Undergraduate Humanities Forum
Mellon Research Fellows
2005-2006, Word & Image

A Way of Seeing What Can Be Seen:" Visual Perception in Avant Garde Cinema
Cristina Alberto, College '06
Concentration: Cinema/Visual Studies

The eye-as-camera analogy is an accepted way of explaining the act and experience of visual perception. How artists exploit this process is directly related to their attitude toward the dominant visual ideology—in most cases, the Hollywood industry. A case in point is the American avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage. How well do his films and manifestoes succeed in providing the alternative, authentic visualization of perception that his texts promote?

Entheogenic Visions: The Sacred Union of Word & Image
Brian Anderson, College '07
Concentration: Biochemistry & Biological Basis of Behavior

What can the psychedelic brew ayahuasca tell us about the anthropology of consciousness? How does the sacramental use of this drug affect a person’s cognition? In the future, Brian hopes to develop psychoactive drugs that will improve people’s quality of life.

Vladimir Dimitrov and the Bulgarian Madonna: Creed, Criticism, Propaganda
Valentina Assenova, College & Wharton '08
Concentration: Fine Arts & Finance

Bulgarian artist Vladimir Dimitrov belonged to a movement in the 20th century that defined national identity in agrarian terms: the motherland and the common laborer were one. Dimitrov’s signature painting, popularly known as “The Bulgarian Madonna,” was to personify Bulgaria’s bright Communist future. What does this work, with its strong nationalistic overtones, reveal about how we read and see art?

The Contemporary Haggadot: Interrelations
Between Text and Iconography

Sarah Breger, College '07
Concentration: History (Jewish)

Haggadah, the Jewish ritual text of prayers, stories, sayings, and songs, is read on the first two nights of Passover. What do the illustrations and other iconography found in contemporary Haggadot reveal about the relation between Israel and the Diaspora, the Holocaust, and women's role in Judaism? How have new media, such as the Internet, affected Haggadah iconography?

The Curatorial Voice in Contemporary Art
Lisa Bubbers, College '06
Concentration: Visual Studies, Art & Culture

Brochures, introduction text, and wall text inform the exhibition viewer, just as the placement of the art sets the pace and mood of the show. How does the curatorial voice shape contemporary art? What does it mean to be a curator today?

Visual Arts in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot
Janine Catalano, College '06
Concentration: English, Art History

Poet T.S. Eliot is famous for his musical and literary associations. Though less well known, he also had a unique relationship to the visual art and artistic theories of his time. What were they, and how might those associations recast T.S. Eliot as a textual artist as well as poet?

Made in the USA: Rewriting Images of the Asian Fetish
Maggie Chang, College '06
Concentration: Visual Studies, Psychology

Media representations of Asian females show them as subservient, exotic beings—the basis behind the “Asian fetish.”  Maggie will explore the impact those stereotypes have had and continue to have on Asian-American women by creating artworks taking form as silk-screened rice paper scrolls of a multi-media installation

A Different Kind of Gallery: Artists' Books as Exhibition Spaces
Rebekah Flake, College '06
Concentration: German Studies, Visual Studies

How have artists’ trends in the last 30 years changed attitudes about the role of the book as a place to exhibit artwork? What trends have led artists to be more accepting of ‘text art,’ or art produced in the form of books? New York art dealer Seth Siegelaub and Printed Matter, Inc., are important sources in this study of the evolution of artists’ texts as art.

Tara Krueger, College '06
Concentration: Urban Studies, History of Science

Maps have universal appeal: almost anyone regardless of education, language, background, or interest can recognize and read them. We trust maps to be correct. But what happens when a map lies or bends the truth? How far can computer-based mapping technologies expose those distortions, and with what consequences?

Architecture's Confrontation with Postmodernity
Gerard Leone, College '07
Concentration: Art History, Philosophy

Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown are credited with launching the postmodern movement in architecture. Yet both have recently denied that they ever worked with, advocated, or wanted to be labeled as anything “postmodern.” How has this denial by two of contemporary architecture’s titans affected the industry’s notions of what it means to call something postmodern?

Jonson and Spenser: English in Dialogue with the Past
Ruth McAdams, College '06
UHF Mellon Coordinating Research Fellow
Concentration: English, German, Music

Ben Jonson’s play Poetaster and Edmund Spenser’s pastoral poems The Shepheardes Calender are two English Renaissance texts acutely aware of and concerned with their place in the literary canon. How did these two legendary Renaissance writers conceive of the classical Latin tradition and use it as a counterpoint to their own understanding of the rapidly expanding English literary works of their day?

From the Odalisque to the Chador: Representations of North African Women
Tara Mendola, College '06
Concentration: Comparative Literature, Literary Theory

At what points in certain historical junctures are one culture’s representation of women (mis)translated into another through word and image? For Middle Eastern women, is there any symbolic value consistently attached to the images and narratives about these women as they are traded between cultures? How do male narratives relate to the image that actual female writers in the mid-east present?

The Phallus: An Apotropaic Symbol in Ancient Rome
Claudia Moser, College '06
Concentration: Classical Studies, Archaeology

The art and literature of the first-century A.D. Roman world are replete with exaggerated images of the phallus. Believed to protect against outside evil, images of the phallus adorned frescoes, amulets, statues, etchings, drinking cups, vases, and more. It was also discussed in literature, satire, elegy, and poetry. What was the public function of this most private symbol?

Reducing the Round Table: Visual and Textual Narrative Redaction in Medieval Arthurian Romance
Jon Passaro, College '06
Concentration: English, Philosophy

In composing Le Morte Darthur, Sir Thomas Malory combined elements from multiple Arthurian romances, significantly editing his source material to cater to a 15th-century audience. Similarly, many manuscripts containing these source texts incorporate images that perform an editorial function on the texts, helping readers to navigate through these complex romances. In what ways do Malory and the images in his source material perform similar editorial functions?

The Grotesque, Grinning Tyro in Wyndham Lewis's Tarr
Lindsey Schneider, College '06
Concentration: Women's Studies, Communication

Wyndham Lewis wrote the novel Tarr while leading the English avant-garde movement in the early 1900s. Within Lewis’s novel, bodies whirl through the text freely against an unstable rational environment. The machine in Tarr generates a dismemberment of the body’s gesturing machine until characters are reduced to a grotesque grin. What does this grin—and the annihilating function of laughter within the novel—mean?

Epic Illustrations: Vergil's Aeneid in the Vergilius Vaticanus
Kelly Sloane, College '06
Concentration: Classics

The Vergilius Vaticanus is one of the oldest and best preserved illuminated manuscripts of classical literature. Produced in the early fifth century, it contains Roman poet Vergil’s famed Aeneid, in which words and images sometimes merge gracefully and at other times diverge sharply. How did the scribes and artists choose which scenes to depict? How do the images depart from the poetry, and how do they conform?

From Pictogram to Pinyin. . .And Beyond
Wun Ting Wendy Tai, College '08
Concentration: Fine Arts, Art History

Rich in history and meaning, Chinese script has been closely related to the visual arts since ancient times. A complicated relationship exists between text and pictographic forms. Political and cultural influences have created tensions that contemporary Chinese artists are exploiting in politically and culturally themed works. How is Chinese language a medium for cultural and political commentary in Chinese art today?

Redux: Graphic Novels Detached from Words
Connie Yang, College '06
Concentration: Fine Arts

Why is graphic sequential storytelling (the graphic novel) not seen as a valuate form of art and communication in most of the western world? Connie is creating a series of graphic novel illustrations, without words. Her artwork will include a separate series of scripts will be written out, all with different stories and themes, all intended to elicit meaning that is personal to the ‘reader.


Undergraduate Fellows

Cristina Alberto

Brian Anderson

Valentina Assenova

Sarah Breger

Lisa Bubbers

Janine Catalano

Maggie Chang

Rebekah Flake

Tara Krueger

Gerard Leone

Ruth McAdams

Tara Mendola

Claudia Moser

Jon Passaro

Lindsey Schneider

Kelly Sloane

Wendy Tai

Connie Yang

Research papers are archived online at Scholarly Commons
at Penn.

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