ELKINS – The work of six Davis & Elkins College students was selected for inclusion in the inaugural Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Humanities Research Symposium at Johns Hopkins University. In response to COVID-19, the symposium has shifted to an online format and will also release a journal of proceedings.
The D&E students will be among 400 scholars from throughout the United States to participate in the online platform to host their presentations in the first national database of its kind for undergraduates. In addition, Symposium organizers will accept the students’ submissions for the first volume of the Richard Macksey National Undergraduate Research Journal, giving them the opportunity to acquire a peer-reviewed publication as an undergraduate.
Davis & Elkins students selected for participation are Mollee Akers of Oceana; Emily Alexander of Strasburg, Virginia; Carson Crawford of Moorefield; Amanda Cummins of Elkins; Savannah Gregg of Spartanburg, South Carolina; and Cody Turner of Moorefield.
“What these students have done is impressive and I’m glad they are being recognized for the excellent work that they consistently produce,” said D&E Professor of English Dr. Bill King, who serves as chair of the Division of Humanities. “They represent the best of the Humanities and Davis & Elkins College. Their work is both highly analytical and compassionate, two qualities that the world needs now more than ever.”
Akers, a sophomore English major, wrote “Wall of Strength” for King’s Introduction to Creative Writing course. The creative non-fiction memoir focuses on the discovery of her mother´s brain tumor, shortly after the death of Akers’ grandmother. Akers explains that while on the surface the story traces her anxieties within the hospital waiting room, the narrative largely aims to expose Appalachian culture’s expectations of women; expectations that prioritize selflessness, demand strength and discourage weakness.
Alexander, a senior English major, submitted the work titled “Weary Women: Victorian Women and the Navigation of Space-less-ness.” Originally written for Dr. Katherine Osborne’s “Gothic Literature in Context” course, Alexander debates literary critics’ theories on women’s private physical spaces in Victorian times. Instead, Alexander asserts that the physical privacy each character finds is mere illusion.
A senior religious studies and philosophy major, Crawford presented work titled “I Permit a Woman to Speak: The Biblical Case for Women’s Ordination.” The essay presents research from his Senior Capstone project, directed by Dr. Bryan Wagoner. In his paper, Crawford exegetes the 16th chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Romans and examines other writings to present argument for the existence of biblical permission for women’s ordination and reinforcement to the calling of women into the preaching vocation.
Cummins, a criminology and history major, wrote her paper for Jeremy Christensen’s “Communication and Culture” course. In “A Nazi Amusement Park: Flakturm Tower IV and the Rise of Alt-Right Fetishism in Vacation Venues,” Cummins contends that the NH Hotel Group’s decision to convert Flakturm Tower IV, a former Nazi military installation in Hamburg, Germany, into a luxury hotel performatively establishes an Alt-Right fetishism.
Gregg is a junior psychology major. Her essay, “Clawing for Power: Merricat and Constance’s Struggle over Patriarchal Oppression,” was written for Dr. Katherine Osborne’s “Gothic Literature in Context” course. In the work, Gregg explores the ways Shirley Jackson’s revision of the traditional gothic “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” provides the illusion of matriarchal dominance. Ultimately, she argues, the novel is a critique, not a celebration, of matriarchal power.
Turner, a junior political science and English major, wrote “False Prophets/Profits: The Effects of Post-WWII Consumerism on Religious Values in Flannery O’Connor’s Fiction” for King’s “Single Author: Flannery O’Connor” course. In his essay, Turner examines O’Connor’s “Wise Blood” and “The River,” which suggest that the rise in consumerism, especially since WWII, has become an “alternative religion,” causing the loss of traditional religious values such as compassion, humility and authenticity. Turner further focuses on the loss of human values having devastating effects on the future of society, politics and human interaction.