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2019 Winners

Overall Winner

Lillian Ledford

Arts

Katherine SheetsMazeppa: Liszt’s Development of a Tense Symphonic Poem
Katherine Sheets
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Nathan Miller

Abstract:

Following the Classical era, Liszt developed the symphonic poem as an orchestral work which would encompass all four movements of the symphony into one, while focusing on the program and text-painting through sound. Though Franz Liszt is known for his symphonic poems, “Mazeppa” is one of the least popular and received immense negative criticism. The overwhelming sense of tension paired with the telling of Mazeppa’s story, creates a work that, though unpopular, delves deeper into the human mind through the combination of arts. This paper explores the development of Liszt’s explicit and implicit text-painting by doing a side-by-side comparison of the musical score and a poem by Victor Hugo, which prefaces Liszt’s score.

Humanities

Nathan VickThe Form of Leadership: A Missing Piece in Plato’s Republic
Nathan Vick
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Chris Bounds

Abstract:

Plato’s masterpiece, the Republic, both expresses his famous theory of Forms and describes his concept of an ideal society, led by philosopher-kings. Yet Plato’s educational system never trains his philosopher-kings in the essence or Form of leadership, but only in the particular expressions or applications of that Form. Indeed, it appears that he does not perceive that, according to his philosophy, leadership has a Form. This is a missing piece in Plato’s argument, one which leads to contradictions in his philosophy. In this paper, I describe Plato’s educational system, discuss the deficiencies in his training program, and identify the resulting philosophical contradictions.

Sciences

Lillian LedfordGender Roles, Religion, and Self-Discrepancies
Lillian Ledford
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Janet Dean

Abstract:

Higgins (1987) developed a theory of self-discrepancy that predicted a decline in mental health as discrepancies between participants as they view their actual selves and how they think they ought to be or their ideal selves. (p. 321) and other related work was general, not specific to particular aspects of the self. Given that gender and religiosity are important factors in self-identity. The current study hypothesized that there might a link between self-discrepancies and held gender roles and a link to poor mental health outcomes, and that this relationship would be mediated by religion. The approximately 30 undergraduate participants from a small Christian liberal arts university complete the five questionnaires in an online survey. Results of this study will further explore how one’s sense of gender identity and religion are important components in self-perception and self-esteem.

2018 Winners

Arts

Sarah BrowningThe Pluralization of Ithaka
Sarah Browning
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Marcia Hurlow

Abstract:

Writers portray the ocean as a mirror; as a notion of the unknowable; as something that gives as generously as it destroys; as host to some of the most mysterious life forms we have yet discovered; as a grave for men, ships, and adventures; and as an avenue for transformation. The meaning of the ocean morphs with each new writer who approaches it. From Homer’s “Odyssey” to Tennyson’s “In Memoriam” to Melville’s “Moby-Dick,” I have taken the ocean literature that I have read and combined it with my personal experience of the ocean to create a collection of writing that is informed by tradition but is not resigned to it.

Humanities

Elaine BinnixStuck in the Middle with You: A Glimpse into Kentucky’s Complex Experiences in the American Civil War
Elaine Binnix
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. David Swartz    

Abstract:

Kentucky has many stereotypes surrounding the Civil War experience in the state, none of which are independently and fully correct. Kentucky was not neutral, Confederate, or Union during the Civil War. It managed to be all three and Kentucky has a history of being in the middle of regional disputes between the North and South as well as being content with the conditions of their own lands. The border state was sought after by both the North and the South, but the majority of Kentucky was concerned with the state’s own best interest. Kentucky did not join the Confederacy after the Civil War, but rather, joined the South during the war, however rarely acknowledged or taught. Kentucky was also neutral for a few months, but the motivation behind the status was not pure, rather it was reluctance to pick a side for fear of gaining injury. The majority of the state, however, remained in the Union, not for heroic reasons that so many historians often associate with the Union cause, but out of obligation to their national inheritance and an unwillingness to allow change.

Sciences

Alyssa MartinThe Mediating Role of Shame in the Relationship Between Thoughts about God and Mental Health
Alyssa Martin
Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Janet Dean

Abstract:

Previous research has revealed evidence indicating a relationship between perceptions of God and mental health outcomes; research has also provided evidence that each of these concepts may be related to shame in some manner. The purpose of the current project is to strengthen evidence regarding these relationships, particularly providing evidence for the mediating role of shame in the relationship between thoughts about God and mental health. Participants consisted of 82 undergraduate students who completed measures for the constructs of perceptions of God, internalized shame, psychological distress, and well-being. Results supported the hypothesis in indicating that shame reduces the predictability of psychological distress by thoughts about God by serving as a mediator in this relationship.

2017 Winners

Arts

Poetry Matters in the Face of Sex Trafficking and Sexual Violence
Megan Gieske ’17, Creative Writing
Faculty Sponsor: Marcia Hurlow, Ph.D., M.F.A.

Abstract:

Through exploration in border crossing or what I call “ocean-crossing” and some lessons in empathy from representatives of every religion, I’m writing a place for trafficked or abused women in third world countries, marking it down before anyone tells us how we’re supposed to think of them. Although these are world issues, my poetry focuses on the third world countries I traveled to from 2013 to 2017, India, Myanmar, Vietnam, South Africa, Ghana, and Morocco. “Can atrocity be the subject matter of poetry” (Creswell, Robyn), or as you have heard, can it only be the beautiful, and are not testimonies in their righteous pain and resurrection also beautiful?

My poetry presents the reader with a problem, a problem that like a misbehaving dog won’t sit down. Like the poetry of Charles Baudelaire writing to his wife from a concentration camp, or Miklós Radnóti writing his last ten poems from a forced labor camp in Yugoslavia (“Carolyn Forché: On Poetry of Witness”), my poems evade the easy.

My goal for the collection of poems is found in the words of Anna Akhmatova, “Yes, I can.” In her poem “Requiem,” she stood outside the gates of a Cold War-era Russian prison with other mothers awaiting the release of their children. In that bleak place, someone who recognized her as the poet shouted to ask, “Can you describe this?” Her response, “Yes, I can,” becomes an apostrophe in the poem to a fellow woman, and so as Carolyn Forché has said, “It (poetry) is not only a record of experience but an exhortation against despair. It is not a cry for sympathy, but a call for strength” (“Carolyn Forché: On Poetry of Witness”).

Humanities

Feuds and Dehumanization: Becoming the “Other”
Ashley Dickerson ’17, History
Faculty Sponsor: David R. Swartz, Ph.D.

Abstract:

The Hatfield and McCoy families of the Appalachian Mountains are as well-known among Americans as any two families of the Beverly Hills. For the people of Appalachia, the notoriety of the Kentucky feuds did more harm than good. There was no single cause that started the feuds and no single solution, but that did not keep entertainment-hungry media or self-proclaimed philanthropists from trying to solve the mystery or fix the problem. How the Kentucky feuds of the late 19th century were reported and discussed contributed to the dehumanization and marginalization of the people of Appalachia. Using a sensationalistic article from Frank Leslie’s “Popular Monthly,” the selective cause and solution of President William Frost of Berea College, and other primary sources, this work shows how a culture can turn a group of people into “the other” and how a group of humans can be turned into a humanitarian cause.

Sciences

Understanding Psychological Distress within the Christian Student Community: The Influence of Resilience and God Representations
Jeanine Campbell ’17, Psychology
Faculty Sponsor: Janet B. Dean, Ph.D.

Abstract:

Previous research suggests individuals’ psychological states can be significantly influenced by resilience and God representations. The prevalence of psychological distress among college students, along with the theological focus of Christian communities, presents an opportunity to explore a unique influence of resilience and God representations on the psychological states of students at a Christian university via an online survey. Congruence between theological orthodoxy and personal beliefs about God is expected to predict greater well-being, while incongruence is expected to predict more distress. An interaction between resilience and God representations is also anticipated, with greater levels of resilience and theological congruence indicating more positive well-being. The second part of this study explores the potential for narrative priming to modify students’ representations of God, predicting positive narratives of God to increase positivity of representations, and negative narratives to increase negativity. Research findings and implications are discussed.

Poster Presentation at the 2017 Spring Academic Conference of the Kentucky Psychological Foundation