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Honors Theses 2013-2014

Peter Alfredson

“The Importance of Being ‘Russian’: Representations of Ethno-Cultural Identity in the Works of Contemporary Russian-Jewish Writers in the United States

Advisor: Professor Stanislav Shvabrin

By investigating a selection of contemporary fiction by Russian-speaking Jewish emigrants living in the United States, this project queries how notions of “Russianness” forms the core of the diasporic experience. The honors thesis strives to show how writers engage larger questions about how family, community, location, and memory all help to form aspects of both individual and group identity.

Jasmine Jackson-Irwin

“From Fringe to Mainstream:
Understanding the Cultural and Political Identities of Contemporary German Nationalism”

Advisor: Professor Christina Wegel

Despite being a political minority, how has the contemporary German right-wing achieved such widespread publicity? More importantly, to what degree does this movement pose a threat to German democracy? This thesis provides an interdisciplinary review of film (Dennis Gansel’s “Die Welle”), literature (Andres Veiel’s “Der Kick” and Timur Vermes’ “Er ist wieder da”), journalism, and government publications to identify the societal implications of the contemporary far-right in Germany. Specifically, it seeks to address how, if at all, these cultural representations of far-right ideology mirror the actual right-wing movement, and to what extent this movement may subvert established German democracy.

Nicole Johnson

“Deconstructing the Masculine Wall: Exploring Gendered Experiences of German Reunification in Film and Autobiography”

Advisor: Professor Richard Langston

This comparative honors thesis argues that the cultural phenomenon ofOstalgie is a gendered one. By comparing women’s autobiographies with films about the fall of the Wall, the thesis seeks to establish how this difference is inscribed into the media deployed to express a nostalgia for the East German past.

Kylie Shryock

“A Language Attitude Study of Old Order Amish in Adams County, Indiana”

Advisor: Professor Paul Roberge

This thesis assesses how members of the Old Order Amish community in Berne and Geneva, Indiana, view English, Swiss, Pennsylvania German, and High German, especially in relation to their identities as Amish and as Americans. The study will study, in particular, investigate language attitudes as they relate to: the melding of English (and Pennsylvania German) with Swiss; the endangered status of Swiss; and what actions can help preserve these communities three dialects.