Panel 4

Race and Identity

Christina VanderZee (English)
Optimism, Identity, and Class in Mrs. Dalloway
Mentor: Dr. Christopher DeVault

Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway is frequently read as an optimistic tale of Clarissa Dalloway discovering her happiness with her lot in life despite the social and political stagnation of 1920s London. However, in her essay, Christina VanderZee critiques the class prejudices underlying Woolf’s portrayal of Clarissa’s optimism.  Arguing that her journey of self-discovery is inevitably limited by her role as the novel’s “perfect hostess,” VanderZee contends that Clarissa’s attempts to replace her socialite persona Mrs. Dalloway with the free spirit she was as a teenager are hampered by the class judgments she continuously makes about the people she encounters and her unwillingness to shed the comforts and prejudices of her class status.

Kristen Doyle (Social Work)
Trans-Racial Adoption and Social Work Practice
Mentor: Joni Howland

In her senior paper, Kristin utilizes eight social work curricular themes to explore the controversial subject of trans-racial adoption.  Her extensive literature review enables her to articulate the social and political factors that influence public policy decisions regarding trans-racial adoption.  She addresses such issues as institutional discrimination and oppression that result in the increased demand for trans-racial adoption, and the unintended consequences of continued oppression and discrimination that can result from policies that allow for trans-racial adoption.  Within this context, she discusses the social worker’s roles when involved in trans-racial adoption, and the ethical standards that guide social worker practice with the child, family and community.

Rachel Dee (English)
Cultural Confusion in Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake
Mentor: Dr. Joy Ochs

This paper examines the struggles of first- and second-generation immigrants in Lahiri’s novel as they attempt to define for themselves an identity that is neither fully Indian, nor fully American.

Kyle Thompson (Political Science)
China’s Path: Democratic Reform or More of the Same?
Mentor: David Doerge

This project begins with an examination of the various theories of democracy and analyzes which, if any, might apply to future developments in China. Will the enormous gap between rich and poor in China create civil unrest and pressure for change? Is Chinese leadership showing any signs of reform? And, most important, what are the views of Chinese people regarding government reform, the economy, and the desire for more democracy? These are all critical questions for the future of China and for the World.