<! ======================== LIST OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS AND THEIR TOPICS =======>
Undergraduate Honors Students
Francesca de la Fuente (Lemelson Scholar 2011-13)
"The Construction and Interaction of Personal and Community Identities on Tumblr."
The Construction and Interaction of Personal and Community Identities on Tumblr
Francesca's project investigates the formation of communities on the Internet, focusing specifically on fan communities on the microblogging, social networking platform Tumblr. It examines how users in fan communities assess and monitor the stances and ideologies of other users, and how this creates alignment within the communities and between communities. In previous studies, researchers have observed a strong sense of community, as well as frequent social norm regulation, in online fan communities, but attempts to define online community have been inconclusive. The study hopes to answer questions about what kind of community specifically forms via computer-mediated communication, as well as look at how members of online fan communities use intersubjective tactics when engaged in meta-textual imaginative play. Furthermore, the study will look at how Tumblr's specific structure and different functions as they relate to Goffman's speech model, and how this also contributes to the formation of online communities.
Alexander Thompson (Lemelson Scholar 2011-13)
"A Communicative Ethnography of Shetland Scots."
Alexander's Honors Thesis (co-sponsored by Dr. Paul Kroskrity) uses the linguistic anthropological sub-disciplinary paradigm of "language ideologies" as its primary theoretical framework, will examine the code-selection of native and immigrant Shetlanders, when set against the backdrop of the on-going institutional language shift from Shetland Scots to Scottish Standard English (SSE). Consequently, it will rely primarily upon ethnographic data collection methods (e.g. participant observation, non-participant observation and participatory transect) to gather unsolicited, 'naturalistic' conversations both in and about the Shetland Scots dialect. Such conversations can include 1) conversations in the Shetland dialect, 2) conversations in SSE about the applicability or relative value of either code, 3) conversations in which either code is used with a "sideways glance" at the other, and 4) conversations in which code-switching occurs. In the lattermost case, attention will be paid to patterned thematic and contextual cues, which precede the code-switch.
Shaunna Lucas (Honors Thesis - 2012-13)
"Ostalgie: the Construction and Maintenance of East German Identity through Dialect and Media."
Shaunna's project is to discover if marginalization may be connected to the Eastern German dialectical accents, as Germans can generally assess when someone is from the East after talking with them for just a few minutes, and usually describe their speech style negatively. While West Germans have been trained from an early age to speak Standard German (Hochdeutsch) it was considered rude to speak Hochdeutsch in Eastern Germany (due to the socialist/communist ideologies of community and equality). Speaking Hochdeutsch sounds rude and "elitist" to East Germans and they avoid it within their communities. Therefore, children raised under the GDR (East Germany) have more trouble hiding their regional accent than Westerners and may suffer real economic consequences because of it. In short, Shaunna hypothesizes that there is a complex interplay between the use of Eastern dialects of German, the history of the GDR and the following Reunification of Germany, and the socio-economic marginalization of East Germans. She will make use of films and discourses with the films about “Easternness” after the Mauerfall as well as interview data in her work studying language ideology regarding the dialects of East Germany, specifically the ways in which East German identity was constructed during the GDR and how it has been variously deconstructed, reconstructed, or maintained since the fall of the wall. She will closely examine dialect usage, vocabulary and metaphors.
Frania Mendoza (McNair Scholar - 2011-13)
"Exploring Clinical Borderlands: Social Structures in Hospital Settings."
Past and present definitions of hospitals rely on the general theme that a hospital institution consists of scientifically based medical treatment. However, while principal methods for understanding of human disease are biomedical, the patient’s experience of illness is undefined. Little consideration is given to the social configuration of patient’s life in diagnosis. This research will observe two prominent programs within the children’s hospital setting – Child Life Specialists and Occupational Therapists – who are concerned with healing the human patient rather than the human machine. I will explore clinical borderlands in relation to present medical hierarchies within the medical profession in order to provide insight into how social based hospital support groups are essential in a patient’s healing as well as in educating families through the sphere of hospital life.
"Sorority Socialization: Acquisition of Communicative Competence
through Expert/Novice Relations."
Danielle's thesis looks at socialization in one
university sorority. Sorority members are a group of women linked
together not only because they have been initiated into the same group,
but also because through language and discourse they become competent
members of their own subculture. The study examines the way active and
new sorority members from one particular sorority construct their
speech during formal new member education sessions. During weekly
meetings, new members are actively socialized as sorority women
through formal instruction embedded with informal interaction.
Collected data from video recordings, participant observation, and
interviews demonstrate that the new member novice and active member
expert roles are not always clearly defined. Rather, through analyzing
specific conversation sequences and narratives, including framing and
problem-solving techniques, it is argued that during new member
education meetings the expert and novice roles of the active and new
members are substantiated as well as mitigated and compromised in
interaction. This research presents new data about female speech in a
sorority context and provides insights into one sorority's
Tamara Jackson (Honors Thesis)
"Were the Colonists Americans? Classroom Conversation and the Construction of National Identity among Immigrant Students During a United States History Lesson."
addresses the role of classroom conversations in the construction of
national identity for students from Latino immigrant families.
Traditionally, social scientists thought children acquired social
knowledge and identity inactively through caregivers and agents of
socialization. However, the recent recognition that children are
co-participants in the construction of the their life-worlds calls for
a more student-centered approach to examining how children create
social identities. My field research emphasizes students' experience
of national identity construction through discourse surrounding a
history lesson on the early American colonists. I analyze
audio-recordings, written reflections, and semi-structured interviews
with the students and teacher of a particular fifth-grade classroom in
Southeast Los Angeles in order to compare lesson goals with what the
children actually displayed that they had learned. I observe that the
teacher intended to utilize a lesson on the early colonists to
encourage conversations that would construct a socially defined
American national identity based -on the shared experience of
immigration. However, students also interacted with the hidden
curriculum that presented nationality as determined by official,
ethnic, or racial criteria, leading to confusion over who is and is not
"American." Tamara is currently a graduate student in Communications at
University of California, San Diego.
Erin Jacobs (Honors Thesis)
Through Talk: A Linguistic Investigation Into How Adults Use Power Over
Youth to Influence Moral and Cultural Stance."
The thesis argues that
adult camp counselors greatly influence and shape the thoughts and
ideas of youth campers through their use of language in group
discussions. My research follows the development of a four-day camp in
Arizona into a supportive community shaped by adults and experienced by
youth. As a participant observer at the camp, I observed various group
discussions that were planned and executed by adult counselors. My
fieldwork included active participation in selected activities as well
as video recording of group discussions. I evaluate the use of multiple
sign systems such as speech and embodiment and then examine their
relation to the larger cultural context in which the discussion groups
take place. My data suggest that adults in such groups have the power
to shape the content of youth narratives to fit their own cultural
ideas and norms.
Nastassia Isis Johnson (Honors Thesis - 2004)
"Constructing Social Difference in the Everyday Lives of Children."
Lisa Newon (Honors Thesis - 2006)
Spice, and Everything Nice: A Linguistic Study of How Adolescent Girls
Formulate Notions of Culture through Evaluative Commentary."
Gender is an active component in the process of linguistic
socialization, and some scholars argue that gendered language stems
from male and female children being socialized in different and
separate spheres. These researchers argue that girls speak in
collaborative and supportive styles, while boys speak in aggressive and
competitive styles. Looking at length at the speech used by a group of
11 high school cheerleaders at an all-girl school in suburban Los
Angeles, I examine how girls use assertive language to construct an
adolescent peer subculture. I investigate two contexts of organizing
evaluative speech. In large groups, the girls frequently make
evaluative assessments about other girls. In small groups, the girls
participate in self-deprecating storytelling and empathetic alignment
through turn-taking. By audio-recording and transcribing the girls'
verbal interactions, I identify patterns of speech that suggest gender
socialization is not only dependent on local context but is
simultaneouslly affected by how the individual expresses agency in the
local context. Through my analysis of postitive and negative
assessments, contexts of laughter, and story structures, I conclude
that the speech used by these girls contstructs a local social
organization and culture, based on peer evaluation, storytelling, and
Sarah Press (Honors Thesis)
"Orders, Accounts, and the Culture of Control: Directives in
Using models of analysis from linguistics,
socio-linguistics, and social psychology, this thesis analyzes video
data from the everyday, ordinary interactions of two Los Angeles
middle-class families at home. It posits two contrasting approaches to
directive use and socialization: the "quick-fix" direct
style, and the "learning-oriented" indirect style. These
approaches are characterized by their use (or lack of use) of
informational accounts, as well as the semantic form directive
utterances themselves take. The effects on children, parents, and the
development of a family culture of autonomy or control are discussed.
Kristine Anne Van Hamerveld
"An Account of Caretaking and Communication Between Mother and Daughter."
Kristine's thesis addresses
the complicated relationship between everyday conversation and physical
disability with an emphasis on the extensive linguistic role that can
be played by a caretaker. My study explores the specific case of Laura
(64), a woman who was partially paralyzed by a stroke, and Jenny (36),
her daughter and primary caretaker. Although she is unable to walk,
Laura's stroke did not affect her ability to communicate normally. This
research illuminates the various asymmetries co-constucted by Jenny and
Laura in their daily conversation despite Laura's demonstrated
cognitive ability. I argue that as an extension of her role as a
caretaker, Jenny assumes the additional roles of manager and mediator
in Laura's interaction with the outside world. By videotaping everyday
interactions between Laura and Jenny such as shopping trips, doctor's
visits, and basic communication at home, I show the distinct patterns
of interaction in their complex mother/daughter and caretaking
relationship. My findings include evidence of mediation and
translation-like behaviors taking place in interaction with a third