Each American Studies major completes a capstone project during the final semester of study. Below are some examples of the exciting and innovative work that our recent graduates have undertaken.
Becky Gorley (2010)
My capstone project "Listening to College Hill" uncovered the local narrative of residents who live in the North St. Louis City neighborhood of College Hill and revealed how the dominant narrative of the media is a social deterrent and economically detrimental to residents, outsiders and investors. The local narrative needs to be strengthened, shared and listened to in order for real understanding and just investment of a neighborhood like College HIll.
Hannah Koesterer (2010)
My capstone project was a paper about news coverage of female athletes in US media. I looked at how female athletes appeared in major sports news outlets like ESPN and Sports Illustrated and sought to find out what makes a female athlete newsworthy, and ultimately what this reveals about the intersection between gender politics and women's sports.
Laura Frye (2012)
This project examines the impacts of controversial court cases on a small town scale. Featuring the questionable convictions in two murder trials in Ada, Oklahoma, my research shows that while the larger story is not unique-people divided by the verdict-the consequences are amplified in a small community that finds it's story being dominated by the opinion of outsiders in the national spotlight. Using first person accounts, newspaper archives, and mass media narratives, I demonstrate that although the outcome is not uncommon, the reverberations that become amplified in a small setting certainly may be.
Part oral history, part primary source research, I am seeking to combine elements of my American Studies education to produce a unique account of controversial events in the life of a small town. The final result is a still complicated, fragmented response that clearly shows the most popular narrative does not include the experience of all residents or participants.
Molly Gould (2012)
My capstone project "The Changing Face of Girlhood" studies the Pleasant Company and their American Girl Dolls as a key to understanding the current tensions that exist within the construction of American girlhood. By examining the products the company sells, their marketing strategies and the organizations they choose to associate with, I demonstrate the existence of conflicting portrayals of girlhood within the collection. These contradictory interpretations of girlhood and the changes that the American Girl Collection has undergone throughout its history mirror the evolution of American society's perception of girlhood. Today, organizations that uphold traditional "family values" have an opinion of American girlhood that greatly differs from how more liberal and progressive groups view girlhood. This case study unravels the struggle in American society for the authority of defining girlhood.
Shara Rowe (2012)
My capstone project "The Organic Boom and the Effects on Saint Louis 2000-2010" seeks to explore the implications of local and organic foods versus the biotechnological and the industrial food process. The main focus is on Saint Louis and biotechnology giant Monsanto Corporation. I attempt to not shed a strictly negative light on Monsanto by presenting the many contributions that have been made to the company's hometown, Saint Louis. However, even the nine million dollars that have put into our local economy does not cover the fact that have embarked on a mission to shut down farms for patent infringement, presenting themselves as an opposition to not only the local food movement but the worldwide one as well. The food movement that is taking place in the ten year period is referred to as the "Organic Boom" throughout my project. Using interviews, a review of pertinent literature, and a survey of the various agricultural, marketing, and educational efforts being undertaken in the Saint Louis metro area as well as worldwide during this time I show proof of the "Organic Boom" and the many forces that are working against it.