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MFLL Undergraduate Research

AJ Culpepper (Summer Undergraduate Research Internship)
Title: Accessing the Third Translation: Nabokov’s Zashchita Luzhina and Nabokov’s The Defense
Abstract: This research explores Nabokov's translation of his Russian novel Zashchita Luzhina into the English The Defense as a creative act. It questions the designation of "original" and "translation" to the two works, facilitated by taking an intertextual approach. Instead of comparing the works solely to establish difference or to analyze the development of Nabokov’s artistry in terms of maturation and increasing sophistication, I looked for a synthetic whole, a "third translation," employing a number of analytical methodologies. I entered the project wanting to challenge critical responses that frame the development of Nabokov's aesthetic devices and style in terms of linear improvement, with his translations acting as replacements or refinements of their imperfect predecessors. The general conclusions from my research is that Nabokov's English version is creative to the same degree as his Russian version, with both acting as isomers of the novels' living creative source. Further research will lie in a more precise exploration of Nabokov’s translational choices and any differences in his self-translation and his translation of other artists’ works.

Advisor: Stephen Blackwell

Cheyenne Peters (Graphic Design and MFLL)
Title: Analyzing the Gender Gap in Second Language Acquisition: A New ESL Curriculum for Latina English Learners (Honors Program Senior Thesis)
Description: This project includes an investigation the gender gap in second language acquisition among Latina immigrants, ultimately creating a new ESL curriculum in which English students can experience more proportional representation and acquire necessary skill sets. The project consists of two main components:1) a research paper discussing the disparity in female ESL education among Latina immigrants in the United States and 2) the creation of a new ESL curriculum to address this gender gap.

Mentor: Cary Staples (Graphic Design)

Hannah Anderson (Nursing and MFLL with a concentration in Hispanic Studies double major)
Winner, MFLL-STEM Thesis Award, 2019
Honors Thesis: End of Life Care Disparities in the Hispanic Communities of East Tennessee: Exploration of Current Inequalities and Perceptions of Hospice and Palliative Care

Abstract: Hispanic community members utilize end of life care services, including palliative and hospice care, less frequently than their white counterparts. The reasoning behind the lack of use is unknown. The purpose of this study is to determine the perceptions about end of life care of the Hispanic community; to assess disparities regarding palliative and hospice care; and to identify possible contributing factors to those disparities.  A survey was given to eight Hispanic community members who were over the age of 18 and resided in the greater Knoxville area. The research was conducted at the Centro Hispano, a local Knoxville community center for Hispanic people. The principal investigator visited the Centro Hispano during class times to recruit participants, engage in the informed consent process, and administer the surveys. Descriptive statistics and qualitative thematic analysis of the responses was conducted.  Four themes were isolated from the data obtained: lack of basic knowledge and familiarity, the value of family, the value of religion, and professional help.  The disparity in the utilization of end of life care services by Hispanic community members is due in part to a lack of knowledge of accessible services and a lack of comfort in discussing values surrounding death with loved ones, despite a desire to use professional end of life care services in addition to familial and religious support. It is recommended to conduct workshops in which Hispanic community members can become familiar with end of life care, discuss values with family members, and learn about the local resources available to them.
Mentors: Dr. Millie Gimmel (MFLL) , Dr. Mary Lynn Brown (Nursing)

AJ Culpepper (Russian Studies)
URSA Abstract
Against All Hierarchy: The Suturing of Mind, Body and World in Chekhov’s “Ward No. 6”

Chekhov asserts in the short story “Ward No. 6” that the forcible institutionalization of the insane results from the disjointed network of nature, society and the individual. The disjoints of this network ultimately derive from privileging the spiritual plane above material reality. The hierarchy of spiritual over material—and thus mind over body—creates dissonance in the individual, alienating her from nature and its abiding unity of spiritual and material reality. Chekhov explores this hierarchy in a two-stranded approach: he embodies it as the society in “Ward No. 6” and rejects it in the discursive form of the narrative itself, whose ontological system does not put ideas at a remove from mundane action or privilege subjects above objects. Through the story, Chekhov’s poetics distinguish between a natural, life-affirming realm and an anti-natural, life-denying society. This study concludes that Chekhov, as both writer and doctor, places healing—for the individual and also for society—in the reconciliation of the mind and the body, the spiritual and material.
Mentors: Dr. Stephen Blackwell, Dr. Natalia Pervukhin

EUReCA Presentation Abstract
EUReCA Award of Excellence, Humanities
Visually Mapping the Narrative System of Dostoevsky’s "The Idiot"

This research creates a visual system for analyzing Dostoevsky’s The Idiot. I define five factors—space, time, character (individual actor), network (unique aggregate of certain actors), and narrative voice—and visually explore their dyadic and triadic relationships. Taking the triad of character, network and time, I identify all named entities within the novel and describe each person to whom they are connected. I then define factors for determining the degree of closeness in each of these relationships, and represent the degree via line value; those more closely related will be connected by thicker, darker lines. Other dyads and triads rely on visualizing schemes inspired by music notation, thermal imaging, and set theory. In visualizing and representing the novel’s varied mechanisms and parts, I track the evolution of Dostoevsky’s narrative and artistic system at a bird’s eye view. The Idiot is a vast narrative universe rich in events, actors, and narratorial turns; the reader’s task is additionally overwhelmed by the novel’s sheer mass and density. The Idiot’s layered sources of complexityinvite the visual approach undertaken in this study.
Mentor: Dr. Stephen Blackwell

Annabeth Vannucci (Hispanic Studies)
Annabeth is interested in working in health care. she researches how the Spanish Experience Learning program helped her bridge her interest in Spanish and health care and future applications of those interests.
Mentor: Dr. Millie Gimmel

Benjamin Effinger (German)
EUReCA Poster: The Hohenstoffeln as Home: 20th Century German Environmentalism. 
Mentor: Dr. Stefanie Ohnesorg.

Griffin Palmer (German)
Thesis: Using Social Media to Promote the Acquisition of German as a Second Language
Abstract/Scope of Thesis: This thesis examines the impact of using social media applications to foster the acquisition of the German language as a native English speaker. The importance of this discussion lies in the fact that during this modern era, there are multiple advances in technology that have enabled more efficient and more effective learning processes in various fields. One of these advances derives from the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies, which are widely held to have the ability to positively impact a foreign language learner. I will look specifically into the realm of social media and social networking applications, as to determine
their impact on German language acquisition. More specifically, the analysis will be focused on one social networking platform, namely YouTube, and the concept behind the analysis is to determine whether social influencers—users of this platform that have aggregated a large fan base within their respective “fields”—can offer benefits to language learners indirectly and simply through following their online activity. This activity includes, but is not limited to, the videos they post and the comments added to each video from other viewers. Languagespecific channels will also be analyzed, as they are more functional in nature and aim to instruct viewers on specific language topics.
Mentor: Dr. Stefanie Ohnesorg

Jeffrey Holt (Hispanic Studies)
EUReCA Honorable Mention, Humanities
TItle: Blood and Conquest: An Investigation into The Most Prominent Diseases of 16th Century Mexico and How They Impacted Colonization and Cultural Exchange.
Mentor: Dr. Millie Gimmel

Sullivan Smoak
German Honors Thesis. Stefanie Ohnesorg & Edward Schilling, supervisor.
Title: “Cultural Influences on Pain and Pain Management in the United States and Germany”

Click here to view thesis

Completed Dec. 2017:
Meredith J. Maroney
Double major in Journalism & Electronic Media and in Hispanic Studies, with a minor in History.
Senior Honors Thesis. Gregory B. Kaplan, Professor of Spanish (Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures)

Title: “Undocumented in Knoxville” 


My UT senior honors thesis focuses on the undocumented experience in Knoxville in light of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) policy. My objective is to present different perspectives that measure the extent to which DACA and other undocumented individuals impact the city (in economic, social, and other cultural spheres) as well as document the emotional impact on Knoxville. During a 30-minute video, I interview a variety of individuals touched by DACA and other undocumented individuals including the individuals themselves, professionals who support them, and their loved ones who are documented. I also interview individuals who discuss current policies on immigration to the U.S. The interviews, which I conduct in Spanish and English, center on real life experiences, which in turn provides a platform for a variety of voices.

Erika Knowles
Honors Thesis in Russian Studies. Stephen Blackwell, supervisor.

Title: “Tolstoy’s Function Argument—Ethical Aesthetics”


Modern English-language scholarship has been tolerant at best, and derogatory at worst, of Leo Tolstoy’s “What is Art?”. Many have dismissed it as simply a self-contradictory and misguided attempt at repossessing art as a tool for moralizing and preaching. Even the relatively favorable blurb on the back of the English edition describes “this powerfully influential work” as “impassioned and iconoclastic.”  Tolstoy was attempting to undertake a philosophically rigorous approach to defining art—with the motivation of justifying and furthering his religious and political beliefs, but not without validity of some kind. He was intensely interested in Greeks and Homer. The evidence of Aristotle’s influence throughout “What is Art?” is intriguing in its own right, while also bringing forth many features of Tolstoy’s views that are otherwise obscured by a mixture of little philosophical training and less-than-perfect English translations. This thesis argues that “What is Art?” can be best understood as an aesthetic adaptation of the function argument.



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