Oglethorpe’s Honors Program: A Worthwhile Challenge

Lindsey Mitchell presents her Honors thesis at the Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium.

As Commencement approaches, there is something I can’t stop thinking about: the moment when I will walk on stage and be “hooded” in front of hundreds of spectators. This simple act signifies and rewards numerous hours of research, writing and editing, all done in the name of a thesis for the Honors Program. In spite of all the time and dedication the process has required, every time I look at my 49-page thesis, I know that the work has been worth it.

The Honors Program is an opportunity for students to further challenge themselves intellectually, both within and beyond the classroom setting. Honors students participate in several cross-disciplinary classes, forging closer relations with peers and faculty from various disciplines who share a common enthusiasm for learning, while developing their own interests and initiative.

“The thesis-building years are not for the faint of heart!” says fellow Honors student Lindsey Mitchell ’13. ”The level of research and writing that is required is excellent practice for students who are interested in pursuing higher stages of academia, and therefore it is very rigorous.”

“The skills you get are pretty amazing,” adds Jef Palframan ’13. “You get to do your own thing… plus, you get to work one-on-one with three PhDs who have something to do with your field.”

Samantha Flynn presents during the 2013 Liberal Arts & Sciences Symposium.

“(The program) allowed me to bridge different fields of interest (political science, political theory, and political philosophy) to answer a question that is important to me,” said Samantha Flynn ’13. ”I plan to expand this thesis into a book after graduation.”

Samantha’s thesis, “Invocatio Dei: The Competing Roles of Religion and Secularization in the Polarization of American Political Culture,” was inspired by the question, “What is the cause of the venom in party politics today?”. The answer, she argues, is found in the role Christianity plays in American politics.

“I specifically focus on the evolution of the modern Left, from its origins in Massachusetts Bay Puritanism, through Progressivism, and into modern liberalism,” she explains. ”I contrast American secularization (which I argue is actually not happening) with European secularization, and reject modern theorists’ interpretations of why secularism happens with a return to Tocqueville.”

Jef’s thesis, “Lifting the Veil of Violence: The October Crisis, 1970” looks at “an event that changed the concept of sovereignty in Quebec.”

Jef Palframan '13

“There are two sides (to the crisis), but if you break the violence down, there’s more than English versus French,” he says. “We’re not against violence as long as that violence is used in the means of the state. When that violence goes against norms, we shy away from it.”

Lindsey’s thesis, “Discovering the Paths and Effects of Time Travel through Science Fiction,” has both academic and creative components.

“The creative portion is about two men who travel to a nearby section of the universe to photograph the way a certain cluster of stars looks in current time,” said Lindsey. “Eventually, the fatalistic nature of time travel catches up to them, (and) the two men are forced to abandon their missions and society, traveling forever forward in time until it is safe for them to return to the Earth. The academic portion is a series of essays attempting to explain the choices I have made within the research available to me. I represent certain areas of thought in the short stories, and the essays are my way of defending and breaking down the difficult theories so that they are understandable to someone who has not spent months researching as I have.”

Here I am presenting my Honors thesis at the Symposium!

My own thesis, “Horror-Comedy: The Chaotic Spectrum and Cinematic Synthesis,” debunks the idea that comedy and horror are disparate genres. By looking at common reactions, plots, and characters in movies, I’ve come to conclude that horror and comedy lie on a spectrum that consists of how threatening, plausible, and likable the characters, monster, and plot are. The Honors Program has added to my Oglethorpe experience in some astounding ways, and it is my hope that other students will participate in the future.

“The Honors Program is an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to dive into a wide variety of specialized topics that are not usually offered as full-length courses,” said Lindsey. “I would say anyone who has a passion for the process of learning would be an excellent candidate.”

Did any of these topics interest you? If so, look for them in the upcoming Oglethorpe Journal of Undergraduate Research. Thanks to all of the committee members who have helped these theses form!

Night of the Arts: A Masterpiece

As an editor of The Tower literary magazine, I would normally hesitate in writing about Night of the Arts.  As much as I love the event, there is the possibility that my praises are biased. But this year, my “bias” seems to be shared by the OU community at large.

NOA, as we’ve started calling it, is an annual event held by The Tower to showcase the artistic talents of the OU community.  In the past, we’ve held the event in Emerson; this year, with the new campus center construction underway, we moved to Lupton Auditorium, and students welcomed the change.

“It was bigger than ever,” said audience member Bethany Booth ’13. “The change of venue made it much better and clearer and the performances were lovely.”

“Night of the Arts is one of my favorite Oglethorpe traditions,” added Tes Beals ’13. “It was the first event I was able to take my family to as a freshman…(and) it really showcases our student body’s unique talents and the creativity that we all possess.”

As always, getting everything ready for NOA was an ordeal, but my fellow ‘tri-editors,’ Caitlyn Mitchell ’13 and Lindsey Mitchell ’13, agree that the results made the hard work worthwhile.

“This year was really encouraging—the biggest turnout we’ve ever had—which is a really positive indication of The Tower‘s growth,” said Caitlyn. ” After resurrecting The Tower two years ago, it’s been an uphill battle to get (it) back on its feet, and it’s good to know hard work is paying off and that people are getting more involved with and aware of the arts.”

Also celebrating this increased awareness is Dr. Hornback, who spoke about how essential the arts are, and how we are in danger of losing many potential great artists because of funding cuts for art programs across the country. It was a sobering moment among the festivities, but a crucial one, highlighting the importance of those performers on stage.

People of various backgrounds and interests joined together to create a stellar array of acts. Some of their performances included spoken word, piano performance, and vocals. Audience members really seemed to enjoy what they were watching—some even chose to participate!

“My favorite thing about this Night of the Arts was the involvement that we were able to enlist from the audience,” said Lindsey. “This year we really hit on a theme that many people could enjoy.  We had our first impromptu dance routine and people from the audience actually joined in!”  That dance, The Time Warp, was a perfect fit with our theme of Cult Cinema.

Out of everything that night, there is only one thing I would change—there were so many people attending that we ran out of cake pops (a complimentary snack for attendees) before I had the chance to eat one!

Night of the Arts is becoming a true work of art in its own right, and it’s thanks to the OU community, that the arts are allowed to flourish. Thank you to SGA for funding this event, to our advisor Dr. Taylor for supporting us, to The Tower staff for all your hard work and dedication, and to everyone who performed, assisted, and watched. It’s all thanks to you that Night of the Arts was such a success.

If you are interested in being published by The Tower (the literary magazine responsible for Night of the Arts), send submissions with your name, email, and phone number to Secretary Caitlyn Mitchell at oglethorpetower@yahoo.com or to cmitchell@oglethorpe.eduThe cut-off for submissions is tomorrow, October 26th!