“Enterprise’s T’Pol: Identity as a Multi-Faceted Battle of Gender Expectations”
South Atlantic Review 86.1, South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Spring 2021
Conference Presentations and Research
“Enterprise’s T’Pol: Identity as a Multi-Faceted Battle of Surface Politics”
(Presented at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association 89 Conference in Spring 2017)
The Vulcan T’Pol faces criticism on this Star Trek show for her thin bodysuit, stoic language, monotone speech, and cold demeanor that do not match her overtly sexual presentation. But T’Pol suggests, rather, that physical appearance can be deceiving when it comes to society’s expectations concerning gender performance. T’Pol displays Judith Butler’s “surface politics of the body” in the way that her sexually physical appearance automatically appears to dictate her social behavior expectations; yet, she upsets surface politics by displaying an identity that rejects cultural demands. She subverts expectations in relation to her culture as a Vulcan, which dictates that she use logic, reason, and discipline over emotion; because she chooses to integrate emotions into her identity and to make personal choices with which her tradition would not approve, she forges a multi-faceted individualism that separates her from her culture and immerses her in a human one. From the male gaze, to feminine docility, to linguistic politeness, to social practice repetition, to assimilation of the Other, T’Pol subverts conditions that society would place on her. Her ability to circumvent the surface politics established by her sexual appearance and Otherness as an alien on a human ship speaks volumes for her ability to control her own narrative arc within the series.
“Frankenstein’s Creature: An Analysis of Isolation, Sympathy, and the Approaches of Narrative Frame”
(Presented at the Bodies of Work Graduate Conference at the University of Southern Mississippi in Spring 2017)
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, while successful in representing the injustices against the Creature by both Victor and society, is ineffective at allowing the greatest potential for sympathy for the Creature because of the way his tale is buried under three other layers of narrative. Early stage adaptations represented the Creature as an unintelligible monster and the clear antagonist, but modern adaptations, like Danny Boyle’s National Theatre Live adaptation, shift the focus solely onto the Creature by beginning the play with his birth and letting him retain power over the narrative until the resolution. This restructuring of attention suggests that projected sympathy, as described by Adam Smith in The Theory of Moral Sentiments, was not as fully actualized in Shelley’s rendition of the Creature as it could have been had the narrative control rested with the Creature instead of the different filters who came before.
“An Ultra-Foreign Threat: Dracula as a Reflection of the Victorian Inadequacy”
(Presented at the Graduate Research Symposium at the University of Southern Mississippi in Spring 2016)
Count Dracula represents an amalgamation of threats against Victorian England by embodying the uncanny, the abstract, the unnatural, and the international. While focus has been given to Quincey Morris and Abraham Van Helsing in helping the Englishmen defeat Dracula, as well as the aid of Mina Harker, the encompassing necessity of both the national outsiders and the social outsiders to bring success to an otherwise inadequate group of three native Englishmen is substantial. In similarity to Wilkie Collins’ use of international and social outsiders to defeat a foreign Count Fosco in The Woman in White, Bram Stoker incorporates every outside aid imaginable to highlight the failure of the English to protect themselves at home in their age of Imperialistic expansion.
“‘My best friend, Sherlock Holmes, is dead’: Watson’s Survivor’s Guilt Narration and PTSD”
(Presented at the Mississippi Philological Association Conference at Blue Mountain College in Spring 2020)
The narrative discourse in “The Final Problem” reflects the personal relationship Watson shares with Holmes and his attempt to process the guilt and absence he feels from Holmes’s loss, thus focusing on the completing analepsis narrative Watson invokes to tell the story of Holmes’s death. This narrative is a survivor’s guilt discourse similarly adopted by Jude Law in the film, A Game of Shadows, and by Martin Freeman in the BBC Sherlock episode, “The Reichenbach Fall,” that shows the injurious result to Watson’s mental state and the consequences to his character development. Many critics analyze “The Final Problem” alongside “The Adventure of the Empty House” to show its inaccuracies and patterns of unreliability in Watson’s narration, but they fail to take into consideration the reflection of the guilt and loss Watson feels, and how any inadequacies in the facts of the story itself can be attributed to this mental state of PTSD.
“Metafiction and the Case for Closure: A Narrative Reading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen'”
(Presented at the Narrative Conference for the International Society for the Study of Narrative in Spring 2020)
J.R.R. Tolkien worked on the lore, histories, languages, and characters of Middle-earth for his entire life. In the Appendices of the last volume of The Lord of the Rings, he gives “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen,” which is a deliberate placement in order to entice readers to return to other outside works that were most important to him, such as The Silmarillion, a novel of Middle-earth history. Aragorn and Arwen’s story draws striking similarities to “The Tale of Beren and Lùthien,” a story that Tolkien described in his letters as the most personally profound for him, as he based the heroine off of his wife, Edith, and went through constant revisions of it. The placement of “The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen” in the Appendix of his most popular novel is, therefore, a strategic effort to suggest to readers that true closure will not be found in The Lord of the Rings, but only in the stories that came before it in the larger narrative frame of Middle-earth history.
“Roverandom: Reinvestigating Tolkien through Child Readership and Narrative Voice”
(Presented at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association 90 Conference in Fall 2018)
Roverandom (1925) is the earliest work Tolkien wrote specifically for children, for his own child, Michael, and yet it is largely forgotten by audiences in favor of the more popular work, The Hobbit. Because Roverandom more effectively serves a child audience of one rather than an overall concept of the child, and because its narrator aligns himself more with the reader rather than in a position of intellectual authority over the reader, the text fulfills Tolkien’s theory of writing for children as well as the concept for children’s fantasy in a manner that is more progressive than The Hobbit. If Roverandom contains more effective approaches in style and concept and narration, then it needs to be analyzed further as both an individual text and as a children’s text alongside The Hobbit.
“The Short Fiction of Karen Brown: Choices, Consequences, and the Memories That Keep”
Fiction author Karen Brown is the winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and has published two collections of short stories and two novels. Her work in Little Sinners and Other Stories and Pins & Needles represents a nostalgia for childhood in young female characters who feel the pull of small town and neighborhoods, of secrets created, of disasters that result, of the strive to become more than your past, and the never-ending search to reconcile grief with forgiveness. Stories that are grounded in strong, empathetic characters and a keen sense of place, they demonstrate Brown’s keen ability to put details and eloquence on the page in a manner not unlike the character-driven plot style of Alice Munro. She writes from her historical knowledge and personal experience of rural Connecticut, and imbues setting with its innate potential for creating memories and shaping identities that last a lifetime.