LGBT Mardi Gras Celebrations in the Gulf South

Elizabeth Gilbert and Dr. Amy Stone 

This project is a qualitative sociological study of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) visibility and participation in Mardi Gras in the “normal cities” of the Gulf South, including Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and Mobile. These cities have limited LGBT political rights yet most have long, colorful traditions of LGBT integration into Mardi Gras mystic societies, masque balls, parades, and events. Using interviews, historical research, and participant observation, I contend that these urban festivals provide recognition for gay culture, the creation of new Southern queer cultural forms, and opportunities for LGBT visibility and integration into city life that have significance beyond festival time.

Elizabeth Gilbert and Dr. Amy Stone showing a Carnival book on a table with Mardi Gras accessories

Rich Indians?: Casinos, Poverty and Cultural Preservation in the Choctaw Nation

Isaiah Ellis and Dr. Angela Tarango 

We propose to study how Native American casinos affect socio-cultural and religious life among Native communities and their surrounding non-native locales, focusing on the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Through secondary, archival, and ethnographic research we will chart the development of the Choctaw casinos and cultural preservation projects, focusing specifically on the substantial intratribal and regional conflicts generated by tribal/non-native politics and casino operations. The context of Oklahoma is also important to these dynamics, because of its high concentration of native people (both tribally enrolled and unaffiliated), its high population of religious conservatives who oppose gaming, and its substantial market for Indian gaming. Scholars have found that Indian casinos and gaming revenue reconfigure contemporary tribal culture, and affect how tribes preserve cultural and religious knowledge, and although the Choctaw’s casinos have led to some key improvements in this area, the tribe still faces massive poverty and political tension.

Isaiah Ellis sitting on a couch


The Ancient Village of Huqoq: Excavation, Preliminary Report and Book Chapter

Sara Breshears and Dr. Chad Spigel

The Huqoq Excavation Project (HEP) is an archaeological expedition led by Dr. Jodi Magness of the University of North Carolina and co-sponsored by a consortium of universities that includes Trinity. There are two main goals for the excavation: 1) use the most up-to-date archaeological methods to arrive at a more contextualized and evidence-based understanding of an ancient synagogue within its village context; and 2) to contribute to scholarly debates about the dating of ancient synagogue buildings in an effort to sharpen our understanding of ancient Jewish worship practices. Excavations at Huqoq began in 2011 and will continue through 2017, at which point a final excavation report will be written by the excavation team. In order to keep the scholarly world up-to-date on our findings, we publish yearly reports in a peer-reviewed journal as well as the occasional article about what we have found during our excavations. The current proposal is for Sara Breshears to work with me on three things in the summer of 2014: 1) collecting data during the excavation; 2) developing the end-of-season report; and 3) creating an outline for an article about the excavation that will appear in a collected volume about archaeological sites in Israel.

Dr. Chad Spiegel, Jennifer Miller, Josh Pedrick, and Sara Breshears with the Samson mosaic

Cross-Cultural Behaviors, Success and Impact: A Comparative Study of Female Executives in China and the US

Ngoc-Tam Thuy Ngo and Dr. Deli Yang

Female chief executive officers (CEOs) are rare and extraordinary, and their studies are sporadic. This project intends to investigate and interpret how female CEOs fare, their successful factors, including cultural behaviors and the impact of their success on 4 organizations and society. Within this research remit, we intend to critically analyze three related research questions: (1) How female CEOs fare in the history and contemporary China and the US? (2) What cultural factors have made them successful in additional to other successful criteria? (3) How have they impacted on organizations and society? Accordingly, we will critique relevant theories, establish Sino-US female CEO portfolios, and select typical cases of female CEOs to compare and contrast from the historical and contemporary perspectives of China and the US. The study will critique and integrate a diverse source of information to help ground our interpretation and formulate a theoretical framework for future studies.


Medieval Enameling Techniques; Research, Re-creation & Studio Application

Alejandra Trigoso and Holly Goeckler

Vitreous enamel can be described simply as the product of powdered glass fused to a metal surface. Enameling is the technique used to create the glass surface. Decorative enameling involves preparing the metal, grinding the glass into powder, sifting or packing the glass powder on to the metal surface, and firing it in a kiln. This summer our team proposes to investigate and recreate medieval enamels based on the principal techniques practiced from the 10th to the 15th centuries in Western Europe and documented in medieval recipe books, treatises and instructional texts. Our project will focus on several methods employed by medieval goldsmiths including champlevé, cloisonné, basse-taille and wet-packing enamel. We plan to spend the summer researching source materials, and testing our research to develop procedures and recipes for future studio use. Finally we will document our research and experiments for a presentation and develop a plan for the publication of our work.

Allie Trigoso working with her hands on a metal and enamel art technique


The Bible in the Fiction of Philip K. Dick

Mariah Wahl and Dr. Rubén Dupertuis

The work of the American science fiction author Philip K. Dick (1928-1982) has had an enormous influence beyond SF circles thanks, in part, to the adaptation of many of his short stories and novels into films (nine and counting, including Blade Runner,Total Recall, A Scanner Darkly, Minority Report, Paycheck, and The Adjustment Bureau). Dick’s fiction often addresses the constructed nature of reality, paranoia, powerlessness, and revelation. Religion and religious themes are central in Dick’s fiction. This is especially the case in works written after after 1974, when Dick believed he received a vision from God. While religious themes in Dick’s fiction have been studied at some length, especially Dick’s use Gnostic Christian ideas, very little attention has been given to the prominent role of the Bible in his work, where it features as artifact, as source of information, as a subject of study, and as a model for Dick’s own “inspired” writings. In this study we investigate the role and function of the Bible in Dick’s work, focusing on his later novels VALIS (1978) and The Divine Invasion(1980).

Mariah Wahl doing book research



Bridging Models of Computation and Notions of Computation

Evan Garvie, Austen Hall,  Bryan Schrock, Dr. Seth Fogarty and Dr. Curtis Brown

Computation is studied by both philosophy and computer science, though in different ways. Philosophy focuses on the nature of computation: what it means to be a computation and the implications of this meaning. Thus the current body of work on the philosophy of computation covers different notions of computability. Computer science, however, focuses mainly on the mathematical modeling of computation, so the breadth of knowledge lies in what can and cannot be computed as well as how those computations take place. The current philosophical notions of computation are based on a narrow spectrum of models of computation, and so miss nuances that emerge from less well-known, but critically important, models. Our project seeks to create a bridge between the two disciplines by considering a variety of the computational models available in computer science theory and introducing them to the philosophical discussion of the nature of computation.

Evan Garvie, Austen Hall,  Bryan Schrock, Dr. Seth Fogarty and Dr. Curtis Brown working on project

Environmental Advocacy through Art

Nicole Vreeland and Liz Ward

Environmental Advocacy through Art is a research and application based project that strives to find a balance between advocating environmental awareness and artistic expression. Artists who incorporate environmental concerns into their art will be analyzed based upon the ability to successfully balance advocacy and artistic expression. Post research efforts include the creation of an original ephemeral artwork that addresses areas of the environment that require attention from the general population. This may include, but is not limited to, global warming, water quality and conservation, species conservation, and urban gardening. In order to achieve a balanced expression of passion towards art and the environment, the research portion will influence the direction that the artwork will take. Public exhibition of the artwork is the vehicle for raising awareness on the environmental issue addressed in the art. Therefore the art will be displayed on Trinity University’s campus during the last two weeks of summer and submitted to the PACT committee for installation in Fall 2014.

Nicole Vreeland and Liz Ward sitting at a desk and reviewing information



Ecology in International Climate-Change Novels

Elizabeth Hartson and Dr. Heather Sullivan

Along with the increasing world-wide attention in the environmental humanities to climate change and its cultural, or anthropogenic, causes and impacts, there has been a recent proliferation of novels on climate change (see list below). Scholars and authors alike are turning their attention to how human culture causes climate change, the probable outcomes of a warming world on human populations and individuals, and to the possibilities of changing our current path of energy use and pollution. This project will study recent examples of climate-change literature from around the world with the goal of understanding the intersections of scientific knowledge with popular narratives in novel and cinematic form—that which reaches the most people across the planet—speaking about the environmental problems. We address environmental advocacy, the use of literature and film as a means of providing information about climate, as well as the creative solutions offered by these texts.

Elizabeth Hartson with a book looking out a window