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2012-13 Undergraduate Fellows

Berit Goetz ’13 concentrated in music and comparative literature. She is interested in how intertextuality complicates the cultural history and reception of text-based musical works. As a songwriter and performer involved in the religious community at Brown, she was particularly interested in the ways that musical and literary texts aestheticize, communicate, and encode socio-religious ideologies.

Her thesis examined Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, Op. 66 (1962), which sets selections from Wilfred Owen's World War I poetry within the Latin textual framework of requiem form. She explored how text and musical gesture combine to imply a theological reading of the First World War, and how “sacred” works catalyze the tension between the way religion and faith are presented publicly, expressed aesthetically, and experienced privately. She questioned more broadly how the subject—as listener, reader, or performer—encounters text-based musical works both as aesthetic objects to be enjoyed and as ideologically inflected art-works that demand an intellectual or political response.

Peter Johnson ’13 concentrated in Egyptology & Ancient Western Asian Studies, focusing primarily on Egyptian archaeology, history, language, and art.  Peter is also excited by the idea of Egyptian identity and much of his scholarship at Brown University has been framed by the changing identity of modern Egypt precipitated by the revolution. His academic pursuits supported work in museums across the country where he examined and participated in the display of ancient artifacts.  His museum work dovetailed with a dedication to public humanities – pursuits aimed at engaging the general public in conversations that examine and highlight the relevance of humanities in every day life. Peter’s thesis research was inspired by the question of how the ancient Egyptians identified themselves through art as a reflection of state control. Researching the acquisition of an artifact at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design encouraged him to also consider the regularity of Egyptian art as demonstrated by a canon of proportions during the civilization’s 3,000-year-old history.  In his thesis, Peter highlighted non-canonical representations in Egyptian art, placing them into historical context and in doing so exposing questions of utility, identity, and state control of pictorial representation.

Peter’s previous research included topics of Egyptian Middle Kingdom Funerary Architecture, Egyptian Scarab seals in New Kingdom/Late Bronze Age Levant, and historiographic tensions between Egyptology and Afrocentrism.

Zack Mezera ’13 considered such research questions as: When we use logic trees to discuss the brain, what are we saying about free will? When we use flow charts to represent democratic decision-making, what are we saying about human agency?  But most especially, when confronted by potentially dehumanizing models of strict information flow, what role do we still afford for belief or faith, if any? His research tracked the development and popularization of the informational-cognitive understanding’s assertion of the human into fields, through the work of Warren McCulloch, Karl Deutsch and others, and identifies and applies readings of religious defenders like Kierkegaard that particularly anticipate the possible challenged of faith and agency in the information-age human.

Catharine Savage ’13 concentrated in United States History and Gender & Sexuality Studies with a focus on women and representation. While at Brown, she explored the history of the gay identity, women in popular culture, and women’s roles in the academy. Her senior thesis in the History Department explored the effect of identity politics’ introduction to American universities on the borders of scholarship, using Brown as a specific example. She examined historical records of feminism in the university, student activism, and creation of women’s studies, ethnic studies, as well as organizations such as the Third World Center and the Sarah Doyle Center as resources for students that combine the academic with the personal. She also used canonical texts on discourse, identity, specialization, and essentialization as both a framework for her study as well as evidence she analyzed within the context of identity politics in the academy.