MMUF Cohort 3

2010-11 Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellows 

Nick Dante '12
Major(s): English Language and Literature
Graduate Interest: Modern American Literature and American Poetry
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Merit Scholarship
MMUF Mentor: Prof. Charles Adams
Project Title: Poet of the People: The Relevance and Popularity of Carl Sandburg in American Literature

As one of the most prolific American poets of the twentieth century, Carl Sandburg was once a major voice in the "American" consciousness, as well as a cultural icon. With no formal education and time spent traveling the United States as a soldier and vagabond during the late nineteenth century, Sandburg was able to interact with working class Americans throughout the Middle West and Western United States. This led to Sandburg's immense and diverse production of "untraditional" poetry full of both severe and aesthetic imagery that was often written in slang and without a predetermined form. Despite Sandburg's immense contribution to American literature, in particular Modern American poetry of the early Twentieth century, he has declined in popularity and fallen out of the consciousness of many literary circles and academic communities. Sandburg's decline and subsequent exclusion from many contemporary anthologies of American poetry can be explained in large part because of the political content of his poetry, his experimental writing style, and the shifting national concerns of the American people. This exposes a more critical issue of what factors can and ultimately do influence scholars and critics to consider the significance of an author's work and whether that author will be added to the "canon of literature"; and by extension the cultural memory of his/her readers.


Marina Najera '12
Major(s): Spanish and Business
Graduate Interest: Spanish, Spanish Literature, Modern Languages
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenlieaf Whittier Merit Scholarship, Spanish National Honor Society, Memer of P.E.O., Leadership Award Whittier College, Dean's List
MMUF Mentor: Prof. Gustavo Geirola
Project Title: Redefining Erotica, Sexuality and the Body in Two Colonial Latin American Works

The erotic and sexual nature of beings is a prevalent subject of controversy, especially when we compare the pre-Hispanic and colonial thoughts on the matter. For centuries the human race has pondered about erotica and developed a sense of shame towards the matter; as a consequence "normal" sexual behavior or activity is under constant speculation and scrutiny. Interestingly, prior to the arrival of Spanish colonizers, the indigenous populations of pre-colonial Mexico viewed sexuality as integral to their way of life and not as a taboo subject, being at the center of many of their rituals, beliefs, and customs. After the arrival of the Spaniards and their religious figures, much of this changed. In an effort to understand how the colonization impacted the perception of sexuality of indigenous people, this study analyzes historical and literary works from the colonial period of Mexico and Colombia. These works in particular are Alonso de Molina's Confession Manuals (Mexico) and Juan Rodríguez Freyle's chronicle, El Carnero (Colombia), both of which demonstrate the use of erotic language and the shift of thought on sexuality during this time period.


Mario Obando '13
Major: History Graduate Interest: History, American Studies, Sociology and Ethnic Immigration Studies
Academic Honors and Awards: John Greenleaf Whittier Merit Scholarship, Whittier College Dean's List, Los Angeles Philanthropic Scholarship, Psi Alpha Theta--National History Honor Society, Omicron Delta Kappa, National Leadership Society, UC Irvine Diversity Fellow, Nixon Presidential Library and Museum Intern and Nixon Fellowship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. José G. Ortega
Project Title: A "Firm" Myopia: Johnson's Masculine, Imperialist and Anti-Communist Cuba Policy”

Using government memorandums, cables, National Security documents, CIA reports, FBI dossiers, presidential papers, political cartoons, and news reports, this project explores the extent to which gender, in terms of masculinity, informed, defined, and formulated U.S. foreign policy towards the Cuban Revolution in the post-missile crisis era--during the Johnson administration (1963-1967). Using a cultural approach, the project explores how domestic pressures, gender understandings, and the Cold War ideologies intertwined to formulate the continuity of the "isolationist" policy period towards Cuba. Moreover, this study takes rhetoric and discourse seriously as means of understanding how the policy was constructed--as it was not generated in a vacuum, absent of personal reputation. Thus, this study explores the meaning of such gender-coded words such as "subversive communists," or phallic outbursts like "Castro is urinating on us."Although these concepts are central, it does not discredit racial, economic, geopolitical and political interpretations of the time-period. Instead, it entails that gender can add another dimension to other historical interpretations of the Johnson administration. More specifically, it deals directly with the early debates of water supply to Guantanamo, the embargo's continuity, the debates of the Cuba-Soviet alliance, the end to the Castro assassination plots, the continuity of the Alliance for Progress, and the U.S. and OAS alliance. Ultimately, I argue that the Johnson administration continued isolating Cuba partly due to a highly sexualized and masculine anti-communist ideology and as a result did little to improve Cold War tensions.


Amber Orozco '13
Major: Environmental Studies
Graduate Interest: Environmental Anthropology, Indigenous Knowledge, Poverty
Academic Honors and Awards: Student Life Campus Leadership Award, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, Whittier College Dean's List, Udall National Fellowship Nominee, Whittier Assistance League Scholarship, John Greenleaf Scholarship
MMUF Mentor: Dr. David N.M. Mbora
Project Title: The Indigenous Knowledge of the Pokomo and Their Impact on the Tana River Forests

A total of 46 different tree species were identified by the Pokomo of the Tana River Forests, as a necessity to build and sustain a home in their village (Orozco et al. 2011). These findings raised the question: how has human activity of the Pokomo in their local forests impact the tree species of the Tana River Forests? Due to the dependence of the Pokomo communities on their local forests for sustenance and an increase in population, a heavier human influence will be recorded in these local forests. It was predicted that forests both farther and government regulated would display a larger basal area of trees, higher tree species density, higher tree species diversity, and higher species richness compared to the locally, self-governed forests of the Pokomo. The study area included a representative sample of 4 local forests and 4 forests farther from the Pokomo villages. Within each of the sampled forests, species were identified and the Diameter at Breast Height (DBH) was measured for all tree individuals in a 5 X 100 meters belt transect. Basal area, density, Shannon-Wiener Diversity index, and species richness were calculated per transect. Additional analyses are underway. Reference: Orozco, Amber, David N.M. Mbora, Lara Allen. "The Indigenous Knowledge of the Pokomo". In preparation. 2011.

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