The annual University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum (UURAF) is Michigan State University's annoual showcase of undergraduate scholarship. The event, which takes place every April, allows undergraduate students, under the mentorship of faculty members, to share their research and innovations with an audience of their peers, faculty and judges.
UURAF takes place this Friday, April 7th, at the MSU Union, and will see more than a dozen Professional Writing or Experience Architecture students participating. Each student or team worked with their mentor to create a poster or short presentation to showcase the work they've done in the last year. This is a wonderful opportunity to see all the great working taking place in WRAC, and we have created a quick guide to the posters and presentations being mentored by WRAC faculty or featuring WRAC students.
POSTER PRESENTATIONS, SECTION 1
BALLROOM, 9:00 AM --- 10:30 AM
CHALLENGES WITH STANDARDIZED TESTING AND COGNITIVE DISABILITIES
Mentor(s): Kate Sonka (Academic Technology)
Over the years, the conversation regarding the growing resistance to high-stakes standardized testing has begun to include the accommodations----or lack thereof----for learning and cognitively disabled students. To make things more complicated, most standardized testing starting in high school, including the ACT and SAT, requires an IEP (Individualized Education Program) form for validation. According to the Michigan Department of Education, this process requires multiple evaluations of the student as well as meetings with school counselors to ensure progress. However, many cognitive disabilities, like mood and anxiety disorders, are not discovered until late teens and early 20’s. Dr. Tawa Sina, MSU Psychologist, says that some students may not apply for these accommodations due to the stigma surrounding these disorders as well. This creates a vicious cycle where the student will not receive the appropriate adjustments to their tests and will perform poorly. Sadly, underachievement has wrongly been related to those with these disabilities purely for these reasons. Because of this, there needs to be a more widespread conversation regarding the struggles with navigating testing with disabilities, perhaps using alternate forms (oral tests and short-form exams) that would better suit a wide variety of students and their abilities. I am exploring this topic with a variety of sources, including the Michigan Department of Education, students registered through RCPD, school psychologists and testing agencies to figure out what students with disabilities are currently doing to navigate standardized testing and how they can improve their options as well.
RESILIENT COMMUNICATION AND COMMUNITIES: AN INQUIRY INTO THE ROLE OF ZINE DISTRIBUTION AND ACCESSIBILITY IN A DIGITAL ERA
Mentor(s): Dawn Opel (Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures)
A zine may take many forms. But often they are made in small batches by hand, at a low cost, and personally distributed (often by the zine creator). The capitalist market does not dictate zine distribution. Thus, zines often contain content that is not for profit, but for radical information sharing and personal expression. They function in a network of personal connections. Which makes me wonder, who are they accessible to, and why? Is there a way to make them more accessible and potentially play a larger role in society? Could anything be gained by overlapping the underground zine world and the open-access digital world? Digitizing and disseminating them is one option. What are the other options? Does technology have a place in the zine world or are they opposing forces? We will find out. Within the research, I am gathering information from: 1) the voices of those within the zine community----by interviewing zine makers, distributors, librarians, and event organizers; 2) my own interactions with zines and its community, both in print and online; and 3) published zine research. During a time of globalization, colonization, and technological monopolization----zines are a vital outlet for the silenced voices and ideas in mainstream media. Let’s ask and then listen.
INDIE PUBLISHING: THE EFFECTS OF THE BIG FIVE PUBLISHING HOUSES' AND MARKETING CHOICES
Veronica Finniss, Em McCullough, Danielle Schwartz, Hannah Shaneberger
Mentor(s): Kate Birdsall (Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures)
In the American publishing industry, there exist five big publishing houses (Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Random House, and Simon and Schuster) that overshadow independent presses with their financial assets, marketing strategies, and brand recognition. This overshadowing leads to less exposure, sales, and readers for authors who choose independent (indie) publishers, and for the publishers themselves. Since the ‘‘big five’’ act as a monolith, readers often lack knowledge about books published by smaller, lower-budget venues. Indie authors often have to provide their own marketing and social media strategies, while the big five provide their authors with a ‘‘marketing machine.’’ Our research revolves around this core question: how do the ‘‘big five’’ and their marketing strategies affect indie publishers, and vice versa? We will research this question by comparing the amounts of money the two publishing avenues spend on marketing, analyzing how social media affects the book marketing process, and, with a set of case studies, evaluating how independently-published books have become bestsellers in spite of their handicaps in the marketplace. Finally, we will research the ways in which genre fiction----often published by independent presses----is often marginalized in the publishing industry, especially when compared to literary fiction, which is often published by the ‘‘big five.’’ By analyzing the ‘‘big five’’ book market, the independent book market, the New York Times Bestseller lists, and primary source data from independent authors, our poster presentation will be able to answer these questions and provide valuable information for authors who publish independently in the future.
STUDENT-FACULTY COLLABORATION IN A FEMINIST WORKSPACE
Sabrina Hirsch, Hannah Countryman, Elena Cronick, Jessica Kukla
Mentor(s): Alexandra Hidalgo (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures)
This presentation follows four undergraduate students as they collaborate with a faculty member to create and produce content in a feminist workspace while running agnès films, a digital publication supporting women and feminist filmmakers. Interviews, reviews, essays, articles, featured member narratives, and original videos are among the content agnès films publishes. All of agnès films’s content is created and published through a feminist creative process. Working with students, faculty, filmmakers, and critics from across the globe the agnès films team strives to share many unique experiences and a variety of feminist perspectives. This work is made possible through collaboration both in person and digitally. In curating a digital feminist workspace agnès films values feminist ethics in engaging with coworkers, staff writers, and members. The agnès films team regularly meets in a location that is oriented towards collaborative work. The roundtable format of our space allows for easy and free-flowing discussion, sharing of ideas, and collaboration. Ideas are regularly workshopped within the space and group input is highly valued. Our team and workspace are run with the tenets of a feminist film crew. That is, everyone has a specific role, but collaboration occurs frequently and decisions are made with input from all group members.
POSTER PRESENTATIONS, SECTION 2
LAKE HURON ROOM, 11:00 AM --- 12:30 PM
TRACING THE PRODUCTION OF SOCIAL SPACES AND THE SOCIAL IMAGINATION IN AN ONLINE CHINESE STUDENT MAGAZINE
Yunting Cao, Yisi Fan
Mentor(s): Steven Fraiberg (Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures)
In this study, we attend to the complex ways that Chinese international students are developing hybrid and cosmopolitan identities as they move back and forth between home and host cultures. To study these issues, we examine an online international student magazine established by students at MSU and jointly produced at the university in coordination with complex network of students distributed across the U.S., China, and other regions of the world.
Central to the analysis is not only the processes through which the students are producing stories linked to the reconstruction of Chinese identity, but also, in the process constructing complex sets of relationships. In order to examine these issues, we have performed a rhetorical analysis of articles published in the magazine, interviewed writers and editors at the magazine, and observed them producing stories. Triangulating our various data points, the study foregrounds key issues surrounding social, cultural, and class shift within modern China. It further points to how the students’ underground economies and literacies are bound up in the production of a transnational social field mediating the reconfiguration of social spaces and the social imagination.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS, SECTION 1
LAKE ERIE ROOM, 11:00 AM --- 12:30 PM
CREATED RACES AND THEIR PRESENTATIONS: HOW PLAYERS DECONSTRUCT STEREOTYPES IN TABLETOP RPGS
Time: 11:30 AM
Mentor(s): Kate Fedewa (Writing Rhetoric and American Cultures)
Within Role Playing Games (RPGs), worlds are created through the use of language, and within those worlds, players create characters, undertake quests, and develop fantasy lives through language. However, there is some dissonance between what is written and designed for use within those RPGs and what the players actually do and understand. This study explores the dissonance between the representation of created races in text and play and the players’ actions regarding those races in play and after play. Because race is a social construct both in the fantasy worlds created and in reality, this study emphasizes the creation and representation of canonically evil races within RPGs and players’ reactions to them to determine the ways in which the societal norms of the fantasy world are reinforced or deconstructed by players. Research was done using texts that form the backbone of Pathfinder and Dungeons and Dragons, recorded actual play sessions, and forum discussions taken from the Pathfinder official player forums. By understanding how players agree and disagree with how races in game are presented and designed in an RPG, inroads could be made into understanding how race is constructed and understood in real life and ways to deconstruct stereotypes could be derived.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS, SECTION 2
ROOM 41, 11:00 AM --- 1:00 PM
THE EFFECTS OF TICKETING SYSTEMS ON MUSEUM VISITOR EXPERIENCE
Erin Campbell, Erin VanSloten
Time: 12:00 PM
Mentor(s): Ben Lauren (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures)
For museums it is important to understand who your visitors are, because it is crucial to designing relevant and engaging experiences for them. At the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, collecting information on visitors has proved challenging for quite some time. Because of this challenge, the Broad is interested in implementing a new ticketing system that will, in part, help the museum learn more about visitor experiences. Since the Broad is a free museum and has never required a ticket, the museum would like to carefully evaluate how visitors will respond to the new ticketing system. This research aims to understand how visitors experience the system in order to understand how the process influences their overall museum experience.
ORAL PRESENTATIONS, SECTION 1
ROOM 41, 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
IN DEFENSE OF ‘‘SLACKTIVISM’’: ONLINE ACTIVISM & EMPATHY
Time: 1:30 PM
Mentor(s): Kate Birdsall (Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures)
With the proliferation of the internet, ideas and information can be shared easier and farther than ever. In theory, this would mean grassroots activism and communities like the Riot Grrrl movement of the 1990s could be more active and reach a broader audience. However, the charge of ‘‘slacktivism’’ accuses people who are involved in online activist communities of staying in their own isolated bubbles of beliefs, sharing links that confirm their own views to feel good about themselves, and not following up their words with actions that create any real change. With the internet also comes the ability to communicate and connect with people of diverse geographic and social groups. Online connections are often seen as lesser than face to face relationships because it is much harder to form empathetic connections online. The need for empathy not only in personal relationships, but also in activism, contributes the the notion that online activism is hollow and without real effect. Using the context of queer theory and the riot grrrl movement, this research examines online communities and the forms of activism those communities promote. We seek to understand the various intended purposes and audiences of online activist spaces and how they influence face to face communication and activism. This project also investigates how empathy works in online spaces and how communication in online spaces can increase face-to-face empathetic communication within and across communities by establishing a base knowledge and common language for people to reach others with.