Outstanding writing and research from the University Writing Seminars
Read these award-winning student papers and be inspired to write your own! This year, writers explore the phenomenal rise of specator video games, the uses and dangers of nationalism, the pitfalls of social-justice comedy, the emergence of queer and feminist voices in country music, and the development of hyperpop as a twenty-first century correlary to punk. In form as well as content, these papers exemplify the goals and ideals of UWS writing. In her lens essay, Nemma Kalra applys a scholarly critique of environmental rhetoric to the bright lights and laughs of a Netflix Comedy Special — connecting texts from two unrelated genres to create her own thesis and argument. Lola Hamilton synthesizes a wealth of evidence on the effects of sex in adverting into an enlightening conversation that foregrounds her own, incisive perspective. Like the others in this collection, these papers examplify the independent thinking and informed analysis that characterize the best college writing.
All papers are published in HTML and in PDF versions in either MLA or APA style.
“Laugh It Off”
In her paper for UWS 65A: Everyday Apocalypse, Nemma uses Nicole Seymour's critique of pompous environmentalists as a lens on Bo Burnham's self-depecating critique of pompous comedians. Mid-pandemic, Burnham uses humor to face down his personal demons of depression and anxiety, while facing up to the crises that threaten our world and our sanity.
“The Dangers of Nationalism”
Jessica Li uses Benedict Anderson's Imagined Communities as a lens for Moshin Hamid's post-nationalist novel, East/West, in which migrants and refugees flee to rich countries through magical portals. From UWS 65B: Coming to America.
“Breaking into the Future: The Significance of First-Generation Video Games”
Pong, anyone? In this paper, Ana Obradovic uses abstraction theory and the MDA model (Mechanics-Dynamics-Aesthetics) to appreciate the first primitive video games. From UWS 62A: Video Gameplay, Players, and Styles.
“How Wide is the Wide World of eSports?”
For his research project in UWS 62A, Nathaniel Martin proposes a study of competitive gaming worldwide. What accounts for the rapid growth of this new genre of competition? Why are fans interested in watching other people play “Counter-Strike: Global Offensive” or “Super Smash Bros. Melee”? And what might the future hold for eSports as it spreads to new regions around the world?
“The Consequential Effect of Sexual Appeals on the Place of Women in Society”
Sex doesn't sell, and advertisers know it. Yet they keep serving up pictures of women that reinforce the presumed tastes of heterosexual men. In her paper for UWS 16A: Sex and Advertising, Lola Hamilton presents ample evidence that sexy ads fail to generate sales and brand loyalty. They succeed mainly in perpetuating the age-old sexist message that women are objects to be viewed and used by men.
“Brandy Clark: Country Music as an Avenue for Social Change”
From "bro country" to "hillbilly feminism," country music has often been a vehicle of social ideology. In her paper for UWS-64B: The Resistance Mix-Tape, Maya Kushner documents the effforts of Brandy Clark and others to turn the narrative conventions of the genre to new purposes, telling queer and feminist stories that undermine the supposedly bedrock attitudes of country artists and audiences.
Jaiden van Bork
“‘Love It If We Made It’: Experimental Pop and Societal Decay”
In this J. V. Cunninham Prize-winning paper, Jaiden van Bork takes us on a stunning sonic tour of the hyperpop movement — which, she argues, is as much a reflection of the youth-culture mood of the neo-liberal present as punk was of the disaffections of the early 1970s. The aesthetic, however, is completely different, if not positively alarming. From UWS-64B: The Resistance Mix-Tape.
Grace Danqing Yang
“Cognitive Dissonance, Social Psychology, and Unit 731”
How did Japanese scientists and ordinary medical workers justify the horrific experiments they conducted on Chinese prisoners during World War II? In this paper, Grace Young explains why the concept of “dehumanization” is not enough to explain this catatrophic failure of empathy.