(Re)Designing Texas: Landscape History and the Campus-River Connection

Jason Azar and Dr. Kathryn O’Rourke

This two-part project investigates the history and theory of landscape architecture in Texas in the mid-twentieth century, and their relationships to developments in modern architecture, in order to identify principles that might guide planning in the twenty-first century. Focusing on the writings and designs of landscape architects Stewart King and Arthur and Marie Berger (who, with O’Neil Ford designed the Trinity campus in the 1950s), it explores the relationships among these architects at a critical moment in the urban history of Texas. The project will contextualize the Texas works in a larger history of modernist approaches to landscape and planning by explaining the personal and intellectual links between King, the Bergers, and Ford to and nationally- and internationally-renowned theorists of landscape. The project culminates in a design proposal for connecting the Trinity campus to the San Antonio River. Jason Azar’s drawings, photographs, and models will suggest ways of making that connection by means of paths, reconfigured roads, vegetation, and works of public art.

Jason Azar standing in front of his history landscape architecture in Texas project

The Agency of Young Adult Superheroines in Marvel’s Runaways

Catherine Clark and Dr. Jennifer Henderson

The Runaways series was published by Marvel from 2003-2009 and written for a young adult (YA) audience by some of the most well-known authors in the genre including Brian K. Vaughan and Joss Whedon. This research project will examine three inter-related indicators of agency among the primary female characters in Marvel’s Runaways:  language, visual construction of characters, and character behaviors.  The study will specifically analyze Nico, Karolina, Molly, Gertrude, and Klara, by considering the spoken words appearing in speech balloons and panel captions, the visual construction of characters (ex. clothing, body position, weapons, expressions), and their behaviors (ex. helping, fighting, arguing). Past Communication research has shown that audiences read or watch “up,” meaning that texts created for one age group are often consumed by younger audiences.  If pre-teens are encountering unrealistic or negative representations of young adult female characters, they may come to believe, as Stuart Hall explained, this is the “naturalised way of looking at the world.”

Catherine Clark reviewing cartoon book of Young Adult Superheros


The Cambridge Homer Encyclopedia

Austen Hall and Dr. Corinne Pache

The project is the preparation of a final manuscript for the Homer Encyclopedia, which Dr. Pache is currently editing for Cambridge University Press. Austen Hall and Dr. Pache will work as a team to fact-check and copy-edit the essays written for the encyclopedia by various scholars, and making decisions about the structure of the work, the placement of various essays, and cross-references. Austen will also write at least two entries (for a total of 2,000-3,000 words) for which he will do research using the Trinity library and Interlibrary Loans. Homeric epic, the culmination of a centuries-old oral tradition, stands at the beginning of the Western literary tradition, and thus occupies a unique place in the history of literature. Early in the last century, scholars addressed many of the so-called Homeric questions of previous generations (chief among them, did the same poet compose the Iliad and the Odyssey?) with ground-breaking research on the nature of oral poetics that is still central to the field in the twenty-first century. Modern scholars have also refined our understanding of the historical and archaeological context of the Homeric poems. Beside these important advances in our understanding of the historical background that shapes the Homeric poems, in recent years innovative interpretations of the poem’s content have been offered as scholars draw on an increasingly diverse body of research from different fields. Yet there are no recent reference works that reflect the most recent Homeric scholarship in a comprehensive manner. Drawing on anthropology, philology, linguistics, history, archaeology, cultural and literary studies, the Cambridge Homer will present and synthesize the best Homeric research available at this time. The work is structured around three main themes: 1) Homeric Song and Text; 2) Homeric World; and, 3) Homer in the World. The Cambridge Homer will thus present the information in a structured manner that will allow the reader to gain an understanding not only of the variety of topics relating to Homeric epic, but of the connections between different strands of Homeric studies.

Austen Hall and Dr. Corinne Pache discussing the Homer Encyclopedia manuscript

Cape Gelidonya: Open Access Preliminary Publication, Part I

Christopher Hofmann, Kate Middleton and Jeremy Siegal with Drs. Nicolle Hirschfeld and Aaron Delwiche

This summer’s work is intended as the initial step in a longer-term program to make the material excavated over the course of half a century from a Late Bronze Age (ca.1200 BCE) shipwreck available in an Open Access format. The ship that sank at Cape Gelidonya (Turkey) was first excavated in 1960 but subsequent explorations of the seabed and conservation work in the museum storerooms have tripled the catalogue of artifacts associated with this wreck. This summer is intended as a first step in making this expanded catalogue accessible to the scholarly and interested community-at-large, and to demonstrate the integral role undergraduate students can take in this process. Our objectives are (1) to identify and evaluate other models for making archaeological material available online, (2) to come up with a working design for Open Access publication of the Cape Gelidonya material, and (3) to begin implementation by creating an on-line catalogue of one part of the cargo (the agricultural tools and fragments).

Intensional Transitive Verbs and Objectual Attitudes

Le Quyen Pham and Dr. Curtis Brown

A noun phrase in a sentence is said to be in an intensional context if (a) replacing it by a coreferential noun phrase may change the sentence from true to false, or vice versa; (b) it is possible for the sentence to be true even if the noun phrase does not refer to anything at all; and (c) for indefinite noun phrases, the sentence has a nonspecific reading. Such intensional contexts usually involve psychological attitudes towards objects or propositions. In particular, these contexts are often created in sentences that contain (a) transitive verbs that take noun phrase complements, i.e. verb phrases expressing objectual attitudes, such as wanting, seeking, admiring, or (b) transitive verbs that take clausal complements, i.e. verb phrases expressing propositional attitudes, such as believing and knowing. This project addresses metaphysical issues concerning the nature of the objects of objectual attitudes, drawing on the growing body of literature in linguistics and the philosophy of language on intensional transitive verbs, and bringing it into contact with a larger literature in the philosophy of mind on the metaphysics of propositional attitudes.

Third-Generation Holocaust Narratives: The Intergenerational Transmission of Memory, Longing, and Loss

Megan Reynolds and Dr. Victoria Aarons

Our project examines contemporary modes of Holocaust representation. During the course of the summer program, we will conduct research for the introduction to an edited collection of essays devoted to the subject of third-generation Holocaust literary representation. We will analyze narratives written by and about third-generation Holocaust novelists and memoirists in order to examine the intergenerational transmission of trauma and memory. Our project will suggest the ways in which memory of the Holocaust has been passed along intergenerationally from survivors to the second-generation – the children of survivors – to a contemporary generation of grandchildren of survivors, who are writing at a time in history that will mark the end of direct survivor testimony. We will examine, in particular, the ways in which artifacts provide openings for the transmission of narratives, suggesting the ways in which the task of bearing witness to the enormity of the Holocaust transcends those who experienced the events first-hand, shaping the lives of those who follow.

Megan Reynolds holding a book in front of a bookcase


Pathos in Intercollegiate Debate: Emotion as an Argumentative Warrant

Nathan Rothenbaum and Dr. William Mosley-Jensen

Intercollegiate debate is a site of contested argumentative domains. This project studies the warrant of a variety of argument strategies in this rich field of discourse. By focusing on strategies that rely on the emotional force of the claim, this project posits a new orientation towards argumentation in intercollegiate debate. Despite the easy assumption that logos (rational) is the primary mode of argument in this specialized forum, there are new forms of argument emerging that challenge that assumption. Exploring these forms of argument and their impact on our understanding of the warrant (the relationship between a claim and reasons) presents a clear need to reevaluate argumentation in debate. This project seeks to broaden the study of argument by also engaging the elements of pathos (emotional persuasion) inherent in the practice.

The Harlem Renaissance in Red Square

Ileana Sherry and Dr. Michael Soto

In 1932, Meschrabpom films, with support from the Soviet government, brought 22 young African Americans to Moscow to film Black and White , a propagandistic depiction of black-white social relations in the United States. Virtually everyone involved with the Black and White film agrees that it was an artistic and political failure. This project evaluates the published record (in fiction, memoirs, poetry, and journalism) of the botched Black and White film and supplements this with an examination of the unpublished letters and memoirs of Louise Thompson Patterson, the key American architect of the film effort. The project will produce an academic paper examining the triangulation of racial identity within the nexus created by the Jim Crow era U.S., the early Soviet state, and secondhand notions of Africa depicted in Black and White and the published record concerning the film. We will evaluate how the published record depicts the perceived relationship between African American racial identity and political radicalism, how the African Americans involved in the project resisted this perceived relationship and what this perceived relationship reveals about the collective consciousness of America and the Soviet state.

Ileana Sherry and Dr. Michael Soto researching books at a  table


Classical Music in San Antonio, 1910-45: The Forgotten Roots of Our City’s Musical Heritage

Kassie Kelly and Dr. Carl Leafstedt

One of the most musical cities in the United States for much of the 20th century, San Antonio today remains a largely unstudied city in many aspects of its cultural history.  Indifference to, or uncertainty about, the value of the arts in central Texas has left much of the city’s music history – the rise of its institutions, its important individual figures – no longer remembered.  Our study will investigate two foundational elements in the establishment of classical music traditions in early 20th-century San Antonio: one institutional, the other individual.  German-born John Steinfeldt (1864-1946) was the city’s first well-known classical musician.  In 1939 the San Antonio Symphony was started.  Substantial archival collections for Steinfeldt and the Symphony are preserved locally.  Working five weeks on each project (Symphony, Steinhardt), we will review the material with an eye to traditional scholarly articles or, we hope, a possible performance or publication of some of Steinhardt’s forgotten vocal music.

Kassie Kelly portrait leaning on a piano

Henry James and the Art of Fiction

Mohamed Baba Diarra and Dr. Claudia Stokes

This  research project will examine the relationship between the transnational novels of Henry James—which included such works as The American, The Europeans, and The Ambassadors—and his works of literary criticism. James was an influential and prolific literary critic, authoring numerous works in which he offered important theories of narrative fiction and which contributed directly to later experimental innovations—his own and those of other twentieth-century writers–in modernist prose. This research project will specifically consider the under-examined relationship between James’s transnational novels and his works of criticism, and Mohamed Diarra will read numerous transnational novels in tandem with James’s literary criticism, among them his famous prefaces to the New York Edition of his novels and such essays as “The Art of Fiction.” The end result of this project will be a long essay of approximately 15-20 pages and an annotated bibliography.

The Dark Pastoral: Margaret Atwood and Karen Traviss as Cli Fi

Alex Holler and Dr. Heather Sullivan

Our project on climate change fiction, or “Cli fi,” juxtaposes Margaret Atwood’s Madd Addam trilogy and Karen Traviss’s ecological SF series in terms of their responses to massive anthropogenic changes to planet Earth. Both Traviss and Atwood portray climate change alongside extreme pollution, rapid depletion of resources, and overpopulation; and both create a dystopian future emerging from our own present world that failed to seek reasonable solutions. While these texts explore radical responses in a grim future, their underlying hopes are clearly more utopian, even, in fact, “pastoral” visions of an alternative, simplified, non-capitalistic harmony of human beings with other species and the larger non-living environment. We study Atwood’s and Traviss’s science fiction, however, not as a return to the traditional or classical pastoral as defined by Terry Gifford and Greg Garrard, but rather in terms of Sullivan’s book project on the “dark pastoral” or the “developed,” polluted, and urbanized planet Earth in the era of the Anthropocene. The Anthropocene is the era of the humanly inflected biosphere, a term coined by the geochemist Paul Crutzen in 2000, a geological epoch that begins with the Industrial Revolution spawned by the vast upswing in the use of fossil fuels. The dark pastoral, then, encompasses this world in terms of the posthumanist vision of the “mesh” described by Timothy Morton and documented in interdisciplinary ecological studies of the material ecocritics; it understands the “new nature” to be anthropogenically impacted yet nevertheless an ecologically complex system encompassing the human and nonhuman. And it does this through literary narratives that document and question the human-non-human interactions. Holler will present a paper at the summer research conference based on this comparison of Atwood and Traviss in light of the dark pastoral, and that will serve as the basis for a collaborative essay that will be submitted at the end of the summer to either an ecocritical journal or science fiction journal. This work will also serve as the basis for a chapter in Sullivan’s book project.

Alex Holler reading a book sitting outside

The Language of O’Neil Ford

Fiona Lane and Dr. Kathryn O’Rourke

O’Neil Ford was Texas’s most important twentieth-century architect, but his significance extended far beyond the borders of the state. And despite his role in helping to shape a distinctive American modernism, scholars have devoted relatively little attention to his theoretical positions. The summer project, The Language of O’Neil Ford, centers on analysis of Ford’s published texts and addresses to illuminate his theoretical contributions to the development of modern architecture in the United States, and it is undertaken in anticipation of the publication of a text of the same title. When published, the book will make available for the first time in a single, accessible volume Ford’s major writings and talks. Lane’s summer research focuses on the intersections of architecture and social concern in the architect’s writings.  An introductory essay to the book, in preparation by O’Rourke, will trace the evolution of Ford’s ideas about architecture’s relationships to social change, technology, education, history, and the landscape. It will position Ford in the history of architectural modernism by contextualizing his contributions in relation to those by well-known theorists of American modernism including Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Louis Kahn, Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, as well as to relevant European examples.

Cavalleria Rusticana:  An In Depth Study of Pietro Mascagni’s Masterpiece

Matthew Reynolds and Dr. Chia-wei Lee

When considering the great and influential composers throughout time, the name Pietro Mascagni does not typically come to mind.  Nonetheless, Mascagni’s most well-known composition, Cavalleria Rusticana, remains one of the most performed and celebrated operas in musical history.  This one act opera is predominantly responsible for the arrival of realism (or, Verismo) in Italian dramatic music and has been referred to as “sensational” since its premiere in 1890.  The project consists of two main components: the historical research of the opera and an artistic staging of the performance.  Researching the composition and performance history of Cavalleria Rusticana will consist of observing different productions of the work to develop a unique production concept and will illuminate how this particular composition differentiates itself from Mascagni’s other operas.  Following this research, Mr. Reynolds and Dr. Lee will spend three weeks at the Asian Summer Opera Project in Beijing, where they will implement these production concepts.  The project will culminate in a complete performance of Cavalleria Rusticana put on by the Trinity University Opera Workshop in Spring 2016, which will be directed by Mr. Reynolds and Dr. Lee.

Ancient Synagogue Seating Capacities: Dura Europos

Savannah Wagner and Dr. Chad Spigel

With the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple and cessation of the sacrificial cult in 70 ce, Jewish worship practices underwent significant changes. While synagogues—i.e. Jewish community centers—were clearly used by many Jews for worship during the first few centuries of the Common Era, the extent of the practice within Jewish communities has been difficult for scholars to determine, leading to the question: did most Jews in the first few centuries of the Common Era worship in synagogues on a regular basis (i.e. Sabbaths and festivals)? To answer this question, methodologies to analyze the seating capacities of ancient synagogues will be applied to such sites around the Mediterranean and Near East, including the well-preserved synagogue at Dura Europos in Syria, which will be the concentration of our joint work this summer. Ultimately, the information gathered from this project will be included in Dr. Spigel’s book on the subject entitled Ancient Synagogue Seating Capacities: The Jewish Diaspora.

Savannah Wagner holding open an ancient book with synagogue seating chart


Tip-Toe Aspirations: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and Ballet

Ryan Diller and Samantha Heffner with Dr. Betsy Tontiplaphol

This project explores the relationship between nineteenth-century English poetry and ballet.  Walking has been regarded as the quintessential activity of the nineteenth-century poetic speaker, but as they wander through woods and down boulevards, Romantic and Victorian personae often describe themselves as observing dance, a phenomenon famously illustrated by Wordsworth’s account of daffodils “tossing their heads in sprightly dance.”  Our work traces the ways in which nineteenth-century poets’ references to dance both reflect and resist the state of ballet as it evolved in the decades immediately following the French Revolution.  Ballet’s changing stories and steps are echoed in the imagery on which contemporary poets relied, but this study also concerns the parallels between ballet’s codified, courtly movement (which largely survived Revolution-inspired cultural upheaval) and nineteenth-century poets’ enduring interest in conventional verse forms.  Notwithstanding his ostensible desire to write more freely or, as he puts it, “in the very language of men,” Wordsworth dances—not walks—“with” the daffodils as he ponders them.

Ryan Diller and Samantha Heffner and two classmates in a ballet class