Honors Theses & Writing Award Works

Collection of senior theses that have earned departmental honors or are part of the Kelley Scholars program and college writing award winners.


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"A General Looking-Lively": Muriel Spark's "Deliberately Minor" Mode
Why did Muriel Spark say that she wrote "minor novels deliberately"?
"People Make People"; Understanding the Cultural and Clinical Realities of Infertile...
Infertility clinics are expanding rapidly in China as couples, especially female patients, face familial, governmental and gendered pressures to conceive. My research aims to understand how culture impacts the health-care seeking and utilization of infertile women. 21 female patients treated at an infertility clinic in Shanghai responded to a semi-structured interview about personal experiences with infertility treatments. Month-long participant observation and interviews with hospital staff, as well as secondary data sources supplemented this analysis of the dynamic processes of the cultural construction of reproduction through the state population control, family tradition, gender roles and the medical market. Government regulation contributed to development of a social norm of one high quality child, but market power began to supersede the state as patients use economic rationale in their reproductive decisions. Patients at the infertility clinic were motivated by “natural” desires to conceive, concerns about health, womanhood, and wholeness. Patients prefer medicalization of infertility, to reduce blame and shift to an external locus of responsibility. They exercise high compliance to doctor’s orders and pragmatically practice plural medicine. Modernization has diversified the gender roles and kinship traditions in both urban and rural areas, as well as the patient healthcare seeking behavior.
"Without face, or shape, or history": Time in the Poetry of Robert Penn Warren...
This honors thesis addresses the Robert Penn Warren's frequent capitalization of the word Time in his poetic works. Through close reading of several poems, examination of past criticism, and development of a new critical argument, it proposes that the capitalization is essential to the function and meaning of Warren's work.
'Turning guano into railroads': hopes for 'progress' in nineteenth-century Peru...
In the mid to late nineteenth century, politicians in Peru began to increasingly focus on railroad building as a tool for their country's development. Though the railroads had physical significance in their transportation capabilities, they also symbolized the hopes elite Peruvians had of transforming their country. They hoped to use railroads for Peru to better its global standing, appear more “civilized” in the eyes of the world, and bring modernity to rural indigenous communities that were previously difficult to reach. Despite the high hopes politicians had for their railways, however, this railroad system also presented an opportunity for the British to further extend their control into Latin America. Though Peru had gained independence years earlier, the British vision of imperialism and expansion meant that they sought to gain as much economic control in Peru as possible, particularly through railroad construction. Ultimately, railroad building in Peru sheds light on both the complexities of Peruvian nationhood and the issues associated with the neocolonialism of this era.
A Disconnection Analysis of the Hippocampal Formation’s Role in Working Memory...
Although the hippocampal formation has been established as an essential structure for learning and memory, its contribution to working memory remains controversial. Here, we aimed to elucidate the role of the hippocampal formation, fimbria-fornix, and entorhinal cortex in working memory using a disconnection model in rats. After reaching criterion on a Delayed-Non- Matching-to-Position (DNMTP) task in an operant chamber, rats were randomly assigned to one of five surgical groups: (1) bilateral fimbria-fornix transection (BFFx); (2) bilateral entorhinal cortex lesion (BECx); (3) unilateral entorhinal cortex + contralateral fimbria-fornix transection lesion (ECxFFx); (4) unilateral entorhinal cortex lesion + contralateral dorsal psalterium and fimbria-fornix transection (ECxDPx); (5) sham craniotomy (SC). Post-operative behavioral testing began after a 6-12 day recovery period and continued until 64 daily sessions were completed. DNMTP performance was observed to be delay-dependent, confirming its ability to measure mnemonic function. All four lesion groups demonstrated working memory impairment in early post-operative testing. The BECx, ECxFFx, and ECxDPx groups showed recovery to levels of sham animals within three weeks of testing. The BFFx group resulted in a permanent working memory deficit that was significant across the twelve weeks of testing. A right side bias, a type of perseverative behavior, was present during periods of otherwise impaired performance in all three groups that were subjected to fimbria-fornix transection. Histological analysis confirmed lesion placement, and histochemical staining indicated lesion-induced acetylcholinesterase-containing sprouting, a measure of cholinergic septodentate sprouting, in hemispheres with an ablated entorhinal cortex. The pattern of behavioral recovery suggested the septohippocampal pathway might be essential for normal working memory function and the recovery of function following injury.
A Foreigner with a Fruit Knife: Identity and Culture in Eighteenth-Century London...
The life of Giuseppe “Joseph” Baretti is a window into individual and collective identities in eighteenth-century London. After coming to the city in 1751, Baretti, an Italian scholar, established himself among the British intelligentsia by writing about Italy’s language and culture. In 1769, he had a violent altercation on Haymarket Street, and killed one of his assailants with a fruit knife. What followed was one of the most prominent murder trials of the century. An English jury acquitted Baretti on self-defense grounds after Samuel Johnson, Joshua Reynolds, Edmond Burke, and a host of other luminaries testified on his behalf. Baretti’s victory earned praise in the press and catapulted him to newfound fame. However, in the decades following the acquittal, Baretti alienated his allies and tarnished his public image, leading critics to redefine him as an ‘angry Italian.’ By using the scholar’s experiences to examine understandings of foreignness, gender, class, and sexuality, this thesis illuminates the culture of Europe’s most diverse metropolis.
A Referral Relationship: The Hippocratic Doctors and the Asklepios Cult in the...
Many modern physicians recognize Hippocrates and his followers as the founders of rational medicine—the belief that disease does not come from the gods, but natural causes; however, while the Hippocratic physicians did discuss therapeutics that were distinctly non-religious and renounced faith-healing in their writings, the physicians may not have denounced religious-healing all together. The Hippocratics actually publicly linked themselves to the Asklepios Cult, a popular religious healing group of the era that practiced medicine at temples devoted to the god of medicine. This thesis seeks to shed light on the connections between the two groups. First, I will analyze the use of the term “Asklepiads,” or sons of Asklepios, in descriptions of Hippocrates by his admirers, namely Plato and Aristotle. The use of the term suggests that Hippocrates’ connection to Asklepios increased his credibility as a rational medical practitioner in Ancient Greece. Second, I will discuss the reverence to Asklepios and his family in the Hippocratic Oath. The allusions to the gods in Hippocratic Oath reveal the ways in which Hippocratic physicians viewed their relationship with Asklepios and wanted others to view the relationship. Third, I will look into the public dedications of rational physicians to Asklepios. Temple inscriptions and lists of inventories from this time period indicate that physicians showed outward respect for the healing group. Finally, I will address the overlaps in the actual healing practices, specifically dream-healing, of the Hippocratic physicians and Asklepios Cult. Evidence from temple inscriptions and Dreams, a book of the Hippocratic writings, highlight the similarities and differences in their healing techniques. Using these pieces of evidence, I argue that, while the Hippocratic physicians likely did practice rational medicine in Ancient Greece, it was in their best interest to remain connected to religious-healing, namely the Asklepios Cult, in order to maintain their credibility as medical practitioners
A hierarchy of chaotic topological dynamics
We explore the topological dynamics concepts of transitivity, total transitivity, and mixing on the interval, circle, torus, and sphere. Transitivity, total transitivity, and mixing form a hierarchy and we investigate, for each space, at which point in the hierarchy chaos becomes necessary. In addition to a novel proof that total transitivity and mixing are equivalent on the interval, we show that mixing implies chaos for functions on the circle and for toral automorphisms. This thesis is in partial completion of honors in mathematics at Davidson College.
Access to Nature:: A History of the North Carolina State Parks System, 1916-1976...
Now nearly a century old, the North Carolina state parks system includes thirty-five state parks. For many North Carolinians today, those state parks provide the most direct access to nature available, and their development history is therefore important. Yet there has, as of yet, been no scholarly history of the North Carolina state parks system. This thesis corrects that oversight and provides an institutional history of the North Carolina state parks system from its origin up to the 1970s, moving from the Progressive Era, through the New Deal, and into the postwar era of consumerism and environmentalism. State parks, this case study asserts, are crucial mediating points between nature and society. Evolving from their origins as areas primarily for natural resource conservation, North Carolina’s state parks came to reflect a constructed ideal of nature as separate and accessible for daily recreation and recuperation. As a contribution to environmental history, this thesis explores the unique shape that park creation took in the understudied South, which included a two-decade policy of racial segregation. Beyond nature, the state parks system also serves as a window into North Carolina’s twentieth century political development. State politics and finances generally hindered state park development, and the state parks system relied increasingly on the support of private donors and the federal government in order to expand, especially during the New Deal. By examining that federal-state relationship through the North Carolina state parks system, this thesis demonstrates a more complex and contested history of conservation at the state-level.
Algorithmic definitions of singular functions
A function f on an interval [a; b] is singular if f(a) < f(b), f is increasing (non- decreasing), f is continuous everywhere and f0(x) = 0 almost everywhere. In this thesis, we focus on the strictly increasing singular functions of DeRham and Minkowski. We propose algorithmic definitions of each of these functions, and use these new defini- tions to provide alternative proofs of known properties about the values and derivatives of these functions. Before that, we give some background on sets of discontinuity for general functions, for increasing functions, and some background on the derivatives of increasing functions.
An Introduction to Graph Pebbling
Graph pebbling is a mathematical game played over a fixed graph. It was invented in 1989 by Lagarias and Saks and used that same year by Chung as an alternate proof to a technical problem in additive number theory. Pebbles represent a discretely measured consumable resource and are nonnegative integer weights on the vertices of a graph. A pebbling distribution assigns pebbles to the vertices of a graph. A pebbling move removes two pebbles from one vertex and places one pebble on an adjacent vertex, thus a single pebble is lost with every pebbling move. A vertex is reachable under a distribution if it may receive a pebble at any time. A pebbling distribution is solvable if every vertex is reachable. In this thesis, we give first give a broad overview of the field of graph pebbling. We then discuss our work in the field and give a new complexity result. We conclude with a discussion of open problems related to our research and present avenues for future work.
An Urban Political Ecology of Food Insecurity in Washington D.C.
Washington D.C. stands out as the capital of one of the most powerful countries in the world—a national and international center whose hegemonic influence stretches across the globe—and yet many of its own citizens lack access to healthy and affordable food. Twelve percent of households in the city district experienced food insecurity between 2010-2012, while entire neighborhoods are considered food deserts. Using the lens of political ecology, this paper assesses how organizations and agencies approach food security through discourse, advocacy, and programs that actively increase food access to communities in the District. This research employs a case-based approach, drawing from interviews with nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and city residents about how food insecurity is experienced and how it is addressed in diverse ways. Furthermore, this paper explores how a city cannot only improve food security, but also encourage the production and consumption of healthy, sustainably grown food, often through urban agricultural practices. As local government, grassroots organizers, and city residents engage with one another to address the complex challenges to food access, urban communities such as those in D.C. can achieve greater social and environmental justice within the local and global food system.

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