finally a control condition where they were not presented with any musical elements. After the presentation of the stimuli, participants were given a survey which assessed their emotion as well as the participantÛªs emotional-awareness skill-set. Data collection will be completed November 2017 and results/implications will be analyzed December/January 2017.
Miriam Sweeney, Brigham Young University
I plan to research the possibility of using the modern podcast as a medium to publish the familiar essay. Once thought of as a thing of the past, the modern essay permeates American culture more than almost any other format of writing. It can be seen in blog posts, newspaper columns, memoirs, and even social media posts. Although it is not normally advertised in these contexts as an essay, it carries the same exploratory characteristics that shaped social innovations and revolutions throughout the history of the United States. It was used to draw attention to social injustices by activists like James Baldwin and W.E.B. Du Bois. It was used to draw votes by political hopefuls like Theodore Roosevelt. It was even used to define and prescribe aspects of cultureÛÓ including fashion, literature, media, and foodÛÓ by magazines such as The New Yorker. Essays have long been influential to the middle class American. Podcasts have been taking advantage of elements of the essay without knowing it for the past several years. Popular shows such as Hidden Brain, This American Life, Invisibilia, and Revisionist History produce episodes that either are essays or contain various essayic elements that provide the same kind of charming, persuasive clout of the essay of previous centuries. In this project, I delve into this as-of-yet unexplored connection between a classic genre and a new, popular medium of delivery. I will test my hypothesis that the principles of an engaging, popular essay are also the principles that make an engaging, popular nonfiction podcast. I will do so by conducting research for, writing, and producing a podcast using essayic traits.
Zac Van Pelt, Southern Utah University
Can different literary theories be applied to the movie Bladerunner? The purpose of the research is to find common themes of literary theory and see if the themes of Bladerunner fit within these literary theories of post-structuralism and post-colonialism. I will be looking at two different Marxist theorists, Benjamin and his essay ÛÏThe Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical ReproductionÛ and Jameson and his essay ÛÏPostmodernism and Consumer SocietyÛ. I will also be looking at SaidÛªs essay ÛÏOrientalismÛ in regards to asserting that Bladerunner is also a post-colonial work. Within BenjaminÛªs essay I would be looking at the idea that humans are works of art and that androids are mechanical reproductions of said art and the implications of this in regards to originality. I will be looking at JamesonÛªs essay and the idea of consumerist society and how it ties in with Bladerunner as well as the novel that inspired Bladerunner, Philip K. DickÛªs Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The significance of this is seeing if this popular eighties cult classic is what it might reveal by looking at it with different literary theories. The concluding research will help illuminate how these theories can add a different viewing and reading in regards to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Bladerunner.