2012 McNair Program Abstracts
The Role of Prudence in Virtue
Mentor: Dr. Dan Wack, Knox College
Virtue is a precarious subject. It has one of the longest traditions in philosophy, and yet it would be easy to lament just how few the discussions are on the subject. It is also, in those rare discussions, often misappropriated for ulterior purposes, that is, authors frequently mistreat virtue. This abuse is easy to fall into because of the virtues' unclear nature. One of the most interesting, and possibly the most confusing, aspect of virtue is found in its foundation in Aristotle, and that is the role of prudence. Prudence is said to be both (i) a virtue and (ii) necessary for virtue. Strictly speaking, this doesn't make sense, and here the role prudence plays in the overall cultivation and maintenance of virtue will be examined.
Determining the Greatest Films of All Time: Problems of Canons, Aesthetics, and Criticism Regarding the Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll
Mentor: Paul Marasa, Knox College
From Netflix queues to "best of the decade" lists, list-making is infused in our culture-especially when it comes to movies. List-making has its roots in canon formation; and for cinema, as in literature, canonizing has become problematic. The British Film Institute (BFI) magazine Sight & Sound has been releasing a Critics' Top Ten Poll every ten years since 1952. Beginning in 1992, a poll for directors was created. My project will investigate the progression of list-making from the academic canon to the BFI Critics' Poll to the Directors' Poll and the lists made in response to BFI. Problematic aspects of the lists-like the politics behind them, the polling methods, and questions of criteria-will be examined. Comparison of the polls to other lists and canons will help illuminate their accomplishments and shortcomings. This exploration of the BFI polls will hopefully add to our understanding of the functions of lists and canons and inform our compulsion in creating them.
Sexual cannibalism and courtship length in the fishing spider Dolomedes triton (Araneae: Pisauridae)
Mentor: Dr. D. James Mountjoy, Knox College
Courtship length and male size of the semi-aquatic fishing spider Dolomedes triton and its effect on the occurrence of sexual cannibalism was examined in the laboratory. During trials mature males were randomly paired with a mature female and length of courtship was measured, starting from the time when the first signs of courtship were seen (leg-tapping, leg-waving). Spiders were weighed to the nearest milligram and measurements of the length, width and total area of the cephalothorax were taken. Data collected for courtship length was highly significant, as males who courted for a shorter period of time were more likely to be cannibalized than males who courted for longer. Data collected for size was insignificant, although a trend was noted for the weight of males, in that males that weighed less were more likely to be cannibalized than males that weighed more.
Lateralization of visual mate choice in female Zebra Finches (Taeniopygia guttata)
Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Templeton, Knox College
Research investigating the lateralization of visual discrimination in birds is abundant; experiments investigating lateralization of visual mate choice are fewer. In Zebra Finches in particular, previous research by Workman & Andrew (1986) indicated male preference for viewing females with the right eye/left hemisphere. More recent research by Lieshoff et al. (2004) and Avey et al. (2005) have shown lateralization of the immediate early gene ‘zenk' - expression of which occurs during sexual imprinting and courtship exposure - in the left hemisphere of male and female Zebra Finches. To date, there had been no research investigating the lateralization of visual mate choice in females. This experiment sought to show lateralization of visual mate choice in the right eye/left hemisphere in females. Due to errors in methodology, it cannot be confidently concluded whether female Zebra Finches are lateralized. A complete revision of methodology is proposed for future investigations.
Bridging the Gap Between Cinéma Vérité and Surrealism within the short film model, in theory and practice.
Mentor: Dr. Neil Blackadder, Knox College
My McNair project is an exploration of how a traditional narrative can be rendered in video with cinéma vérité filmmaking techniques (improvisation and handheld camerawork) and how it can coexist with a surrealist aesthetic (experimental juxtaposition of images and sounds in editing and sound design) within the context of the short film model. It is a hands-on experience on the creative process of writing, producing, and directing a short live action film. The production will employ a guerrilla filmmaking approach not only in logistical terms (small budget and a skeleton crew) but also stylistically. The film's subject matter deals with two brothers struggling to find meaning as they roam a post-apocalyptic landscape and encounter the deadly surviving remnants of a military government experiment.
Examining Forms of Affection in Male-Male Heterosexual and Homosexual Friendships
Mentor: Dr. Amy Singer, Knox College.
"I love you," is a phrase rarely heard in modern society between men. This study examines affection in the friendships of heterosexual and homosexual men, with an emphasis on the roles that masculinity and sexuality play in the communication and demonstration of affection. Qualitative data were collected at Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois via focus groups and subsequent in-depth interviews with selected participants. The ultimate goal of this study is to better understand the social dynamics of affection between men, and to further understand the complicated intersections and impact of masculinity and sexuality within men's friendships.
Alcohol Expectancy and Heterosexual Men's Arousal to Gay Pornography: A Preliminary Study
Joe A. Olvera
Mentor: Dr. Heather Hoffmann, Knox College.
The present study examined the hypothesis that heterosexual men under the influence of alcohol may become aroused to gay pornography. Using 12 undergraduate heterosexual male students assigned to one of four groups (expect alcohol/receive alcohol; expect alcohol/receive tonic; expect tonic/receive alcohol; expect tonic/receive tonic), the experiment yielded a significant influence of the effects of alcohol on arousal to gay pornography. The men who actually consumed alcohol showed more arousal to gay pornography than men who did not consume alcohol. However, the current data is preliminary, and further research with a larger sample size would be required to affirm this significant trend.
God Don' Like Ugly: The Presence of God in the Literature of Paule Marshall
Mentor: Dr. Magali Roy-Féquière, Knox College
African American women writers often use their craft to vocalize the struggles of their race, generation, and spiritual consciousness. This study focuses on the role of the spiritual as a belief and an action and how it influences the work of Barbadian-American writer Paule Marshall, who writes with a focus on the "triple-headed hydra of racism, sexism and class bias" that plagued the Black women of her generation. By reading and analyzing Marshall's published works and other texts centered on Black spirituality, the presence of God or faith in a higher power serves to discover what role spirituality played, its portrayal, and its necessity in Marshall's fiction. This is in an effort to understand why Black people are said to "cling to their God" or make their own in times of struggle.
Confessions in Living Color(ed): The Creation of a Choreopoem
Mentor: Dr. Magali Roy-Féquière, Knox College
People of color in the United States struggle with identity on multiple levels: race relating to interracial relationships, love relating to sexuality and intimate relationships, and faith relating to personal spirituality. For my research, I interviewed college-aged people of color currently residing in a predominately-white community (Eugene and Portland, Oregon) about what they believe is necessary to live the best life possible in the face of identity struggles relating to race, love, and faith. From those interviews, I wrote poems relating to the stories they told me as well as my experiences living in Eugene. Those poems will be used to create a choreopoem to be showcased on a Knox College stage in April 2012. The findings of this particular project are the first step in a larger project.
Ground-Shaking Geothermal Energy: An Examination of Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems and Induced Seismicity
Mentor: Dr. Peter Schwartzman, Knox College
Advances in technology are making geothermal energy production on an industrial scale more feasible. Areas that previously could not support a geothermal energy plant now can harness the power of the Earth because of a new technology called Enhanced Geothermal Energy Systems (EGS). Geothermal energy is cleaner than coal and other conventional forms of energy, is renewable and does not have toxic waste disposal problems that nuclear power does; however it also appears to trigger potentially threatening earthquakes. The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between earthquakes and EGS. Seismic data from select non-operational EGS plants will be analyzed through a statistical analysis to discover the extent of the relationship.
Mortality Salience Increases Defensive Distancing from People with Terminal Cancer
Mentor: Dr. Tim Kasser, Knox College
Terror Management Theory might predict that exposure to terminally-ill people, who are inherently reminders of mortality, may cause a desire in people to psychologically or physically distance from them. Thus, it was hypothesized that people would distance more from a target person with cancer than from a target person with arthritis, and that this effect would be more pronounced among participants who had previously been reminded of their mortality. Thirty-six adult participants wrote short essays about either death or a control topic, then read about the health status of a target person with either arthritis or terminal stomach cancer. They then rated the target's personality and their own on 27 personality traits. Defensive distancing scores were calculated based on how similar each participant rated his or her personality as being to that of the fictional target person. The hypothesized interaction between mortality salience and target's illness in predicting distancing from the target was found.
The Avant-garde and Realism in Animation
Mentors: Paul Marasa and Dr. Frank McAndrew, Knox College
Many critics claim that present-day animation is too realistic and lacks the avant-garde feel of earlier animation. However, these critics often fail to describe what constitutes avant-garde or realism in animation. This project will define a spectrum of animation styles ranging from avant-garde to realism in order to analyze the possible positive and negative attributes of each category. The project concludes with an explanation of the merits of a hybrid between the avant-garde and realist forms.
OBSERVING THE ZEEMAN EFFECT USING A FABRY-PEROT INTERFEROMETER
Mark Andrew Wolak
Mentor: Dr. Thomas Moses, Knox College
A mercury gas discharge was subject to a weak magnetic field in which a Fabry-Perot interferometer was used to observe the Zeeman effect. The Fabry-Perot interferometer was shown to have a high enough resolution to observe and measure the Zeeman effect with great precision having a theoretical finesse of F=36. However, the measured finesse of the interferometer was shown to be very low with a value of F=11±1. The theory of the Zeeman energy splitting was tested by previously knowing that the change in the energy levels for the λ=546.1 nm spectral line is given by ∆E=k μ_B B and measuring the constant k where k=1/2. The value for k was measured to be k=0.505±0.015 well within the theoretical prediction.