2014 University Co-op / George H. Mitchell Undergraduate Awards For Academic Excellence

Recipient of $10,000 Award:

Lucy Kerr
Category: Humanities
Theater and Dance; Philosophy
Nominator: Dr. Kathleen Higgins, Professor, Department of Philosophy, College of Liberal Arts

Recognizing Possibility: Intersections of Disability, Contemporary Dance, and Social Philosophy

Lucy Kerr's senior thesis, "Recognizing Possibility: Intersections of Disability, Contemporary Dance, and Social Philosophy," conducted jointly in the Departments of Philosophy and Theatre and Dance, is both engagingly creative and deeply interdisciplinary, drawing from philosophy, cultural history, and her own applied knowledge in dance. Ms. Kerr considers the ugly history of the way disabled people have been presented as "freaks", discusses the social systems that have led to such portrayals, and then explains the way that innovative dance works can disrupt harmful attitudes toward the disabled and give people of all body types a sense of empowerment through dance. Her thesis is the scholarly and theoretical reinforcement of her own applied dance and choreography projects, which have been premiered as part of the UT Cohen New Works Festival and Austin's FronteraFest. Ms. Kerr's work demonstrates the way philosophical theory and artistic practice can work together to illuminate the potential for people with different capacities to appreciate and support each other.

Recipients of $3,000 Awards:

Lindsay Mulford
Category: Social Sciences
Finance; Asian Cultures and Language
Nominator: Dr. Heather Hindman, Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts

Sino--African Relations and Its Impact on the West: The Emergence of a New Development Paradigm

Lindsay Mulford's Asian Studies honors thesis, "Sino--African Relations and Its Impact on the West: The Emergence of a New Development Paradigm", is a bold, innovative and timely project with real world applications that explores the complexity of the socioeconomic dynamics of Sino African relations. This unique and scholarly project was born out of Lindsay's career interest in sustainable development, her dual degrees in Finance and Chinese and her own lived experience traveling and working in Ghana and South Africa. Lindsay traveled to Ghana with the McCombs Global Business Brigade and was surprised to learn of the significant Chinese influence in this developing country. This prompted her to seek out an internship where she could deepen her understanding of the social, political and economic influence of Chinese investors on Sub Saharan companies. Lindsey's thesis is based upon her research of three very different African countries vs. one "single Africa" and goes beyond the existing literature which has often been written through a Western ideological lens. Based upon the astute integration of her academic research with her first hand field experience, Lindsay proposes a new paradigm for sustainable development in Sub Saharan states and informs the reader about China's potential impact on the global narrative in the future. Her research will continue to inform her work as an investment banking analyst in the emerging markets division of Citigroup in New York after graduation.

Patrick Naeve
Category: Humanities
Plan II Honors; English Honors; History
Nominator: Dr. Daniel Birkholz, Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts

“To Reckon the Far--Off Origins of Men”: The Historical and Geographical Poetics of Beowulf

Patrick Naeve brings to ‘The Historical and Geographical Poetics of Beowulf’ a formidable knowledge of Anglo--Saxon language and culture. His research into the origins of Beowulf, which he locates in the great folk migrations of the sixth century, is informed by a mastery of the poetic geographies explored in the poem. Assessing the historical pressures and cultural complexities negotiated in the artistry of the poem, he shows how Beowulf mattered to the hybrid society that produced it and why it matters to us centuries later. In Patrick Naeve’s telling, Beowulf engages issues of conflict and feud, cycles of greed and violence that do not end with the killing of the dragon or with the funeral of the poem’s hero. His argument is as compelling as it is ambitious, as timely as it is original.

Recipients of $2,000 Awards:

Casey Nice
Category: Humanities
Plan II Honors: Business Honors
Nominator: Dr. James Loehlin, Distinguished Teaching Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts

Shakespeare At Law: Legal Philosophy, Forensic Rhetoric, and Justin In Shakespeare’s Plays

William Shakespeare is regarded as the world’s most influential dramatist. But what were his own influences? One of these, as Casey Nice argues in her compelling Plan II thesis, was the legal tradition that suffused so many aspects of 16th--century England. Nice persuasively demonstrates how this legal tradition is reflected in Shakespeare’s plays Julius Caesar, Richard II, and The Merchant of Venice. In this analysis, she draws upon the traditions of forensic rhetoric that underpinned legal and theatrical education; explores the networks of relationships between theatrical and legal social spheres; and examines legal philosophy as it surfaced in the plays. The result is remarkable: As her thesis director, Prof. James N. Loehlin, argued in his nomination letter, “Her arguments are well researched, wide--ranging, and compellingly articulated. Her knowledge of the subject of Renaissance law approaches that of many graduate students in the field, and her work draws conviction and detail from her own experience in performing Shakespeare’s plays.”

Lucy Junker
Category: Humanities
Plan II Honors; Russian Language and Culture
Nominator: Dr. Elizabeth Richmond--Garza, Associate Professor, Department of English, College of Liberal Arts

Fooling Lear: Contemporary Performance Practices of King Lear in Moscow and London

Lucy Junker's thesis, "Fooling Lear: Contemporary Performance Practices of King Lear in Moscow and London," is an ambitious interpretation of historical and modern renderings of the Shakespeare classic. To write the thesis, Ms. Junker mastered Russian and immersed herself in the theater traditions of Russia and England. Her work reveals a great deal about the cultures of the two countries and about their approaches to drama and art, and not a little about the play itself.

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