Campus News

Fourth Annual Senior Symposium Celebrates Scholarly Achievements of Graduating Class

April 24, 2013

Liv Combe

On Friday, April 26, 2013, the fourth annual Senior Symposium will take place in Craig Lecture Hall. Made possible by the efforts of Assistant Dean of Studies Randal Doane, the event is a campus wide celebration of the scholarly and artistic achievements of the class of 2013

This year, 50 students will present their independent and collaborative work to the Oberlin community. Topics range from the reproductive rights movement at Oberlin in the 1960s to groundwater storage in China and Tibet; the effect of heavy metal ions in Huntington’s Disease to themes of obsessions and incest in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude. Participating student majors and concentrations run the gamut from archaeology and geology to ethnomusicology and gender, sexuality, and feminist studies.

Opening remarks by Associate Dean of the College Arts and Sciences Joyce Babyak will take place at 1 p.m., with panels beginning at 1:30, 2:45, and 4 p.m. The reception for the event will begin at 5 p.m. in the academic commons of the science center.

Babyak sees the senior symposium as an opportunity for graduating students to share their work with their peers, the faculty and staff who have supported their educations aspirations, and the broader Oberlin community. “It is a culminating experience in which students do just what academics and artists do: present their work, whether in the form of a research presentation or a creative performance or show, and engage in open conversation about that work,” says Babyak.

Below is a sampling of the presentations featured at this year’s Senior Symposium. 

Alexis Burdick-Will ’13

Project title: “How Does the Present Affect Interpretations of the Past? La Nación and the Memory Debate in Argentina”

Session 1, Panel 2 (1:30-2:30 p.m.): “The Weight of a Nightmare: Making Sense of History in Guatemala, Chile, and Argentina.” Moderated by Chair of Hispanic Studies and Associate Professor of Comparative Literature Patrick O’Connor. Science Center, A155.

A native of Philadelphia and a Latin American studies major, Burdick-Will studied abroad in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the fall of 2011, the 10th anniversary of Argentina’s economic collapse. “All around the city there were signs, art installations, and protests about how the same powers and individuals who had caused the economic crisis were still in power, promoting policies that originated with the dictatorship between 1976 and 1983,” remembers Burdick-Will. Her project analyzes the changes and patterns within the editorials of leading conservative newspaper La Nación from six major events in Argentina since 1983, the year the country transitioned from a dictatorship to a democracy. Burdick-Will, who has taught Spanish to local elementary school children through Oberlin’s Spanish in the Elementary Schools (SITES) program, will be teaching elementary school in New York City as a corps member of Teach for America.

Matthew Davis ’13

Project title: “Translating Chris Ware’s Lint into Russian”

Session 1, Panel 4 (1:30-2:30 p.m.): “Meditations on Text/Image/Translation.” Moderated by Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing Azita Onsaloo. Science Center, A255.

As co-founder of the Oberlin Comics Collective and a Russian language and literature major, it made sense for Davis to combine his interests for his senior project. Davis chose to translate a work of his favorite cartoonist, Chris Ware. “Translating Lint would be an excellent way to both gain a deeper understanding of his definitely complicated work as well as bring it to another country,” says Davis. His project is not a straightforward translation — it deals with issues of translating into a non-native tongue, cultural translation, and placing Ware’s comics in the Russian existentialist tradition. After spending his summer working at a camp in Vermont, Davis plans to get involved in the arts, comics, and ’zine scene in Chicago.

Julie Christensen ’13

Project title: “Human Connection as Activism: Analysis of a Student Movement for Global Health”

Session 2, Panel 6 (2:45-3:45 p.m.): “Written on the Body: Inscriptions of Gender, Racialization, and Student Activism.” Moderated by Assistant Professor of Sociology Greggor Mattson. Science Center, A154.

An anthropology major and a native of Minnesota, Christensen has spent the past two years involved with a world health organization called GlobeMed, founding an Oberlin chapter [,con-pr] that works in partnership with an organization in Vietnam. As a participant and an observer, Christensen has “learned about the complex idea that is global health and the part that students in the United States play in confronting global inequities.” Her project focuses on this grassroots student activism, presenting narratives of the young people involved and the social dynamics within the network. Christensen plans on attending medical school within the next few years. She wants to focus on the health of those with HIV and the queer community, and become a primary care physician for the urban underserved.

Jennifer Bower ’13

Project title: “Using Short-Lived Radionuclides to Explore the Effects of Agricultural Drainage Tiles on Erosion Depth in the Vermilion River Watershed”

Session 2, Panel 10 (2:45-3:45): “On the Down Low: Studies of Groundwater and Gypsum.” Moderated by Professor of Geology Bruce Simonson. Science Center, K209.

A double degree student in organ performance and geology, Bower’s project explores the relationship between agricultural land use, drainage tiles, and depth of erosion in the nearby Vermilion River watershed. Hailing from St. Louis, Bower has traveled the world to play historical organs, and she has been the president of the Organ Pump Committee for the past three years. Last fall, she presented a poster at the Geology Society of America annual meeting in North Carolina. This May, Bower and her research advisor, Assistant Professor of Geology Amanda Schmidt, will fly to China to collect samples for her research. Next year, Bower will complete a Master’s degree in historical performance.

Carter Sligh ’13

Project title: “Staging The Winter’s Tale

Session 3, Panel 14 (4-5 p.m.): “Rewrites, Replays, and Remixes: Reflections on Shakespeare, The Ramayana, Music Technology, and Chile.” Moderated by Associate Professor of Cinema Studies and English Jeff Pence. Science Center, A255.

With combined interests in theater and history, a fully staged version of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale was right up Sligh’s alley. “My goal was to create a historically relevant version of the play, one that strengthened Shakespeare’s language and made clear the themes of the play for a modern audience,” says Sligh. Set in the 1950s and ’60s, Sligh’s production had five performances in late February and proved to be a great box office success. Through the Oberlin Musical Theater Association and the theater program, Sligh has participated in more than a dozen theatrical performances during his time at Oberlin. After graduation, he hopes to work professionally in the arts for a few years. “Diving into the professional arts world is risky and scary, but it’s worth it for me,” says Sligh. “Oberlin has given me such an amazing sense of how important the arts are, as well as what I have to offer to make the world a better place. I intend to use what I’ve learned to its fullest extent.”

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