Session B: 10:45AM – 12:15PM

Humanities. Session B – Oral Presentations, Conference Room, Sill Center

SESSION B (10:45AM – 12:15PM)
Location: Conference Room, Sill Center



“A bird with a broken wing”: Disability and Normality in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening
Maren Archibald, Utah State University

Faculty Mentor Jared Colton, Utah State University

SESSION B 10:45-11:00AM
Sill Center

Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening” depicts Edna Pontellier, a married woman attempting to cast off the disciplinary shackles of the nineteenth century through a personal rebirth. As theorized by the French philosopher Michel Foucault, discipline is more than controlling behavior; it is about optimization of the body. The three pillars of discipline – hierarchical observation, normalizing judgement, and examination – contribute to the view of the body as “a site of normalization.” Lennard J. Davis, a renowned disability studies specialist, theorizes that in any novel can be found “a kind of surveying of the terrain of the body, an attention to difference.” In The Awakening, Chopin often describes Edna’s bodily experiences, from exhaustion to passion to boredom, creating a view of Edna as a disabled body. Disability metaphors, as Davis states, are used to “represent limitations on normal morals.” The language surrounding Edna’s awakening is marked by disability metaphors that function to polarize her from the moral norm. In addition, the observation Edna is subject to characterizes her struggle as one against control and examination, not just expectation. Applying Foucault’s three pillars of discipline and Davis’ reflections on normality and disability, I argue that Edna’s position outside the norm is exaggerated by the disability-coded language used to describe her body and behavior, and that it is not the societal expectations themselves against which Edna rebels, but rather the suffocating rules of discipline and normality that surround them. Audience takeaways will include an increased awareness of the subtle presence of disability metaphors in early feminist literature and an understanding of how disability perpetuates standards of normality.



A Comparative Analysis of Barefoot Gen
Taylor Rae Connor , Utah Tech University

Faculty Mentor Brooke Hotez , Utah Tech University

SESSION B 11:05-11:20AM
Sill Center

This research presentation will provide a comparative analysis of the animated movie Barefoot Gen and its eponymous graphic novel by Keiji Nakazawa. Barefoot Gen is a story loosely based on Nakazawa’s personal, first hand experience during World War 2 and the aftermath of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Nakazawa’s story is significant because it illustrates a monumental historical event that ought to never be repeated. The discussion about nuclear war is especially interesting because Americans often view the United States as the “world police” or the protective big brother country despite this devastating event. This comparative analysis will examine the unique differences between these two versions of Nakazawa’s tale, specifically focusing on the portrayal of the father, Mr. Nakaoka, and his protest against the war, and the depiction of violence, horror, and suffering.


“Legend Still Holds Secret the Key:” Animism and Dialogic Witnessing in Véronique Tadjo’s Queen Pokou and Toni Morrison’s Beloved
Holden d’Evegnee, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor Aaron Eastley, Brigham Young University

SESSION B 11:25-11:40AM
Sill Center

Many critics have observed how African novels use elements such as mythology, rhetorical questions, dialects, etc. in their texts to recreate elements from oral legends, but this neglects to take into account how animist literature changes a reader’s engagement with a text. Animist literature invites readers to renegotiate the meaning of old stories by becoming a story’s custodian-guarding it for a future performance. In this paper, I argue that the novels Queen Pokou: A Concerto for a Sacrifice by Veronique Tadjo and Beloved by Toni Morrison use animism as a literary paradigm to recreate the experience of participating in oral literature. Tadjo’s and Morrison’s novels restructure founding stories from their communities’ pasts to create fluid texts that resist overly historical interpretation. Animism is what gives African oral literature a unique ability to fluctuate and modify itself according to each generation. This fluidity preserves the continuity of a community’s identity. In this way, both works of the authors deconstruct history and writing to provide an African form of interrogating the past and shaping the present. This form of interrogation is what I call dialogic witnessing: the act of participating in the past as a witness and the responsibility to become a storyteller for the future. As examples of Animist written literature, Queen Pokou and Beloved bridge the gap between the Western novel and African oral traditions by restructuring the audience’s engagement with texts and the past. They use animism to recreate the performative, communal nature of oral traditions in a written medium.



Rod Serling: A Look at his life, minorities, and his fight with golden age television
Madison King, Brigham Young University

Faculty Mentor Paul Kerry, Brigham Young University

SESSION B 11:45-12:00PM
Sill Center

This paper is meant to answer the question as to how the Twilight Zone represented minorities as well as show the writer’s, Rod Serling, own experience with being a minority. Rod Serling is Jewish and dealt with Anti-Semitism despite being a well-known writer. The main focus was on prejudice and how that played into how minorities were seen at the time The Twilight Zone was written.  How the research was conducted by looking at separate episodes of The Twilight Zone and analyzing them for how minorities would have been represented or how Rod Serling fought against television and human prejudice. There were three episodes analyzed, namely ‘Eye of the Beholder, ‘He is Alive’ and ‘I am the Night-Color me Black.’ These episodes proved that much of The Twilight Zone was written to prove a point and that point was that prejudice is a great evil and we should learn to be open-minded and accepting of those around us. The paper also goes into depth with Rod Serling. From interviews with the daughter and other anecdotes of his life, Serling shows that he has no patience for those who will not accept the different and condemn the ostracized. The research was conducted by looking at books written about The Twilight Zone and its influence on society as well as the meaning behind the episodes. There were books on the political thinking in the Zone. Others talked about how the episodes were written which brought light to either the writers’ thoughts or the episodes’ tone. The Twilight Zone showed how prejudice was ruining society in the 1960s and much of what was talked about then can be applied to the events occurring today, such as trying to fit into a society that only values one look, or way of thinking, or how we keep up alive the things that scared us in the past with bigotry and hatred. The Twilight Zone and its meaning should not be forgotten. Rod Serling’s lessons still apply no matter how the world has changed or has not.



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Utah Conference on Undergraduate Research 2023 - Program Copyright © 2023 by Office of Undergraduate Research is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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