College of Liberal Arts Theses and Dissertations

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    Lonesome Dream: A novel constructed as a subversive genre fusion of the cozy mystery and the gothic romance, exploring themes of trauma and feminist destabilization of toxic masculinity
    (2022-08) Tudor, Benjamin; Etheridge, Charles; Carstensen, Robin; Bezio, Kelly
    This creative thesis is a novel that attempts to tell a character-focused mystery through a feminist perspective. By fusing two sub-genres, the cozy mystery and the Gothic romance, the novel subverts genre tropes to create a complex female protagonist who subsequently subverts social expectations of women in society. As well, the protagonist’s actions challenge toxic masculinity, and in the role of an “accidental sleuth,” represents a pursuit of attainable justice, when many individuals historically and in today’s world often find themselves victims of unchecked and unacknowledged injustice. Further, this work explores the impact trauma and loss has on an individual, how it shapes one’s life and how it never fully goes away. With these goals, the novel works to be a meditation on human behavior and feminism, attempting as well to challenge past genre stereotypes of female protagonists in both the sub-genres this thesis explores.
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    (2022-05) Koranek, Payton; Katz, Louis; O'Malley, Ryan; Aubrey, Margaret
    Quiescent refers to a state or period of inactivity or dormancy. This exhibition is centered around the complexity and nuance of the face to convey emotion. The concept for this body of work grew during a period of my life where I was feeling very uncertain, as though I was emotionally frozen and dormant. I was conflicted in how to approach life-changing decisions, unsure as to whether their outcomes would metaphorically move me forward or back. This was compounded by fears we all have when forced to confront the confines of our own existence. The exhibition presents a series of expressively sculpted heads to reflect the progression of my emotional self, through experiences of personal struggle, social upheaval, and the global effects of COVID-19. Their expressions do not repress, they exhibit a range of nuanced emotions including longing, disdain, or exhaustion, all familiar feelings towards the unknown. Empathy is the vehicle through which these works connect to the viewer. My process relies heavily on intuition. These pieces are intuitively sculpted and intuitively arranged. This method correlates to the inspiration for the work, relationships are driven by intuition as well.
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    Aqui is anywhere we choose to call home
    (2022-05) Negreros, Jacqueline; O'Malley, Ryan; Katz, Louis; Aubrey, Meg; Peña, Joe; Hinojosa, Yndalecio
    Jacqueline Negreros draws upon her parents’ experience as immigrants in Aquí Is Anywhere We Choose to Call Home to highlight themes of tradition, immigration, and assimilation conveyed through memories shared by the artist and her family. She uses food as a metaphorical device to probe cultural attitudes of authenticity and otherness through ingredients that remain traditional and those that have grown with her. Aquí centers around the communal preparation of barbacoa de pozo – from its roots in her parents’ village of Zacapala, Puebla, Mexico to its evolution into barbacoa al vapor, using a steam pot, adapted from her family’s life in the United States. Through printmaking and sculpture, Negreros explores the duality immigrants contend with after leaving their homeland for a new nation and how customs can evolve across generations. Rice embossed paper depicts objects fundamental to the preparation of this meal and signifies cultural and familial traditions. Veils sewn from guaje seed pods and arranged carizzo stalks are relics from the landscape of Zacapala. Collected around Corpus Christi and considered invasive, they form a border between belonging and otherness. El pozo in the middle of the gallery is the portal by which everything enters or emerges, a point of origin. Comprised of dirt from the Texas Mexico border and sand from the beach at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, El pozo merges physical spaces from the past and present for experiences to coexist. La Pancita signifies matriarchal bonds and the importance of ritual. The installation and preparation of this meal create an intimate view into the artist’s use of food to traverse time, and this supporting paper serves as an archive of her family history and this important recipe.
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    Two are better than one: Understanding goal disclosure and development in marriage
    (2022-05) Walker, Diana; Rodriguez, Stephanie; Maresh-Fuehrer, Michelle; Ivy, Diana
    This study investigates how romantic couples become aware of each other’s personal goals, and how they communicatively co-construct processes to develop collective goals in marriage. Theories of interpersonal relationship development and goal communication were used to frame the research questions. Twenty-nine in-depth interviews were conducted with spouses to gain insight into their personal experience with goal disclosure and creation of collective goals. Results indicated that couples become aware of each other’s personal goals through explicit and implicit communication, and by using future talk to test for relationship compatibility. Additionally, results showed that couples develop collective goals through goal appropriation and practical and intentional planning. Implications for relationship development and maintenance are discussed. Keywords: Goal development; goal disclosure; marital communication; relationship maintenance; joint goal planning
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    Procedural fairness and attitudes toward electronic surveillance as predictors of organizational trust and workplace relationships: Friend or foe?
    (2022-05) Loeffler, Cari; Sollitto, Michael; Maresh-Fuehrer, Michelle
    The rapid and unplanned transition to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic left employers scrambling to find ways to monitor employee productivity resulting in the increased use of electronic monitoring and surveillance (EMS) technologies to track and observe their employees' activity from afar. Using uncertainty management theory (UMT) as a framework, this study explored how organizational members’ procedural fairness judgements and their attitudes towards surveillance impacts organizational trust and the communication that occurs within their supervisor-subordinate and peer coworker relationships. UMT is based on the premise that people use their overall perceptions of fair treatment as a substitute for interpersonal trust when deciding how to react to requests or demands in social situations, including interactions within organizations. Participants completed an online survey assessing their attitudes toward surveillance, perceptions of procedural fairness, leader communication exchange, and cooperative communication. Results revealed that formal treatment predicted positive attitudes toward surveillance and trust in top management. Formal and informal decision making, informal treatment, and positive attitudes toward surveillance predicted trust in immediate supervisors. Informal treatment predicted professional trust, professional development, affective, verbal communication, nonverbal communication, and accessibility dimensions of leader communication exchange. As EMS technology advances, organizations must rationalize and clarify the reasoning behind monitoring organizational members. Keywords: attitudes toward surveillance, cooperative communication, electronic performance monitoring, leader communication exchange, organizational trust
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    Host-national friendship, social support, and cultural adaptation: Exploring experiences of international students in the U.S.
    (2019-05) Tran, Chau Minh Bao; Rodriguez, Stephanie; Friley, Brooke
    International students decide to study abroad to seek achievements in personal growth, intercultural development, education, and career attainment. Along with these fruitful benefits international students face a range of challenges such as language differences, cultural barriers, social disconnectedness, racial discrimination, and academic pressure. These obstacles may negatively impact their mental health, life satisfaction, and academic performances during study abroad. Social support is one of the most effective factors that helps international students overcome these struggles. However, social support, specifically peer support requires access to and the development of relationships with peers. As such, this study investigates the process that international students access and develop friendship with host students to receive social support. The study also examines the way that international students perceive provisions of assistance from their host peers. Finally, the roles of peer support in helping international students adapt to host culture are explored. This study reveals several practical implications, discusses limitations, and provides suggestions for future research.
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    “Not definite or tangible”: Imagining multiracial identities and recognizing multiplicity in passing novels
    (2019-05) Gentry, Victoria Ramirez; Concannon, Kevin; Salter, Sarah; Santos, Kathryn Vomero
    Scholars have long focused on the significance of race in passing novels of the Harlem Renaissance and have recently explored the intersections of gender in these texts. However, discussions about the characters of these novels lack significant focus on their identities as multiracial. Rather, scholars tend to analyze these novels through a binary lens, viewing black characters as “crossing over” to pass as white. Describing passing in this way perpetuates the simple, ideological binaries (black vs. white) that have formed in the racial imaginary. These imaginaries inform how we see race and encourage us to understand identity in terms of opposition. Looking at passing as unidirectional supports this racial imaginary as it ignores the experiences of multiracial individuals who neither fit in the binary nor move only in one direction. To work against this problem, I draw from Michael Hames-García’s theory of multiplicity, Judith Butler’s performativity, and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s intersectionality. I use these theories to articulate the subversive frameworks in passing novels as they explore the multidirectional and often contradictory paths of passing and destabilize the racial imaginary. On the one hand, performativity establishes the pressures multiracial individuals experience to adhere to the standards of the racial imaginary which leads to racial erasure. One the other hand, however, characters use performativity to gain mobility and to subvert the racial imaginary. The lens of multiplicity builds on intersectionality to express the complexity of multiracial identities, revealing how passing is a multidirectional movement and how racial identification is often informed by gender inequity. Thus, my project develops a lens to examine passing as multidirectional. I apply this lens to passing novels that actively critique the racial imaginary: Charles Chesnutt’s The House Behind the Cedars (1900), Nella Larsen’s Passing (1929), and Jessie Fauset’s Plum Bun (1928) and Comedy: American Style (1933). These novels depict examples of how multiracial individuals reject the racial imaginary through multiplicity. Looking at how the novels expose this complex multiplicity reveals how the novels construct theoretical frames for understanding intersectional identities. Lastly, I explore how contemporary passing novels depict the way the racial imaginary persists, and, despite laws preventing racist segregation, racism still limits intersectional identity expression.
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    The effects of short-term heterosexual privilege awareness on the evaluations of minority people
    (2021-12) Bae, Eun Young; Zaikman, Yuliana; Comparini, Lisa; Botello, Raquel; Houlihan, Amy
    Privilege, or automatic unearned benefits, create group inequities that cause and perpetuate systems of disadvantage, oppression, and discrimination for those that lack these benefits (Case et al., 2012a; McIntosh, 1998). A large challenge of privilege studies is the tendency for the sole focus and conversation to be on the discrimination component of these systems from the view of the underprivileged, rather than examining the systems from the privileged perspective (Case et al., 2012a). LGBT+ people have continued to openly fight for equal rights in the United States and though much progress has been made, members of this underprivileged group still face rampant prejudice, discrimination, and inequities (Korn, 2020). This project examined the effectiveness of short-term interventions to engage privilege self-awareness, reduce homophobia, and employ behavioral intentions towards challenging systemic oppression in cisgender heterosexual identifying individuals. We recruited 105 undergraduate cisgenders, heterosexual participants for this study. Our findings illustrate those short-term interventions to elicit self-awareness of personal privileges as a dominant heterosexual person can be successful in leading to behavioral intentions to collective action towards challenging the systemic oppression experienced by non-heterosexual people. We also found correlations between being aware of one’s own heterosexual privileges and favorable perceptions of other underprivileged, minority groups. Further research is needed on the effects of raising heterosexual privilege self-awareness on perceptions towards other minority identities.
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    the Protagonists in For Whom the Bell Tolls as heroes on Joseph Campbell's journey
    (2021-12) Chriss, William; Etheridge, Charles; Concannon, Kevin; Pattison, Dale
    Ernest Hemingway’s novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (FWTBT), portrays its protagonists in ways that illustrate Joseph Campbell’s concept of the hero’s journey and his theory of the mono-myth. This thesis will argue that the book’s characters of Robert Jordan, Maria, and Pilar provide different embodiments of the Campbellian universal heroic archetype. My project seeks to enter into scholarly conversations about this novel and its primary characters, as well as about Campbellian anthropology as applied to literary criticism in general. The thesis concludes that while each of these three characters exhibit aspects of Campbell’s monomyth, the one that most clearly follows the hero’s journey is Maria. This may be a controversial claim among traditional Hemingway readers that enthusiastically embraced his macho image, but it is consistent with later scholarly criticism that sees Hemingway’s strong female characters as indicating a more nuanced and less misogynistic view of femininity. Thus, this project helps to refine literary criticism of Hemingway and to increase understanding of the interplay between myth, social psychology, and modern English literature.
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    The Fruits
    (2021-12) Villarreal, Carlos; O'Malley, Ryan; Katz, Louis; Gurney, David; Duttweiler, Josh
    The Fruits investigates the intimate space of a South Texas minority family’s life within the context of this current American moment. In this series of images, Villarreal utilizes the space between cinematic and documentary photography to challenge notions of race, privilege, and power. Through autobiography, symbolism, lighting, staging, performance, and documentation he subtly reveals tensions inherent in the complex condition of the Latinx experience.
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    Two counties in crisis: measuring political change in reconstruction Texas
    (2021-08) Dillard, Robert Jefferson; Wooster, Robert; Blanke, David; Moore, Peter
    Measuring political change at the cultural level is a process that has long divided political scientists and historians. By focusing on two socially, economically, and culturally distinct Texas counties during Reconstruction, this thesis presents an example of political change. Collin County, Texas experienced a cultural shift from 1861 to 1876 resulting from the traumatic events of war, military rule, and the natural processes of enculturation and oppositional politics.
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    Hittin' the switch
    (2021-05) Cantú IV, Maclovio Mike; O'Malley, Ryan; Katz, Louis; Aubrey, Meg; James, Richard; Peña, Joe
    Hittin’ the Switch presents a body of work inspired by a lifetime fascination with lowriders and lowrider culture through an amalgamation of processes including printmaking, painting, and quilting to illustrate this symbol of ChicanX1 ingenuity, resistance, cultural affirmation, and the spirit's’ ability to materialize aspirations. It stitches together layers of reality that make up goal-oriented dreams. The avenue toward that destination is often filled with potholes, detours and sketchy situations, but smoother roads lie ahead. My intensive investigation into the creation, evolution, and history of the lowrider has led to the discovery and expressions of the Chicano term rasquachismo. This D.I.Y. sensibility is suffused through this project including paintings, prints and an unlikely connection made to the art of quilting. This thesis is a culmination of research from the last three years and embodies a life of living rasquache. These principles are reflected in lowrider creation and culture. They start with a vision and evolve over time by salvaging, modifying, repainting, and refinishing to become a new iteration from the original. These works are created through rasquachismo sensibility and serve both as an homage to lowrider history, the neighborhoods that formed my identity and aesthetics, and a personal memorial for those dearly departed. There have been countless individuals that have helped me along this journey. It may seem like a stretch but let us all jump into the family car like a Sunday afternoon and go for a cruise.
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    Assimilating into the transnational: Examining transnational identity in global cities through immigrant narratives
    (2019-12) Walker, Callie T.; Pattison, Dale; Concannon, Kevin; Salter, Sarah
    As cities become more globalized due to technological advances and increasingly interconnected flows of humans, capital, and goods, movement of people into new spaces has raised questions about belonging and identity within a global system of national boundaries. Ideas about immigration and assimilation have fluctuated throughout modern history, often on a scale between liberal ideas of cosmopolitanism and modes of belonging that favor national identity as a defining characteristic of community. This thesis explores immigrant narratives written by transnational individuals in the late 20th and early 21st century for the purpose of reconceptualizing belonging, identity, and assimilation in increasingly transnational urban spaces. By establishing a framework within which postcolonial theories of hybridized identity such as those put forth by Homi Bhabha and Gloria Anzaldúa are applied to the work of urban theorists like Michael Peter Smith and Sassia Sasken, this thesis pushes against the notion of assimilation as working toward “sameness,” and asks readers to consider the ways in which transnationality and globalization complicate notions of belonging and community-building. Rather than thinking of assimilation as a process of acquiring national membership, I argue that membership in the transnational world should be considered locally within the communities in which individuals live and operate as a mode of the sort of civic citizenship described by urban theorist Benjamin Barber. Within the following chapters, the city provides a locus for the argument that true belonging and “assimilation” are achieved through engaging transnational identity and adaptability as a mode of moving through the transnational urban. Chapter one focuses on the transnational flexibility of individuals in the works of Nigerian author Chimamanda Adichie. Chapter two challenges the notion of assimilation as developing a fixed identity based on cultural background through Chang-rae Lee’s Native Speaker. Chapters three and four look at hybridized identity within There There by Tommy Orange and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz. These chapters explore transnational spaces more broadly by applying Deleuze and Guattari’s theory of smooth and striated space to describe the impacts of hegemonic systems on individuals who resist assimilation into the socioeconomic systems imposed on them by the nations in which they move.
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    Deconstructing the savior narrative: The Brownings, agency, and their cultural afterlife
    (2020-12) Sifers, Krista Diane; Sheehan, Lucy; Sorensen, Jennifer; Wiehe, Jarred
    Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s love story has quite the cultural afterlife. Articles describing their epic literary love often appear around Valentine’s Day, and there have been many fictionalized narratives re-telling their story. However, this project’s main goal is to show the problems with the Browning-as-savior narrative these narratives create. Whereas re-tellings might lead readers to believe that Browning or his love “saved” EBB from her life before him, close analysis of the Brownings’ letters and poetry complicate this idea by showing the complexities of ideas behind gender, power, and disability. These analyses show we should not buy into these fictionalized salvific ableist heterosexual narratives that require re- writing the past and controlling the future. Rather, this project seeks to influence readers to consider three things: 1) EBB’s disability and the numerous ways it affected her embodied experiences as a woman and a writer within her relationship to Browning, 2) the problems fictionalized narratives have created in terms of understanding disability, gender and power, and 3) the ways in which Browning and EBB slipped in and out of stereotypical gender roles over the course of their relationship.
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    Hausfrau collections: Routine, ritual, & magic
    (2020-12) Speck, Jamie M.; Aubrey, Margaret; Petican, Laura; O'Malley, Ryan; Bajuyo, Leticia
    As a person who fills many roles—housewife, parent, artist—my work is suffuse with everyday monotonous routines. I celebrate notions of domesticity by turning the ordinary into the fantastical, routine into ritual. Instead of relying on traditional art materials for this body of work, I construct autobiographical assemblages—my Hausfrau Collections—objects and household waste garnered through quotidian routine. I collect and reimagine unremarkable artifacts through the restorative healing power of ritual, along with childhood notions of fantasy and magic. Textile-like artworks metamorphose from consumer waste into fairy tale and mythical-type garments and backdrops. Hausfrau Collections confronts outdated stereotypes to foment self-discovery and personal contentment through imagination and storytelling. Using Nelson Goodman’s Ways of Worldmaking (1978), I discern my artwork and the way I interact with reality through individual perspective. My additional desire is that these artistic reparations and invented textiles influence more responsible ecological artmaking practices and contribute to a healthier environment on this planet. Reconsidering traditional housewife and family-based routines and rituals creates a spiritual and visual imaginative escape for self-reflection and discovery, and to conjure the magical from the mundane.
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    Does fulfilling a need for uniqueness decrease conspiracy theory endorsement?
    (2020-12) Libretto, Carina; Houlihan, Amy; Brouillard, Pamela J.; Seidel, Steven
    With the recent increase of measles outbreaks, there has been a rising concern regarding anti-vaccination conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories are belief systems endorsed by some individuals in which powerful, malevolent groups work in secret to orchestrate world events. Research on conspiracy theories has increased in the past decade. Several scholars have examined a number of epistemic, existential, and social motivations for conspiracy theory endorsement. Others, to a lesser degree, have inspected individual factors such as analytical thinking styles and education. The current study hypothesized that fulfilling individuals’ need for uniqueness by providing bogus personality questionnaire feedback would result in decreased endorsement of conspiracy theories. Furthermore, those who receive bogus feedback indicating they lack uniqueness will be more likely to endorse conspiracy theories. Two hundred and seventeen students were recruited from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Participants completed a bogus personality questionnaire. After receiving either positive uniqueness feedback or negative uniqueness feedback, participants completed the Need for Uniqueness Scale, the Generic Conspiracist Beliefs Scale-Short, and the Rational Experiential Inventory-short. Analyses revealed that manipulating participants’ need for uniqueness did not impact conspiracy theory endorsement. This may be because the manipulation of need for uniqueness was ineffective as bogus feedback may have been too specific or participants did not perceived feedback as accurate.
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    COVID-19 Impacts and Responses
    (2020-05-29) Schuchs Carr, Isla; Borges Quadros, Cristiane; DeFrancesco, Phillip; Falcon, Marlene; Garcia, John; Gayle, Theresa; Hinojosa, René; Jimenez, Adriana; Kozak, Renée; Miller, Samantha; Rodriquez, Ariana; Salazar, Luisa; Sanchez, Sandra; Szczepanek, Paula; Tryon, Monica; Schuchs Carr, Isla; Borges Quadros, Cristiane; DeFrancesco, Phillip; Falcon, Marlene; Garcia, John; Gayle, Theresa; Hinojosa, René; Jimenez, Adriana; Kozak, Renée; Miller, Samantha; Rodriquez, Ariana; Salazar, Luisa; Sanchez, Sandra; Szczepanek, Paula; Tryon, Monica
    In the following report, two MPA students—Cristiane Borges Quadros and Marlene Falcon—analyzed the COVID-19 response in China, Italy, Spain, and the United States. Theresa Gayle wrote an introduction to Federalism and created a timeline of state responses to provide context for her classmates reports on several key localities including Washington, California, New York, Texas, and Florida—written by MPA students John Garcia, Luisa Salazar, and Adriana Jimenez. Monica Tryon wrote a comparative analysis of the COVID-19 response in two or the largest U.S. cities, Los Angeles, California and Chicago, Illinois, and New Orleans, Louisiana—one of the hardest hit in the early days of the pandemic in the United States. Sandra Sanchez and Renee Kozak provided an analysis of the COVID-19 response in six major Texas cities—Houston, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, El Paso and, Corpus Christi, the city in which our university is located. Several students contributed questions to a survey: The Educational Impacts of COVID-19 in the United States. Samantha Miller reported on some of the higher education institutional responses to COVID-19 and the impacts on students. Ariana Rodriguez provided an analysis on the COVID-19 educational impacts on communities of color. René Hinojosa analyzed both higher education and K-12 access to technology and training prior to and during the COVID-19 institutional responses. Paula Szczepanek reported on the impacts of K-12 schools closing in reaction to the pandemic. John Garcia analyzed the challenges associated with the changes in instruction for K-12 students during this time and Cristiane Borges Quadros reported on the general perceptions of risk and the federal government response to COVID-19.
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    (2020-12) Gonzalez, Clarissa; O'Malley, Ryan; Aubrey, Margaret; Roeder, Larson
    Palimpsest is an exhibition of large drawings, artists books, and monotypes which considers the social influences of colonialism, geographic bias, authority, and nationalism amongst shifting global cultures. It is abstract cartography with a primary focus on the physical world map as an imperfect object with emphasis on how and why they were made, and the intentions of those who created them. The works in this exhibition utilize printmaking processes to create unconventional representations of global bodies and aesthetically claim agency over the fallible nature of maps. This supporting paper will illuminate the vacillating aspects of map history and usage through themes of material culture, simultaneous time and nationalism. Further, geological change, geopolitical perspectives, and my personal history will explain why I subvert these notions through abstraction in attempt to unite the personal geographies of the viewer to the broader world. The works display simultaneity of space and time while dissolving concepts of national identity, borders or boundaries to illuminate a need for better understanding across cultures.
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    "My name is Sara" a biomythography exploring the life of Sakine Cansiz
    (2020-12) Avsar, Carolina; Carstensen, Robin; Salter, Sarah; Hinojosa, Yndalecio
    This creative thesis explores the story of Sakine Cansiz, one of the first women activists and a central figure of the Kurdish liberation movement. By taking into account different sources of Sakine Cansiz’s life and role in paving the way for women’s equality in the Kurdish freedom struggle, and using Gloria Anzaldua’s autohistoria teoría, the final product, a biomythography, will attempt to make her life and legacy more attainable to the mainstream population. This project seeks to increase the representation of Kurdish history and the role women play in it, as well as de-fantasize the Western narratives surrounding Kurdish women and open a space and a public interest for future narratives on and from Kurdish women and their contributions to the struggles of freedom and women’s equality.
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    Informal science learning institutions and social media engagement
    (2020-05) Vermaelen, Jessica; Maresh-Fuehrer, Michelle; Sollitto, Michael
    Uses and gratifications theory has been widely used to examine the motivations individuals have to consume media. This study utilizes uses and gratifications theory in combination with consumers’ online brand related activities and engagement outcomes to determine how and why individuals engage with informal science learning institutions, such as zoos, aquariums, and museums, on Twitter. Its results contribute to uses and gratifications literature because it supports the notion that uses and gratifications theory can be applied to social media engagement and explores the theory as applied to informal science learning institutions. This study also examines the engagement outcomes of these motivations. The motivations associated with engagement on Twitter are information, entertainment, personal identity, social interaction, empowerment, remuneration, and brand love. These engagement motivations can influence a follower to consume, contribute, or create content. The motivations can also help improve trust, conative loyalty, affective loyalty, and purchase intention. The results of this study suggest that information, entertainment, and social interaction are the most powerful motivators for consuming content, and information and entertainment can lead to increased trust, conative loyalty, and purchase intention. Communication professionals that work at informal science learning institutions will be able to use the results of this study to create effective Twitter content.