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Capstone Projects

2021 Projects

Samuel Hickman – La mémoire éphémère du temps : Le processus du témoignage à travers le mémoire francophone
Memoirs are an essential aspect of cultural storytelling. The expression of memory, both individual and collective, carries significant weight and helps to inform the larger study of memory itself. In the case of three memoirs written about traumatic events, La mort ne veut pas de moi (1996) by Yolande Mukagasana, Inyenzi ou les cafards (2014) by Scholastique Mukasonga, and Je viens d’ailleurs (2005) by Chahdortt Djavann, a narrative of recognition and exploration of ephemeral memory are told. I put forward the question: how can we, the reader, understand a restoration of a collective humanity through testimony? The study of memory opens a window on an intriguing subject of inquiry: how the process of writing restores humanity to the individual and the collective.

2020 Projects

Emma Carry – Des armes à feu aux chants classiques :  la manifestation culturelle en Corse après  une lutte multiséculaire contre la perception erronée et la domination des forces extérieures
Occupied for centuries by a number of large European powers, the island of Corsica and it’s inhabitants have been characterized as Roman, Genoese, Italian, Greek, English, and French. However, over these centuries of occupation, a distinct Corsican culture, language, and identity have developed. Today, the Corsican language and culture are on the verge of disappearance. Concern for the loss of their culture has been on the mind of Corsicans for many years- a highly publicized nationalist movement erupted in response to the threat of cultural extinction in the wake of World War Two. This movement, made out to be incredibly violent and unnecessary by the mainstream French media, has been hotly ridiculed. In my capstone project entitled “Des armes à feu aux chants classiques: la manifestation culturelle en Corse après  une lutte multiséculaire contre la perception erronée et la domination des forces extérieures,” I assert that despite legitimate issues with the highly publicized wing of the Corsican nationalist movement, another wing of the movement exists, and is being largely ignored as the result of deep-rooted French misconceptions and prejudice against the island. As a part of my analysis, I attempt to trace French stereotypes about the island back to their source (18th century French romantic literature) and asses recent attempts to shift the Corsican nationalist movement from explicitly political to cultural in nature.

Sophia Hays – Construire une démocratie illibérale à partir de la Révolution française (Constructing an illiberal democracy from the French Revolution)
This paper explores what it was to be a woman and a female citizen in France at the beginning of the Revolution and the construction of the First Republic. Looking at women’s roles and identities in the public and private spheres, as well as their legal economic rights, women’s value to society stems from their roles as mothers and caregivers. Due to the fact that women were tasked with raising the next generation of French patriots, despite numerous political contributions and a mobilization of social power, the women-as-mothers narrative was codified during the revolutionary period and so the construction of one of the world’s most famous democracies was established on the backs of women. Using this gendered lens of citizenship, the paper explores a 1793 play entitled L’Époux Républican to see how popular culture at the time of the revolution portrayed women’s roles and identities within the state. Focusing on two main characters, Mélisse and Franklin, the paper explores how highly gendered language and characterizations of females politicize women’s bodies and blame women for failures of the revolution. Depicting the female characters as traitors and as unpatriotic, the play allows us to understand how and why a new democracy was established with the explicit exclusion of women.

Julia Hirsch – Cameroon is Bilingual, but Cameroonians are not Bilingual: The Importance of the Translation of Nayang, Bantu King in a Multilingual Country
In this dissertation, I translated two excerpts of the memoir Nayang, Roi Bantou, written by the King of Batoufam, Cameroon and wrote a critical essay to accompany the translation. I argue in my essay that I chose to translate this book and these two chapters specifically because they show the coexistence of tradition and modernity that is happening in Batoufam. This is important for the whole world to know, and thus the translation of this book gives this essential information. The messages of the book serve as a case study that can be applied to other African cultures. I used my positionality as an American student who studied in Batoufam to take the opportunity to build a bridge between the Batoufam culture and the Western world by choosing specific methods that I saw as necessary. In the critical essay, after giving an in-depth examination of the situation of bilingualism in Cameroon due to its political history, and the role of translation in this, I say that this translation, and others like it in the future, can unify people coming from different linguistic groups by making the text accessible to more people. However, despite this, translation is not completely able to create full bilingualism in Cameroon.

Mathea Pielemeier – Les traumatismes du passé, les esprits d’aujourd’hui: Le surnaturel et le traumatisme dans les œuvres de Ken Bugul et Scholastique Mukasonga 
In my project I analyze two novels; De l’autre cote du regard by Ken Bugul and La femme aux pieds nus by Scholastique Mukasonga. Both works present semi-autobiographical accounts of childhood, Bugul in Senegal and Mukasonga in Rwanda. While the content of the two novels differs – Bugul addresses her family history and fraught relationship with her mother, while Mukasonga documents community, culture, and family in the years preceding the Rwandan genocide and her mother’s death – the supernatural is woven throughout both works. Bugul and Mukasonga provide highly detailed family histories which are situated in the larger context of their maternal communities. Both novels imply a tension between the traditions instilled by their mothers and the education the protagonists receive. I argue that the supernatural gives a voice to the dead, thus allowing the protagonists to reconcile these sources of tension and address their feelings of guilt.

2019 Projects

Sophie Migacz – Une Traduction de l’Humour, du Genre, et des Problèmes Sociaux dans Les Boulingrin de Georges Courteline
George Courteline’s play Les Boulingrin has not been translated since the ’50s, causing English-speaking audiences to miss out on the humor and social commentary of 19th century France. The play tells the story of a man who finds himself in an awkward situation when he arrives at the home of our titular dysfunctional couple, the Boulingrins, for a dinner party. My Honors project translation attempts to preserve the French wit as well as the societal issues and commentaries addressed throughout the piece. I accompany the translation with a closer look at these issues as well as an analysis of my work.

Earl Chase – Economic Inequality in France: Implications and Solutions
I will examine the political and socio-economic causes of the rise of the Gilets Jaunes or Yellow Vest movement. My analysis will include a discussion of the work environment in France, the public debt crisis and the presidential terms of Nicolas Sarkozy, François Hollande and Emmanuel Macron. I will use the context provided by my analysis to show that economic inequality is the root of the Gilets Jaunes movement. Finally I will look at the implications of economic inequality in the long term as well as possible solutions.

Claire Gillen – Les Perceptions et Représentations des Identités Algériennes en France: l’Immigration à 1960 à aujourd’hui
This capstone paper explores the complex relationship between France and Algeria with respect to the public and private representations and perceptions of French-Algerian identities. As France and Algeria have a long history of war and colonization, difficulties often persist when trying to reconcile the two cultural identities, and my project centers around how this impacts life in France for many French-Algerian people. In order to focus on external and public representations of French-Algerian identities, I analyze two French films – La haine and Fatima –  that portray the lives of French-Algerian individuals. In theory, representation is often considered a ‘good’ thing with the idea being that it adds to awareness and cultural sensitivity. However, my paper considers if these popular films perpetuate stereotypes and normalize discriminatory behavior. It is nearly impossible to generalize about a singular representation of French-Algerian people, and the same difficulty arises with internal perceptions of identity. My research uses sociology and personal testimonies to show the difficulties that often persist when trying to reconcile two cultural identities, and how this impacts life in France for many French-Algerian people.

2018 Projects

Emma Mullen – Le problème avec une société aveugle aux couleurs de la peau : un regard sur la race, la citoyenneté, et l’immigration en France
France is undeniably a multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural country. Yet, the French government refuses to acknowledge this diversity. France takes pride in being a colorblind society—meaning the country refuses to categorize individuals based on certain criteria like race, ethnicity, and religion. In fact, collection of these statistics is outlawed. In theory, a colorblind society creates equality. However, the reality is a different story. This capstone paper explores France’s delicate relationship with race, and how it affects non-white immigrants. In short, the concept of race—and by extension whiteness—is ignored in France, but in fact plays a key role in the oppression of immigrants. France, as a country, must recognize that it is insisting on a policy that clearly does not promote its national values of liberty, equality, and fraternity. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, as this colorblind mentality is a firmly entrenched cultural pattern that dates back to before the French Revolution.

2016 Projects

Carly Avezzano  – La traduction et la littérature de jeunesse Pour l’éducation transculturelle
I am exploring translation theory and cross-cultural education through children’s literature. I’m researching scholarly works in the field of translation and literary studies, synthesizing what I learn in the form of a paper, and creating my own series of children’s books and translations in French and English

Cora Trout – Entre le profane et le sacré au Moyen Âge: Une remise en question de la classification “profane” des enseignes “obscènes” et “érotiques”
The phallus, as both an image and symbol, played an important role in the Middle Ages. Its influence, however, is often overlooked by scholars today. This honors thesis will attempt to explain the importance, infiltration, and presence of phallic imagery in the medieval church by analyzing a set of phallic lead badges and tokens from the Musée de Cluny. In an attempt to answer how these seemly sexual pins should be classified, viewed, and analyzed, an in depth analysis of several religious and non-religious manuscripts, architectural details on cathedrals, and priapic saints will help shed light on the role these phallic pins played in the late middle ages.

2015 Projects

Amani DeHolton – Fait(s) divers: A Translation from the French
This project is a translation of the book Fait(s) divers: à la recherche de Jacques B. by Nicolas Bonneau from French into English. It follows the story of Nicolas B. as he tries to retrace the steps of a serial killer from the 1980s who shares his last name. His investigation sheds light not only on the life of this serial killer, but on questions of justice, society’s obsession with evil, and the darkness within us all.

Gabriela Landeros Fernandez – Translating the wit of Amelie Nothomb: The Tales of  “Maybe A Legend a bit Chinese” and “The Dutch Railway man”
The most well known and one of the most translated Francophone authors not only in Europe but around the world, Amelie Nothomb, writes a bestseller every autumn. This capstone project will translate two short-stories written by Nothomb in French to the English language that have never been translated before. Advanced techniques of translation such as adaptations, compensations, equivalence and transpositions will be used to transfer Légende Peut-Être un Peu Chinoisand Le Hollandais Ferroviaire to English. The project will include detailed explanations of the methodology used for this translation, the problems encountered during the translation process, justifications for the translations chosen and justifications for selecting these texts.

2014 Projects

Akilah Sykes – The Relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti
In Fall 2013, the Dominican Republic passed a law stripping all persons of Haitian descent born after 1929 of their Dominican citizenship. This law potentially affects over 250,000 Haitians, many of whom crossed the border, sometimes decades ago, to work in Dominican sugar fields. This capstone examines the historical relationship between the Dominican Republic and Haiti through interdisciplinary sources, including films, novels, historical and media accounts.

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.