Graphic Narratives and Holocaust Memory

Allyson Young (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Vicki Aarons

In 1955 comics artist Bernie Krigstein and scriptwriter Al Feldstein published “Master Race,” an eight-page graphic story that appeared in the debut issue of EC Comics’ Impact magazine. Our project will examine the ways in which “Master Race” influenced the developing genre of 21st century Holocaust graphic narratives. In chasing the retreating afterimage of Holocaust memory, “Master Race,” establishes the discursive and artistic language for the enactment of Holocaust memory as it resurfaces and transcends time, distance, and place, creating a layering of histories and memories. Set in America ten years after the war, “Master Race,” returns to the events of the Holocaust in a dramatic encounter between a Holocaust survivor and a Nazi perpetrator, two men whose meeting on a subway car descends into the depths of traumatic memory. Our project hopes to shed light on this largely unrecognized early Holocaust comic, showing how it was one of the first graphic stories of a deeply serious subject unconventionally told through a comics structure that took the comics medium in a new direction. This research will contribute to Dr. Aarons’ next book on the origins of the long-form graphic narrative as a complex visual-verbal form of Holocaust witnessing and testimony.  

Allyson Young Graphic Narratives and Holocaust Memory

Returning to Normalcy: The Perils of Restoration Politics

Sara Heridia (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. David Crockett

Our research is part of a book-length project that approaches presidential leadership through the lens of “political time” – a partisan regime model of American politics which argues that presidents face different leadership opportunities and constraints depending on when in a political era they take power. George W. Bush was a regime manager trying to advance the political project established by Reagan. Unlike his father, however, Bush came to power after an opposition party interlude (Clinton), giving him the task of restoring Reagan’s agenda. Such “restoration presidents” have occurred many times in the past. Their ranks include Polk, McKinley, Harding, and Kennedy, among others. The existence of a common leadership dynamic has tremendous importance for understanding our own era, including the restoration presidency of Donald Trump. This chapter will focus on the Reagan-era restoration presidency of George W. Bush, seeking to understand how he fits into this pattern. We will be doing a comparative analysis of the George W. Bush presidency, contrasting it with previous “restoration” presidencies. Our data will be comprised of standard scholarly histories, biographies, and analyses of the subset of presidential administrations.

Sara Heridia Returning to Normalcy: The Perils of Restoration Politics

Identity Games: A Playable Game Essay about Identity and Choice

Nick Smetzer (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Aaron Delwiche

Inspired by the ways that creators use digital production tools to create video essays, our goal for this project is to leverage the power of interactive media to create a nonfiction “playable videogame essay” which investigates interactions between the player’s real-world identity, the game-character (or ‘avatar’) controlled by the player, and philosophical choices imposed by the game’s mechanics.

We are not the first people to suggest that videogames are capable of challenging users to view the world in different ways. For example, "The Stanley Parable" (Davey Wreden and William Pugh, 2011) and "The Beginner’s Guide" (Davey Wreden, 2015) use the mechanics and interface controls of a first-person adventure game to develop extended arguments about contradictions and tropes embedded in contemporary game narratives. However, both of these titles situate players within a fictional narrative universe. In our nonfiction playable videogame essay, we will directly address players from our point of view, developing an explicit argument about the nature of identity and the philosophical implications of choices imposed by the game’s underlying mechanics.

Click here to access the video game Nick created.

Nick Smetzer Identity Games: A Playable Game Essay about Identity and Choice

13 Reasons Why and the Gendering of Truth: A Content Analysis

Kailey Lopez (Trinity ‘21) and Dr. Sarah Erickson

The question of who is to be believed in cases of gendered violence and what, in fact, constitutes such violence has been a major topic of discussion in the era of #metoo. In this project, we will engage in an in-depth analysis of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why (one of the most discussed TV shows of 2017 and 2018) with a focus on abusive behaviors, scripts, and schemas as well as a particular emphasis on the ways in which belief, truth, and gender intersect. This project has two goals. First, we hope to identify the frequency of occurrences of gendered violence and abuse in this popular narrative.  Second, we will interrogate whether the show treats experiences and truth differently based on gender. By highlighting the subtler ways in which women’s experiences of gendered violence are undermined in narratives such as 13 Reasons Why, this work provides a theoretical framework and methodological template for future similar investigations. Is this narrative teaching viewers to believe survivors and helping them to understand the complex nature of intimate partner violence and abuse or does it instead reinforce acceptance of these behaviors and traditional tropes about gender, legitimacy, and truth?

Kailey Lopez (Trinity ‘21) 13 Reasons Why and the Gendering of Truth: A Content Analysis

The Invisible City: Travel, Attention and Performance

Leah Woehr (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Kyle Gillette

Cities offer theatrical visions but also remain mostly invisible—from backstage infrastructure to patterns of immigration, commerce and public memory that leave only superficial traces. How might performances embedded in urban spaces help people see cities with fresh eyes? Written for practitioners, travelers, students and thinkers interested in the city as site and source of performance, The Invisible City: Travel, Attention and Performance mixes travel writing with theatrical criticism, philosophical meditations with artistic pedagogy. The book explores the city as both stage and subject in three parts: 1) a constellation of vignettes that unfolds individual cities through travel writing and engagement with particular artworks; 2) an intimate portrait of the 41-year-old performance group Teatro Potlach and its ongoing project Invisible Cities, which has staged performances in dozens of cities across Europe and the Americas; and 3) exercises to guide artists and travelers to explore urban spaces.

Read more about Leah and her project...

Maverick Rights: Mayor Maury Maverick and Free Speech in Wartime San Antonio

Connie Laing (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Jennifer Henderson

This summer, the Maverick Rights book project – a multi-summer student effort to tell the history of Mayor Maury Maverick’s stance on the First Amendment issues of free speech, press, and assembly - will focus on Maverick’s relationship with San San Antonio women, including repeated run-ins with the famed Chili Queens operating taco stalls in Alamo Plaza.

A former U.S. Representative and Texas firebrand, Maverick was a staunch Democrat, New Deal Reformer, and vocal supporter (at least in the early days of his mayoral term) of free speech, especially for minority groups in his hometown of San Antonio.  In 1939, Mayor Maverick approved a permit for the use of the Municipal Auditorium by the Communist Party. This event, which was opposed by the Catholic Archbishop and by every veterans group in the city, ended in a “stone hurling crowd of 5,000,” breaking “nearly every window in the building.” This incident had a significant impact on Maverick’s core values and career. In 1940, he rejected a similar request by the Jehovah’s Witnesses to use the auditorium, silencing the voice of this controversial religious sect. But this was just the start. For the remainder of his term as mayor, he rejected almost every minority group request for access to public spaces for assembly or speech. Ironically, this turn away from free speech did not help his public approval ratings. Maverick was ultimately voted out of office in 1941, after being labeled a Communist himself.

Read more about this project..

Connie Laing-Maverick Rights: Mayor Maury Maverick and Free Speech in Wartime San Antonio

Educating Muslim Leaders in North America

Arisha Ali (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Sajida Jalalzai

Our research this summer will contribute to a book length project about the education of Muslim leaders in accredited North American institutions.  Currently, the only accredited programs that train Muslim leaders in the United States and Canada are Protestant Christian seminaries. Based primarily on ethnographic research conducted at Hartford Seminary (Hartford, Connecticut), Emmanuel College of Victoria University in the University of Toronto (Toronto, Ontario), and Bayan Claremont (Claremont, California), this project analyzes impact of multifaith educational models on the development of North American Muslim leaders, such as Muslim chaplains, pastors, and spiritual caregivers. What are the rationales provided by these historically Christian institutions for the establishment of Muslim leadership training programs? What are the logics of Muslim students pursuing their education in these multifaith settings? What are the translations to make these distinct religious communities comprehensible to each other? This project contends that the aforementioned programs result in the inculcation of norms of Muslim authority that align with liberal Christian values, including but not limited to: religious individualism, spirituality (versus legalism), democracy, non-hierarchical forms of authority, ecumenism, and interfaith relationship-building. 


Playwriting, Performance and Artistic Practice/Antigone in the City

Kirsten Timco (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Rachel Joseph

This project combines scholarship and artistic practice that includes a performance of Rachel Joseph’s "Antigone in the City" at the F.L.I.P.T international theatre festival in Fara Sabina, Italy performed by the playwright and two student researchers. The play serves as a model for the initial stages of research and drafting of the book project Playwriting, Performance, and Artistic Practice. "Antigone in the City" will provide a real life case study for the techniques and methodologies proposed in the book-in-progress. The book will explore writing for performance through a unique combination of scholarship, creative writing, and targeted exercises for playwriting techniques and artistic practices. 

Kirsten Timco performing on stage Antigone in the City with student photographer on front row

How did you experience your summer?: Collecting Student Voices to Map the Experience of SURFs in the Arts and Humanities

Simone Washington (Trinity '20) and Dr. Lisa Jasinski

Within the higher education community, undergraduate research experiences (UGR) are considered a "High-Impact Practice” (Kuh, 2008). Participating in UGR produces higher rates of student engagement and retention, leads to deeper learning of subject areas, and helps students hone the soft skills most prized by employers and graduate programs (e.g., communication, critical thinking). Much of the existing research on UGR, including best practices for mentors and program administrators, has focused on the STEM disciplines. As Trinity becomes the national leader in expanding opportunities for undergraduate research in the arts and humanities; this project supports the systematic collection and analysis of students’ voices. By gathering “real-time” information from students about their UGR experiences—and by identifying ways to gather future data—this project will yield important insights for scholars and practitioners alike. To develop our case study (Yin, 2014), we will employ a variety of qualitative research methods, including focus groups, observations, and photovoice (Wang & Burris, 1997). This project promises to identify new strategies to promote inclusive practices and identify opportunities for faculty/mentor development across Trinity’s Mellon Initiative and undergraduate research more broadly.

Simone Washington (Trinity '20) 2019-projects-transcribeathon

Philosophy Camp for Children

Andja Bjeletich (Trinity ‘21) and Dr. Judith Norman

In this project we will look at the pedagogical theory and practice of running philosophy camps, with a view to setting up a one-day camp for San Antonio students. 

“Philosophy for children” is a growing movement as universities introduce programs for teaching philosophy at the pre-collegiate level. Studies have linked philosophical education in primary and secondary school to greater overall educational achievement and stronger school communities.  Also, school children find open-ended inquiry about big questions (‘what is time?,’ ‘what makes something fair or unfair?’ ‘are numbers real?’) really engaging and fun.  

Both of us have been doing philosophy with children in the classroom, and now we will be investigating philosophy camp as an alternative model. One of the best camps is at Texas A&M. Andja will be a counselor at this camp and we will use her experience as a basis for developing a camp in San Antonio.

Read more about Andja's project....

Andja Bjeletich holding text book sitting in front of open Mac

Recreating Primary Source Data for Ancient Jewish Villages

Adam Toler (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Chad Spigel

From 1970 through 2001, Duke University sponsored four archaeological excavations of five ancient Jewish villages. The results of these excavations have already been “published” using the common archaeological practice of summarizing the archaeological data and providing an interpretation of the data in a printed book. While this approach has been standard for over a century, it has significant shortcomings. Whereas the archaeologists who excavated these sites had access to the actual archaeological evidence (i.e. the dirt and artifacts as they were excavated), as well as thousands of documents created to represent the evidence they destroyed as part of the excavation process, the print publications only include the subset of data determined to be relevant by the excavators. In order to provide scholars with access to the primary source evidence that was not included in the print publications, this summer we are working on the development of an open-access website that will provide scholars with access to the archaeological data used by the excavators to write their reports, but which did not make it into the print publications.

Adam Toler  working with texts on desk in classroom

Playing while Rome Burns: Classical Receptions in Games

Hannah Friedrich (Trinity ‘21) and Lizzie Ruetschle (Trinity ’21) and Dr. Benjamin Stevens

This project contributes to the fledgling study of ‘classical receptions’--transformations of ancient Greek and Roman materials--in games, including role-playing games (e.g., Dungeons & Dragons, featuring monsters like the Minotaur), tabletop / board games (e.g., Polis, with players running classical Greek cities), and video games (e.g., God of War, involving Olympian gods). This area is so new that there is (1) no survey of material, (2) only a handful of studies, and (3) no attempt at theory or method. In summer 2019, we will (1) begin surveying games for relevance, (2) identify likely topics for further research, including student-led analysis of particular games, and (3) suggest more general theory and method. We anticipate both ‘academic’ and ‘creative’ opportunities, including (4) working with colleagues elsewhere to finalize a conference panel with a section for undergraduate research, leading ultimately to a first volume of essays on the topic, and (5) encouraging consultation with game-designers on classically-themed modules for games.

Read more about this project...

Hannah Friedrich and Lizzie Ruetschle students standing in front of a game board

Creating a Professional Theatre Production: From Research to Performance 

Kristen Herink (Trinity ‘21) and Alex Parris (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Nathan Stith

During the summer of 2019, Dr. Nathan Stith will be directing a professional production of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs at Oldcastle Theatre Company, a highly respected regional theatre located in Bennington, Vermont. Beginning in May,  students Alex Parris and Kristen Herink will work closely with Dr. Stith on the pre-production work involved in creating a professional theatre production. Alex Parris, who will serve as the production’s Assistant Stage Manager, will contribute to pre-production meetings with Dr. Stith and the design team and embark on research which examines the design of homes and home furnishings in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn during the 1930s. This research will assist the director and designers in creating a realistic depiction of 1930s Brooklyn. Kristen Herink, who will appear as Laurie in the production, will work with Dr. Stith, providing dramaturgical research on Jewish culture and family dynamics in 1930s Brooklyn. This research will assist both Kristen in her character development and Dr. Stith in creating the world of the play during rehearsals. In June, Dr. Stith, Alex and Kristen will travel to Bennington, Vermont to begin rehearsals. During the rehearsal process the students will work directly with Dr. Stith as well as union actors and stage managers from New York City, gaining invaluable experience and professional contacts. They will be able to take the tools they are learning to use in their theatre coursework and transfer those skills to a professional environment. The production, which will be reviewed by major newspapers throughout New England, will run during the month of July, and be seen by hundreds of theatre goers from New York, Boston, and New England. 

Click here to view a video about opening night!  ​​

Cast of four on the set of Brighton Beach Memoirs in the Old Castle Theatre in Vermont

LGBTQ+ Resilience in San Antonio, TX

Jared Tincher (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Amy Stone

This project is the second year of a three-year interdisciplinary team study of resilience among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) individuals in San Antonio, Texas that is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Interdisciplinary Research Leaders Initiative. Understanding resilience, or the capacity to thrive in the face of obstacles, is a critical approach to studying what determines health that focuses on the assets that people develop to make their lives healthier. Research has shown that LGBTQ+ individuals experience worse health outcomes compared to their heterosexual peers, and LGBTQ+ people of color often experience a greater degree of the overall disease burden. Yet many LGBTQ+ people also thrive even in politically and social hostile environments. This project will use a community-based research model to conduct interviews and collect surveys on LGBTQ+ people in San Antonio to understand better how race and gender influences how they develop resilience and how this resilience may impact their health.  Our project for the summer will include recruiting 1,000 San Antonio LGBTQ+ people to take a survey about resilience and health.

Jared Tincher (Trinity ‘20) LGBTQ+ Resilience in San Antonio, TX


The Dark Green: EcoFeminist Science Fiction

Abbi Bowen (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Heather Sullivan

With a fierce capacity to queer narrative form, Ecofeminist Science Fiction expresses the volatility and agency of persons overlooked, human and non-human. Creative awareness and knowledge of our human dependence on plants unsettles the structures placed between human and ‘other,’ simultaneously exerting volatile relationships of kinship. The Ecofeminist idea of kinship expands the mainstream perception of family into one that encompasses animals (human and non-human), insects, bacteria, and plants within an earthly frame. Our interdisciplinary literary studies project considers portrayals of human and non-human kinship relations—particularly human-plant relations—within cultural, literary, and scientific representations of human-and-plant cultures. While looking at the entangled relationship between plant kinship and the long-term co-evolution of human beings, we will complete the Ecofeminist Plant Stories chapter of a book-length project for Bloomsbury Publishers, Environmental Cultural Series. Our research will include Ecocritical literary methods of reading and evaluating multiple literary texts parallel to current Critical Plant Studies work, alongside scientific discussions of the changing ecological systems of plants and human beings in the Anthropocene. 

Abbi Bowen (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Heather Sullivan The Dark Green: EcoFeminist Science Fiction


Beyond the Cha Canting: Foodways, Transethnic Performance and the Making of Chinese-ness in Hong Kong Restaurants (1860-1920)

Nathaniel Pigott (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Gina Tam

Our project explores how Chinese immigrants in Hong Kong opened restaurants from the 1860s-1920s. Since it became a colony in 1841, Hong Kong has existed between empires: a British territory home to European, Indian, and African sojourners, and a site for Chinese migrants seeking opportunity. Many Chinese entrepreneurs opened restaurants serving fare from their home provinces. Others, however, served cuisines foreign to them-- from Tai Ping Koon, which began serving soufflé and Chicken ala King in 1860, to Hong Kong’s first Japanese restaurant opened in 1892. By examining how owners created menus for, found real estate for, financed, staffed, and served non-Chinese cuisines, we will investigate how Hong Kong's restaurant culture contributed to global meanings of Chinese identity. 

Nathaniel Pigott standing behind a podium lecturing to a class

The Pointe of the Pen: 19th Century Poetry and the Balletic Imagination

Lauren Rawlins (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Betsy Tontiplaphol

Our research will contribute to Dr. Tontiplaphol’s current book project, The Pointe of the Pen: Nineteenth-Century Poetry and the Balletic Imagination, which explores the relationship between nineteenth-century English poetry and contemporaneous ballet. We argue that the nineteenth-century’s balletic innovations assisted nineteenth-century poets in both conceiving and articulating the point of their penwork in an age increasingly enamored with and even shaped by the novel. The Pointe of the Pen challenges literary historians’ assertions that its focus authors were immune to the balletomania that shaped both Romantic and Victorian England, as well as Europe more broadly. The manuscript’s three chapters identify the ways in which ballet’s unique culture and aesthetic manifest in the forms, images, and ideologies that define Wordsworth’s, Byron’s, Shelley’s, and Barrett Browning’s most significant poems, as different as those poems are. The book is approximately three-quarters complete. At this juncture, we will focus on gathering additional data from periodicals to establish more fully the degree to which balletic language shaped non-balletic writing. Our research will not only compensate for the current gap in the discourse surrounding literature and dance but also offer fresh readings of the major works produced by some of the nineteenth-century poetry’s most significant voices.

Lauren Rawlins standing in front of her project board

Emotions in Chinese Internet Cultures

Ryan Eskridge (Trinity ‘20) and Dr. Jie Zhang

The project focuses on how the cyberspace has emotionally engaged parts of Chinese society—the state, the burgeoning middle class, the stratified netizens, and the youth—in shaping public discourses and forging subcultures in a post-socialist setting. We examine how people’s “old” emotions—happiness, sadness, disgust, fear, surprise—are expressed, consumed, and mobilized through “new” media. The project starts with bibliographic research on online emotions and Chinese internet culture and progresses to closely analyze prominent internet events, each involving millions of online posts. Through this study we hope to help understand the cultural ramifications of the internet, revealing the affective fabric of digital culture that has yet to be closely studied. Each of the events—the rise of Papi Jiang’s parodic videos, the online crowd petition regarding a Monkey King legacy, the cyber mourning of an otherwise little known actor, the cyber shaming of victims of crimes, as well as the intersection of internet songs, television shows, and cyber slangs—provides a distinctive lens into how people in post-socialist China negotiate agency and conduct identity politics.

Ryan Eskridge standing in front of her project board


150 Years of Experiential Learning at Trinity: Context, Perspective and Implementation

Kate Nuelle (Trinity ‘21),  Jonathan Chapman (Trinity ‘20),  KaDarius Lee (Trinity ‘19), Peyton Tvrdy (Trinity ‘21), and Dr. Erin Hood, Dr. Lauren Turek, and Dr. Robert Scherer

In recognition of Trinity’s 150th anniversary year, our interdisciplinary team of faculty, staff, and students will create an exhibit that explores the history of experiential learning at Trinity University. The four student team members will work collaboratively to research, document, and tell the story of Trinity’s institutional commitment to experiential learning and of how the San Antonio community has participated in various incarnations of learning by doing. Using archival and ethnographic research methods, they will delve into the university archives and conduct oral history interviews with faculty, students, alumni, and community partners. Once they have completed their historical research, the students will curate the content and construct both a physical and a digital exhibit, as well as a digital database of interviews, that will first be displayed at Trinity’s Undergraduate Research and Internship Symposium. After the symposium, the exhibit will travel to various locations in San Antonio (e.g., public libraries, chambers of commerce, museums, and corporate locations) and then will return to Trinity, where we anticipate it will be housed in the renovated Chapman Center building.

Professor and six students standing in front of project boards w-Kate Nuelle (Trinity ‘21),  Jonathan Chapman (Trinity ‘20),  KaDarius Lee (Trinity ‘19), Peyton Tvrdy (Trinity ‘21), and Dr. Erin Hood, Dr. Lauren Turek, and Dr. Robert Scherer