Carnegie Mellon University

2011-12 Senior Honors Theses

Student Name


Thesis Title and Abstract


Kelly Bescherer English

Safe Spaces and State Spaces: Negotiating Gender and Institutionalization in the 1980s West German Squatters' Movement

My project concerns itself with the history of the 1980s West German squatters' movement, focusing especially on the causes and repercussions of struggles within the movement over institutionalization. I am particularly interested in the outcome of the legalization and state-funding of squats. Vitally connected to this investigation is a confrontation with the subsequent conversion of many of these once counter-cultural projects into sites of what has been called ‘innovative reserve’ for local post-Fordist government attempting to implement programs of fiscal austerity. I seek to interrogate and in part problematize traditional explanations of these processes, however, through an especial consideration of the roles of gender and feminism within the squatters' movement.

Donna Harsch
Kristin Castellano English and History Exploring Narrative Theory and the Notion of Rhetoric Andreea Ritivoi
Noelle Crochet Creative Writing Screenplay: Donde Crece La Palma (Where the Palm Tree Grows) Jane Bernstein
Katherine Dickson Creative Writing

Like a Hurricane

A novella which follows a year in the life of narrator Cal Benson. Just a few weeks shy of his high school graduation, Cal’s life is shattered by the sudden death of his adored older sister. Crushed and lost, Cal flees his small hometown and goes as far away as he can afford: his great-aunt’s dilapidated apartment in central Italy. Attempting to rebuild himself, Cal finds himself weaving his way through a labyrinth of interfering neighbors and voicemails from his disapproving parents. In time, he befriends a young Italian boy, whose absolute faith in the traditional and religious world he lives in makes even the ever-cynical Cal question his atheist’s view of the world. But when tragedy again strikes close to home and threatens to derail both Cal’s rediscovered identity and Giancarlo’s unshakeable faith, it will take everything Cal has to keep them both afloat.

Sharon Dilworth
Samantha Frank Creative Writing

Stick A Fork In Me

Stick A Fork In Me is a collection of eight short stories which explore themes of loneliness, hope, and the life-changing impact of relationships (between friends, lovers, family members, etc). While completely fictional, this collection begs the reader to consider true-to-life dilemmas and to understand that things aren't always what they may seem.

Jane McCafferty
Caroline Kessler Creative Writing

Collected Poetry

"An Aquarium Made From Fish Soup" is a collection of poems that meditate on the themes of identity, place, and family. The poems address these broad themes through varying forms, such as ghazals, re-imagined sonnets, and letters. The collection also draws on a wide range of influences: contemporary writers such as Michael Dickman and Lucie Brock-Broido; the writer's time spent in India, Poland, and Pittsburgh; familial relationships; and a series of historic postcards. The poems also examine the line between the lyric and the narrative, hovering between song and story.

Yona Harvey
Yulin Kuang Creative Writing "First Kiss," a screenplay
"First Kiss" (written & directed by Yulin Kuang, Creative Writing '12) is the story of Adam Schoenberger, a fourteen-year-old romantic who finds out a pretty girl wants to kiss him at his best friend's spin-the-bottle party. The objective of this project is to produce a professional-caliber short film, through student collaboration across the art, music, drama, and creative writing fields. We hope to produce a project that represents the creative talents of the student filmmakers at Carnegie Mellon University while bringing to life the small heartaches and heartbreaks of growing up.
Jane Bernstein
Ines Pujos Creative Writing Poetry Series exploring female identity in Latin American Culture Jim Daniels
Kyle Rood Creative Writing and Architecture

Flash Fiction (collected short stories)

Hand Grenade on a Hot Day is a collection of flash fiction (stories shorter than three pages) that explore moments of violence and loss in various stages of characters' lives, extending from childhood to young adulthood. The short nature of the pieces anchors them within the confines of specific moments, focusing characters immediate feelings of confusion and ambiguity before reflection and full realization sets in. With a varied cast of characters in situations from bullying to amateur boxing, the collected stories explore the broad effect that violence can have on characters in different points of life.  

Jim Daniels
Caroline Roper English

Our Father's House

Julia Shaw is the daughter of an eccentric loner who believes he’s found the presence of God in a nearby patch of woods. Driven to depression by poverty and Julia’s disobedience, Jim Shaw creates a sanctuary where he can retreat from the mores of society. Jim’s wife Maribel strives to bring him back to the role of husband and father, but Julia resists her mother’s efforts to reconcile the two.

Sharon Dilworth
Brian Sherwin English

The Self-Conscious Poetic Imagination of William Carlos Williams

In the 1920s work of William Carlos Williams, Williams explores many questions of literary and poetic form. He experiments with a variety of literary forms – prose poetry, the novella, free verse, critical prose. Through his work, he challenges conventional notions of literary genre. Most essentially, Williams blurs the boundaries between criticism and literature, the novel and the poem. Specifically, in texts such as Kora in Hell and Spring and All, Williams uses intrusions of critical prose to comment on the poetic imagination and literary form. The effect of Williams’ self-conscious intrusion is an innovative inquiry into literary form and poetic process. In my thesis, I investigate the intersections between Williams’ poetic imagination, his self-conscious critical intrusions, and his formal experimentation. Fundamentally, I see Williams as a crucial figure of proto-post-modernism in American poetry. Through his self-consciousness and formal experimentation, he appears at the crossroads between American modernism and post-modernism.

Richard Purcell