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Colloquium To Feature Recent English Graduates

April 19, 2013
SHSU Media Contact: Jennifer Gauntt

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Four English department graduates will illustrate the kind of work they will be doing when they enter doctoral programs in the fall during a Master of Arts Colloquium on Friday (April 26).

Travis Franks, Christopher Marek, Timothy Ponce and Amy Potter will present some of their work beginning at 3 p.m. in Evans Building Room 212.

Franks, who will be attending Arizona State in the fall, will discuss his work on “It Isn't Real: Reality, Identity, and Stereotype in Professional Wrestling.”

Franks’s work approaches professional wrestling from an academic standpoint, examining the sport utilizing the philosophical ideas of French sociologist Jean Baudrillard.

“Essentially, the type of work I do attempts to apply high theory to so-called low art that is aimed at reaching wide audiences, Franks said. “My focus is often on things like western novels, newspapers, popular histories, and children's books—and, yes, even professional wrestling. But within those genres, if you can call them that, I'm most interested in how racial, ethnic, gender, and class stereotypes get transmitted to audiences; my hunch is that because we don't take the form seriously, we grant leniency in terms of content that we otherwise wouldn't.

“The majority of my work to this point has dealt with pointing out examples of the Indian trope in different mediums, and the bulk of that work went into my thesis, ‘From Savagism to Survivance in the Stories of Texas,’” he said. “But if I'm being honest, I'm a lifelong wrestling fan, too, and while it's no doubt goofy and often ridiculous, it is a form of narrative that I felt hadn't been properly understood by academics. And I think there's meaningful work to be done there because wrestling remains popular despite its stigma.”

Christopher Marek, who will attend the University of Arizona, will discuss “Systemic Violence, Tragedy, and Revolution in Faulkner's ‘Wash,’” while Timothy Ponce, who is attending the University of North Texas, will share his work on “The Vampire Diaries of the 5th Century BC: The Γελλµ of Agamemnon.”

Ponce’s paper examines the various ways in which the Greek play Agamemnon and the main character’s actions can be interpreted as vampiric in order to set precedent for both further scholarship and in pop culture.

“True vampirism is not solely relegated to the physical activity of the undead drinking the blood of innocents in order to extend their own life, a traditional understanding of vampirism; true vampirism is about placing our desires, particularly our uglier ones, above the needs of another,” he said. “When the Greek play Agamemnon is read in light of this understanding of vampirism, it can be argued that Agamemnon acts with vampiric tendencies, willing to sacrifice his young, beautiful, virgin daughter, Iphigenia, for the pursuit of his kleos (glory).

“Agamemnon even goes as far as to hint at his vampiric activities when he states how the ‘bloody lion lapped its fill, gorging on the blood of kings,’ a description of himself (the lion) drinking the blood of other kings (Priam),” he continued.

Finally, Amy Potter, who will enter Carnegie-Mellon University’s doctoral program, will present an overview of her thesis, “‘Thou Spirit of Australia, From Perfect Desolation:’ British Romanticism's influence on early Australian Poets.”

“I discuss Romantic elements in the poetry of colonial Australian poets,” Potter said. “In the talk, I will focus on Australian poet Charles Harpur and his similarities with Percy Shelley.”

The MA Colloquium is being held to both celebrate and highlight these four students’ accomplishments, according to Paul Child, professor and director of the graduate studies in English program.

“This is a wonderful way to celebrate these individuals' success and to wish them well before they go on to the next stage in our profession,” he said.



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