Graduate Profiles

Robyn Taylor - Mind, Language, and Movement

After graduating in May 2013, Robyn Taylor took part in a professional six-week dance intensive workshop in Toubab Dialow, Senegal at Ecole des Sables. The teaching at this dance workshop consisted of various traditional West African dance forms as well as contemporary dance and choreographic techniques. Robyn is currently residing in Paris, France where she is studying contemporary dance at Menagerie de Verre. Fascinated by the movement and ethos of Paris, Robyn observes the metro system, the grocery stores, and various art creations ranging from the highly commercialized to the subversive. She writes about these observations on her blog. She is currently collaborating with three dancers and four graffiti artists on a performance piece that will take place in a street artists squat December 14. Next, Robyn will go to Salvador, Bahia, Brazil, where she will continue her dance studies in the Silvestre Technique. Robyn applied this fall for the Fulbright Fellowship 2014, and in the upcoming year she hopes to continue her investigation of identity and dance in Senegal. Her Fulbright proposal is titled: “Rhythm in Dakar: The Kinesthetic Exchange of Dance within a Globalized Context.”

Theater 144: Sources of Movemen
tEnglish 143B: Verse
English 190: Research Seminar
Theater 146A: Choreography
Theater 146B: Intermediate Dance Technique
American Studies H110: The New Literary History of America

Thesis Whitman and Linyekula Share Multitudes: Dancing the Space of Names

Whitman and Linyekula Share Multitudes: Dancing the Space of Names

Congolese dancer and choreographer Faustin Linyekula remarked during an interview with playwright Peter Sellars that, “dance helps [him] to remember [his] name.” Robyn Taylor’s creative honors thesis asks: how does dance help me to remember my name? And, by remembering my name, how can I better recognize, witness, be with, share with, and dance within a community? Exploring the intersections of language, movement, and self-identity, Robyn looks at her self-identity within a larger cultural context, pulling from specific American literary texts, which evidence a paradox in the American dominant culture’s ethos. As the creative component to her research questions, Robyn choreographed a dance piece that explores a very personal way of recognizing who she is, what she is a product of, and how her movement patterns have evolved from the rejection of previous power structures within the dance world.

Eli Wirtschafter - Visual, Literary, and Performance Cultures

The Departmental Citation winner for 2013 for both American Studies and Theater, Dance & Performance Studies, for his honors thesis Eli wrote a historical paper, and wrote and directed a play based on that research. Eli is currently a reporter for San Francisco’s public radio station, KALW. Tune in to Crosscurrents, weekdays at 5 on 91.7.

American Studies H110: The New Literary History of AmericaTheater 125: Performance and History: Stanislavski in HollywoodAmerican Studies C132B: Intellectual History of the United States since 1965History 122AC: Antebellum America: The Advent of Mass SocietyAmerican Studies H110: American National CharacterAmerican Studies 102: Theming America

Thesis Eli Wirtschafter : - "Street Theater at Astor Place: Performance on the Nineteenth Century Public Stage" (Class of 2013)

Eli Wirtschafter : -

The Astor Place Riot, in New York in 1849, was set off by a rivalry between actors: the eminent English tragedian William Macready, and the first American stage star, Edwin Forrest. When ten thousand rioters and spectators gathered outside the Astor Place Opera House, some booing and throwing stones, the state militia was summoned. They fired into the crowd, killing at least twenty.
In his honors thesis, Eli Wirtschafter looks at the Astor Place Riot in context with other forms of public behavior, arguing that the clash between rioters and the elite militia paralleled the contest between rowdiness and refinement taking place daily inside the theaters and on the streets. As working class theatergoers fought a losing battle to maintain the principle of “audience sovereignty,” they also struggled to defend the legitimacy of traditional forms of public assembly. At a time when audience participation was a way of performing identity, a riot was another way to assert ownership of public space.

Theresa Berger - Twentieth Century American Cultural History

Since October 2013, Theresa has been working as a substitute teacher for a high school Advanced Placement English Literature class, where she loves using her American Studies background to draw on history, movies, and culture as ways to engage students and show them that what they are reading is more than just a series of words on a page. She has also been a section leader and course assistant for a number of American Studies courses, including: AS 188D: San Francisco Detectives and AS 188K: American Horrors: Monsters in US Cinema and Literature (Summer 2013); AS 111/ English C136: The Great Exhaling (Spring 2014); AS 101: World War II (Fall 2014); and AS 101: World War II and AS C111/ English C136: The Gilded Age (Fall 2015). In August 2016 Theresa will begin the Master’s in History program at San Francisco State University, and on completion will apply to Ph.D. programs.

American Studies 101: The Atomic Age
American Studies 101AC: World War II
American Studies 101: The Birth of Consumer Society in the U.S
.American Studies 101: The Great Exhaling: Politics, Culture, and History 1956-1952
American Studies 180A: Advertising America
American Studies H110: The New Literary History of America

Thesis I Love Ethel: Friendship and I Love Lucy in the Postwar Period and Today

I Love Ethel: Friendship and I Love Lucy in the Postwar Period and Today

Often cited as one of, if not the greatest television show of all time, I Love Lucy has captured the attention of critics, audiences, and fans alike for decades. While much has been written of the show and the antics of zany “fifties” housewife Lucy Ricardo’s failed attempts to make it in show business, almost nothing exists about Lucy’s sidekick and affable partner-in-crime, Ethel Mertz. Theresa Berger’s honors thesis focuses on filling in this incredible gap in the canon of Lucy studies by exploring the theme and character of female friendship in the show. By combining magazine and newspaper articles, cast and crew interviews, and individual episode analyses with cultural history, feminist theory, and current sociological understandings of female friendship, the lens of “friendship studies” develops as a way to understand what I Love Lucy represented to female audiences both in the 1950s as well as today. From the simultaneous challenge and reassertion of gender norms to the growing emphases on upward mobility and consumer spending that define our cultural understanding of the decade (and still mean something in the present), Theresa argues that the friends in I Love Lucy reflect an oscillating and thus more historically accurate representation of the place and stance of white, suburban women in the fifties than the show’s red-headed female lead could ever embody. In the process, it becomes clear that it was not just Lucy, but a number of talented and interconnected women in the show that all “[had] some ‘splainin’ to do.”

Patricia Boone - Race, Law, and Juvenile Delinquency

Shortly after graduation in May 2013, Patricia packed her car and drove solo heading East with an eagerness to take what she learned at UC Berkeley and explore an expanding world. Her road trip took a total of ten days, during which Patricia camped under the stars in Utah, danced in cowboy saloons in Wyoming, and witnessed electric skies over Nebraska. In 2016 Patricia graduated from Northwestern School of Law, and and co-founded CompassBlu, LLC, a synergistic and diverse consulting firm that connects people to their purpose, producing results that inspire global change.

Sociology 110: Organizations and Social Institutions
History 100: Crime, Punishment, and Power
Legal Studies 163: Juvenile Justice
Sociology 124: Sociology of Poverty
Legal Studies 102: Policing and Society
Social Welfare 107: Foundations, Philanthropy, and the Social Services

Thesis Modern Day Prostitution and the Systematic Subjugation of the Black Female Body and Spirit

American society is sympathetic to sex-trafficked women and children from Asian and European countries; however, Black female prostitutes from urban locations such as East Oakland are often forgotten. By actively engaging in cognitive dissonance around race, gender, and class, Americans fail to recognize the humanity of Black women and girls involved in street prostitution. Feelings of indifference toward Black female prostitutes convey that the Black female body, even today, is valued less than any other body. Inadvertently, this same dissonance benefits exploiters and consumers of the sex trade, rendering Black women and girls in prostitution disposable, culpable, and invisible. However, depressingly so, this construction of the Black female body as immoral and more blameworthy is hardly new, rather it harkens back to old practices of chattel slavery and Victorian-era politics. Patricia Boone’s honors thesis argues that in order for Americans to see the humanity in Black female prostitutes, the idea that the Black body is incapable of victimization must be discarded, so that Black women and girls are given the same priority, concern, and protection as any other victim of commercial sexual exploitation.

Robert Cancio - Economic Effects of Immigration

Robert Cancio is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Loyola Marymount University, and he is the Head of the Veteran and Military Family Research Laboratory, a grant-funded lab that focuses on the intersection between the social and behavioral pathways underpinning resilience and susceptibility to adverse health conditions that disproportionately affect racial/ethnic priority in military populations and communities of color. Robert is also the Principle Investigator for the Tobacco Research Team, which collaborates with a variety of community-based organizations to inform social change through applied community-based, geographic, and health-related research. He was recently awarded $853,800 for three years from The University of California, Office of the President, Tobacco-Related Disease Research Program, for a project titled Youth Vaping in Los Angeles: Youth’s Perceptions, Behaviors, and Outlet Density.

Legal Studies 132AC: Immigration and Citizenship
Demography 145AC: American Immigrant Experience
Chicano Studies 159: Mexican Immigration
Chicano Studies 163: Caribbean Migration
Ethnic Studies 103A: Racialization and Empire
Sociology 190AC: Seminar on Immigration in the United States

Thesis Robert Cancio : - "Migration Los Angeles: The Story of a Cultural Landscape" (Class of 2013)

Robert Cancio : -

Robert Cancio’s thesis centers on migration as a cultural work, and examines a case study of 20th century Los Angeles through which he argued that cultural identities of migrants in 20th century Los Angeles create specific impressions or cultural landscapes. Through the use of quantitative methods, Robert demonstrated that not only is Los Angeles a pluralist society rather than a melting pot, but also that there is one similarity within all migrational groups, specifically those that migrate(d) to Los Angeles, which is possessing and practicing a culture of upward mobility through public education.

Jen Kim - Public Policy and the Urban Community

During the summer following a May 2013 graduation, Jen worked as a public housing organizer for a community-based organization in the Lower East Side of New York City. She is currently working toward a Master’s in Urban and Regional Planning at UCLA, with a focus on community economic development and housing. She is most interested in learning about alternative development models and plans to continue organizing for more equitable communities.

City & Regional Planning 118AC: The Urban Community
Public Policy C103: Wealth and Poverty
American Studies H110: American National Character
Sociology 130: Social Inequalities: American Cultures
History 136AC: Gender Matters in Twentieth Century America
African American Studies 119: Drugs and Race in U.S. History

Thesis Jen Kim : - "The Right to Oakland: The Power, Politics, and Planning Behind Jerry Browns 10k Plan" (Class of 2013)

Jen Kim’s honors thesis analyzes the housing and development policies under Jerry Brown’s mayoral administration during the late 1990s in order to better understand the current development patterns that are radically transforming the city of Oakland. Jen argues that Brown’s 10k housing initiative and the community’s response to the program mark an important “affordable housing moment” that has influenced the trajectory of neoliberal local development and oppositional organizing strategies. Using a Right to the City framework, Jen explores the themes of power, politics, and planning that shape urban development not only in Oakland but also in every major city across the U.S.

Dani Nameth - Food and Culture

After finishing her last semester in December of 2012, Dani spent her final academic time abroad in the United Kingdom studying food science at the University of Leeds. She has recently moved back to Southern California to focus on Clinical and Translational research. She is currently working as a Public Administrative Analyst for Phase 2 and 3 Clinical trials for novel treatments in both Sarcoma and Lung Cancer. Dani has also recently been published in the Journal of American Medicine Dermatology for an epidemiological paper looking at the scope of exposure to indoor tanning. Dani continues to bring food, nutrition, and medicine into conversation working on research that focuses on the role of BMI and overall survival in cancer patients while she applies to medical school.

American Studies 110: Research in Food Studies
Geography 130: Food and the Environment
Nutritional Science 104: Human Food Practices
Letters and Science C101: Edible Education
American Studies 101: The Birth of Consumer Society
Health Studies 104 (EAP): Food Research

Thesis Dani Nameth : - "You Are What You Eat: Finding the Link Between Medicine, Health and the Organic Food Movement" (Class of 2013)

As local, sustainable food becomes evermore ubiquitous and eating conscious becomes the new “it” way to live, the phrase “you are what you eat” seems to be appearing more frequently. Dani uses the origins of the phrase as a starting point to explore the difference between the organic food movement and western medicine. The organic food movement relies on a rhetoric of health and wellness while western medicine chooses to disregard, for the most part, food and what people choose to put in their bodies. Her honors thesis ultimately argues that the obesity epidemic will be the turning point in the antithetical relationship between food and medicine that has developed as a symptom of historical development. Additionally, she argues that the obesity epidemic, as well as the rise in other diet related diseases, might galvanize a true working relationship between the food system and the medical sphere, resulting not only in a more holistic and culture oriented approach to medicine, but also a way to work to prevent diseases in patients instead of merely treating their symptoms.

Jennifer Schaefer - Education in America

Following graduation in May 2013, Jennifer spent a year working as a math tutor and saving money in order to move to Oahu in pursuit of a slower, balanced lifestyle, the Aloha Spirit, and warmer weather. In Fall 2014, she will begin to work towards a Ph.D. in Mathematics at the University of Hawaii, hoping either to conduct mathematics research or to become a community college professor. In either case, Jennifer will offer free math tutoring (and possibly dance lessons) to those who are not able to afford it. She strives to emphasize education for the sake of learning, and to challenge the commodification of education that strictly purports the acquisition of a financially rewarding job.

Chicano Studies 172: Chicanos and the Education System
African American Studies C133A: Race, Identity, and Culture in Urban Schools
Education 162A: Teachers' Work
Asian American Studies 146: Asian Americans and Education
American Studies H110: New Literary History of America
Math 151: Mathematics of the Secondary School Curriculum

Thesis Jennifer Schaefer : - "Training for Success: An Educational Experience" (Class of 2013)

Jennifer Schaefer : -

Jennifer Schaefer’s honors thesis includes an autoethnographic written work and a choreographed dance piece exploring and positioning her educational and associated emotional experiences within the sphere of education in America as the eldest of three children–and the only daughter–of an ethnically Chinese Vietnamese immigrant. Fervently believing the American Dream of social mobility attainable exclusively through education, Jennifer was required to maintain straight A’s in school in order to one day become a doctor or lawyer. The focus on grades and end goals, rather than the process, ultimately left her feeling as if she existed merely as a piece of raw material to be shaped into a profitable product. By reflection upon events, conversations, and interactions that have occurred throughout her life, Jennifer aims to discover and reveal the workings of Asian American family culture, social mobility in education, society’s varying modes of conformity, and creative expression through the medium of dance in what was meant to be her early training for success. Intersections of such contributing agents in her education then extends to the conversation regarding what it means that her experience took place.