Organized here are a variety of essays of varying length that I wrote while in college and grad school. While most of my undergraduate essays will never see the light of day again, I was particularly proud of the selection found here, and so I have decided to post them as writing samples.
Independent Study (Fall 2018)
This paper critically views how Nerdfighters and Harry Potter fans are similar and how they differ as ethnographers/ethnodramaturgs and ethnographic subjects. Since the Harry Potter fandom is vast and multifaceted, I focus primarily on representations of the fandom as seen through the lens of the Harry Potter Alliance, a national nonprofit that grew around the series. My argument is that Nerdfighteria and the Harry Potter Alliance exist on all of the planes of ethnodramaturgy at the same time: they’re communities with a culture, the people in those communities conform to that culture, and they engage in both shaping and critiquing said culture.
Making of European Modernity (Spring 2018)
Dante’s Divine Comedy – part treatise on death, life and religion, part self-insert fanfiction – ostensibly argues that, of the different paths through life, the most important is the straight path toward God and toward Paradise. My argument is that despite this surface-level reading, what Dante actually shows us is that the sameness of becoming one with God in heaven is boring, and that the best place to land oneself in the afterlife is in Limbo. I argue that Limbo is fundamentally different from the other levels of Hell, and through Dante the Poet’s description of the afterlife, we can extrapolate that despite concluding that he will go to Paradise, Dante the Poet’s description of Dante the Pilgrim’s experiences advocates for Limbo.
Agency in the Wizarding World: The Deep Structure Regarding Fate and Free Will within the Harry Potter Universe
This paper focuses on the representations of fate and free will in the Harry Potter series and how they reflect the arguments of Luther and Erasmus at the dawn of modernity. The argument of this paper is that while on the surface the Harry Potter series argues for free choice and individualism, in reality the deep structure of the series reveals a deterministic universe.
Classical Myths Told and Retold (Spring 2018)
A short paper considering why the crucial episode of the Sirens in Odyssey scroll 12 is seminal to understanding the Odyssey as a whole, and why what happens in the episode gets to the essence of Odysseus’ character as a hero. Furthermore, this paper takes into account the significance of the vase painter’s one snapshot image of this tale and how one can compare these two representations of this mythos.
Who is Coming Home to Whom? An Examination of Eugene O’Neill’s “Homecoming” as a Retelling of Aeschylus’s “Agamemnon”
A short paper of which the central question is whether Eugene O’Neill’s 1931 play “Homecoming”, the first play of O’Neill’s trilogy Mourning Becomes Electra, is a successful retelling of Aeschylus’s “Agamemnon”, the first play in his trilogy The Oresteia. This paper’s argument is that “Homecoming” does not hold up as a retelling of “Agamemnon”.
The purpose of this paper is to consider the implications of the retelling of the Sack of Troy within Beware Greeks Bearing Gifts, an episode of the cult classic television series Xena: Warrior Princess (hereafter XWP). The essay aims to address why the creators of XWP adapted the mythos the way that they did within the episode and the broader implications that this adaptation has within XWP as a series.
The Silk Road: China Looks West, the Mediterranean Looks East (Fall 2016)
A research paper discussing how the Tocharian language family has contributed to historians’ understanding of some of the migrations and changes throughout the Silk Road. By studying the Tocharian languages, it is possible to infer information about their speakers, and the speakers of nearby communities in the past.