The Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures (MCLC) hosted its inaugural undergraduate research symposium where students presented their semester-long projects.
“This symposium highlighted students’ research, celebrated the way they tackled topics and ideas and demonstrated how they found ways to answer critical questions,” said Jacqueline Couti, the Laurence H. Favrot Professor of French Studies and department chair. “They demonstrated a development of critical skills. It’s not about just content; they’re thinking through problems and finding solutions.”
As Couti describes, the MCLC department poses philosophical questions about what it means to be human. This notion was a central theme behind Greek philosophy, and the interdisciplinary nature of the department allows students to springboard from that basic question and apply it in myriad ways.
“What we’re doing is looking at the human mind,” Couti said. “We’re looking at the way people will behave in particular spaces and interact with each other.”
With that guiding principle, five presenters showcased the spectrum of research encompassed by their MCLC studies this semester:
Alayne Ziglin, a classical studies major, presented “Beyond the binary in classical antiquity: exploring the relationship between social constructionism and transhistorical identity in gender orientation,” which traced queer existence as documented throughout history.
William Tsai, a triple major in political science, French and German, offered his thoughts on “Nietzsche, God and the opera” in which he argued the famed philosopher Nietzsche carefully discredited the church and painted a future free from its influence by laying out his own narrative of the development of opera and the revival of Greek tragedy.
Chase Brown, who is double majoring in political science and Spanish, and Morike Ayodeji, a cognitive sciences major, presented “Violencia contra las mujeres afrodescendientes centroamericanas (Violence against Afro-descendant women in Central America).” In it, they described how gender-based violence manifests itself in physical, cultural and structural forms ranging across domestic, family-based and gang relations.
Zach Zelman, a triple major in economics, philosophy and French studies, spoke about “Research on globalization, neoliberalism and populism in the 20th and 21st centuries.” In his speech, he shared his theories on what makes groups support ideas of nationalism and protectionism versus becoming more globally oriented.
For more information about the MCLC department, visit cultures.rice.edu.