Congratulations to our 2022 Rose Olver Prize Winners: Jade DuVal '22 and Sophie Ewing '22

Jade DuVal Jade DuVal '22

The Everyday Black Girl: Empowerment, Community, and Self-Love in #BlackGirlMagic, "Salvage the Bones," and “Brown Skin Girl”

Department of English Honors Thesis

Abstract: My senior thesis project analyzes how three Black women, Ca’Shawn Thompson, Jesmyn Ward, and Beyoncé Knowles-Carter, use their art to expand the narrative of the Black experience. #BlackGirlMagic, “Brown Skin Girl”, and Salvage the Bones create community and spaces of empowerment for their audiences. In creating representations of Black girls and women who defy stereotypes they create not only spaces of survival but put an emphasis on self-love. I combine personal narrative and critical analysis to show my complex understanding of my own experience as a Black girl growing into a Black woman. Stories of myself that reference my mother show the generational role cultural wisdom surrounding Black femininity is passed on. I provide a path to show how essential a place of belonging is for Black girls and where they can be found.

Sophie Ewing Sophie Ewing '22

Mirror, Octopus: Semiotics, Minor Literatures, and Counter-Discourse in Park Chan-wook’s "The Handmaiden"

Department of English Honors Thesis

Abstract: This thesis focuses on one film, The Handmaiden. The film tells the story of Sookee, a Korean girl brought up in a household of thieves during the 1930s who is recruited by a family friend, Count Fujiwara, to pose as a maid and help him seduce and collect the fortune of the aristocratic Lady Hideko. The plan seems destined to proceed without a hitch, but Sookee has second thoughts when she begins to fall in love with Hideko. This project uses this film to examine how it is we come to know what we know, and how various power dynamics—colonial, patriarchal, heterosexist—affect how we interpret the world around us and imbue it with meaning. Each chapter in this study examines the way that dominant discourses and counter discourses emerge in the film through a particular issue and lens. The first chapter uses semiotics to focus on processes of meaning-making and how images and language within the film work to construct characters as gendered racialized subjects within the hierarchy of colonized Korea. At the same time, I examine the ways that the film teaches the spectator to resist such constructions. The second chapter draws on the film critic Laura Mulvey’s critique of the male gaze to trace the proliferating representations of women and violently gendered sexual relations within the film and examine how they continue to structure relationships between different characters to the very last scene. The third chapter draws on Sara Ahmed’s work in Queer Phenomenology explaining how gender and sexuality work to construct each other in order to examine the ways that queer desire conforms to and subverts heteronormative discourses within the film.