Goucher College - Verge: the goucher journal of undergraduate writing

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In a community often defined by the formal roles of “teacher” and “student,” it is easy to forget that we are, each of us, both teaching and learning, that we are all standing on some sort of verge. The best writing and research is never “merely academic”, but contains an inflection of humanity; provides a crucial, new vision of a subject; and finds expression in its own discovery. Whether by a student or teacher, the best writing and research expresses formative conversations — with individuals, with the discourse and ideas of a discipline — both at Goucher and in the larger world. Verge was created to provide a platform for such conversations. Faculty- and student-nominated, and faculty- and student-advised, the journal collects the best of both academic, research-based writing and more creative nonfiction work. The journal’s interdisciplinary approach is intended to emphasize the links between different disciplines, as well as the links between the curiosities, inquiries, and achievements of individuals who might not otherwise know about each other’s work. In this way, Verge is not only a celebration of undergraduate writing, but a virtual meeting place for the many exciting explorations in which Goucher students are engaged. Every year Verge receives submissions from a wide range of departments and programs. Students and faculty from many departments helped to review, select, and copyedit articles for publication. Verge has showcased a marvelous variety of papers on a wide variety of topics. We have papers written by first-year students and seniors, papers written by individuals and groups, papers written by students here on campus and across the world, papers written in English, Spanish, and French, lab reports, creative nonfiction, senior theses and frontiers reflections. Verge has even published a computer program. Verge continues to reflect the best writing and research being done across the curriculum.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 168
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    The Role and Activation of Myosatellite Cells in Muscle Regeneration
    McCaffrey, Ceri; Bachelor's Degree
    As a competitive athlete, muscle repair and regeneration are an important part of my recovery from competitions. Myosatellite cells are described as the stem cells for muscles. They have the ability to proliferate, differentiate, and self-renew which make them critical in muscle regeneration. These cells remain dormant until activated from signals from the surrounding environment. Once activated, they induce an inflammatory response, differentiate, and are involved in myofiber maturation, making them critical steps of muscle regeneration. I wrote this paper as part of an assignment for my developmental biology class. In an effort to make information from journal articles more accessible, we wrote sections that were added to Wikipedia pages on our subject. I appreciated the overall goal of this assignment in making information accessible to people regardless of academic background. Wikipedia is a source used by many people to gain knowledge of different topics. Honestly, before writing this blurb explaining my article, I read over my Wikipedia article and was rushed with the happy memories of compiling information for this topic. Having played tennis for a majority of my life, muscle health and recovery has been of utmost importance. It was fascinating to learn about the details regarding muscle regeneration and hopefully my Wikipedia section and article will help shed light on the importance of myosatellite cells in the body.
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    “Don’t Risk Disaster”: Early Advertisements for Contraceptives in American Periodicals
    Mattsen, Brynn; Bachelor's Degree
    This paper is an in-depth analysis on an advertisement for a contraceptive drug in a 1950 issue of The Afro-American from Goucher College’s Special Collections and Archives. I was caught by the vague and fear-mongering language used by the writer of the ad and was drawn into exploring the history of contraceptive drugs in the United States. Discrete marketing was a necessary staple of the contraceptive drug industry in its early days, but this permitted manufacturers to use misleading and manipulative language that preyed on the fear of unwanted pregnancies and put consumer health at risk. The paper unpacks the history of these drugs, their legal status in the US, and the structural violence implied in this advertisement, while also contextualizing the structural, social, and health issues historically posed by pregnancy.
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    Wunderkammers and Contested Sacrality in the Walters Art Museum
    Brynn, Mattsen; Bachelor's Degree
    This paper is based on my brief experience as a volunteer at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. It is based on a particular standing exhibit there called the Chamber of Wonders styled after the wunderkammers (‘wonder rooms’) of wealthy Europeans of the Age of Exploration, which feature cultural and natural artifacts obtained from outside of Europe and are rife with racism and exoticism. Tucked away in a corner of the Chamber of Wonders are the remains of an ancient Egyptian child. Research in Goucher College’s Special Collections and Archives connects the college’s founder to the mummy, and the resulting paper dissects the narratives presented by the Walters in the Chamber of Wonders exhibit, how they create a fundamentally contested history and space, and how that contestation influences the museum’s status of cultural and spiritual sacrality according to certain frameworks.
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    Gender-Nonconformity in Late Nineteenth-Century America
    Yannes, Jonathan; Bachelor's Degree
    In modern times, transgender and gender nonconforming identities are under attack. Many detractors have tried to argue that trans and nonbinary identities have not existed until the past decade, and disproving that had been a major part of my goal in creating this paper at first. However, when actually researching gender in the realm of history, I discovered that there’s so much more nuance to be had when finding figures from the past that did not align as traditionally male or female. These people did exist, and lived full and interesting lives. But trying to find details about these marginalized peoples’ conception of themselves during a time when their existence was taboo has proven incredibly difficult. This paper analyzes a series of specific case studies of Americans in the late 1800s, and takes a poststructuralist approach at examining how they would have perceived themselves and their identity within the world that condemned them.
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    How The Walking Dead Deconstructs Race
    Toval, Dario; Bachelor's Degree
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    Not For What They Contained: The Myth-Building of the New York Grolier Club
    McKay, Oona; Bachelor's Degree
    Not For What They Contained: The Myth-Building of the New York Grolier Club was written in the spring of 2022 as a final paper for Arnie Saunder’s Archeology of The Text. In the class, we were encouraged to make use of Goucher’s archives and special collections, conducting close readings of these rare books as art objects as well as texts. I chose to make a study of the recently acquired Carol Zeman Rothkopf Grolier Club Collection. The collection, donated by Ms. Rothkopf, contains a number of publications by an antiquarian book collecting society in Manhattan. Reading into the choices made in a few selected publications, I hoped to understand how the members of this club were imagining and defining the act of book collection, as well as the social implications of that shared understanding. By engaging with a broader community of bibliophiles, and perpetuating that community’s collectively cultivated understanding of the function and merit of collection, the Grolier club creates a division between an in-group of true appreciators and an often unmentioned out-group who simply do not need or have use for access to the knowledge rare books contain.
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    Why the Food Pyramid was Bullshit
    Toval, Dario; Bachelor's Degree
    I wrote “Why the Food Pyramid is Bullshit” because I wanted to educate others on the history of the food pyramid and explain how it actually wasn’t a good metric for determining whether you have a healthy diet. While the food pyramid has admittedly improved over time, this doesn’t take away from the multiple decades that the United States Department of Agriculture peddled the food pyramid as the defacto guide to nutrition when in reality, the food pyramid was a major contributor to America’s ongoing diabetes and obesity epidemics. If you were to follow the food pyramid as it stood from 1992 to 2005, you would have been eating well above your maintenance calories. And you would have been led to believe that crackers and other sweets were as necessary in your diet as bread and rice. I wanted and still want to help people take their nutrition into their own hands, and help people realize that all our bodies are different and there are no one-size-fits-all solutions when it comes to your diet.
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    Woolf and Bergman
    Kim, Daniel; Bachelor's Degree
    In a broad and personal sense, my paper is a sort of testament to things I believe about art and our engagement with it: the inextricable nature of form and content, the thin barriers between our interiors and exteriors, the endless interplay between various forms and mediums, that sort of thing. There’s no real “theory” underlying the paper beyond just: all art is connected, all art modifies both itself and other works of art, and the degree to which this modification takes place is directly correlated to the forms and degrees of attention we can apply to it. In other words, art is magical, it contains an infinite number of potential connections, and we actively manifest these connections by engaging with it.
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    Social Psychological Violence through the Control of Musical Freedom
    Elbers, Greta; Bachelor's Degree
    “Social Psychological Violence through the Control of Musical Freedom” is an analytical essay which illuminates structural violence theory through the examination of how music has been used as a tool of subjugation of African Americans both through appropriation and the control of musical freedom. This paper attempts to highlight the ways in which music has been used by African Americans as a tool of resistance, resilience, and joy while simultaneously being used by Whites as a tool of control, and domination.
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    Sex and The State: The Impact of State Policy on Sexual Expression in China
    (2018) Loftis, Emma; Bachelor's Degree
    China’s Cultural Revolution (1966—1976) was a time of strict sexual repression wherein the state, led by Mao Zedong, made efforts both explicitly and implicitly to construct a largely asexual nation. However, in the forty years following the Cultural Revolution, open expression of sexuality has become far more acceptable in Chinese society; a monumental shift often referred to as China’s “sexual revolution.” This paper explores the ways in which political attitudes under Mao’s China, as well as those of the post-Mao era, shaped notions of sexuality in the Chinese populace during each respective period. By highlighting the ideological shift in the China’s political administration from repressive socialism to tolerant free-market economy, I argue that there is a causal relationship between governance, economy and the sexual revolution. I anchor my argument by analyzing three key issues which prompted various responses from the Chinese state. I begin by analyzing the reason for the disappearance of the term aiqing, or ‘romantic love’ during the Cultural Revolution, and its resurgence in the post-Mao era. I then shift my focus to the differing responses of each political era to the population’s consumption of erotic texts. Finally, I compare methods of state-implemented population control under Mao to the methods of population control during the Post-Mao era.
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    Converted Christian and Islamic Architecture: A Path to Understanding
    (2018) Hoffman, Serena; Bachelor's Degree
    I became strongly aware of how different religions, especially Islam and Christianity, view each other when a Muslim girl from Afghanistan joined my high school class. As I became closer with her, I started to notice the fear and confusion in people’s eyes when they saw someone wearing a hijab or burqa, and I noticed those same emotions in myself. I wondered why I felt this way, and realized that people who wear those garments feel fear as well. Fear fuels hatred, and hatred between religions is certainly evident in today’s world. But why fear, why hate, for each other? Is it because we are afraid of our differences, because we don’t understand each other? This paper attempts to dispel the notion that Christianity and Islam are so incredibly different. In the first semester of my freshman year of college, I took an Introduction to Art History course with April Oettinger. Some of the class’s focus was on architecture, as buildings and structural design can point to thinking and beliefs of that time. One of the buildings we looked at was the Hagia Sophia, which was originally used as a church and later converted into a mosque. This building and its religious conversion sparked the idea for this research paper, which I wrote with the guidance of my writing teacher, Charlee Sterling: the Hagia Sophia, and other buildings with a similar history, can be used as a model of coexistence and peace for religions themselves. The combination of the personal and the historical in this essay create a topic that I feel very passionate about. My hope is that we can start to let go of our fear for others if we learn about and understand how much common ground we really do share.
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    Whiteness, Man: Whiteness and King of the Hill
    (2018) Hardy, Maddie; Center for Art & Media - Communication & Media Studies; Bachelor's Degree
    I wrote this paper for my Race and Media course, where we were tasked with analyzing the racial imagery in a piece of media of our choosing. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to write about King of the Hill, an underrated show that will always be close to my heart. Drawing on the critical race theory of Michael Brown and Richard Dyer, I argue that King of the Hill subverts hegemonic whiteness by naming the more subversive ways in which whiteness can operate. Whiteness is seen as invisible, as neutral: it has no racial imagery. Dyer argues that this invisibility cements white supremacy by deeming white narratives and experiences to be the universal norm. King of the Hill names this whiteness and creates space for critique. The show uses satire to explore whiteness within blue collar, middle America in a way that doesn’t allow its characters “off the hook” for their racial incompetence. However, unlike Family Guy and other satire peers, King of the Hill does this without relying on overtly racist characters that white audiences can comfortably distance themselves from. The critique of whiteness present in King of the Hill invites white viewers to critically examine their own whiteness and how it functions within society. Just as the show’s characters are not “let off the hook” for their racial incompetence, neither are white viewers. Within the paper, the episodes “Westie Side Story,” “Racist Dawg,” and “Traffic Jam” are analyzed through this critical race theory lens. I had watched King of the Hill as a child, so I really enjoyed revisiting the series from a critical perspective. Reflecting on the show forced me to reflect on my own whiteness and my positionality as a viewer, and I encourage white readers to do the same!
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    Interactions & Environmental Attitudes: A Statistical Analysis of How Experiences Determine Outlook Towards Goucher’s Woods
    (2018) Grosso, Rachel; Center for Natural Sciences - Environmental Studies; Bachelor's Degree
    This analytical essay sprung from a classwide project during the Fall of 2017. Along with several other Environmental Studies majors, I conducted an online survey of Goucher College students regarding their attitudes towards the Goucher Woods via the platform Qualtrics. The course itself, ES311: Biosphere & Society, focused on teaching data-driven skills in an environmental context, which led us to our topic of choice; we wanted to better understand how the woods on our campus affect students’ attitudes towards ‘nature’. After spending a few weeks writing and testing the questions, we released the survey for about two weeks, and then dedicated another month of the semester towards analyzing the results with every statistical test we could cover. Very often, environmental attitudes are attributed to gender or race, which while informative, I thought excludes other factors while also forcing binaries and perhaps misguidedly attributing behaviors to certain groups. For this reason, I elected to perform my analysis on the frequency of interaction that students have with the woods, and thus if more frequent interactions influence deeper understanding of regulatory benefits or greater appreciation of aesthetic/cultural benefits of the woods. The final product of this analysis was written as my final experience for the course, and I really enjoyed learning how to use different statistical tests such as Lambda, Cramer’s V, and Chi-Square. From question concepts and programming the instrument to analyzing the results in SPSS and writing this paper, I was an integral component of this project, and I felt that I grew as both a data analyst and writer during the course of this endeavor.
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    TCK Beyond the Anglosphere: a Case Study in a Rabat International School
    (2018) Geller, Adam; Bachelor's Degree
    Third Culture Kids are a group raised in multiple cultures, whose common worldview as a result of repeated cultural change becomes a “Third Culture” in and of itself. Third culture is frequently characterized as an example of heterogeneous people forming a single “tribe” (Pollock and Van Reken 2009; Tanu 2013; Facilionce 2013). International Schools in Morocco are particularly heterogeneous, because not only do many students come from many places, and speak many languages, but also these schools contain many local students, who may not share their classmate’s mobility. Two classes are issued surveys at one international school in Rabat to pilot assessment methods for dissonances in self-classified identities across expatriate experience. The speaking of French or Arabic in addition to English is found to be loosely correlated with better adjustment to Rabat, and a more singular identity, respectively. This result may be due to French and Arabic granting better access to Moroccan culture than English alone. It may also be due to local students, who speak Arabic and French, self-reporting well-adjusted identities despite attending an English-language school. More research is required before asserting universality or causality.
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    Exploring the History of Subliminal Racism in Ivory Soap Commercials
    (2018) Bloomfield, Anna; Bachelor's Degree
    I got the idea for the paper after exploring the archives for a previous research paper and finding a children’s magazine from 1926. I discovered that P&G would buy a page every month in the magazine to create an ongoing storyline for young children to follow and to advertise Ivory Soap. The story was called “The Ivory Heroes” which featured a group of mythical creatures and young white children who traveled around the world cleaning places with Ivory soap. The issue I discovered featured the Ivory Heroes going to Africa and cleaning an African village. After doing a in-depth study of the ad’s explicit racism and how the company got to that point, I became curious about how the company continued their history of explicit and subliminal racism in their advertisements. I wanted to write this paper because after my semester of research into the history of soap advertising while I was hearing about racism scandals happening at Dove, I felt that more attention needed to be drawn to the advertising world and how it continues to affect us daily.
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    The Empathetic Author in the Internet Age: The Victorian Serialized Novel and the Internet Serial as Social Experience
    (2018) Krasnansky, Alyssa; Center for Humanities - English; Bachelor's Degree
    Serialized fiction was the norm in the 19th century, and now, in the 21st, it’s making a comeback. This paper explores the differences between serialization then and now, paying special attention to the impacts of author-reader interaction. With serial publication, the author and reader communicate during the writing process, but between the 19th and 21st centuries, the purposes and consequences of these communications vary. In the 19th century, flagging magazine sales could be the death sentence to a novel-in-progress; this paper asks how the content of those novels had to adapt itself to minimize the risk of being dropped. Today, the Internet has opened the door to serialization as an alternative to traditional publishing; this paper asks which authors, demographically, take the serialization versus traditional route, and how author-reader interaction has created a print culture of empathy that many find lacking in traditional publishing. My interest in this topic is personal, as co-writer of the web serial Prairie Song. As I made connections in online serialization, I realized how under-researched Internet serialization is as a contemporary print culture. I wanted to explore the motivations and outcomes of Internet serialization as compared to our cultural baseline for serialized fiction: the works of Dickens, Eliot, and their contemporaries.
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    Structural Violence in The Baltimore Sun’s Coverage of 1910 McCulloh Street
    (2018) Vajda, Kathryn; Center for Geographies of Justice - Peace Studies; Bachelor's Degree
    Housing in Baltimore has had a long and complicated history of racist, exclusionary policies and practices. From intense racial segregation to redlining and blockbusting, both legal and social pressures have enforced a structurally violent system within the city. After reading historian and former Baltimore Sun writer Antero Pietila’s book “Not in My Neighborhood: How Bigotry Shaped a Great American City” I decided to focus this paper on a series of Baltimore Sun articles published in 1910. These articles narrate a historically white Baltimore neighborhood’s fierce reaction to an African American man moving in during the Jim Crow period. The racist language and obvious bias present in these articles demonstrates just how deeply the violent housing policies penetrated the lives of those involved. By studying and drawing attention to historically unjust instances like this one, we can both learn from the past and strive for future systems based on equity and respect rather than prejudice and exclusion.
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    Amid clouds of change, “The Sun comes out every day”
    (2018) Symmes, Clara; Bachelor's Degree
    Amid clouds of change, ‘The Sun comes out every day'” is a feature story written for a class with Dan Rodricks, a reporter at the Baltimore Sun who taught at Goucher in Spring 2017. Everyone in the class was asked to write about anything and I jumped at the opportunity to learn a bit more about how the newspaper is adapting to the digital age. The piece is built around the newspapermen who have worked at The Sun for decades, especially Fred Rasmussen (who writes obituaries), Paul McCardell (the librarian), and Sam Davis (the Managing Editor), and the shifts they have made in their years there. It follows the history of The Sun and entertains the future that awaits it.