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Scholars Symposium 2023: English, Literature, & Modern Language

To advocate and advance the scholarly work of students and faculty at Cedarville University

English, Literature, & Modern Language

Language as a Bridge to the Soul: The Role of the Multingual Amazigh Woman and Tarifit Berber in Preserving Amazigh Ethnic Identity in the Rif

by Madeline Spaulding (Undergraduate)

The purpose of this study is to begin investigating how Amazigh ethnic identity is currently being preserved in Morocco, specifically through urban, multilingual, literate Amazigh women and Amazigh language. There has been much research in the past several decades on rural, monolingual Amazigh women. Much of current research agrees that Amazigh women have played an invaluable role in preserving Amazigh language and identity through a multitude of means such as art, teaching their children Tamazight, and oral storytelling (Baker, 1998; Belahsen et al., 2017; Gagliardi, 2020; Hoffman, 2006; Laghssais, 2021, Sadiqi, 2007). While there is increasing information on the preservation practicies of rural, monolingual, illiterate Amazigh women, there seems to be a gap in current literature on how urban, multilingual, literate Amazigh women might currently be preserving Amazigh language and culture. There also seems to be a gap in literature on how the inclusion of Tamazight in the 2011 Constitution might change the status of Tamazight as a vehicle of Amazigh ethnic identity. This study will attempt to begin filling in that gap by answering the question “What is the role of urban, multilingual, literate Amazigh women and the Tarifit language in preserving Amazigh ethnic identity in Morocco?” The findings of this case study tentatively seem to indicate that urban living, multilingualism, and literacy have impacted traditional forms of Amazigh cultural expression, which may in turn impact the role that Amazigh language and Amazigh women play in preserving Amazigh ethnic identity.

Cultural Belonging and Divine Encounters: An Adoption Story Told through the Arts and Humanities

by Holly N. Blakely (Faculty)

At its core, the arts and humanities seek to understand the essence of the only creation to be made in God’s image: humanity. Through the eloquence of words, literary authors and historians document our experiences. Through the immersion of the senses, artists and musicians attempt to crystallize poignancy. This search for significance has always been particularly meaningful to me, but it became divine with the adoption of my two Russian daughters.

Prior to adopting, I was vaguely aware of Russia’s role in the Soviet Union and the Cold War. With the decision to adopt, Russian history and culture became relevant to my life. Suddenly, I longed to know how Russian history was expressed in its culture and what comprised cultural belonging from a Russian perspective. I was determined to have the knowledge that my daughters would leave behind them when they came to the United States. My autodidactic study became the means through which I could more fully appreciate the sovereignty of God in my daughters' lives.

My first sense of Russian kinship was found in a passage of Russian literature. When I picked up an English copy of Anna Karenina that had been left in our Russian host’s home, the description of Anna’s son’s “delicious sleepy warmth and fragrance that is only found in children,” resonated with me very strongly. Only that week, while visiting her in the orphanage, I had discovered the calming scent of Sophie’s hair.

Since our trips to Moscow, I have read historical accounts of the sufferings and experiences of my daughter's predecessors, but the most poignant accounts were recorded by Alexander Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago. Through my readings, I learned of the tragic beauty of the Russian experience, and that has produced a profound thankfulness in me for the way God has redeemed my daughters’ lives.

Attitudes of American Secondary Students Towards Foreign Languages: A Study at a High School in Western Pennsylvania

by Lynnell P. Fry (Undergraduate)

The purpose of this study has been to investigate American secondary students’ attitudes towards foreign language. When researching attitudes towards foreign language, Dörnyei’s L2 Motivational Self System (L2MSS) was used as a framework to investigate attitudes, as attitudes affect motivation. While there is much literature on attitudes towards foreign language (Artamonova, 2020; Drewelow 2011, Knouse et al., 2021) and motivation towards learning a second language (Dörnyei, 2009; Dörnyei & Kubanyiova, 2013; Kormos & Csizér, 2008; Lightbown & Spada, 2018; Ushioda & Dörnyei, 2012), there is insufficient research on Dörnyei’s L2MSS being used to investigate foreign languages or used to investigate a United States learning context, creating a gap which this study attempts to address. A case study of a high school’s foreign language program in Western Pennsylvania was conducted using survey research from 194 foreign language students and interviews from three foreign language teachers to obtain what secondary students’ attitudes are toward foreign language. The findings are that American secondary students who took a foreign language possess a college ought-to self and have no ideal self or future vision.

Exploring Felix Stalten’s Bambi Narrative: Biblical Tenets and Lois Tyson in Dialogue

by Haley Camille Kollstedt (Undergraduate), Meghan Lee Wells (Undergraduate), and Hannah Danielle Albright (Undergraduate)

Our presentation offers three critical feminist interpretations of Felix Salten's 1923 novel Bambi: The Story of a Life in the Forest. As Christian theorists, we explore oppressive influences in societal structures as represented in the novel, as well as in Walt Disney's 1942 film adaptation of Salten's work. The Bambi narrative proposes a unique perspective on 20th century interwar Europe and its implications for today's culture. We invite the audience to consider a Christian understanding of the story as we also rely on scholar Lois Tyson’s instructional presentations in Critical Theory Today on the uses of feminism to help us arrive at a Biblical view on human equality, dignity, and diversity. These Biblical tenets applied to the Bambi narrative help us see how women have often been disregarded or mistreated historically, views which should inform Christians seeking to minister to marginalized women, children, and men. We hope to encourage the audience to honor the dignity of women and value them in social structures with our interpretation of the Bambi narrative.

Everyman Costume Design

by Rachel V. Knierim (Undergraduate)

Everyman, the 15th c. morality play has been appreciated by audiences for centuries. Despite its age, antiquated genre, and overtly Catholic message the play still presents modern audiences with many redeemable themes. Everyman tells the story of an archetypal journey through life toward death. In the play, Everyman is confronted by Death and ordered to begin his journey to the grave. All of Everyman’s allegorical acquaintances refuse to follow him—all except Good Deeds. The play, leaning heavily on a Catholic tradition of works-based salvation, presents Goods Deeds as a frail female character who only needs to be strengthened by Everyman’s action to be strong enough to accompany Everyman to his grave and stand before God. Although Everyman clearly presents a works-based message of salvation, I think it is possible to subvert this mistaken message through the visual mode of costuming. While the script presents Good Deeds as an assistant in Everyman’s salvation allowing him to stand before God uncondemned, the Scriptures offer a very different image of good deeds. Isaiah 64:6 describes human works of righteousness as “filthy rags.” Designing Good Deeds’ costume to reflect the idea of dirty rags contradicts the play's misunderstanding, visually emphasizing her frailty. This frailty is further emphasized by giving her crutches to lean on, depicting the feebleness of human righteousness, even at its strongest. Everyman’s inevitable death and meager earthly existence are emphasized through his tattered clothing inspired by undergarments and burial clothing of the 1400s. In the end, Everyman is left in his grave with nothing but the rags of his Good Deeds to cover him, emphasizing the fact that every individual will stand before God stripped of all earthy goods and achievements, covered only by the incriminating remain of their sins, or what they thought were good deeds. This poster project presents two costume sketches, one of Everyman and the other of Good Deeds, accompanied by a detailed rationale and description, resulting in artful redemption of the play’s message through costume design that emphasizes the futility of man’s good deeds regarding salvation.

"Truth Sublime": A Reappraisal of Beattie's Theory of Language

by Meredith Pitts (Faculty)

Scottish educator James Beattie (1735-1803) explored diverse interests including music, poetry, apologetics, and linguistics. A cellist whose innovative poem “The Minstrel” influenced Romantic poets such as Thomas Gray, Beattie is best known for his Essay on Truth, a response to David Hume. In his now-forgotten Theory of Language (1774), Beattie attempts a project that anticipates the work of the twentieth-century linguist Noam Chomsky, both in its attempt to specify a universal grammar (i.e., a global linguistic 'common denominator'), and in its conclusion that human language could not have emerged gradually. The current paper considers Beattie’s discussion of language origins in the Theory of Language in the light of more recent discussions in linguistics (e.g., Knight, 2016), suggesting that Beattie’s project merits a reappraisal. This reappraisal is taken up with consideration for Enlightenment-era discussions of “common sense” rationalism and linguistic prescriptivism. Beattie was a product of his times in arguing for a “pure” linguistic standard in the Theory of Language; but other claims in this work, which anticipate contemporary findings in linguistics, highlight his commitment to a metanarrative robust enough to transcend Enlightenment-era preoccupations.