Graduate Profiles

Ivan Boekelheide - American Visual Culture

After graduation, Ivan went to Thailand and Myanmar where he spent nearly two years as a teacher. On returning to the U.S., he completed a Master’s degree in Law and Diplomacy at the Fletcher School at Tufts University. Currently, Ivan works as a Foreign Service Officer for the U.S. Department of State.

American Studies 110: Advertising America
Film 108: Silent Films
Film 108: Animation
History of Art 185A: American Art from 1800
American Studies H110: American National Character (Honors Seminar)
Political Science 109F: Special Topics in American Politics

Thesis "'Deadwood': A Western Reborn or the Rebirth of the Western?"

The Western has long held an important place in American cinema, and its role has evolved with the changing culture of American society. Through a structural analysis of the HBO series, Deadwood, Ivan Boekelheide’s thesis argues that the Western no longer foregrounds the search for heroic morality, preferring to delight in social and moral ambiguities.

Catherine O'Neal - American Popular Culture

Since graduation in 2007 Catherine has kept herself busy in an array of activities from working in museums to Latin America travels. After years of managing the Lululemon store in Berkeley, she currently resides in Austin, Texas, where she works as a bartender and yoga instructor.

American Studies C118: The American Teenager
American Studies 101: The Atomic Age & Nuclear Criticism
American Studies 110: Folklore and American Culture
American Studies C118: Consumerism and Popular Culture
American Studies H110: Honors Seminar on American National Character
Sociology 160: The Sociology of Culture
Catherine O'Neal profile picture

Thesis Taking a Trip: The Road, Drugs, and Americans

Cat’s senior thesis explores the relationship between cannabis and popular and counter cultures, as it provides the key to understanding the bipolar perceptions of marijuana in the United States. Legally, Americans envision cannabis as taboo, but in popular culture Americans relate marijuana to freedom, youth and community. As such, cannabis use became a physical way to express overt protest and dissatisfaction with American institutions. As many artists, musicians and writers romanticized and glamorized marijuana, a disenchanted young generation followed suit and sought refuge with cannabis, helping turn marijuana’s illegality into a political and cultural war.

Ramzi Fawaz - American Popular Culture

The Departmental Citation Winner for 2006, Ramzi Fawaz is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his PhD in American Studies from George Washington University. His first book, The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics, published by NYU Press as part of their series Post-Millennial Pop in January 2016, explores how the American superhero came to embody the political aspirations of racial, gender, and sexual minorities in the post-WWII period. Ramzi is a former fellow of the Social Science Research Council and the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, which awarded his manuscript the 2012-2013 CLAGS Fellowship Award for best first book project in LGBT Studies. His essays have been published in American Literature, Callaloo, and Anthropological Quarterly. His second book, Queer Forms, which develops a new theory of affect through the study of the cultural politics and literary production of Gay Liberation since the 1970s, will be NYU Press published in Fall 2022.

Film 108: Film Genre
English C143V: Visual Autobiography
English 176: Literature and Popular Culture
Sociology C112: Sociology of Religion
English 173: Language/Literature of Films
American Studies 101: 1939

Thesis Big Trouble in Smallville: The Rise of the Teenage Superhero in the 20th Century

Big Trouble in Smallville: The Rise of the Teenage Superhero in the 20th Century

Ramzi Fawaz’s honors thesis develops a visual history of the teenage superhero in post-WWII American culture. Ramzi argues that the teen superhero became a visual index of key historical crises in the postwar period that were metaphorized in the form of unruly superpowers and biologically unstable bodies, ultimately cathecting particular generational conflicts to the bodies of developing youth gifted with extraordinary abilities.

This thesis reconstructs the historical trajectory of the figure across time while also attending to shifting thematic concerns that run across the period of its greatest popularity. By charting the lineage of the thematic concerns of these texts, the cultural diversity of their characters, as well as the villains, dilemmas, and inter-group conflicts that motivated their narratives, Fawaz unpacks an important historical thread of youth culture that continues to affect our popular imagination to this day.