Capstone Projects

2014 Projects

Mariana Roa Oliva - Translating "Biopolitics: From Tribes to Commodity Fetishism"

Written by Kiarina Kordela, Critical Theory Professor at Macalester, the article "Biopolitics: From Tribes to Commodity Fetishism", published in the the Feminist Cultural Studies Journal Differences, analyses and challenges the traditional conception of Biopolitics. The thesis put forward by Professor Kordela is that biopolitical power did not, as Foucault argued, emerged in a relatively recent historical moment, but rather that it is a transhistorical form of power.

For my capstone project, I plan to translate this article from English into French. The text explores and connects several French and francophone thinkers, including Michael Foucault, Georges Bataille, Etienne Balibar and Gilles Deleuze. The process of translation will require me to revisit and study these authors, now in their original language of writing.

I will use the material on English-French translation that I learned during the classes I've taken at Macalester and during my study abroad in Paris as the starting point for this project, but will try to extend my knowledge and skills on the translation of theory more specifically, as this is a field I would potentially like to pursue after graduation.

Translating this text will be a great way for me to plunge into a conversation between several French philosophers that Professor Kordela structures around an original argument which, in my view, points at important implications for both philosophical and political debates.

2013 Projects

Casey Colodny - Le mouvement et l'agriculture biologique: qu'en penser?

Ce projet est une étude du mouvement bio en France avec des comparaisons avec le mouvement aux Etats-Unis. Je m'intéresse à savoir quelles sont les différences entre les deux pays au sujet de l'agriculture biologique. Ce projet étudie l'historique du mouvement en France et aux Etats-Unis, comment fonctionne le système de distribution des produits agri bio et la situation actuelle pour le producteur et le consommateur.

Amelia Fedo - La Casaque rouge de l'infamie: le Bagne de Toulon dans l'imaginaire littéraire et social français du XIXe siècle

Penology and literature have often been intertwined. Nowhere is this intersection richer than in the literature of nineteenth-century France, where a fascination with punishment and social control was evident in many different genres. After his death in 1715, the system of galley slavery instituted by Louis XIV was replaced by a system of mostly terrestrial, semi-maritime penal servitude: penal labor for the new age. The first and most iconic of these institutions (called bagnes) was the Bagne of Toulon, a carceral setting that shows up in everything from works of social romanticism (Les Misérables, La Comédie Humaine), to popular fiction (La Résurrection de Rocambole), to non-fiction texts in the vein of exploitative sensationalism or adventure (Pierre Zacconne's Histoire des Bagnes, Eugène-François Vidocq's ghostwritten autobiography Mémoires de Vidocq) as well as the spirit of philanthropy and reform (Maurice Alhoy's Les Bagnes: Histoires, Types, Mystères, Benjamin Appert's Bagnes, Prisons et Criminels). I will discuss the reasons that the bagnes in general, and the Bagne of Toulon in particular, were of such interest to nineteenth-century authors, such as: liminal and transformative space, the interaction between a microcosmic society and the larger society, self-depiction vs. depiction by another, the reification of crime, transgression, and shame, and transgressive (i.e. queer) forms of sexuality and sociality.

Alexander Huszagh - L'écriture prolétarienne

Cette étude porte sur la comparaison entre deux écrivains qui se réclament de l'écriture prolétarienne: Jules Vallès et Constant Malva, l'un qui vient de la classe petite-bourgeoise et l'autre qui a connu le monde de la mine. La biographie de ces deux écrivains a-t-elle influencé leur style et leur façon de représenter la classe ouvrière? Quelles sont leurs particularités respectives?

Charles Kilian - My Immortal: A Translation from the English

One of the most frequently referenced and well-known works produced on the Internet, "My Immortal," was written between 2006 and 2007 by an individual claiming to be a young woman named Tara Gilesbie and instantly became wildly popular. For my Honors project with the department, an English-to-French translation that used advanced techniques of translation, such as transposition and modulation, verbal equivalence, and adaptation, to preserve the unique syntactic features, informal speech register, and general disjointedness of the narrative will be produced with the intent of achieving a faithful and complete French text. A supplementary essay from twenty to thirty pages describing the problems encountered translation, the methodology of translation, and justifications for selecting this text will be written in French. For my Capstone, I would like to translate this essay from French to English, along with any additional notes pertinent to the translation.

Hannah Warman - De la dignité de la femme rwandaise. Lecture croisée de quelques récits de témoignage.

For my capstone project this semester, I would like to extend the research that I did with Professor Karegeye this past summer. Continuing from the readings I did while in Rwanda, I'd like to focus specifically on two works: "La mort ne veut pas de moi" by Yolande Mukagasana and "Survivantes" by Esther Mujawayo. Through analysis of these two works of testimonial narrative, I hope to illustrate the representations of the dignity of the Rwanda woman and its evolution during the events of the genocide. Women experienced the violence in many unique ways, and their dignity in society was greatly targeted and affected by thisâ â namely by rape and sexual violence. In my capstone project, I would like to use the texts to extricate that particular experience of women and show first of all how this dignity was ruptured by their experiences. Next, I will demonstrate how women reclaim that dignity when it is under siege through different forms of resistance and soli darity. Throughout my paper I will also incorporate my interactions with women's organizations and authors in Rwanda to bring relevance and experience to the subject.

2012 Projects

Margaret Brunk - The Intersection Between Memory and History: a Resurrection? On Narratives of the Rwandan Genocide against the Tutsi

In this project, I examine the interaction between memory and history in survivor testimony and fictional accounts of the 1994 Genocide Against the Tutsi. Through an analysis of testimonies held by the Kigali Memorial Center, I consider the way in which (national) History becomes intertwined with personal memory. I propose that by integrating History into their individual stories, survivors attempt to "resurrect" Rwandan history and reject assumptions made about the genocide by the international community. I then examine how this phenomenon appears in Boubacar Boris Diop's Murambi: le livre des ossements and Monique Ilboudo's Murekatete, concluding that both forms of testimony strive to provide not only an intimate account of the lived experience of survivors but also an accurate and "resurrected" account of the History of Rwanda that led up to the genocide.

Nicholas Huelster - Testimony at the Crossroads of Critical Theory

This project explores the subject of testimonial literature, a field comprised of textual survivor accounts of events of war and mass violence. Literary theory since the introduction of these works is discussed alongside a presentation of both fictional and non-fictional modes of representing the social reality of these events. Literary representation of the Shoah and the genocide against Tutsi are cited, as well as the more literary account of Ukranian born Piotr Rawicz. In the second part, I make the connection to the theory established by philosopher Michel Foucault called bio-politics, a subject inherently linked to the experiences and writings of the witnesses.

Sophie Mondale - The Quest for the Lost Canon and Other Stories: A History of College French Studies in the United States

In this project I use Macalester's course catalog as a case study in addition to other primary and secondary sources to trace the historical trajectory of French studies and their role in American education. I discuss the historical feminization of French studies in the U.S., the tendency toward an American mediation and filtration of French Culture in the classroom, the notion of French universalism, and the troubled union between French, Francophone, and Cultural Studies today. I found that the history of French studies also serves as an investigation into American conceptions of intellectualism, upper class identity, and sophistication. Today, French studies are faced with low enrollments and the discipline must contend with an inconsistent academic identity. Nevertheless, the history of the French department in American universities demonstrates that the discipline has reinvented itself countless times to maintain its appeal.

Hanna Zimnitskaya - Androgyny in the Paintings of Paul Gauguin: On a Quest for Utopia

In this capstone project, I explore the theme of androgyny that re-emerges on several occasions throughout the continuum of art history, notably in the context of Antiquity, Renaissance, and during the second half of the 19th century. The mythological figure of the androgyne serves as a channel, as a space of passage from reality to the world of ideas - an objective advanced by Symbolists, a movement that valorized the imaginary, the mysterious, and the correspondences between the visible and the invisible. Partially situated in the realm of Symbolism, the works of Gauguin during his stay in Brittany and his travels to Martinique and French Polynesia employ androgyny as a way of attacking the prevalent rigid social constructs. Hence, I examine the deviant and provocative art of Gauguin in a larger historical context in order to demonstrate that the painter's non-conformist quest for utopia is closely intertwined with the concepts that were already present during Antiquity and Renaissance.

2011 Projects

Helena Anderson - Son art danse comme Salomé: The Subversive Feminine Visual Language of Marie Laurencin

Often considered a quintessentially “feminine” artist, Marie Laurencin (1883–1956) is best known for painting dreamy pastel-hued portraits and landscapes. During the past thirty years, however, she has become a contentious figure in feminist art history. While some scholars argue that her feminine style reflects a simplistic portrayal of women that panders to the male viewer, others find more radical interpretations of her work. I propose that Laurencin’s style, like Colette’s in literature, presents a unique visual language that embodies the jouissance of women’s expression and experience, and reading her oeuvre as exemplary of écriture/peinture feminine allows the contemporary viewer to see the subversive potential of her feminine style of portraiture.

Margaret Besser - Castle in Sweden: translation from the French

This complete translation of the play Château en Suède, written in 1960 by the French novelist and playwright Françoise Sagan, seeks to render the original work in all its vigor, humor, and complexity. Special attention was paid to preserving the ambiguity, tonal variations, and irony of the dialogue, and techniques of oblique translation such as grammatical transposition and modulation, verbal equivalencies, and adaptation were used with the intent of achieving a fluid and nuanced English text. The student’s goal was to produce a faithful and astute translation of a previously untranslated work, fit for publication.

Jonathan Branden - Mythical Bodies, Colonial Ideologies: Josephine Baker and Her Public Image

Josephine Baker—dancer, singer, and occasional film actress—is widely considered one of twentieth-century France’s greatest superstars. An African-American, she epitomized French colonial conceptions of the primitive, exotic Other. A wide breadth of work on Baker’s performances exists, yet little investigates how “Josephine Baker” existed as a visual signifying system. This project addresses that void by applying Roland Barthes’s theory of myth to Baker as a test case. I argue that widely available representations of Baker’s body served as a mythical space for articulating colonial ideologies of white male superiority. I contextualize Baker’s image within what Michel Foucault would call photographic and spectatorial “truth,” and propose a definition of “public image” specific to stars. I then investigate four representations of her body: painted/drawn abstract representations, her banana skirt, her hair, and her residence/resort Château des Milandes. The discussion will then close with reflections on why Baker’s public image as myth remains relevant today.

Andrew Goodhouse - Le musée Chirac: L'importance sociopolitique du musée du quai Branly

This paper explores the social and political significance of the recently opened Musée du Quai Branly in Paris. I argue that the Quai Branly represents a political and cultural effort to distinguish the presidency of Jacques Chirac and the city of Paris, according to sociologist Pierre Bourdieu's definition of distinction. I demonstrate that the cultural capital that the Quai Branly gives to both Chirac and to Paris defines the museum as an institution with great sociopolitical importance.

Julia Hechler - Le Langage des jeunes: l'utopie des jeunes de Parc 18
The Language of Youth: Utopia of the Youth of Park 18

The paper is a case study based on ethnographic interviews regarding the use of le langage des jeunes (LDJ) by an urban Parisian community, Park 18. Members of the park group are mostly second-generation young male immigrants. The language variety they speak is spoken by all youth from the “streets” who feel excluded from “standard” French society. The paper determines that although the LDJ is a way for youth to protest against discrimination they endure, it also offers the youth a solution: members of Park 18 use the language in order to maintain and strengthen their idyllic community.