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spring 2015

Celia Smits

Spotlight on Student Editors

I was born and raised on the eastern plains of Colorado, in the “city” of Fort Morgan—the kind of place where everyone knows everyone and getting stuck driving behind a tractor is a legitimate excuse for tardiness. When I arrived at DU, I was disconcerted by the lack of cows and cornfields, but I quickly became accustomed to all of the cafes and chain restaurants that city-folk seem to have instead. I am a sophomore working toward a major in molecular biology, though I have considered dropping out to pursue my true passion of stick figure art. In all seriousness though, when I try to imagine my favorite instance at DU, all I can picture is a competing meshwork of a snowball fight, a camel ride, the late-night meals, the Frisbee games, and all of the people that have made my time so far absolutely fantastic.

I am Colorado-born with a competing love of exploration and love of home. When I was choosing a school, I envisioned myself somewhere far away (from my parents). After months of debate, I realized I wasn’t ready to leave behind the Rocky Mountains just yet. I’m a Socio-Legal Studies and English double major with a minor in Italian. I’m a member of Alpha Phi, an honors nerd, and a tailgate fan. One of my most cherished memories here at DU was driving to Winter Carnival last fall. My friends and I, not the best at directions, were trying to figure out an alternate route to Keystone due to a major blockage on I-70. We blindly followed Siri’s confident voice until we realized we had no idea where we were and began to get nervous about the heavy snowfall. We checked the estimated time of arrival and found that we were seven hours away from our destination, in the middle of an unmapped mountain town, with minimal reception. It took me months to be able to laugh at the experience, but in hindsight, that journey from Denver to Keystone was one heck of a ride.

Jack Thomas

Stella Swartz

Though I was born in Stamford, Connecticut, the majority of my life was spent in Dallas, Texas. After spending 14 years in Dallas, I have a fresh appreciation for all things Colorado. Skiing, hiking, fishing, hiking-to-fish, all my hobbies found a new spark in Denver, and I still gape like an idiot every time I approach the Rockies. I once asked a friend who is native to Colorado, “do you ever get tired of seeing the mountains?” He replied, “No, they get better every day.” I am a Psychology and English double major with a minor in History. I am Vice President of the Men’s Club Soccer team and a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. My favorite time of year at DU is late winter/ early spring. Snow on the ground and sun in the sky: it doesn’t get much cooler than that.

2 Physics First, Fiction Later

Erika Stith 8

Craft Brewing & Community: The Case


Wynkoop B rewing C o.

Breanna Demont 16

Bury My Kart at Wounded Thumb


Not So Different After All:

Isaiah Thompson

E xamining


S tereotype


C ollege Athletes

Alexa Heupel, Mickey Martin, & Madelaine Momot 25


Tucker Van Lier Ribbink 31

  Excavating Cool:

A n A nalysis


H ipsterism


Nicole Batrouny 38



M atters

Pictures & Perceptions of a national park:

Z ion’s Forgotten Past Alex Clinton 44

campbell’s chicken soup for the stamps:

Tim Carlin

A Performance Ethnography


Medical condition: 5-Paragraphitis


Notes on Cupcakes


“Conceal, don’t feel”:

Jake Sigmond

Kierra Aiello

A Q ueer Reading


Kade Wilson

D isney ’s Frozen


Appendix A


Call for Submissions





W r i t L a r g e 2 0 15


Physics first, fiction later Erika Stith WRIT 1133: Writing Culture(s) Professor Amber Engelson

Mention anything science related, and you will see my face light up. New technology makes

me jitter with excitement. I’ve spoken the sentence “Math is fun” with sincerity. I’ll rant about the wonders of physics to anyone willing to listen. But I wasn’t always this way. Until I was

about 10, I didn’t really care about science. I wanted to be a Broadway singer when I grew up. Everything changed, however, when my mom introduced me to science fiction (SF). It was

love at first sight; after just a few weeks of reading SF, I told my parents that I was going to become a physicist.

So, when the assignment in my WRIT 1133 class was to write an autoethnography about a

subculture that has influenced my identity, it was easy for me to choose SF readers as that subculture. Since science and SF comprise an integral part of my identity, I thought it would be easy to whip up a paper about the community.

However, when I sat down to write this paper, it turned out to be more difficult than just ex-

plaining all the reasons why SF is awesome. SF changed my life, but why does it matter to

society as a whole? How does it impact the lives of fans and non-fans alike? How does it influence real science? I finished this paper with the intent of answering these questions and maybe asking a few more.

The stars opened up before me. I was staring infinity in the face, and it was beautiful. I’d just walked onto the observation deck. The silence was enveloping, like the blackness of space. The rest of the crew sat in silent awe as we looked out of the panoramic window. Beyond the glass was nothing less than deadly vacuum, but I felt safe inside my tin can. Earth was behind us. All of its problems were insignificant because now we were free of its pull. We all had friends and family back there, but at this moment it didn’t matter because of the vast ocean expanding before us; clearly there were great things in store for this ragtag team of explorers. Not everyone 2

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is cut out for the life of colonizing other worlds, but we were the few who’d looked to the stars as children and never looked back. I could walk to the other side of the observation deck and see Earth in its entirety. From this distance, it looked serene: mushy clouds swirling across its glittering oceans. But we left for a reason. War, famine, plague: those of us now leaving Earth knew that she was not being cared for. Overpopulation and ecological destruction were burdening our species’ humble mother, potentially to her death. We were escaping. Maybe we couldn’t save Earth, but the Moon, Mars, Europa, Ganymede—these places we could shape with loving

© Angela Harburn /

hands and turn into new cradles of civilization, now that we were burning the first. We had the whole solar system as our playground, the whole galaxy, the whole universe, even. Though we were leaving Earth behind, we were hopeful. The stars were ours. ƒ My mom walked into my room and turned off the light. “Time for bed,” she said. I sighed and put down the book. As soon as she left, I pulled from the bedside table the flashlight I stole from the basement and buried myself in the blankets, resuming my space exploration. I read constantly as a child. My favorite stories were about mishaps with particle accelerators, sentient computers, and aliens that live inside stars. I was deeply in love with science fiction (SF) and, as I would later discover, with science itself. In fact, reading SF got me more excited about science than any of my grade school science classes ever did. SF is inspiring because it tends to focus on the cutting edge, while learning the basics of science, though necessary, can be boring. Both SF and real science rely on the same values, however, such as logic, problem solving, and innovation. And both are considered “nerdy,” especially by teens and preteens, as I quickly learned when my constant reading—and outburst about subatomic particles during class—earned me the label “nerd” in middle school. Though SF may have caused my social isolation, it also helped me connect with some of the most inspiring writers, thinkers, and scientists of our time. SF is a genre unique for its ability to bring together lonely preteens, ac-

complished scientists, and pretty much anyone else with a love of science, technology, and the future. Joining this community at a young age can have its drawbacks. Being a geeky little girl was lonely at times. Among all of my acquaintances in my Kentucky middle school, I was the only SF reader. According to Cathy Evans and Donna Eder, the causes for social isolation in middle school are negative judgment from others in at least one of three areas: “appearance, gender behavior, and mental maturity” (148). I’ve been ridiculed for things in all three of these categories.

The romanticism of SF certainly has an impact: I remember wanting to be a theoretical physicist because, in several books I read, theoreticians got to go to space to prove their theories right. It took me a couple of years to realize that being a theoretical physicist actually means you spend most of the day doing calculations and running computer simulations (when not teaching or writing grants, that is).

I was a bit chubby, with braces and glasses, and I refused to adhere to middle school fashion standards (appearance). My few friends were mostly male and my interests tended to be more “masculine” than those of the other girls (gender behavior). I also had the unfortunate combination Volume 4


(left) Erika Stith / © LP Picard (right) © Algol /

Erika describes her hometown as “nondescript Midwestern suburbs.” She is a

sophomore at the University of Denver majoring in physics with a concentration in biophysics. She is also minoring in math, biology, mechanical engineering,

and music. Erika is a competitive figure

skater and Co-President of DU’s newest a cappella group, Drastic Measures. She

has numerous other hobbies including

skiing, hiking, playing instruments, draw-

ing, and writing. Understandably, she wishes there were more hours in the day.

of being smarter than most of my peers but less socially adept, probably due to being the only child of bookish introverts (mental maturity). Unsurprisingly, I was picked on often. An example: as one of two kids taking algebra in sixth grade, I had to go to a different part of the building for that class than for the rest of my normal classes. The eighth grade section of the building was far enough away that I was frequently late to my next class. Though I was excused, other students took note. They said (behind my back, but within earshot): I bet she’s lying so she doesn’t have to come to class. Girls aren’t even good at math. You know, I heard that she has to wear such thick glasses because she hurt her eyes reading all the time. I think she talks to her calculator more than she talks to real people. 4

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To their credit, that last one might actually be true. And that is part of why SF appealed to me—the heroes are frequently outcasts for reasons similar to my own. I started reading SF for the shiny new technology and fun adventure. At some point, though, it became an escape from reality for me. Of course I wanted to inhabit a future where people weren’t berated for being smart and awkward. Some say, however, that escapism is SF’s only use. According to Gerald Jonas of The New York Times, “Literal-minded critics have sometimes derided science fiction as sub-literary ‘escapism,’ because it does not deal…with the here-and-now” (para. 1). It’s true that plenty of SF consists of pulpy paperbacks that have little literary or scientific value. In many cases, these novels don’t even portray the concepts upon which they are based with any detail or accuracy. Karlheinz Steinmüller accuses SF of “sometimes willingly or unwillingly depict[ing] science as a new magic, which in due time will solve all problems and which works without any negative side effects” (176). That is certainly a major failure, but it only applies to the lower echelon of SF books. In my experience, the better novels actually focus on the unintended consequences of new technology and deeper issues behind social problems. As Isaac Asimov says, “Our ‘escape’ consisted of worrying about the problems and conditions of 1970 ever since 1930” (296). However, by using science fiction as an escape, I was further condemning myself to nerdom. Holly Bennett, author of an article in Today’s Parent, observes how widespread the ridicule of

© Sunny studio /

science geeks is. Bennett claims that part of the problem causing American students’ deficiencies in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) is that our academic culture has become geared to ostracize those who are interested in science. In my experience, such alienation is fueled by students and adults alike. In seventh grade, my school guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. My response: “I’m going to be an astrophysicist and write sci-fi when I retire.” A look of surprise crossed her face. Rather than congratulating me on having my life all figured out by the age of twelve, she said, “Are you sure you want to do that? You’ll have to stay in school for a long time and do lots of math. Most girls I talk to don’t like science much.” It crossed my mind to sarcastically respond, “Gee, now that you say that, I think I actually want to marry a rich guy and be a stayat-home mom in the suburbs.” Instead I bit my

SF is inspiring because it tends to focus on the cutting edge, while learning the basics of science, though necessary, can be boring. Both SF and real science rely on the same values, however, such as logic, problem solving, and innovation.

tongue until she let me leave. Sadly, this counselor’s attitude may not be uncommon, given that a peer-reviewed study found that “by a two-to-one margin (60 to 28 percent), American parents say that ‘if forced to choose, they would prefer their sons or daughters to make C grades and be active in extracurricular activities rather than make A grades and not be active’” (Bishop et al. 141). This finding implies that many adults value social acceptance and involvement over academic achievement. Yet for those like me who actually like the academic side of school, such emphasis on social acceptance can cause even more isolation. Kids who make it through such pressure, according to Bennett, tend to be very independent and stubborn, or socially oblivious, because that’s what is necessary to avoid the wrath of the “popular kid[s]” in middle school (para. 14). I used a combination of independence and obliviousness to escape their derision. Although I was ostracized in school, my parents (and other family members) supported my interests. Neither of my parents work in STEM fields, but it was my mom who first introduced me to SF. When I latched on to it, my mom did what she could to encourage me. According to Bennett, this is what parents of geeks should do. Bennett quotes science teacher Wayne Campbell, saying, “Parents can help by finding resources, programs and people who share, value and validate the child’s interests” (para. 12). My mom did that in many ways by signing me up for camps, taking me to museums, and finding good books for me to read. Volume 4


Benford only wrote four words in addition to signing his name, but those words were immediately etched into my soul: “Physics first, fiction later.”

© M. Wayne Miller /

She also tracked down my favorite living SF author, Gregory Benford (who also happens to be an astrophysicist), and got him to sign one of his books for me. When she gave it to me for Christmas, I blissfully opened it to reveal the words inside. Benford only wrote four words in addition to signing his name, but those words were immediately etched into my soul: “Physics first, fiction later.” With that simple phrase, he captured the essence of my life plans. These words strengthened my resolve to eventually become a physicist and author, and this desire has hardly wavered since. As Benford suggests, good SF has a strong focus on being scientifically accurate; science and SF are fundamentally intertwined. Not every scientist chose the field as a child. However, a large portion of those who did were drawn to it, as I was, by SF. This fact suggests that scientific advancement might be partially fueled by SF. Asimov points out that “[s]cience fiction reading is perhaps two hundred times as common among scientists as among the general public. It is unavoidable, then, that a number of those scientists may have been encouraged to enter the field through their reading” (300). Though this claim is based on his back-of-thenapkin calculations, Asimov maintains that many scientists were inspired to enter the field by SF. But others claim that children who choose science as their passion because of SF risk having unreasonable expectations of excitement and drama from real scientific research. For example, Steinmüller explains, “For the ordinary reader, tedious lab work, nightly calculations, boring 6

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committee meetings, the frustrating fight[s] for funding…are of little interest” (177). At best, even the most scientifically accurate SF skims over the tedious moments that make up much of a scientist’s life. This logic suggests that anyone who chooses to study science because he or she loves SF will inevitably be disappointed and possibly give up his or her career aspirations. I would argue, however, that a love of SF can be precisely what motivates one to persevere through the tedious parts of scientific work. The romanticism of SF certainly has an impact; I remember wanting to be a theoretical physicist because, in several books I read, theoreticians got to go to space to prove their theories right. It took me a couple of years to realize that being a theoretical physicist actually means you spend most of the day doing calculations and running computer simulations (when not teaching or writing grants, that is). Sometimes at the end of an organic chemistry lab, after slaving over a hot plate all afternoon to get only a seven percent yield, I ask myself: “Do I want this to be my life for the next seven years or more?” After considering it more, the answer is always “Yes,” because the feeling of satisfaction and understanding when things work out is greater than the feeling of disappointment when they don’t. I owe it to SF that I can see past the minor setbacks to the overall goal. In books, the plot isn’t interesting unless the character faces some kind of struggle on the way to reaching a goal or has some kind of problem to figure out. As an avid reader, I would try to solve the problem before the characters in the book did. It turns out

© diversepixel /

this skill is directly applicable to real scientific research, and SF novels got me practicing it early. When my mom first handed me a copy of 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke, I didn’t expect it to change my life. Being a reader of SF and a lover of science is an integral part of my identity. SF allows you to experience the wonder

and beauty of science, no matter where you are, how old you are, or how much you already know. It ties together many different kinds of people who need to have nothing in common except curiosity about the future. Because of its imaginative and unifying nature, SF contributes to the progress of science and society as a whole.

Works Cited Asimov, Isaac. Today and Tomorrow and… New York: Dell, 1972. Print. Bennett, Holly. “The ‘Nerd’ [9 to 12-year-olds]”. Today’s Parent 15.2 (March 1998): 82. ProQuest. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Bishop, John H., Matthew Bishop, Lara Gelbwasser, Shanna Green, and Andrew Zuckerman. “Nerds and Freaks: A Theory of Student Culture and Norms.” Brookings Papers on Education Policy 6 (2003): 141–213. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Clarke, Arthur C. 2001: A Space Odyssey. New York: New American Library, 1968. Print. Evans, Cathy, and Donna Eder. “‘No Exit’: Processes of Social Isolation in Middle School.” Journal of Contemporary Ethnography 22.2 (1993): 139–70. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Jonas, Gerald. “Science Fiction.” The New York Times (13 Sept. 1992): A.28. ProQuest. Web. 18. Nov. 2014. Steinmüller, Karlheinz. “The Uses and Abuses of Science Fiction.” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews 28.3 (2003): 175–78. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Volume 4


Craft Brewing & Community: The Case


W ynkoop Brewing Co.

Breanna Demont ASEM: Thinking, Eating, and Writing: Food History Professor Carol Helstosky

This piece was taken from the final essay I wrote spring quarter of my junior year for Carol

Helstosky’s ASEM, “Thinking, Eating, and Writing: Food History.” The original paper, entitled “Various Ways Denver Craft Brewers Distinguish Themselves From Commercial, Macro-

brewing Giants in the Industry,” was a case study of three Denver craft breweries—Wynkoop

Brewing Company, Great Divide Brewing Company, and Denver Beer Company—that pro-

vided a series of historical snapshots of the first craft brewpub in Denver to one of the most recent.

In learning about the anecdotes behind many of these breweries’ prized beers, as well as the social and environmental efforts they consistently work to uphold, I was able to shed light on

the ways Denver craft brewers distinguish themselves, both intentionally and unintentionally, from macro-brewing industry giants like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch. The most significant way they distinguish themselves is through their devotion to connecting with the Denver

community on a personal level and contributing to its development at large. I conducted secondary research with historical texts and articles found both online and in newspapers like

the Denver Post; my primary research included participating in brewery tours and conducting

interviews with the head honchos of these facilities. Through this research, I hoped to gain

better insight into the process of craft brewers as they produce their beer and to get a feel for all three establishments in person.

History of Beer in Denver Tom Noel, better known as “Dr. Colorado,” once said that “Colorado is a state whose territorial government was conceived and born in a tavern.” 1 Since Denver’s founding in 1858, taverns, pubs, bars, and similar establishments “were of utmost social importance to groups of Germans, Italians and others,” 2 bringing these diverse communities together in various ways. Not only was alcohol likely safer than Denver’s drinking water,3 but until churches, schools, banks, theaters, and other institutions became well-established, saloons “served as a multifunctional institution” in the community.4 8

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In 1916, however, four years shy of the enactment of the nationwide prohibition on alcohol, Colorado voters chose to ban bars. And “[a]lthough Denver had voted 38,139 to 28,533 against the dry crusade,” as Noel remarks, “the city was forced to go along with the statewide decision.” 5 As a result, breweries disappeared at an alarming rate. Denver had over twenty-five breweries before 1916, but Prohibition put all but four breweries in the whole state out of business: Walter’s in Pueblo, Schneider’s in Trinidad, the Tivoli in Denver, and the Coors Brewery (now MillerCoors) in Golden.6

© Breanna Demont

After several years, Colorado ended up sharing a national view that Prohibition had become a failure. As Robert Athearn notes: When a University of Denver graduate student interviewed local authorities in 1932, most of them expressed the opinion that the law had done more harm than good. The county jail warden thought that the liquor law stimulated organized crime, gangs, and corruption, while making petty criminals out of people who were not criminally inclined.7 In 1933, the Eighteenth Amendment put an end to Prohibition. However, according to Noel, the resurgence of saloon-going in Denver can be more directly attributed to the demise of traditional values and institutions.8 As was the case in many American cities, industrialization and immigration, rapid population growth and suburbanization, and the rise of progressive movements shaped a new culture in Denver, one in which alcohol played a big part.9 This culture took root in Lower Downtown, otherwise known as LoDo. Though the city of Denver features the largest collection of urban historic buildings in the Rocky Mountain region, nearly 20 percent of LoDo’s buildings were demolished in the 1980s in order to provide parking space for office workers, which gave the area its reputation as the city’s “skid row.” But Federico Peña, who was elected mayor in 1983, had great hope for the historic warehouses of LoDo, believing that the area “could be used to jump-start the revitalization of the entire downtown.” 10 The City Council therefore passed the Lower Downtown Historic District ordinance in

1988, which called for demolition controls and implemented design guidelines for constructing new buildings and rehabilitating old ones. This ordinance led to a rise in private sector investment and development; renovations of historic buildings gave younger residents a place to live while also making room for businesses to set up shop. Historic buildings are a scarce resource in cities, and the certainty of their preservation created value in LoDo’s real estate, especially for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Edward McMahon explains: Small businesses and investors were lured to the area by its charm and unique character—and by the knowledge that those attributes would not change. Historic district zoning gave investors assurance that if they spent money rehabilitating a turn-of-thecentury building, their investment would not be undermined by the property owner next door tearing down a building to construct a parking lot, put up a billboard, or pursue other insensitive development.11 The city’s brewery revival occurred when one of these small businesses, the Wynkoop Brewing Company, opened in LoDo in 1988, sparking the opening of many other small businesses and paving the way for a community to flourish.

Wynkoop Brewing Company Founded by John Hickenlooper, who later would be elected state governor, the Wynkoop Brewing Company is Colorado’s very first brewpub.12 Hickenlooper had been laid off from his job as a geologist in 1986.10 But his life changed with Volume 4


(left) Breanna Demont / © LP Picard (right) image 1 / © Breanna Demont

Hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Breanna is a senior journalism major with an undying passion for the creative

arts. In addition to starting a freelance photography




year of college, she has also been fortunate enough to gain experience working

for Snowboard Colorado magazine, and

she currently holds the titles of Production Manager and Social Media Director

for the University of Denver’s student-run newspaper, The Clarion. When she is not snowboarding, journaling, writing poetry,

or partaking in countless photography ad-

ventures around this breathtaking state, Breanna might be singing, traveling, exploring nature, and attending concerts

with friends. She plans to pursue a career in the photojournalistic sector of the snowboarding industry after graduation.

a visit to one of America’s first brewpubs: the Triple Rock Brewery in Berkeley, California. Dreaming of opening a brewpub of his own, Hickenlooper banded together with five other partners and made this dream of the Wynkoop Brewing Company a reality. (See image 1.) The partners wanted to house their new business in a historic building that highlighted the traditional role of pubs as a center of the community. After looking at thirty-four options, the Wynkoop Brewing Company was born in the J.S. Brown Mercantile Building, built in 1899. According to current Lead Brewer Greg Moore, 10

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Hickenlooper bought the building for one dollar per square foot—an unbeatable price, compared to the roughly $450 per square foot price Moore feels it could command today.13 Despite certain advantages, the partners also faced significant obstacles: to commence operations required that existing laws be altered. For example, as Ed Sealover observes, “[a]fter Prohibition, state statutes allowed a business to manufacture, distribute or sell beer but not to do all three.” 14 However, Hickenlooper and his partners “successfully lobbied the state legislature to change the rules to allow Wynkoop to make and sell its beer in one location.” 15 This legislative change set the precedent for other craft breweries and brewpubs soon to come. A domino effect ensued after the brewery’s opening, with Rock Bottom Brewery opening about a year after Wynkoop.16 Though it took some time, Wynkoop is credited with helping LoDo shed its former “skid row” reputation. According to Moore, “People saw that you could put something in this space that was basically nothing and turn this whole thing around. Once people start spending money in places, other people want to open up nearby.” 17 Since the brewery’s opening, hundreds of brewpubs have been opening across the state, with over “five hundred places licensed to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises.” 18 According to Hickenlooper, “brewpubs have a wide appeal because they are a social equalizer, a place where suits and hardhats can connect over a common denominator—the beer in front of them.” 19 With this in mind, Wynkoop has undergone several changes over the years. Within

image 2 / © Breanna Demont

a few years of its opening, “Hickenlooper and his partners built an upscale billiards hall on the second floor and converted the building’s upper floors into residential lofts—only the second such housing in downtown.” 20 (See image 2.) These architectural additions helped transform Wynkoop from a place for patrons simply to gather and drink beer to a more community-oriented space, in which people stay for longer periods of time. While large breweries like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch produce over 6,000,000 barrels of beer per year, Wynkoop operates on a sixty barrel system.21 According to current Front-ofthe-House Manager Jared Hofferber, the brewery only produces sixty barrels of beer at one time for a total of 2,500–3,000 barrels of beer per year. Despite its deliberately small yield, Wynkoop brews over forty different styles of beer in “vintage, copper-clad” barrel brewing systems.22 These systems, combined with the brewery’s use of “the finest ingredients [it] can find in Colorado and beyond,” enable Wynkoop to produce anything from “embraceable ales and lagers to jaw-dropping seasonal and experimental rule-breakers.” 23 This type of production differs greatly from macro-brewers like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, who focus on the production of a few select beers in mass-quantity to generate the exact same taste every time.24 (See image 3.) Wynkoop has been honored for setting the precedent in innovative practices for other Colorado brewers. In fact, the Brewer’s Association’s annual award for innovation is named for

Wynkoop’s original brewer, Russell Schehrer. The company continues to carry on Schehrer’s traditions, focusing on “small-batch, handmade, artisan beer crafted with patience, passion and big ideas.” 25 The brewers’ thirst for unusual beers has led them to hand-craft porters, meads, cask-conditioned beer, and “other current craft beer fixtures that beer lovers ha[ve] never tasted before.” 26 According to Moore, large breweries are starting to notice the craft-brewing trend of beer diversification with which Coloradans, and especially Denverites, have fallen in love. As a result, companies such as MillerCoors’ subsidiary AC Golden Brewing Company are coming out with their own “small batch styles” of beer.27 Moore considers this to be a good thing, as it shows companies like Wynkoop that the commercial giants “are feeling the pressure” from craft brewers such as themselves, which companies like Wynkoop “want them to feel.” Accord-

image 3 / © Breanna Demont

Volume 4


image 4 / © Breanna Demont

ing to Moore, in the last ten years, Wynkoop has taken over five percent of business away from these brewing giants, which has equated to billions of dollars in profit for the company.28 While Moore doesn’t feel that the act of making beer is, in and of itself, a community service, he does believe that Wynkoop is doing its fair share to improve the Denver community at large.29 According to Moore, “One of the first things that most major cultures produce is some kind of alcoholic beverage, and if [Wynkoop doesn’t] make beer then someone else is going to.” 30 One of the biggest ways the brewery con-

The Wynkoop Brewing Company is a perfect example of a Denver craft brewery that upholds these standards of community and innovation today. It maintains a sound presence in and devotion towards community affairs, while operating its facility in ways that create a unique, intimate environment.

tributes to the community of Denver is by making a significant number of donations each year to various festivals and events held in the city. Examples include donating beer, donating money, or volunteering time at charitable events such as the Guerrilla Run or Coalition for the Blind. 12

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“I don’t see companies like Coors at a lot of these things,” said Moore. “I’m sure they donate money to people and tons of stuff all the time, and they’re probably great at it…but I think we do it because we are a part of a community.” 31 Wynkoop also tries to help other small businesses around the Denver community whenever it can, especially when it comes to integrating new flavors into its beer. One example is the brewery’s Kurt’s Mile High Malt—whose recipe is attributed to Kurt Vonnegut’s father, a home-brewer back in his day. (See image 4.) According to Moore, Vonnegut and Hickenlooper became friends after the brewery’s opening, and the two hit it off so well that Vonnegut gave Hickenlooper his father’s recipe. The uniqueness of Kurt’s Mile High Malt also results from the fact that it is a Vienna lager, which the brewery makes with coffee from local Novo Coffee shop. “We’re always looking for partnerships and anything we can do to help the people around us,” said Moore. “We’re a small company who is in this community, and it only helps us if we help other people.” 32 In addition to supporting local businesses around Denver, Wynkoop reaches out to community members on a personal basis as much as it can. Aside from building rapport with regulars, Moore says, Wynkoop is welcoming to any and all patrons that walk through its doors—as long as people have an open mind about trying beer and trying new styles: We like to change people’s minds. We get tons of people who walk in here and are like, “Hey, can we have a Coors Light?” and we’re like, “We don’t have any Coors Light, but here, try this, and this.”…We’re not going to be like, “Oh, you want a Coors Light, get the heck out of here.” 33 This perspective is significant, as many people believe that the craft beer culture only welcomes those “beer connoisseurs” who know everything there is to know about the beer they drink. While there are craft beer lovers that fit this description, craft breweries like Wynkoop understand that it is part of their job as brewers to show passion for what they do. Having an understanding, inviting presence that does not discriminate against those new to the craft beer world is important in maintaining a good reputation in the community.

image 5 / © Breanna Demont

Wynkoop tries to welcome community members to its brewery in unique ways. One example is the communal participation it encourages in the production process that goes into the making of Wynkoop’s Belgorado beer. (See image 5.) According to Moore, Wynkoop purchases its fresh hops during the hop harvest season from local Colorado Voss Farms. As soon as the fresh hops are delivered to Wynkoop’s doorstep, the brewery sets everything up on its terrace and encourages customers and passers-by to help Wynkoop employees pick the hops off the vines, rewarding helpers with a free beer of their choice. This type of behavior distinguishes Wynkoop from large brewers, as the fresh batches of Belgorado made during hop harvest season taste entirely different from the batches the brewery produces during other times of the year; large brewers try to steer as far away as possible from this level of inconsistency.34 To further its efforts to improve LoDo, Wynkoop has made a conscious effort to remain environmentally friendly over the years. The brewery “began recycling glass and cardboard almost from the start,” and “today those measures are joined by extensive composting, recycling and water and energy conservation efforts.” 35 Wynkoop not only composts its biodegradable waste, but it also feeds its spent brewing grains to local livestock—a common practice by craft brewers that also sets them apart from their macro-brewing opponents. In addition to caring for the environment, Wynkoop has made an effort to adhere to the

highest standards of brewpub cuisine, its menus providing “updated brewpub classics to globally inspired dishes.” 36 On its Website, the company boasts that one will find “the same contemporary sensibilities of fresh, local ingredients prepared in-house throughout both the restaurant and banquet menus.”37 What is more, Wynkoop aims to keep those who come to tour the brewery entertained. While its staff-led tours take visitors “through the meticulous process of brewing the Wynkoop’s acclaimed beers,” 38 the company’s creative tour makes add-ons available for purchase, such as an all-natural lip balm made with some of the same malts and hops found in the brewery’s beer. Finally, Wynkoop’s attitude toward competition sets it apart. According to Hofferber, a brewpub’s culture is not so much about competition as it is about supporting others in the industry. “The whole craft beer community is kind of a culture,” Hofferber remarks.39 Patrons do not go into one craft brewery or brewpub and find employees putting down another craft brewery or brewpub. “Everybody really supports each other,” Hofferber says. This cooperative mindset is significant. According to Moore, while all brewers essentially fight for shelf space, craft brewers have banded together with a shared view that the “big guys” such as MillerCoors have been doing what they do for a long time. It is now craft brewers’ time to shine, and most of the craft brewers in Denver want to support each other in the process.40 Volume 4


image 6 / ©

Conclusion While beer has been consumed across the globe for centuries, its history in Colorado is unique, especially when it comes to the craft brewing industry. In a market dominated by commercial, “macro-brewing” giants like MillerCoors and Anheuser-Busch, whose focus is on producing mass quantities of a limited variety of beer in an efficient, consistent manner, Denver’s craft brewers show a unique sense of community and a passion for innovation. Independent craft brewers like Wynkoop Brewing Company have made a name for themselves by taking the process of brewing and distributing beer to a new level. According to New Belgium Brewing Company spokesman Bryan Simpson, one of the greatest assets of a craft brewery is its story and its ability to connect with a community in which its beers are made.41 Those assets are hard for the “big guys” to compete with. The Wynkoop Brewing


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Company is a perfect example of a Denver craft brewery that upholds these standards of community and innovation today. It maintains a sound presence in and devotion towards community affairs, while operating its facility in ways that create a unique, intimate environment. In so doing, Wynkoop has paved the way for an increasing number of craft breweries to emerge in Colorado, and the numbers aren’t expected to decrease. The Brewers Association estimates that, in 2013, 2,768 out of the 2,822 total breweries in the United States were craft breweries.21 (See image 6.) And according to an article recently published in the Denver Post, Colorado craft breweries are opening at a rapid pace. Colorado Brewers Guild spokesman Steve Kurowski notes that, while over forty breweries opened just last year alone, there are now seventy in the planning stages.42

Endnotes 1. Thomas J. Noel, Colorado: A Liquid History & Tavern Guide to the Highest State (Golden, CO: Fulcrum, 1999), xv. 2. John Peel, “History Can Be Fun, Especially in a Bar,” The Durango Herald, February 2, 2014, 3. Thomas J. Noel, The City and the Saloon: Denver,

18. Sealover, Mountain Brew, 44. 19. Jared Hofferber, “Interview with Wynkoop Brewing Company Front-Of-House Manager,” Telephone Interview, May 15, 2014. 20. “Brewery,” Wynkoop Brewing Company, accessed May 18, 2014, 21. “Brewery Tour,” Wynkoop Brewing Company, accessed

1858–1916 (Boulder: University Press of Colora-

May 18, 2014,

do, 1996), 15.


4. Ibid., 12.

22. Ibid.

5. Ibid., 109.

23. Ibid.

6. Noel, Colorado: A Liquid History, xvii.

24. David Young, “What Qualifies as Craft Beer?”

7. Robert G. Athearn, The Coloradans (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1976). 8. Noel, The City and the Saloon, xii.

USA Today, ( Jan.14, 2013), accessed April 27, 2014, business/2013/01/13/1566338/.

9. Ibid., xii-xiii.

25. “Brewery.”

10. Edward T. McMahon, “From Skid Row to LoDo:

26. Ibid.

Historic Preservation’s Role in Denver’s Revi-

27. Alastair Bland, “As Craft Beer Starts Gushing, Its

talization,” UrbanLand, Urban Land Institute,

Essence Gets Watered Down,” The Salt: What’s

October 11, 2012,

On Your Plate, NPR (May 9, 2014), accessed


June 1, 2014,

preservation-s-role-in-denver-s-revitalization/. 11. Ed Sealover, Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado’s Breweries (Charleston: History Press, 2011), 42–45. 12. According to the Brewers Association, a brewpub

salt/2014/05/09/310803011/. 28. Moore, “Interview.” 29. Ibid. 30. Ibid

is “a restaurant-brewery that sells 25% or more of

31. Ibid.

its beer on site.” See “Craft Beer Industry Market

32. Ibid.

Segments,” Brewers Association: A Passionate Voice

33. Ibid.

for Craft Brewers, Brewers Association, accessed

34. Ibid.

April 18, 2014, http://www.brewersassociation.

35. “Brewery.”


36. Ibid.

13. Greg Moore, “Interview with Wynkoop Brewing

37. Ibid.

Company Lead Brewer,” Personal Interview, June

38. Ibid.

1, 2014.

39. Hofferber, “Interview.”

14. Sealover, Mountain Brew, 43.

40. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

41. Bland, “As Craft Beer Starts Gushing.”

16. Noel, Colorado: A Liquid History, 80.

42. Jon Murray and Josie Klemaier, “Some Tap Danc-

17. Moore, “Interview.”

ing,” The Denver Post, April 24, 2014.

Volume 4


Bury My Kart at Wounded Thumb Isaiah Thompson WRIT 1122: The Rhetoric of Games, Gamers, and Gaming Professor Richard Colby

Like a wine taster who slowly develops the ability to identify and quantify the more subtle

aspects of fermenting fruit, I have been slowly developing the skills to implement different

voices in my writing. My WRIT 1122 course at the University of Denver provided the perfect assignment to do just that. We were given a magazine (mine was The Atlantic) and were required to write a videogame review that would appeal to the magazine’s audience.

After reading The Atlantic, I was drawn to a recurring writing style in its pages: the nostalgia piece. Because a successful nostalgia piece requires an emotional connection to the audience, I first needed to pick a videogame that had an emotional connection to my own childhood memories. After much brainstorming and deliberation, I chose to review Mario Kart on the Nintendo 64.

The target audience for this piece is adults in their 20s who played Mario Kart as children and

who would feel a strong connection to the Nintendo 64. It was challenging for me to emulate this nostalgic style, and I relied heavily on the work of writers from The Atlantic and The New

Yorker, as well as classic radio personas like Garrison Keillor who excel at bringing their audience back in time to make an emotional connection.

Growing up, I found anticipation to be a force not easily ignored. Hunger could be fought off for the sake of uninterrupted play, tiredness held no sway on my energetic body, but having to display patience could bring me to my knees, as could the long dull ache of waiting for a mail-ordered toy, the tenacious anticipation of a slowly approaching play date, and especially the long trudge through school before I could play the most addicting game this side of the PlayStation 2: Mario Kart 64. My brother, my cousin, and I poured more hours into that game than can possibly be considered healthy. While away from the house, 16

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we talked about it and dreamed about it. When at home, the game never got a break, taking us through track after track of violent cartoon speed. Our eyes blurred, our thumbs blistered, and we loved every second of it. Not only did we know the tracks and the characters, but we also could wax eloquent on their advantages and flaws. There was the constant debate between speed and turning, between Bowser and Diddy Kong. We did not play Mario Kart 64; we inhabited it. The game itself held our hearts, but so did the Nintendo 64, a unique and beloved game console in its own right. This was the platform that

© Andrea Vail

gave us not only Mario Kart but a trove of lauded favorites, ranging from the Hyrulian classic Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time to the notorious 007: GoldenEye. The N64, as it was affectionately called, created a lot of stir partly because this was the first time that we got to see many already beloved characters rendered in 3D. Part of its allure also stemmed from the oddly unique but still endearing controllers. The three-pronged design was so clearly alien, yet still found a way to be comfortable in our small mitts. Few consoles are spoken of with as much fondness, if not reverence, as the N64. When the game finally found its way into my little hands, the console had already been out for enough years that the technology was no longer revolutionary, but it still remained a high-quality game and forerunner of many racing game standards. Its weapons integration system proved an inspiration. The satisfaction of breaking open a mystery cube went beyond the mere act of gaining an advantage and instead spoke to the primitive nature of destruction. Each track also brought along its own set of difficulties and unique challenges, ranging from falling rocks to cumbersome snowmen. Not content with being a mere racing game, Mario Kart also featured PvP (Player versus Player) modes that were all about brawn rather than speed. In these matches, balloons connected to the back of the “karts” indicated your remaining lives, and your opponent’s balloons became your targets. This part of the game brought with it its own strategies and skillsets, and while I may have been king on the racing track, a win in this

brutal tournament was no guarantee. The variety of tracks, characters, cups, and difficulties kept the game fresh even past the hundredth play. If you added in a second player, or even a third or a fourth, the game became an automatic party fueled by competition. It also took next to no time to make it to the final cutscene of the game, but this final cutscene became anything but final, proving more of a good stopping place or point to switch out players. While the racing concept behind the game may have not been the most original, the way that Nintendo implemented it in Mario Kart 64, with all of its bells and whistles, made the game a huge success.

My brother, my cousin, and I poured more hours into that game than can possibly be considered healthy. While away from the house, we talked about it and dreamed about it. When at home, the game never got a break, taking us through track after track of violent cartoon speed. Our eyes blurred, our thumbs blistered, and we loved every second of it.

The other key draw of the game, especially for children, was the visuals. You raced through absorbing environments such as haunted castles, thick jungles, and crumbling canyons chock full of deep colors and bulbous objects. No one who has played the game could possibly forget Volume 4


(left) Isaiah Thompson / © LP Picard (right) © Barone Firenze /

From Pagosa Springs, Colorado, Isaiah is a sophomore pursuing a computer

science major at the University of Denver. He’s your friendly neighborhood ultracrepidarian morosoph. An avid book reader, he implores you to read The Name

of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss. Besides reading, Isaiah enjoys yo-yoing, playing

soccer, and eating. He has had an en-

riching experience so far at the University of Denver thanks to all of the new people and stories that have crossed his path.

He also leaves us with this: “Don’t forget to be awesome, and enjoy your burrito.”

the infamous, headache-inducing rainbow road. The ability to play as familiar characters—such as Luigi, Yoshi, and Mario himself—also added a layer of entertainment. Who hasn’t wanted to control Bowser ever since he first stumbled into the screen in the original Super Mario? Although realistic 3-D technology did not yet exist, this supposed disadvantage did not hurt the game at all. The cartoon style worked perfectly with a nofrills 3-D rendering system, causing the game to


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look impressive despite its lack of detail. Much of the visual style of the game was aimed at creating a comedic atmosphere that would appeal to a younger audience. The comparatively small “karts” proved to be a comical, as well as iconic, element. The whimsical weapons wiped frowns from faces with the absurdity of a well-thrown banana. Turtle shells suddenly became dangerous objects, balloons your sacred task to protect. The cutscene where the player’s character was either lauded as a hero or bombed with shame, quite literally, made it worth the watch no matter how well you did. A Nintendo classic, Mario Kart 64 contributes to the nostalgia many feel towards the old N64’s tucked away in the back of closets. Although the system is now old, and many do not work well, those who grew up with it are loath to part with the massive plastic boxes that brought games like Mario Kart 64 to life. So beloved is this game that copies now sell on Amazon for upwards of $245. Dollar signs aside, nothing brings back the racing itch like dredging up memories of happier, Kart-ier times. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a mushroom cup to win.

Not So Different After All: E xamining




College Athletes

Alexa Heupel, Mickey Martin, and Madelaine Momot WRIT 1133: Research Writing Professor Matt Hill

The idea for our essay evolved from an observation the three of us shared. We all noticed that

there seemed to be a divide between the athletes and the non-athletes on the DU campus, but we were unsure if this divide was intentionally created and promulgated or if it was rather an unintended byproduct of the conditions of college athletics.

We are particularly proud of our group’s findings because we feel as though they portray

collegiate athletes in a new light that encourages a reimagining of stereotypes within this student population. In essence, we decided to research a topic that not only interested us but is relevant when trying to understand the dynamics of diverse student populations in college.

Abstract: This paper examines the social perceptions and academic performance among students at the University of Denver (DU). The study focuses on three specific groups within the DU student population: Division 1 athletes, club athletes, and non-athletes. Our research methods include twenty-one interviews, analysis of the grade point averages (GPAs) of all three groups, and inquiry about the socially exclusive image projected by Division 1 DU athletes. Our findings suggest that athletes surpass non-athletes in academic performance; however, club athletes prove to be the strongest in academic performance. In the social context, the responses from all three groups verified the stereotypical cliquish tendencies of student athletes. As former high school athletes, we are sensitive to the social and academic stigma that plagues the athletic community here at the University of Denver (DU). This stigma suggests that student athletes are socially exclusive and

unenthusiastic about their education. However, as we are no longer active participants in athletics, we now identify more with the solely academic students. Having experienced both sides of the position, we could not help but notice reluctance for student athletes and non-athletic students to interact with one another. Whether this reluctance is intentional or unintentional, it is evident that there is a strong divide amid the DU student body. Upon noticing the division, we began investigating the validity of our observations. Although we are focusing specifically on the DU student population, our research findings should be of interest to any college community, as our project provides insight and collective understanding into the social and academic lives of university students. Furthermore, through our research, we hope to erase the boundaries that divide the student body at DU and add to existing research already on the rifts between college athletics and academics. Volume 4


Alexa Heupel / photo provided by author

Alexa is a junior from Eden Prairie, Minnesota. Because reading and writing

have always been two of her passions, she chose to double major in English and

history. She loves studying the past in or-

der to understand how the present came

to be. Alexa’s favorite DU experience, so far, is getting the opportunity to take Professor Tayana Hardin’s African American Literature course.

Review of the Literature In a 2013 study published in the Journal of College Student Development, Deborah Feltz and her colleagues interviewed 318 Division I, II, and III student athletes from eleven collegiate athletic programs. According to the results, athletes whose identities were deeply rooted in their sports tended to have inferior performance in the classroom because their focus was monopolized by practice, games, and team obligations (186). In addition, the authors found that a coach’s academic expectations play an important role in the student athlete’s classroom success. Expectations include academic incentives such as maintaining a certain GPA to remain eligible to be on the team. The research showed that other control variables such as divisional status and type of sport did not impact the threat of a stereotype (197). In our research, we interviewed club athletes in order to juxtapose the results with the results of our interviews with Division I athletes. Similar to Feltz et al., Herbert D. Simons 20

WRIT Large: 2015

and Derek Van Rheenen consider “the role of four non-cognitive variables in predicting academic performance” (167). In “Non-cognitive Predictors of Student Athletes’ Academic Performance,” Simons and Van Rheenen build from E.E. Snyder’s four classifications of student athletes for their own study of Berkeley students. Snyder’s four classifications include the scholar-athlete, the pure scholar, the pure athlete, and the non-scholar/non-athlete, with each group representing a different level of dedication to athletics and academics. Upon finishing the study, Simons and Van Rheenen found that there is a correlation between academic success and athletic performance. When athletes are able to satisfy academic expectations, they can expect to execute their athletic talents and responsibilities more productively; Simons and Van Rheenen note that “[i]n fact, some student athletes actually do better academically when their sport is in season” (178). We predicted that Simons and Van Rheenen’s correlation between time commitments and academic performance would play a key role in understanding our own findings. However, because our sample included athletes from different levels of competition, not only Division 1, we recognized that our results might have a different outcome from the original study.

Methods In conducting our study, we hoped to learn about campus dynamics and social interactions in the DU student population. Specifically, we wanted to investigate non-athletes’ general perception of Division I student athletes in both social and academic settings. We sought to explore the “dumb-jock” theory and see if there is any truth behind the concept. Furthermore, we wanted to see if the classification of athlete and non-athlete subsequently affected each group’s social interactions and academic performance. Prior to our research, we assumed there would be a clear social division between the athletes and non-athletes. We also believed the athletes would perform at a lower academic level in comparison to their peers who were not Division I athletes. Our two assumptions were based on our personal experiences, our knowledge of non-athletes’ complaints that teachers favor athletes and give them special privileges, and the way the media and popular

Š Perspectives – Jeff Smith /

culture portray the stereotypical jock, such as the depiction of the athlete Andrew Clark in the iconic film The Breakfast Club. To understand further and perhaps bridge the gap between athletes and non-athletes, we interviewed club athletes as well. We realized the stark contrast in time commitments between athletes and non-athletes, so we thought that introducing a third intermediary group would provide more context and data when we compared our results. We interviewed seven Division I athletes, seven club athletes, and seven non-athlete students at DU with a set interview protocol (see Appendix A on page 70 for a full list of interview questions). The interviews began with six general questions that were posed to each group; however, once each student identified with a certain group, they were asked a set of questions specific to their classification. For example, after we determined that students were an athlete, we then asked them eight questions regarding their experience as a student athlete. Furthermore, we asked club athletes five questions specific to their experience and level of involvement in the club. Finally, we asked students who identified as non-athletes six questions about their lives as non-athletes at DU. We based our questions on our preconceived notions surrounding the stereotype of student athletes. The concluding question of the interviews asked whether there is any truth to the stereotype behind student athletes being less focused on academics when compared to their non-athlete peers and whether student athletes tend to be more socially exclusive. We hoped this question would provide the most insight and depth

into understanding the different perspectives non-athletes have of athletes. Our goal with the twenty-one subjects we interviewed was to represent a wide array of Division I sports and club sports offered at DU. In regards to the non-athlete subjects, we tried to find a combination of students who do and do not participate in extracurricular activities such as Greek life and other on-campus clubs, as we wanted our sample to encompass as much of the student body at DU as possible. Our age group ranged from 18 years old to early 20s. We thought

As former high school athletes, we are sensitive to the social and academic stigma that plagues the athletic community here at the University of Denver (DU). This stigma suggests that student athletes are socially exclusive and unenthusiastic about their education.

age would be an important factor to consider as some athletes, specifically hockey players, stay in school longer in order to play another year. In addition, for all three groups, we sought to diversify the subjects further by interviewing a relatively equal number of females and males. Volume 4


When athletes are able to satisfy academic expectations, they can expect to execute their athletic talents and responsibilities more productively.

Mickey Martin / photo provided by author

Mickey is from Colorado Springs, Colo-

rado, and transferred to the University of Denver from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. He is a sophomore pursuing a major in film studies and produc-

tion and a minor in history. Mickey enjoys

watching movies and traveling the world, and he hopes to one day explore every

continent. His favorite DU memory is going to his first hockey game and experi-

encing the school spirit all around him; it was wild.

Results To organize the twenty-one interviews, we first divided them into three categories: athlete, club athlete, and non-athlete. After doing so, we began by simply comparing the seven student athlete interviews to each other. Then, we followed the same procedure for both the club athlete and non-athlete categories. Once we made the internal comparisons, we then studied each group in contrast to one another. Following this approach, the interviews we conducted both support and refute our original hypothesis. Asking for the participants’ GPAs proved to be a particularly important and revealing question. We chose to average the GPAs of each group and then compare the results. Our findings include a 3.62 GPA average for club athletes, 3.36 GPA average for athletes, and 3.34 GPA average for non-athletes. We were rather surprised by the outcome because we anticipated the average GPA for athletes to be much lower than non-athletes given that the 22

WRIT Large: 2015

minimum GPA to play on a Division I team is a 2.0, according to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) requirements. Also, we expected the time commitment for practice and games—especially away games—would negatively impact the GPA of athletes based on the assumption that they miss more class and have less time to dedicate to schoolwork. For instance, one subject who plays Division I hockey at DU explained that he has practice Monday through Thursday from noon until four. Furthermore, he said, “Fridays and Saturdays I basically devote entirely to our games. We have a pre-game skate in the morning on both days and then a meal and nap. Then, we go to the rink for the game. When we are on the road, we travel all of Thursdays and Sundays too.” This revelation was not uncommon among the other athletes we interviewed. We found that being an athlete essentially eliminated Thursday through Sunday as possible days for studying. Upon discovering this information, we found it even more odd that the athletes had a higher GPA when compared to the non-athletes. However, we quickly began to gather a better understanding that other factors played a prominent role in their academic success. Such contributions include free tutoring services, early registration to accommodate their athletic schedules, and academic advisers specific to DU athletes. In addition, one lacrosse player revealed that his coach has personal academic requirements for his players: “[There is] mandatory study hall based on your GPA. Under 3.0 GPA, six hours are required, and for a 3.0-3.3 GPA, three hours

are required.” We came to the conclusion that this extra requirement provides more academic accountability for the men’s lacrosse team in particular. While most athletic teams here do have obligatory study hall hours, the lacrosse coach introduces an incentive for his players by determining the required hours based on their GPAs. Based on the fact that athletes have more academic services provided to them while non-athletes are accountable for their own performance, it becomes easier to fathom how athletes and non-athletes have such similar GPAs. Out of the three groups interviewed, club athletes had the highest GPA. While this was initially surprising, we found that both student athletes and club athletes mentioned the importance of balancing athletics and academics. This idea of balance seemed most utilized by the club-athlete population because the responsibilities as both a student and athlete required time management. It is important to note that Division I athletes do manage their time; however, through our interviews of the club athletes, it was revealed that practice was not mandatory—a clear contrast to the obligations of a Division I athlete. Regardless, our findings invalidate the “dumb-jock” stereotype since the athletic population we interviewed performed at the same academic level as non-athletes. Nonetheless, the exceptionally high GPA average of club athletes did complicate our original assumptions.

Discussion Understanding the social aspect of the athletic community at DU proved to be far easier than analyzing their academic performance. We asked each group about the socially exclusive stereotype cast on athletes. Overall, each group tended to both disagree and agree with the stereotype. In essence, athletes, club athletes, and non-athletes all recognized that the DU athletic community is socially exclusive to some extent. However, each group came to the defense of the selective bond of Division I athletes. One athlete justified the exclusivity when he said, We spend time with other athletes because it’s fun to spend time with other kids who are motivated in the similar ways that we are. It’s inspiring in a way. Also I’ve been ridiculed by some of my friends who are

© Aspen Photo /

non-athletes when I’m too tired or haven’t finished my school work—because of my practice schedule—and can’t go out with them. Athletes understand the time commitment and respect when I’m in that situation.

All groups agreed that student athletes’ collective understanding and mutual respect they share for one another might explain the exclusive community they establish. Non-athletes admitted that they do not entirely grasp the athletic culture, which might rationalize the invisible barrier that separates the athletic and non-athletic communities at DU. In conclusion, the information we compiled from the twenty-one interviews rejected the “dumb jock” stereotype but supported the stigma surrounding athletes as socially exclusive. Our assumption that athletes perform at a significantly lower academic level proved to be untrue, since their GPA average was similar to, and .02 higher than, non-athletes. Based on the athletic population we interviewed, we concluded that the Division I athletes at DU exceed the academic standards required by the NCAA. However, we realize the validity of our results is limited because our subjects do not represent the entire DU student body. For example, we interviewed twenty-one students out of a total student population of over 6,000. Additionally, although we did try to interview students involved in various sports and clubs with different academic standings, the results we gathered simply cannot be generalized to the entire DU community. One non-athlete’s response embodied the essence of Volume 4


Madelaine is from Orange County, Califor-

nia, and came to the University of Denver to experience the great location, different

lifestyle, and premier programs. She is currently a sophomore majoring in international business with a minor in interna-

tional studies and communication. When

she has the opportunity, Madelaine loves to experiment in the kitchen, explore the

outdoors, and travel. She also loves the

sense of school spirit at the sports events on campus.

Madelaine Momot / © LP Picard

our overall findings: I do think there’s some truth to athletes being less dedicated to academics because school is not just about grades to athletes. I believe that being in college students don’t necessarily have to have a focus on grades—some come for sports, some come for grades, and some come to travel and experience a new state. School doesn’t have

to be about grades and a high GPA for everyone. People on athletic teams tend to be more socially exclusive because they spend several hours a day together, so they inevitably become each other’s support systems.

In the end, we found that there is a general understanding and acceptance among athletes, club athletes, and non-athletes in regards to both the academic and social structures at DU.

  Works Cited Feltz, Deborah L., Seunghyun Hwang, Richard Schneider, and Nikolaus J. Skogsberg. “Predictors of Collegiate Student athletes’ Susceptibility to Stereotype Threat.” Journal of College Student Development 54.2 (2013): 184–201. Print. Simons, Herbert D., and Derek Van Rheenen. “Noncognitive Predictors of Student Athletes’ Academic Performance.” Journal of College Reading and Learning 30.2 (2000): 167–81. Print. 24

WRIT Large: 2015

The ANWR Controversy Tucker Van Lier Ribbink ASEM: Environmental Controversies Professor Christina Foust

This argumentative research paper discusses the contested site of Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR)—its pristine and striking landscapes, its rare and fragile ecosystem, and the billions of barrels of oil and natural gas that reside beneath its surface. To drill, or not

to drill: that is always the question. ANWR and its oil reserves have been a source of intense political controversy since it was first signed into law in 1980. When I initially chose to write

about ANWR, I thought I already knew everything I needed. Drilling in ANWR had been in the

foreground of the 2008 presidential election, and news channels aired many live broadcast debates on the subject. It wasn’t until I conducted my own research that I realized the news media are not always reliable sources of information.

My hope in this essay is to shed some light on the current state of the ANWR controversy and to encourage readers to research political issues deeply before drawing conclusions.

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) is a biodiverse, 19.6 million acre area of pristine, federally owned and protected land in Northeast Alaska. The area consists of lowland tundra, coastal marshes, freshwater wetlands, mountains, rivers, lakes, and valleys. It is home to 45 species of land and marine mammals, 36 species of fish, and 180 species of birds (US Fish and Wildlife Service). It also happens to be home to an estimated 7.7 billion barrels of oil that is technically recoverable, according to a study conducted by the US Geological Survey (USGS) in 1998, making the area a hot button issue for political and environmental debate. The 7.7 billion barrels of oil reside in a 1.5 million acre coastal plain known as the 1002 area. Opponents to drilling in the area suggest that drilling would devastate the coastal plain’s extraordinary environment and fragile ecosystem. Drilling advocates argue that opening the area to development would reduce

gas prices, ensure energy independence, sustain the Trans-Alaska Pipeline (and, in effect, the Alaskan economy), and significantly benefit the US economy, all while having little to no adverse effect on the area’s environment. Based on my research of the various arguments for and against drilling in ANWR, I have come to the conclusion that the 1002 area should be opened for further research and exploration. The 1002 area got its name from the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980, as Section 1002 of the act deferred a decision on the management of the coastal plain due to the vast oil and gas reserves the area potentially held. Section 1002 of the ANILCA reads as follows: The purpose of this section is to provide for a comprehensive and continuing inventory and assessment of the fish and wildlife resources of the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; an analysis of the Volume 4


(left) Tucker Van Lier Ribbink / photo provided by author (right) © Mike Clime /

Tucker was born and raised in Kaneohe, Hawaii, where he grew up surfing, hiking, paddling, kayaking, and sailing. Without

ever having owned a jacket or pair of jeans, he somehow decided snowy Colorado would be a great place for him to

pursue his college career. While at DU,

he was active with the kayaking club. Tucker graduated from the University of Denver in the fall of 2014 with a degree

in marketing, and he has recently moved to Seattle, where he now needs to find a good rain jacket.

impacts of oil and gas exploration development, and production, and to authorize exploratory activity within the coastal plain in a manner that avoids significant adverse effects on the fish and wildlife and other resources. (Sullivan)

So while Congress does have an obligation to protect the region’s habitat, it also has an obligation to authorize exploratory activity for the prospect of oil and gas development. Those who oppose drilling argue that Congress met such obligations with the USGS assessment of 1998. Recent advances in exploratory and drilling technologies, however, make the 1998 estimates irrelevant. As indicated in the State of Alaska’s 2013 Exploration Plan and Special Use Permit Application, advances in technology, including “today’s high-power computer hardware, cutting edge interpretive software [and] the 3-D imaging technology…will provide 26

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a vastly improved understanding of the 1002 Area’s geology and oil and gas resource potential” (Parnell and Sullivan 17-18). 3-D seismic data are said to be “vastly superior” to the 2-D seismic data that were recorded in the mid-1980s. Those 30-year-old data were used in the USGS’s 1998 assessment and happen to be the most recent data we have from the region. The assessment concluded that the area contains an estimated 7.7 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. A similar study of Prudhoe Bay (located 600 miles west of Section 1002) estimated the Prudhoe field to hold 9.6 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil. The field has now yielded over 12 billion barrels of oil and is estimated to contain 6 billion more barrels (Parnell and Sullivan 110). My point is not to say that the 1002 area holds more oil than originally estimated—for all we know, the amount of technically recoverable oil is considerably less than the USGS survey concluded. My point is that until we have a more accurate understanding of how much oil and gas there actually is in the 1002 area, there is very little value in continued debate regarding the area’s future. To ensure minimal and negligible adverse effects to the tundra, fish, and other wildlife during exploration, the state of Alaska is seeking to conduct its study only during the winter months when wildlife is scarce. Ice pads and ice roads used for drilling and transportation in the winter would then melt in the spring, having little or no impact on the environment. This, along with Alaska’s high environmental standards and advanced low-impact technologies, promises an effective and safe exploration of Area 1002.

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Environmentalist groups, including Defenders of Wildlife, protest that any impact is too much impact for an area so pristine and beautiful. The area has been portrayed as having a lush, mountainous landscape, complete with fields of flowers, clean springs, and gently flowing rivers. This is certainly true for parts of the 19.6 million acre land of ANWR. However, in the 1002 area where drilling is being proposed, “there are no mountains and no trees, just a flat frozen tundra” (Fallin). The blatant use of false imagery and description for political gain is deceptive, unethical, and somewhat condescending. To appreciate the area for its unique and untouched characteristics is one thing, but to claim it as something it is not is another. Not only does this gimmick engender distrust of future anti-drilling rhetoric, but it also highlights the coastal plain’s aesthetic as a major focus in the debate, which is certainly not one of the area’s strengths. In discussing environmental effects of oil development, both sides of the debate focus heavily on the Porcupine Caribou Herd, which uses the 1002 area as their main calving ground. The most recent photocensus of the Porcupine Caribou Herd has estimated the herd’s population at 197,000 caribou, up 28,000 caribou since the last estimate conducted in 2010 (Rogers). The herd spends two months of its 930-mile yearly migration in Section 1002 because it is nutrient rich and offers relief from mosquitoes and other insects that harass the herd. Drilling opponents fear that oil development in the coastal plain would displace the herd, forcing them out of their preferred habitat and

into areas with more predators and less nutrition. However, sizeable increases in the Central Arctic Caribou Herd would suggest otherwise. This herd has flourished despite (or possibly due to) the introduction of a vast network of oil development infrastructure, roads, and facilities in the herd’s primary calving ground of Prudhoe Bay, located 600 miles east of the 1002 area. In 1975, years before oil production began, the Central Arctic Caribou Herd totaled less than 5,000. By 2002, the herd had grown to 45,000. Six years after that, the herd size increased to 67,000 (“Co-existing”). Since the 1002 area is one-fifth

A future without the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System has frightening implications for the US economy and terrifying implications for Alaska and its citizens.

the size of Prudhoe Bay, and the Porcupine Caribou Herd is much larger than the Central Arctic Herd, some argue that the Porcupine Caribou Herd is more vulnerable as suitable alternative habitats “might not be available” (Jacobs). However, in the past fifteen years of investigations, Volume 4


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the US Fish and Wildlife Service has found that the herd roams over a vast expanse and that the caribou have historically calved “over a fairly large area of the North Slope and the Yukon Territory” (Urquhuart, qtd. in Jacobs). While certain studies suggest that oil facilities and structures in Prudhoe Bay have displaced some Central Arctic Caribou, recent aerial studies show otherwise, with “many caribou on and around surface structures,” walking under pipelines with ease during summer migration (Jacobs). In The Natural History of an Arctic Oil Field, the researchers note that while earlier “radio-collar” studies suggested a tendency to avoid oil-field facilities, more frequent aerial surveys indicate that the caribou distribution “on the larger scale was largely unrelated to the distribution of oil-field infrastructure” (Truett and Johnson 99). Furthermore, other studies have concluded that the caribou actually seek out gravel pads and oil field structures in order to escape insect harassment and take sanctuary in the structures’ shade and cooler environments. One scientist remarked that “even when disturbed by moving vehicles, caribou most commonly just move to another location on the pad rather than leaving the pad” (Lynn, qtd. in Jacobs). The authors concluded that, “with clear identification of management objectives and common-sense applications of mitigation measures, caribou can coexist with oil fields” (Truett and Johnson 101). Lastly, in their most recent assessment, the USGS and the US Fish and Wildlife Service have declared that, based on the most likely ANWR 28

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development scenarios, “there is a 95% degree of certainty that there is a nearly negligible impact on calf survival” (“Policy Area: ANWR”). While the negative impact of drilling would be nearly negligible, its positive impacts on Alaska’s economy would be staggering. The state of Alaska has always been a major source of oil production within the United States. At its peak of 2.2 million barrels per day, “Alaska provided about 25 percent of the nation’s domestic crude oil production” (Magill). That oil was transported through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which travels 800 miles down the oil fields of the North Slope to Valdez on Alaska’s southern coast. Unfortunately, the flow of oil through the pipeline has been diminishing at an alarming rate of 5 percent per year (Parnell and Sullivan 117). Decreases in oil lead to decreases in velocity, which then lead to decreases in temperature, which finally lead to increases in wax, bacteria, and ice buildup. This buildup erodes the pipe and constricts the flow of oil, which then increases costs, making it less and less economical for oil companies like BP to continue supplying domestic oil from Alaska. According to, “America will lose the possibility to supply 10% of its current daily consumption of oil.” At its current rate of depletion, some studies predict the end of TAPS as early as 2032, while others predict it may last until 2065. A future without the TAPS has frightening implications for the US economy and terrifying implications for Alaska and its citizens. According to the Alaska Oil and Gas Association (AOGA), “the petroleum industry sup-

I believe that we can and should drill the area in an effective yet environmentally safe manner. Prudhoe Bay serves as evidence that we are capable of drilling for oil with a minimal and negligible impact on the environment.

© archigraf /

ports one-third of all Alaska jobs, generating 110,000 jobs throughout the state.” Despite decreases in production, the oil and gas industry still provides 90 percent of the state’s revenue. Should the TAPS shut down, much of this revenue will disappear, taking with it the jobs and livelihoods of many Alaskan citizens. Not only would oil in ANWR sustain the pipeline and these livelihoods, it would also generate “from about 20,000 to over 170,000 jobs…according to analyses based on data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics” (Parnell and Sullivan 193). At the most optimistic estimates, drilling in ANWR would maintain 110,000 existing jobs and provide 170,000 new jobs. Assuming the USGS mean estimate from its 1998 study, the amount of recoverable oil would have “a production period of nearly 40 years” (Parnell and Sullivan 203). While hydraulic fracturing and other advances in oil production have recently enabled the US to produce more than it imports for the first time in nearly 20 years, we still import 40 percent of the petroleum we consume as of 2012 (“How Much”). Assuming the mean estimate for technically recoverable oil is 10.4 billion barrels, the 1002 area could produce one million barrels per day, which would make Area 1002 the single largest producing field in North America. In fact, the oil production potential of the 1002 area is about equal to the production of 41 states combined (“Policy Area”). At one million barrels of oil per day, ANWR drilling would provide the US with 20 percent of its daily

domestic production. While drilling in ANWR would only produce an estimated 3 percent of Americans’ daily consumption, the area is believed to hold the greatest potential for onshore crude oil in America (Freudenrich). With US debt approaching $18 trillion, it’s important that we not close ourselves off from natural resources. After all, each barrel produced domestically is a barrel not purchased with foreign money. The controversy of opening or closing ANWR to drilling is somewhat useless since the most current research was gathered using 2D seismic technology as opposed to the vastly superior 3-D tech. Until we have a better understanding of the resources that reside in Area 1002, we can expect little progress toward a fair and educated decision. That being said, should exploration reveal oil reserves greater than in the 1998 USGS assessment, I do believe that we can and should drill the area in an effective yet environmentally safe manner. Prudhoe Bay serves as evidence that we are capable of drilling for oil with a minimal and negligible impact on the environment. Since Prudhoe Bay development began, exploration and drilling technologies and methods including ice roads, ice pads, and horizontal drilling have advanced to a stage that would have even less impact on the environment and, more specifically, on the Porcupine Caribou Herd. With the TAPS’s unknown future and the US still recovering from a devastating economic crisis, it is imperative that we keep our energy options open.

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Works Cited “10 Years to TAPS Shutdown?—America’s Rejected Oil.” Frontier Communications-Alaska. n.d. Web. 14 May 2014. “Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, 1002 Area, Petroleum Assessment, 1998, Including Economic Analysis.” US Geological Survey. Web. 17 May 2014. “Co-existing with Oil Development, Central Arctic Caribou Herd Thrives, Population at Record High.” Resource Development. Resource Development Council for Alaska, Inc. n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. “Facts and Figures.” AOGA: Alaska Oil and Gas Association. Alaska Oil and Gas Association. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Fallin, Mary. “ANWR’s Place in Our Energy Picture.” Salem Communications. 24 Jul. 2008. Web. 03 June 2014. Freudenrich, Craig. “How ANWR Works.” How Stuff Works. InfoSpace. 19 Nov. 2008. Web. 29 Apr. 2014. “How Much Petroleum Does the United States Import and From Where?” EIA: U.S. Energ y Information Administration. US Department of Energy. 3 Jun. 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Jacobs, Deborah. “The Caribou Question: The Caribou and Alaskan Oil.” PERC: Property and Environment Research Center. The Property and Environment Research Center. 2001. Web. 13 Apr. 2014. Magill, Bobby. “How Much Time Does the Trans-Alaska Pipeline Have Left?” Popular Mechanics. Hearst Communication, 1 Feb. 2013. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. Parnell, Sean, and Daniel S. Sullivan. The State of Alaska’s ANILCA Section 1002(e) Exploration Plan and Special Use Permit Application and Supporting Materials. July 2013. PDF file. “Policy Area: ANWR.” IER: Institute for Energ y Research. Institute for Energy Research. 21 Jul. 2003. Web. 18. Nov. 2014. Rogers, Jillian. “Porcupine Caribou Population Peaks at 197,000.” The Arctic Sounder. Alaska Media. 28 Mar. 2014. Web. 18 Nov 2014. Sullivan, Daniel S. “Fact Sheet: Alaska’s ANILCA 1002(e) Exploration Plan and Special Use Permit Application for the ANWR 1002 Area.” Alaska Department of Natural Resources. State of Alaska. n.d. Web. 18 May 2014. Truett, Joe C., and Stephen R. Johnson. The Natural History of an Arctic Oil Field: Development and the Biota. San Diego: Academic, 2000. Google Books. Web. 15 May 2014.


WRIT Large: 2015

Excavating Cool: A n A nalysis







Nicole Batrouny WRIT 1733: Fandom and Fan Writing Professor Juli Parrish

I don’t know when I first fell in love with the hipster. The nerdy glasses that have nothing to do

with vision. Scandalously exposed ankles. Ironic t-shirts. Unkempt hair sticking out perfectly from a knit beanie on a warm, sunny day. If you were to take an average Joe and slap on some of these accessories, you could turn a 5 into a 9 in my book. Let’s fast forward through

this embarrassing infatuation to spring quarter freshman year. I was taking an honors writing class centered on the social phenomenon of “fandom.” I was more than pleased when I found

out that it was totally cool to write papers about Frozen or anything else I was obsessed with. Like, maybe, hipsters. Cue the final project, a research paper on a topic of our choosing. I knew it had to be on hipsters. I based my paper around a facet of fandom aptly named “anti-fandom,” which you maybe wouldn’t guess because the paper’s current incarnation has absolutely nothing to do with fandom.

Though the paper was spawned from a class assignment, the idea quickly outgrew the

prompt. To me, hipsterism became so much more than a version of anti-fandom. Hipsters

have been mocked, imitated, and underestimated, but never praised. I didn’t start this paper knowing I would end up exalting hipster ideology, but here we are. Not only was a hipster

destined to be the love of my life, but the hipster was also (spoiler alert) the great redeemer of pop culture. Once I got inside the mind of a hipster, I realized this figure is so much more than a cute boy on a single-speed bicycle.

INTRODUCTION Popular culture is everywhere; it consumes us as much as we consume it. We are so caught up in pop culture today that we must be rescued. But who is the hero that can save us from the omnipotent mainstream? Enter the hipster, determined to liberate us one Polaroid picture at a time. The mentality of “rebelling against the mainstream” has been around for decades, but it wasn’t until the 1940s, when the term “hipster” was coined, that it had a name. As opposed to a downright war against pop culture, hipsterism is an ideology that aims to save society from an oppressive mainstream. Acting as both archaeologists and cura-

tors, hipsters salvage relics of the past—deciding what is cool and what is not, what should be kept and what should be dropped from pop culture.

POP CULTURE & THE MAINSTREAM Urban Dictionary defines “pop culture” as both “a widely accepted group of practices or customs” and “the destruction of the human race” (“Pop Culture”). Between the impartial definitions of the mainstream and the degrading descriptions of media “brainwash[ing]” and creating “zombies” (“Pop Culture”), it is evident that people have some mixed feelings about pop culture. The most neutral definition of “pop culture” Volume 4


Acting as both archaeologists and curators, hipsters salvage relics of the past—deciding what is cool and what is not, what should be kept and what should be dropped from pop culture.

Nicole Batrouny / photo provided by author

Before Nicole moved to Colorado, she

had never even been to the state. She

had never been camping, never climbed a real rock attached to a mountain, and

never panted so hard from one flight of

stairs. Nicole is originally from Overland Park, Kansas, a suburb that no one has ever heard of. She did not grow up on a

farm and did not know Dorothy; however, she was swept up into a tornado of col-

lege applications and big decisions that

landed her at the University of Denver, where she is now a sophomore studying mechanical engineering.

found on Urban Dictionary is “the lifestyle and tastes of the majority of mostly younger people.” In a 2013 marketing study, Aurora A. Saulo, Howard R. Moskowitz, and Abigail S. Rustia sought to define “mainstream” more strictly and identify the effects of demographics on the concept by asking participants to give opinions on popular consumer products. Their definition of “mainstream” pinpointed the phrases “‘most read, heard, talked about…almost every day,’ the ‘product most people buy…[or that is] found everywhere,’ or ‘what most of the population prefers’” (Saulo, Moskowitz, and Rustia 160). Their study revealed two different attitudes among respondents: those who “relied on the characteristics or attributes of the product or offering to form their concept of [it]” and those who “relied on the behavior of other people toward the product or offering” (174). The first, those who based 32

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their thinking directly on the products themselves, defined their own tastes and preferences, regardless of others. The second, larger group let others define the way they felt about the product. This group internalized what was defined as mainstream and adhered to the cultural standards that defined good taste.

TASTE AND CULTURAL CAPITAL Cultural theorist Pierre Bourdieu’s studies of French society help explain these competing attitudes toward the mainstream. Bourdieu borrowed the economic concept of “capital,” the accumulation of economic wealth and assets, to explain his own idea of taste. He found cultural capital in our displays of “skills, tastes, posture, clothing, mannerisms, material belongings, credentials, etc.” (“Cultural Capital”). These aspects of cultural capital are most obviously expressed in stereotypes of the rich: playing golf on one’s own range, having a private jet, dressing in only the most expensive brands, dining on caviar and foie gras (regardless of whether you like it or not)—the list goes on. While cultural capital helps us distinguish the major levels of social hierarchy, Bourdieu concluded that cultural capital is most often used as a way to separate those “closest…in social space” (Duffett 129). Anyone can tell the difference between those who are far apart in the class spectrum. However, something as subtle as “knowing whether a good bottle of Beaujolais should ever be served chilled” can illuminate the differences between those who are in-the-know and those who are not in the ever-shifting struggle

© Augustino /

for class dominance (129). Shared cultural capital creates a sense of “us” and “them.” In Bourdieu’s words, “[t]aste classifies, and it classifies the classifier” (“Cultural Capital”). Even in judging another’s taste, you define your own (Harman and Jones 953). In every culture, there is a new arbiter of taste who determines what’s in and what’s out. In today’s culture, specifically for the generation of Millennials, who is that arbiter of taste? Cue the hipster.

DEFINING THE HIPSTER You have probably observed hipsters in their natural habitat: locking up a single-speed bicycle outside a hole-in-the-wall coffee shop with a typewriter tucked away safely in a leather satchel. Today’s incarnation of the hipster is clad in ironic t-shirts, ankles bared by cuffed pants and eyes framed by superfluous, large-rimmed glasses. When the term first originated in the 1940s, the hipster was an embodiment of “the white predilection for black (jazz) culture” (Schiermer 169). Since then, the term has been applied to many distinct groups. To typical college student Jonathon Roeder, the reason hipsters are constantly changing form is because they discover something “underground” and then share it with friends until it becomes mainstream, “like the rock movement of the 1950s. That was a hipster thing…every big movement started out with hipsters, just like grunge in the 90s and skaters. Then it just becomes popular and mainstream” (Martin). Each decade, the hipster reappears in a new form with the same mantra: be different.

Though they would deny it if asked, the hipster mentality has reappeared in the twenty-first century as a subculture of people characterized by a specific set of qualities. It is generally agreed that the hipster is “young, white and middle class, typically between 20 and 35 years old”

Hipsters resist the most basic aspect of popular culture: an overwhelming quality of sameness or imitation. Because pop culture is tremendously replicable, it creates a sort of black hole that sucks people into unconscious imitation.

(Schiermer 170). Their look can be defined by bizarre and vintage fashion choices, with a general inclination to shop for the old, the used, and the forgotten. Hipsters frequent Goodwill and other thrift shops to fulfill the “cheap, stingy and gaudy aspects to the hipster aesthetic” (170). There are two key reasons why hipsters are drawn to thrift stores. The first is economic: “hipsters are typically recent graduates with arts degrees. Like many graduates, they often can’t afford high-end brands, and as a result, they shop at thrift shops” (Martin). The second reason is explained by Shalaka Gole, a self-proclaimed hipster: “everything uncool (lumpy sweaters, thrift stores, thickVolume 4


(left) © gdekartabilly / (right) © solominviktor /

framed glasses) is suddenly cool.” For Gole, shopping at thrift stores is a way to rebel against the mainstream and feel superior to those who don’t. Together, both reasons say something important about the values of hipsterism. On the one hand, thrift shopping is a practical consideration. On the other, it is a statement that defines both the aesthetic and the ideology of hipsterism: being “authentic,” “unique,” and “creative” is always superior to following the typical, uniform mainstream.

AUTHENTICITY VERSUS IMITATION Hipsters resist the most basic aspect of popular culture: an overwhelming quality of sameness or imitation. Because pop culture is tremendously replicable, it creates a sort of black hole that sucks people into unconscious imitation. To Bjørn Schiermer, a researcher at the University of Copenhagen, imitation is “doing what others do exclusively—but unwittingly—for the sake of doing what others do” (169). Schiermer uses his concept of imitation to redefine the mainstream and relate it to the hipster’s purpose: living a perfectly authentic life. If hipsters are to resist pop culture and the mainstream, they must have weapons to stave off ignorant imitation. Things that are commonplace are rarely original; the ability to craft the world around them is a hipster talent that supports this sense of authenticity. Schiermer uses the nerd figure to exemplify this creative authenticity. He argues that the nerd figure is central to hipsterism because “the nerd is the paradigma of an authentic personality: He cannot adjust even 34

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if he wants to” (171). Reinforcing their pursuit of authenticity, the awkward glasses and sweater vests of the nerd have been deeply integrated into modern hipster style.

IRONY AND SINCERITY: THE CYCLE OF THE INITIATED Hipsters revolve in a constant cycle between inauthentic pop culture and authentic hipsterism. The relation between these two states is expressed through irony, the tool hipsters use to achieve the conversion from inauthentic to authentic. As Schiermer argues, when one distances oneself from inauthenticity, one enters a “negative or reflective” state (171). From negative, to cynical, to bitingly sarcastic, what starts as inauthentic quickly devolves into the ironic. In hipsterism, irony is “a reaction to overt but unconscious imitation” (Schiermer 172). Achieving the transition from the inauthentic, to the ironic, and, finally, to the authentic is the true struggle the hipster faces. In his book Sincerity, R. Jay Magill, Jr. scrutinizes objects such as trucker hats, beards and mustaches, Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, knit wool hats, wife-beater t-shirts, youthful sneakers, and the previously discussed nerdy glasses. He argues that all of these things have complicated and totally non-hipster roots, which makes them the perfect ironic statement. Consider, for instance, the trucker hat: “what once evidenced an occupation (truck driving) tied to low social standing…now invests its college-educated wearer…with a bragging (and misinformed) defiance of bourgeois standards” (Magill 215).

Another example of irony identified by Schiermer is tattooing. Although not all hipsters are tattooed, those who are must make very definite statements; a hipster tattoo “can never be intentionally uniform” (171). Hipsters can overcome uniformity by either designing their own tattoos or choosing a cliché tattoo. For example, a “kitschy sailor-style tattoo” embodies what is standard among a population while embracing a certain scorn towards that same population (171). Hipsters utilize irony in their style to separate themselves from imitable mainstream drivel, but also as a means of identification. Hipsterism is not an individual sport. Instead, it is a community of people where “the successful understanding of an ironic remark creates instant social bonds” and “mistaken irony often creates embarrassing and awkward situations” (Schiermer 171). Hipsters use their irony to reveal their superiority and gain leverage in their critique of pop culture. Rather than actually rejecting the dominant culture, a hipster’s choices comment on, protect, and even save that culture by redeeming and teaching us about those things that the mainstream has left by the wayside.

THE ARCHAEOLOGIST AND THE CURATOR Picture an archaeologist, clad in khakis, digging around in the dirt. Now cuff the pants, keep the hat, change the shirt to flannel, and add glasses and facial hair. We now have a hipster, digging around in thrift stores. The role of an archaeologist is to study past human activity, and classical archaeologists do this research by recovering

and analyzing the material culture that was left behind. Likewise, hipsters’ investment in the past and its material culture is fueled by a similar passion for things bygone. Like an archaeologist studying and learning from ancient times, a hipster brings to the present artifacts that were once new and cool but, due to the unrelenting nature of consumer culture, have lost their mojo. As they are rediscovered, these relics of the past regain authenticity and new cultural capital. Thus, it is tasteful to wear your aunt’s fringe leather jacket from her high school years, while it is uninspired to go buy a new, brand-name piece of

Hipsters revolve in a constant cycle between inauthentic pop culture and authentic hipsterism. The relation between these two states is expressed through irony, the tool hipsters use to achieve the conversion from inauthentic to authentic.

the same style. Schiermer identifies a strong need for “redemption of the past” in hipster culture, as well as a “veneration for dying media and old technology” (176). And this veneration is not ironic. Schiermer argues that such fascination with the past is more than nostalgia or repetition but is directly related to the search for an authentic experience. Recent excavations have turned up “the vinyl disc record, the cassette tape, the travelling typewriter, the traditional offset printing technique, the conventional ‘film’ camera and the ‘old-school’ photograph development” (Schiermer 176). The

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hipster values these objects that modern technology has left by the wayside because “hipster culture saves sensibilities and ‘experiences’ inherent to certain media; from the warm scratching sound coming from the pickup in the groove to the yellowed ambience of the old Polaroid photographs” (176). The hipster works against pop culture through a specific cycle. The first stage is what I would define as “overpowering vanilla”: the breaking point of the mainstream, when pop culture becomes huge and imitation becomes all-powerful. Everyone is identical and unexceptional. Plain Vanilla. This prompts the hipster to embark on a new archaeological exploration. Sick of “selfies,” hipsters discovered Polaroid pictures. As opposed to going along with what music the radio says is popular, hipsters discovered record players and underground, decades-old music. With these newfound treasures, the hipster shares the wealth of authenticity with mainstream culture. This integration of the old and the new, the cool and the overdone, will eventually blend seamlessly into a new “vanilla,” starting the entire cycle over again. Not only do they excavate and decide what is cool, hipsters also take on the task of keeping this material in the public domain and safe for future generations. Hipsters are liaisons between past and present, either “ironically burning the objects of the recent past which deserve it or redeeming authentic cultural expressions from oblivion” (Schiermer 178). Schiermer identifies a certain “snobbery in hipster culture,” and labels them “collectors and connoisseurs” (169). At its 36

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heart, then, hipster culture is “a conserver culture” (174). By sharing her finds, the archaeologist becomes the curator. It is the traditional curator’s task to manage, oversee, and preserve certain institutions and aspects of cultural heritage. Curators educate the public and are often teachers of secrets of the past. Hipster curators are also tasked with bringing this knowledge back to the mainstream. The hipster is thus involved in a constant process of excavating and informing. As they refurbish old, lost objects, hipsters in turn gain status themselves. They then use this higher position to justify their redemptive work: reminding everyone else in times of “cultural decadence or fatigue” that objects of the past are unique and meaningful (169). In order for culture to be redeemed, we need the hipster to decide when the mainstream has become too powerful and to take us back to a simpler time. It is hipsters who decide when culture needs to change as well as how. In time, the underground music or films or objects hipsters discover and share will also become mainstream, forcing the hipster back to work in archaeology. Thus, even as the hipster trend is commercialized, commercialization lays the foundation for the next hipster trend that will change the landscape of culture once again and lead to the next reincarnation of the hipster. This seemingly endless cycle explains the presence of the hipster figure throughout the decades and why, right now, “the hipster ethos is more alive than ever” (Schiermer 178).

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Works Cited “Cultural Capital.” New Connections to Classical and Contemporary Perspectives: Social Theory Re-wired. Routledge. Jan. 2011. Web. 21 May 2014. Duffett, Mark. Understanding Fandom: An Introduction to the Study of Media Fan Culture. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Print. Gole, Shalaka. “Yes, We Hipsters Do Need Dose of Reality.” Contra Costa Times 13 May 2012: D2. ProQuest. Web. 11 May 2014. Harman, Sarah, and Bethan Jones. “Fifty Shades of Ghey: Snark Fandom and the Figure of the Anti-Fan.”

Sexualities 16.8 (2013): 951–68. Print.

Magill, R. Jay. Sincerity: How a Moral Ideal Born Five Hundred Years Ago Inspired Religious Wars, Modern Art, Hipster Chic, and the Curious Notion That We ALL Have Something to Say (No Matter How Dull). New York: Norton, 2012. Print. Martin, Karen. “Embracing Your Inner Hipster.” University Wire 16 Jan. 2014: sec. Lifestyles: n. pag. Print. “Pop Culture.” Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary. 2010. Web. 15 May 2014. Saulo, Aurora A., Howard R. Moskowitz, and Abigail S. Rustia. “Going Mainstream: What Does it Truly Mean Anyway?” Journal of Food Products Marketing 19.3 (2013): 153–75. Print. Schiermer, Bjørn. ‘Late-Modern Hipsters: New Tendencies in Popular Culture.” Acta Sociologica 57.2 (2014): 167–81. Print.

Volume 4


Pictures & Perceptions of a National Park: Zion’s Forgotten Past

Alex Clinton WRIT 1122: Rhetoric and Academic Writing Professor Casey Rountree

This paper was written for my WRIT 1122 class, which focused on the relationship between images and stories. When we got to pick our own topic, I chose to take a historical approach.

I was particularly inspired by an article we read in class that examined the works of a famous photographer from the World War II era and analyzed how the composition, framing, and

captioning of the photographs changed the effect they had on their audience. This article

made me think of Zion National Park and the little-known history of the Native Americans

who used to live there. At first I had considered writing about the history of the National

Park System because of its rich history that is closely tied to images; I ultimately focused on a specific park—Zion—because I have been there multiple times. Additionally, thanks to a visit to the museum in Zion Canyon, I knew of this troubled time in the area’s history, and I

became fascinated with how the images on the park’s website were used to encourage a very

specific perception of the park. I think Zion is one of the most beautiful places on Earth, and

so writing this paper was not only a chance to analyze how images, and the lack thereof, can affect perception, but also an opportunity to spend tons of time thinking about and looking at pictures of this amazing place.

If I were to show you a picture of myself, as I look right now in my dorm room, what would be your perception of me? The desk lamp is making a bright circle in an otherwise dark room, there is a slumbering roommate on one bed, and I sit at the desk, hunched over a piece of paper, a pencil in hand. Would you see a hard-working, diligent student laboring at her desk in the late hours of the night? Would you take in my sweat pants, ragged hoodie, and messy hair and think that I was a lazy student paying the price of procrastination? Could you think both? Which image is true? Rather, is one perception truer than the other? If I were to write an autobiography of my 38

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freshman year of college, and I included the photo of me in my dorm room, what impact would it have on the story? It partially depends on how I tell the story, I suppose. Forget that picture I just described; pretend it never existed. Instead, imagine if I filled this supposed autobiography with pictures where I am having fun with my friends, studying intently in a room filled with sunlight, jauntily walking to class on a beautiful day—all while I am impeccably dressed and groomed; I always look happy. Other than reminding you of a college admissions catalog, what would your impression of me be now? Does the lack of photographic evidence

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make nights like the one shown in the first photograph non-existent? Even if I told you about such a night in great detail and with precision, would the lack of an actual image affect your retention of the story or the influence the story had on your perception of me? Ever since humans first painted the side of a rock, images have been used to relate stories, to communicate ideas or occurrences more directly than words could alone. Over time, humans developed several means of representing our messages—you’re viewing one right now, in fact. After all, what are letters but shapes that represent certain sounds and are grouped together to represent objects or ideas? If I write the word “goat,” chances are that a picture pops into your head of a four-legged animal with fur and horns, not the letters g, o, a, and t. In all their forms and shapes, whether they’re actual pictures or just words on a page, images have a huge impact on a story. The presence or absence of images can change someone’s perception of a tale. This person might minimize or downplay aspects of the story that do not have images supporting them, particularly in the case of historical writing. If we don’t have an image of a person, place, or a thing—be it painted or photographed or etched in stone—how do we know what that person or location or object looked like? There may be written records, but how can we know that the author has actually seen whomever or whatever is being described? What if the author’s eyesight is terrible, and instead they are relying on other’s accounts, which may have been embellished? We interpret the

world around us through our perceptions and observances, and there is an unspoken need to know for sure whether our mental images are correct or not. While it is true that paintings and photos can be tampered with, they are still trusted—whether they should be or not. In terms of modern readers, who have grown up surrounded by images of all sorts, pictures—photographs especially—provide validity to a factual story; they help to establish its ethos. For example, many locations in the western United States that would later become National Parks didn’t start attracting tourists until they

[M]any locations in the western United States that would later become National Parks didn’t start attracting tourists until they had been seen and pictured—either by paint or camera— by white settlers or travelers.

had been seen and pictured—either by paint or camera—by white settlers or travelers. Places like Yosemite in California, Crater Lake in Oregon, or Zion in Utah all began in this manner. Before seeing images of these areas, the public was not interested in traveling to them. Until Volume 4


Pictures—images—can tell stories. The photos we choose to display and the manner in which we present them helps shape the story we want others to know. We can further influence the tale by withholding images—ones that show a part of the story we don’t want to share.

Alex Clinton / photo provided by author

Alex—a sophomore from Henderson, Nevada—is majoring in environmental stud-

ies and minoring in business. She loves to

read, get outdoors, and travel; she’s been lucky enough to visit amazing places like

the Grand Canyon and Mt. Saint Helens. Alex also has a black belt in Tae-Kwon

Do. One of her favorite DU memories is an afternoon of simply walking around

the campus and surrounding neighbor-

hoods the fall of her freshman year; it was a beautiful crisp day, and the leaves had

changed color but hadn’t fallen yet. She strongly believes in protecting the environment, as well as in equal rights and fair treatment for everyone. While she still

doesn’t have a clue what she wants to be

when she grows up, she hopes to make a difference.

they were shown physical evidence of these incredible wonders, people thought that the stories they’d heard were embellished or even made up. Visuals changed the public’s perspective of such regions from neutral (or even negative) to curious and positive. Zion National Park is a good example of the impact that images can have on a place. Officially designated as Zion National Park in 1919, the park is a major attraction for the region, drawing almost three million people to southwestern Utah in 2013.1 Images of the geological wonderland of Zion Canyon are—with few exceptions—the only images associated with the park, despite the 40

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fact that the canyon makes up only a small portion of the park’s 229 square miles. These images, and the scenery shown in them, are what have made Zion National Park the world-wide attraction that it is today. They’ve shaped the history of the park ever since Euro-Americans settled in the region in the mid-1800s, and they continue to influence the public’s perception of the park by placing a subtle emphasis on the park’s natural beauty and geologic history rather than its anthropologic history. The following photographs from the National Park Service’s webpage for Zion National Park present a specific image of the park to potential visitors. Out of the hundreds that have been taken of the park, why these photos? The first photograph 2 tells a story of Zion Canyon and the park it represents (see Figure 1). In this image, viewers look down Zion Canyon, towards the entrance of the park. We see the incredible rock formations and scenery that are characteristic of this park, including two of the major landmarks. The large rock wall centered in the photograph is called the Great White Throne, one of the dominant scenes in the park. Straight across from it, in the center along the right-hand edge of the photograph, is the peak called Angels Landing, which is also a familiar sight to those who have been to the park. Though it seems small compared to the monolith across the canyon, Angels Landing rises 1,500 feet above the canyon floor and is reached by a series of challenging switchbacks known as Walter’s Wiggles.3 Between the two formations lies the canyon floor, with the Virgin River winding its way off

(left) Figure 1 © National Parks Service (right) Figure 2 © National Parks Service

into the distance. From this vantage, it is easy to miss the road that follows the river, and it is impossible to spot the visitor center, parking lots, and campgrounds. This image tells the story of a pristine wilderness, one waiting to be explored and appreciated. It says to the viewer, “Look at this magnificence. Don’t you want to experience it in person?” Along with other images on the website, this scenic photograph was chosen to positively influence the opinion of potential visitors to Zion. The stories the pictures tell of the park emphasize its unique and natural beauty while downplaying those parts that are less flattering. An example would be images of the park’s campgrounds on the website; they show pictures that highlight the surrounding scenery, rather than ones that show how little privacy exists between the individual campsites. By choosing and displaying certain images to potential visitors, the park influences their perceptions. This second photo4 is unlike the others; it does not tell a story on its own (see Figure 2). It is available on the park’s webpage about the history of the area. Its caption simply reads “Southern Paiutes,” telling the viewer only about the general group to which these people belonged. The caption provides no indication of what they’re doing, or even where or when the photograph was taken. In the image, a group of Native Americans are shown gathered together, with six or seven people sitting on the ground and a crowd watching them. One person seems to be pointing to another person across the gap, or possibly at the ground in between them. There are chil-

dren and adults watching, and everyone appears to be wearing traditional clothing, though it is hard to tell for some of the figures. These are all observable facts, but how do they come together to make a story? How does the fact that the content of this photograph is a group of people (instead of scenery) change the kind of story it tells? As viewers, we aren’t given any context for this photograph, so we have no way of knowing if it was staged or natural; is this an activity that the group would be doing if no photographer was present? Who was the photographer? It is possible that the answers to these questions are not known, but that only adds to the incompleteness of this photo’s story. This image accompanies a brief summary of the history of the people who continue to live in the area of Zion Canyon, from the Anasazi and Fremont tribes in the distant past to the Mormon settlers that arrived in the mid-1800s. The summary notes that the Paiutes arrived after the Anasazi and Fremont people left and that they lived in the region at least through the 1700s.5 This is the last mention of a Native American presence in Zion for the remainder of the article; there is no indication if the Paiutes inhabited the area when the Mormons arrived or if there was conflict or cooperation over land between the groups. The article gives the impression that Euro-American settlers found the Zion Canyon area uninhabited and moved in without displacing anyone else. However, a different source states that the Paiutes were still living in the area when the Mormons arrived, though it also neglects to mention what happened when the groups inVolume 4


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teracted.6 How does skipping over this conflict potentially influence the perception of would-be visitors to the park? Why are certain points of Zion’s past emphasized and others downplayed? An exhibit that I saw at the Zion Human History Museum on a past trip to the park seems to confirm the second source, and it also provides more details about this period in Zion’s past. As I remember it, the museum exhibit describes the conflict that occurred between the white settlers and the Paiutes and how the Paiute’s way of life was changed by the arrival of the Mormons. The exhibit explains there were skirmishes and that, eventually, the Paiutes were pushed out of Zion Canyon—allowing it to be settled by Mormon frontiersmen. But why is it so difficult to find detailed information—including images—on this part of Zion’s history outside of the park? Several hours of online research were essentially fruitless. Almost all of the articles that I found, including those on the park’s main website, gloss over this blemish on Zion’s past. In a way it makes sense; after all, in a park whose name means “Heaven on Earth,” why would anyone want to tell potential visitors that there were times when it was closer to hell? Other unpleasant parts of the park’s history, such as the struggles the white settlers went through— including dealing with massive floods, poor soil, and extended droughts—are mentioned, but are also not emphasized. This unpleasant section of Zion’s past has been downplayed to avoid it becoming a part of the park’s reputation. The perception of Zion encouraged by the website and other marketing tools is one of awe 42

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for its beautiful landscape and an appreciation of the amenities of the park. (For example, there is an entire page about the bus system.) The park is not renowned for the Native American history on the land, as the Grand Canyon or Four Corners regions are, and so their presence in Zion is neither denied nor fêted. A factor that has helped this subtle repression of history is that there are very few (if any) images depicting this troubled time. Even in the exhibit at the museum there are very few photographs; most of the images are artists’ renditions made for the exhibit. Of course, this could have a perfectly mundane and reasonable explanation: there weren’t any cameras or photographers around. Given the time period and the ruggedness of the territory and its inhabitants (both white and Native American), it’s not a stretch to conclude that bulky cameras were few and far between, and that people in the middle of a war over land aren’t likely to stop and take photographs. Our perceptions of a place can be shaped by the images we relate to it. Conversely, they can be equally influenced by the absence of images, such as the case of unpleasant sections of Zion’s past being obscured. The lack of photographs from this time makes it easier to gloss over, because there isn’t a plethora of countermanding evidence for people to see. A prime example of this is the second picture in this essay. While it is paired with an article that describes the history of the people of the park, it’s not said if the Southern Paiutes ever lived in the canyon or if they were in any way related to the area. It’s possible that those details about the photograph are unknown. However, let us assume we know that the group of American Indians seen in the photo were living, or had lived, in Zion. Since we do not know when the photograph was taken, we cannot say whether it shows the group during a time of conflict, after the group had been pushed out of their land, or after a resolution had been reached. This photograph shows a peaceful image of the Southern Paiutes; they are gathered around a smaller group and are dressed sensibly, with clean, groomed hair. There are children present, and body language is relaxed yet curious. Overall, this photograph still reinforces the perception of Zion National Park as a place of peace.

This image tells the story of a pristine wilderness, one waiting to be explored and appreciated. It says to the viewer, “Look at this magnificence. Don’t you want to experience it in person?”

It should be made clear, however, that I am not suggesting a malicious repression of Native American presence in Zion National Park by its administrators or by the Park Service. On the contrary, without the exhibit in their own museum, this essay would have never been born. I’m simply interested in examining how the images and stories they’ve chosen to tell online neglect to emphasize this specific part of Zion’s history, and how this has ramifications on perceptions of the park. There may even be good intentions behind these actions; for example, the locations of petroglyphs in the park are kept mostly secret to save them from defacement. The mandatory bus system that has its own webpage was the first of its kind in the lower 48 states and has seriously helped reduce traffic, noise levels, and air pollution in the park. In terms of base practicality, it only make sense for the bus system to have its own page, because visitors then have easy access

to necessary information. Images tell stories. The photographs we choose to display and the manner in which we present them help shape the story we want others to know. We can further influence the tale by withholding images—ones that show a part of the story we don’t want to share. This can be seen in the case of Zion: what few images exist of the troubled times in its history are not widely publicized because their stories don’t support the desired impression of the park. The absence of exhibited images of an incident obviously does not prevent or eliminate its occurrence, but that absence can result in an altered perception of the locus of that event. Like the photograph of the messy girl in the dark dorm room, the details of Native American history in Zion are easy to downplay because there is a lack of visual proof. Whether of person or place, images inform our awareness, knowledge, and understanding.

  Notes 1. “Park Visitation Statistics—Zion National Park 2004–2014.” National Park Service. National Park Service. 19 Sept. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. 2. Great White Throne. “Zion National Park.” National Park Service. 4 May 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. 3. “Angels Landing (Zion National Park).” Trails 360. 2014. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. 4. Southern Paiutes. “Zion National Park Utah: People.” National Park Service. National Park Service. 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. 5. “Zion National Park Utah: People.” National Park Service. National Park Service. 18 Nov. 2014. Web. 19 Nov. 2014. 6. “Zion National Park History and Information.” Utah’s Dixie: History. n.d. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Volume 4


Campbell’s Chicken Soup for the stamps: A Performance Ethnography

Tim Carlin WRIT 1133: Writing and Researching Local Food Communities Professor Megan Kelly

Growing up in Northeast Philadelphia has largely shaped who I have become and how I feel

about culture, art, equality, and diversity. Thinking back to my childhood, I remember colorful people and streets dotted with undertones of poverty and hardship I was too blind to see. Not to say I don’t love my roots, but the reality of the situation is that I witnessed people depend-

ing on the very government that was holding them back. When I came to DU, I began taking classes in whatever seemed interesting to me, especially theatre classes like “Aesthetics in Performance” and “Slavic Is Sexy” and sociology classes like “Gender in Society” and “Understanding Social Life.” These courses all made me question what privilege is and where the

causes for social problems like the achievement gap lie. I began to question my own life and the social inequities I witnessed, without realizing, my whole life.

Entering WRIT 1133, my professor asked us to consider how people define their relationships to food. I thought about my experiences growing up and how those memories have crafted

my own relationship with my plate. As I started researching food in my hometown, it quickly

became clear to me that there was a story that needed to be heard. I found that Philadelphia is

one of the poorest big cities in the country, has a plethora of dietary and health issues, and has a staggering amount of the population living off of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program

(SNAP), or food stamp, benefits. Possibly the most shocking information I learned was that my own neighborhood has been identified as a food desert, meaning that people living there have limited access to and funds for acquiring healthy foods for their families.

I created a performance ethnography as my final piece for this WRIT 1133 class. I want to give a special thanks to my best friend Amber (which is not her real name) for her contributions to this project and her willingness to be a voice for her community. In the end, it is my hope this

piece may spark an interest in performance ethnography and also allow the reader to identify his or her own assumptions about this community by engaging with the text.

In WRIT 1133, I was tasked with developing my own research questions about food and then producing an ethnography. The first questions I developed related to food access, and I was taken back to my childhood in Philadelphia. I gathered information about the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other food as44

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sistance programs around the world, and I realized there were too many voices in this community to bring together in one project in less than ten weeks. I decided to conduct primary research on one voice in one food community and support that research with secondary sources. When I began to consider how to tell this

© Voyagerix /

story, I looked to my love of theatre and specifically the ethnographic performances of Anna Deavere Smith, whose works explore the topics of race and ethnicity. Smith—a well-known actor, playwright, and professor—conducts her research by interviewing people and then creating full plays centered around one theme that emerges from these interviews. Smith uses her interview subjects’ actions and words verbatim in these monologues, giving an authentic representation of people’s feelings about the issues being investigated. For example, in her play Twilight: Los Angeles 1992, Smith takes on the roles of people she interviewed following the violent responses to the 1992 Rodney King trial. In her TED Talk, Smith says, “If you say a word enough, it becomes you.” This observation has largely shaped my interest in carrying out performance ethnography. I realized that many Philadelphians, myself included, have discussed their difficulties with money, food stamps, transportation to and from the food store, and every painful aspect of our food shopping experiences so much that these conversations have become us. All of these experiences have shaped our relationships to food and also made us accept our situation, while at the same time we stopped questioning the world around us.

Collecting Interviews: Being In It, Out of It, and All Around It Inspired by Smith’s performance ethnographies, I interviewed my best friend from back home, Amber, to construct an accurate monologue depicting her changing relationship with food. My

best friend growing up, Amber lived down the block in her uncle’s home with her mother and little sister. Amber’s family has been on food assistance of some form since she was a child. This situation has greatly determined her relationship with her family and how her own developing

Performance ethnography is a way of researching a community by using people’s words and enacting them verbatim. These performances involve in-depth study of people’s body language and life styles and are often accompanied by some form of written analysis or discussion on how the community is portrayed through the piece. The transcript for my final ethnography has been included here, as well as a description of my research process and techniques.

family is handling food in a hard economy; it also has made her appreciate a new level of access to food that she has recently acquired now that she has a car and a better-paying job. I have known Amber my whole life, and her family once opened their doors to me, adding me into their thin food budget. Knowing her family well was an incredible help with my research because it increased my investment in the project. I cared about Amber’s story and thought it needed to be told. Being “in it” helped me focus on her experience, even as I kept in mind the implications her story has for the community for which she is speaking. Volume 4


(left) Tim Carlin / © LP Picard (right) © mikeledray /

Tim is a transfer student in his junior year at the University of Denver. He is currently pursuing a double major in psycholo-

gy and sociology with a minor in theatre. Tim’s interests include acting, directing,

camping, baking, eating baked goods, and spending the summers in Estes Park

exploring the Rocky Mountain National Park. He hopes to further his research in

performance ethnography and encourages people to find a way to bring art into their research.

One hurdle I faced was how to shape questions and create an environment that would be conducive to eliciting responses people would want to hear and watch on stage. Since I would be composing a performance from this interview, I needed Amber to be active while she spoke: this is the key for performance ethnography. My first thoughts were to put Amber in a situation where she would be actively food shopping and I would interview her over some form of video chat. We quickly realized that food shopping, staying in budget, and keeping track of a 2-year-old was already too large a task to add an interview into the mix. While it was a shame to lose out on interviewing her in the store, it did give me an even deeper understanding of the experiences Amber was having with food. We settled on a Skype interview that took place while Amber was putting away her groceries. This allowed for a calm environment where 46

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Amber could think while also physically interacting with her surroundings. Interviews can be very informative when the researcher pays attention to the circumstance in general: What is the interviewee doing? Where are they? What time is it? What will they do right after the interview? What did they do right before the interview? A thorough understanding of the interview subject prior to the interview allows the researcher to structure a productive research environment. After collecting my interview data and engrossing myself in Amber’s relationship to food, I began to feel overwhelmed with the amount of information I had. I was losing perspective, seeing my friend and her life as opposed to an ethnographic inquiry. While being very involved in my topic gave me great insight, I quickly realized that it was also something that could potentially hold me back. Could being Amber’s friend and knowing all of these things about her life be giving me a bias too significant to notice from the inside? It was time to get out. I got “out of it” by focusing my research on the larger context of the issue. I read news articles and academic essays about food assistance programs, as well as reports by public health officials and other public health data. Though none of these resources directly addressed my specific topic, they helped me craft a new set of interview questions and also helped me compare Amber’s situation to other cases. This process of reviewing the literature also afforded me a chance to consider how this performance ethnography could reach a variety of audiences by including a wider range of themes. One of the best lessons I

Interviews can be very informative when the researcher pays attention to the circumstance in general: What is the interviewee doing? Where are they? What time is it? What will they do right after the interview? What did they do right before the interview?

© Tim Carlin

learned from this project was the importance of being deeply involved and connected to your research but also being able to disconnect and look objectively at the data to see how they connect to other research.

“Why is That?” Another influence on my ethnography was the framework for “Understanding Social Life” with Dr. Paul Colomy, which I took in my spring quarter while enrolled in WRIT 1133. In this class, we consistently considered the question: “Why is that?” Though simple in theory, this question forces you to figure out the essence of the subject. For example, I had noticed that many of my friends who were on food stamps had been on them for their whole lives. I noticed that their parents and siblings remained a part of the program throughout their whole lives as well. I didn’t understand why assistance programs were somehow not giving people the aid they needed to get themselves back to stability. Starting with this simple question—“why is that?”—led me to many more questions than answers: questions about social power, food access, and food quality. Analyzing the function of power in society is, for me, one of the most important roles of research. The essence of my research in this ethnography, like Smith’s, is questioning inequity and injustice to understand how the world works and find solutions to better the human condition. In life, as well as in research, the key is to question everything and always dig deeper, never falling into dogma or bias.

I encourage you to read and watch this performance ethnography to better understand life on food stamps from my friend Amber’s perspective.

Ethnography Transcript The scene opens in a dilapidated kitchen in Northeast Philadelphia, an old row home from the Frankford neighborhood. The home seems as if it could have been worth something at some point but has been abandoned or forgotten; the whole neighborhood has. The paint is peeled everywhere, the floor is aged and dirty, and messages written in pen by children can be seen on the wall. The hardwood floor is cut up; on the right, the cabinets and the countertops are yellow. There is a microwave with an old coffee maker and a dirty coffee pot that sit on top; the sink is filled with dishes, and the gas stove is covered in dirty dishes. To the left is a pantry with white and green cabinets that are peeling off paint; the panty has shopping bags on it from Wal-Mart. On the back wall is a fridge and freezer; there is also a staircase on the left and a door to the back yard on the right. It is a humid May night; Amber enters fighting the desire to go straight to bed. She unpacks groceries as she speaks. Amber: I guess it really all started (puts bags down on floor and takes a breath)...I guess when I was 10 (pause, plays with hair) or maybe 12? I can remember problems with food and money starting around then. Somewhere in between there, uh (loses train of thought)...I mean it hasn’t been forever. Once we were on, though, we’ve had them ever since. (silently puts groceries away for a moment). Ohh! We get $529 a month from our food stamps now though. People tell me how much Volume 4


(left and right) © Tim Carlin

(goes and puts things in the fridge) they got and I’d be like, (expressive) “That’s it?” Like only a tiny bit (comes up and leans against the open fridge). Who was it? Who was…(trails off). Carlina! Carlina and her family only get $170 a month! I was surprised, but I do believe for the four of us—me, Mommy, Lilly, and Alex that is…(trails off, continues putting groceries away). I want to say that we get more for Lilly (beat) probably...maybe; it’s hard to say with WIC stuff too. I mean I’m not working but Lee is at Home Depot (stops, thinks), ummm, on like a MET team or something (short pause followed by excitement). I uhhh don’t really know what it is, but I can get back to you on that one! I just know he’s like building and fixing stuff. We tried to add Lee to the case once (sits on the counter while she takes a break); it was crazy! They cut us off... not for a whole month, but (expressive) he makes enough. We had to say he lives somewhere else before they’d give us our benefits back; same thing with Uncle John’s retirement money. It’s just too much, and (beat, she looks around and half whispers) I’d also never add Phil to the case, not stable or anything (she sighs, and returns to her work at a slower pace). I mean, it’s just a lot of people. It’s always veryyyyy (searches for the right word) interesting splitting the cost of food right in half with the stamps and everything, so me and Lee just buy some stuff for ourselves and hide it in our room (suddenly offput, seemingly by her own words). But yeah, we have some separate foods because they’re stupid with their money! They eat too much and waste everything; we manage our money, or at least we try to, and they just waste so much on Wawa and the corner store (suddenly upset). Like, 48

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you don’t need that! I just can’t depend on them to save for the whole month. And poor Alex at the end of the month (pause. beat. she takes a deep breath and continues). It just makes me mad. Wawa trips and the corner store and they’re out of money, scrounging for food around the 20th. But Lee and I, like I said, we can get by. Like today, we just spent $50 at Bottom Dollar, got some stuff for the house and stuff for us. We buy a lot of deli stuffs (references the still open fridge without really looking but becomes more excited and dreamlike as she talks about her purchases): American cheese and ham and turkey, like good deli stuffs for the house. Kraft Mac and Cheese, if that counts (smiles, gets distracted then continues). Brand name cereals! That’s for me and Lee. Tyson chicken nuggets for Lilly, and her little apple pieces to go (realizes she forgot the most important thing, stops dead in her tracks and looks down at the gift in her very hand, she turns from the pantry). Campbell’s Mothafuckin Soup. Ohhh with some flavored Doritos and a glass of milk…(holds can to her heart and contemplates for a moment, she places the can by the microwave instead of in the pantry). Haha and Lee and I get lots of soda (with a wink)—brand name soda! I can get this all now from Bottom Dollar or the Wal-Mart on Aramingo (begins putting food in a separate bin). We used to, like two months ago, we used to go to the ghetto Wal-Mart up the block from my house with Lilly’s stroller. It goes some much easier now that we have Lee’s pay, now we have the car. (Exaggerated) Soooo much better. We can get more stuff like cases of water and bulk and heavy stuff, and we’re not limited to stroller capacity (takes a moment of pride for her newfound independence).

© I-5 Design & Manufacture

I love shopping trips now, like knowing everything will be here and how much money we can spend. We’re happier now as a family, and a couple. We can afford to eat and now it’s easier to get food (smiles and begins discarding bags). I mean, I can enjoy the foods more now that I can worry less about getting them and affording them. I think that’s why we’ve been buying things completely based on how they taste; we buy food that makes us happy now that I’m not running around trying to add everything up or putting yummy stuff back because it’s expensive (returns to her soup and

begins to make it). It’s kinda weird to think that I’m still on food stamps; I mean, there are people who abuse it and people who can’t get off it, like my mom but… (long pause, the microwave beeps). It’s weird to think that I’m not everyone. Things are different now with Lee and the baby here; we’re not insecure, and we’re happier now (beat. pause. she looks at her soup and smiles). I love soup. It’s sad, and I don’t know why, but I just do. Soup makes me happy. Amber grabs her soup and her food and heads upstairs.

Watch Carlin’s performance ethnography online:

Works Cited Smith, Anna Deveare. “Four American Characters.” TED Talk. TED Conferences. 21 Dec. 2010. Web. 18 Nov. 2014. Volume 4


Medical Condition: 5-Paragraphitis I3Bc: Intro 3-Body Conclusion

Jake Sigmond WRIT 1122: Rhetoric and Academic Writing Professor David Daniels

The piece you are about to read was our final assignment in WRIT 1122. David Daniels, my

professor, believes assignment guidelines should be flexible, allowing students to take various approaches and create unique writing. Our assignment was to write a paper that supported or refuted the structure and teaching methods of the 5-paragraph essay. Throughout middle and high school, I was forced to write these essays once a week, and my experience

learning the 5-paragraph essay was not a pleasant one. Given the opportunity to voice my

opinion, I decided against the 5-paragraph essay format and treated it as a disease. It’s only

appropriate, then, that my paper offers an antidote to this disease and mimicks a self-diagnostic website. This piece is designed to poke fun at the 5-paragraph essay, while also communicating my point about the restrictive format. I hope you enjoy it.

Mystery Medical

Diagnosing bizarre illnesses since 1995

Caution 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) is a common and highly contagious illness. If you or a loved one shows symptoms of 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC), seek immediate help from a writing professor, trained writing tutor, or your local campus Writing Center. Just DO NOT ask your high school teacher.

QUICK DIAGNOSIS Please read the paragraphs below and choose the one that seems most effective to you. Both discuss the importance of a tree. Paragraph 1: As citizens of the United States, we need to promote the conservation and protection of trees for three reasons. First, trees consume carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere, which is a waste product of our respiration and industrial power plants. Second, trees and other plants are food for many animals in the ecosystem, which factor into our food chain. Last, trees make the world a beautiful place. Given these three qualities, it is only common sense that we strive to conserve and protect all forms of trees. 50

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© jannoon028 /

Paragraph 2: What don’t I like about trees? Well, I love sitting under them on a calm, blissful spring evening, when the fireflies flutter around the lake. I enjoy the marvelous colors that trees fill the world with come fall. Sometimes, I’ll find a fairly large spruce tree and take a leisurely climb to the top to peer over the valley. Interestingly, I found out in 4th grade that trees produce oxygen for me to breathe, so I can keep going about my daily activities. In fact, there isn’t anything I dislike about trees. I agree with the poet Joyce Kilmer, who once wrote, “I THINK that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree.” What would we do without them? Which paragraph did you find more appealing? Which paragraph would you prefer to read? Which paragraph have you been trained to write? If your answer to any of these questions was Paragraph 1, you might be suffering from 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC).

5-PARAGRAPHITIS (I3BC): CAUSES AND SYMPTOMS 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) is a disease caused by overuse of the 5-paragraph essay, affecting both individual paragraphs and the overall structure of an essay. It is the inability to write in anything but the 5-paragraph form, with all of its strict rules and guidelines. While straying from such rules may result in low scores on standardized tests or low grades in classes that stress the form, it also may result in Writer Paralysis (WP). WP is the inability to create unique writing that strays from standardized forms, that challenges society, that is at all interesting, or that exhibits an ounce of individual creativity. Michelle Tremmel, a leading researcher on 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC), states: “As opponents of the formula have analogized, the genre is an uninspired and uninspiring ‘neurotic activity’ ... [that] precludes meaning ful thinking and organizing...” (33-4). 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) results in writing that is no longer enjoyable for readers and writers alike. 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) conforms every student into the same average, insipid human being, or better yet, Writing Zombies (WZs). [For more information on WP and WZ, see Brannon et al. and Tremmel.] 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) primarily targets the hippocampus and temporal lobes of the brain, preventing students from learning any other forms of writing. Volume 4


It seems most people who contract the disease get it from being exposed to too many 5-paragraph essays or to someone imposing the “benefits” of the 5-paragraph essay. Hearing, reading, seeing, writing, even touching multiple 5-paragraph essays leaves you vulnerable to the disease. “The structure of the 5-paragraph essay is brilliant! It’s simple, concise, and informative. In fact it’s perfect for making arguments. I should teach others of the benefits of the 5-paragraph essay…” If you ever hear anyone say something resembling any of the previous passage, turn around, cover your ears, and walk away. This individual is clearly infected with the disease and is likely very contagious.

Jake Sigmond / © LP Picard

Locally raised in Broomfield, Colorado,

Jake spent most of his childhood in a cycle of perpetual longing. His summers were spent exploring the mountains but fantasizing




slopes winter had to offer. In the winter,

he missed the beaming summer days relaxing next to a lake. Other than activi-

ties in the mountains, Jake enjoys fishing, basketball, tennis, cooking, and listening

to countless hours of music. He is currently a sophomore electrical engineering major trying to determine the direction

of his future. Jake and his friends once camped outside Magness Arena for hockey season tickets. They stayed up the

People of all ages and levels of experience are susceptible to 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC). It doesn’t matter how or when you are exposed to the 5-paragraph essay; given enough time, it will find a way to bind to your thought process and infect the mind with 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC). Another cause of the disease is temptation. The 5-paragraph essay is simplistic. Overexposure tricks the mind into thinking that writing is a quick and easy process, which seems appealing when there are better things to do like reading friends’ Facebook posts or hiking in the foothills. If you show any symptoms, immediately seek help.

whole night exchanging childhood stories and are all best friends to this day.

Experts from the UNC Charlotte Writing Project Collaborative say, “Students who do not conform to the five-paragraph-essay indoctrination, whose thoughts do not easily lend themselves to the five-paragraph-theme format, learn quickly that they and those ideas do not belong in the classroom” (Brannon et al., 20).


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5-PARAGRAPHITIS (I3BC): POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS • Writer’s Block • A bizarre and almost innate feeling to want to write simplistically • An aversion to writing in general • An inability to form imaginative thoughts • Conformity

CURES FOR 5-PARAGRAPHITIS (I3BC) Because 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) is not your common cold, it is difficult to get rid of. Although there are no known cures for the disease at this time, there have been a few suggested techniques to help lessen the severity of 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC).

© Steven Depolo

One of the most important steps for getting rid of the disease is to open up and embrace the fear of unknown writing. Practice writing in real-world genres. Do not restrict your mind. Unlock the vaults of creativity, tame the dragon, and release the great thoughts kept dormant from the disease. Sometimes, the best arguments do not follow standardized forms. Do not be afraid of defeat either. While trying to get rid of the disease, expect to go through 5-paragraph essay withdrawal. During the battle you will experience breakdowns, but these breakdowns are crucial for your writing to improve. Good Luck. Help end 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC)!

COMMON QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: If I have 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC), should I assist or teach my younger siblings to write? A: Any person suffering from this illness should abstain from influencing anyone in the topic of writing. 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) is contracted easily and it is best to be precautious. Q: At what age does 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) start to show up? A: Although 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) is age independent, symptoms often first appear during middle school, peaking especially during preparation for CSAP’s, SAT’s, ACT’s, or other standardized writing tests. Q: Is 5-Paragraphitis (I3BC) lethal? A: Although there have been cases of the disease so extreme that individuals required immediate writing intervention, the disease is not lethal.

Works Cited 1. Brannon, Lil, Jennifer Courtney, Cynthia P. Urbanski, Shana V. Woodward, and Jeanie Reynolds. “The Five-Paragraph Essay and the Deficit Model of Education.” English Journal 98.2 (2008): 16–21. 2. Tremmel, Michelle. “What to Make of the Five-Paragraph Theme: History of the Genre and Implications.” TETYC (2011): 29–42. Web. Volume 4


Notes on Cupcakes Kierra Aiello WRIT 1733: The Ties That Bind Professor LP Picard

During my freshman year at the University of Denver, my mother was diagnosed with breast

cancer. Everyone has different ways of coping; this paper was one of my coping strategies

after the drama had subsided. Research and personal stories all come together to form a collection of diverse viewpoints complicating the issue of not only breast cancer in today’s society but also body image more generally. This paper is organized as a series of notes,

which help to organize the many lenses through which I look at the topic. Because I had never written in this style before, I found it somewhat difficult to organize all of my ideas. At the same time, since I was using this paper to address my contrasting feelings, I do not believe I would have been able to adequately express these feelings with a different structure.

The class prompt for the paper dealt with the idea of loss. It may be odd to some that I even-

tually decided to discuss the loss of breasts and what that means to women like myself. I am equally as attached to my pinkie fingers as to my breasts—I am a musician after all—but I believe that society needs to become more comfortable with the discussion of the loss of a body part that is both sexual and biologically nurturing.

“Hey, Boobs!” came from a convertible car where two men were obviously leering at me as I walked to class. The last time I checked, “Boobs” wasn’t my name. They must have felt that would be an effective “hook up” word, a good rhetorical strategy. Let me consider.

smaller lobules, all of which are responsible for creating and transporting milk. In addition, the breast contains nerves, ligaments, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Lymph nodes throughout the body are in place to filter abnormal cells away from healthy tissue.1

118 words for breasts: Tits, titties, tig ol’ bitties, boobs, jugs, melons, cans, hooters, dirty pillows, gazongas, yabbos, tig bitties, knockers, mammaries, fun bags…

honkers, headlights, baps, meat puppets, ta-tas, naturals, boobies, guns, bahama mammas, balloons, bawagos, big brown eyes, blinkers, bobambas, bodacious tatas, bombs, bosom, bosooms, boulders, Bristols, brown suckies…

Breasts are made up primarily of adipose tissue, which is simply made of fat cells. Milk ducts connect around twelve lobes in each breast with 54

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The media plays a huge role in how people view breasts. Yet this view, the media-enlarged ver-

(left) © Cupcakes Under Cover / cupcakesundercover/ 5109346838/

(right) © Brian Nolan /

sion, should not be considered the average size for women. The “media” proportions are not natural in most women without surgery or without the use of extreme push-up bras. Women like Pamela Anderson come to mind. Those few who do have ideal breasts will only have them for a short period of their lives before gravity and childbirth take effect.2 American standards in the media do not portray this reality. Breastfeeding is natural and helps to provide life and nutrition to the next generation; however, many women are subjected to interference with the act and are asked to cover themselves. Come Mardi Gras every year, women are rewarded with beads for flashing their breasts, but when a woman must do it in order to feed her child, she is seen as a public disgrace. Currently, all states have laws that establish a woman’s right to breastfeed in public, but only a few of them give the woman the right to legally fight, in court, against anyone who might challenge them.3 The Office on Women’s Health provides a list of ways to respond to someone criticizing public breastfeeding, so that women can feel confident in their decision to breastfeed. bubatoes, bups, bust, busts, cadillac bumper bullets, casabas, chest, chuberteens, cones, gedoinkers, doorknobs, floppers, fried eggs, fugis, gams, gazangas, golden bazoos, golden winnebagoes… I suspect that every high school girl at some point wants the attention of an upperclassman, and I am no exception. Sophomore year in high

school, I was chatting online with a boy from school that I hardly knew. I thought he was cute, and I knew that he was one of the smartest kids in my high school. What more could I have asked for? At the end of the school year, we had been chatting for a bit, and I told him that I had almost asked him to prom. He replied that it was a good thing that I didn’t because he would have said, “No.” To this I said, “Which is why I didn’t ask.” And, then, he responded with something I have never forgotten. He said, “However, you do have amazing breasts.” cushions, dairy section, highbeams, hinyackas, knobs, love apples, love monkeys, luscious scoops of flesh… When girls go up to other girls at parties and compliment their breasts, some women read this as one of the highest forms of compliment. Other girls understand what it is like to look in the mirror every day trying to make their boobs look “good” in their tops. According to a study recently completed in England, men generally do not prefer large breasts. When asked to rate images of women, most men preferred medium breasts. The men were also asked to complete a questionnaire to determine their levels of “hostility toward women, more sexist attitudes toward women, benevolent sexism [belief in conventional gendered stereotypes that are harmful], and objectification of women.” 4 The study found that men who chose large breasts consistently had higher scores in hostility and sexist attitudes. Take from this what you will. Volume 4


Those few who do have ideal breasts will only have them for a short period of their lives before gravity and childbirth take effect. American standards in the media do not portray this reality.

Kierra Aiello / © LP Picard

Kierra is a junior at the University of Den-

ver and is pursuing a double major in cello performance and art history. She hopes to earn her Master’s degree in the

4 + 1 program. Her favorite DU memory is being invited to participate in a masterclass in which she performed for one of

her favorite cellists, Joshua Roman. His

ability to apply what he knows to other fields inspires her. A Colorado native, Kierra enjoys biking on the empty roads of

the western slope of Colorado and hiking around the lakes of the Great Mesa.

mounds, mountains, marshmallows, maguffies, grenadoes, hogans, honkers, itty-bitty-titties, jalobes… My art history professor said that Michelangelo has never been known for depicting “beautiful” women. His men are muscular heroes whose masculinity is impressive, and his women are often the same. Michelangelo did not do this out of malice for females or because he had never seen a nude woman. To him, perfection was realized in the male body, and so in order to flatter women, he made them appear manlier. Eve and Mary are heroicized in their own right through extreme musculature and a bit of masculinity. bazongoes, bazookas, bazooms, bazoos, ninnies, nips, nupies, pair, nice pair, penis squeezers, beamers, starter buttons, tads, handles, tatas, tittyboppers, bee stings, jiggers, jobes, rolling hills, cupcakes… 56

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Plastic Surgeon Dr. Randolph H. Guthrie, The Truth about Breast Implants, writes: “On the whole, small-breasted women don’t want to be large-breasted sex bombs, they just want to look ‘normal.” 5 Breast implants in the United States have increased 257 percent since the late 1990s.6 This increase includes both those women who have the procedure for aesthetic reasons and also those who undergo reconstructive surgery. Generally, the appearance of breast reconstruction will be slightly better if it directly follows the mastectomy; but if further treatment must be administered, the patient will be advised to wait. Saline and silicone implants are popular. One must understand that in saline implants, there is a chance of leakage or rupture in the body; and in silicone implants, contracture (when the body surrounds the foreign mass with scar tissue and then contracts) is not uncommon and is very painful.7 Another method, autologous reconstruction, involves taking tissue from other parts of the woman’s body, such as the abdomen, and using it to form more natural, softer breasts. This method, however, takes more extensive surgery and recovery time. In addition to any of these surgeries, nipples can be reconstructed. Tattooing can recreate the appearance of the areola or adhesive prosthetic nipples can be used.8 twins, love warts, watermellons, wazoos, whoppers, winnebagos, yabos, mambas, mammas, mamms, massive mammaries, mazabas, mellons, milk factories, mcguffies,

mosquito bites, perkies, pillows, pimples, pink chewies, rack, set, smosabs, stacked, torpedoes, towel racks.9 Then I hear my mother’s words on the phone. She is saying, “They are taking a biopsy. I might have breast cancer.” Genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2, and P53 are thought to be some of the genes that cause breast cancer, and these can be traced through family history of the disease. It is estimated that these hereditary genes are responsible for 5 to 10 percent of the cases of breast cancer.10 Angelina Jolie, for example, carried a mutation of the BRCA1 gene; and according to her doctor, this meant that she had an 87 percent chance of eventually being diagnosed with breast cancer. Since Jolie’s mother died of ovarian cancer, she decided to take preventative measures and had a double mastectomy in order to bring her chances of contracting breast cancer down to five percent.11 Considering that breast cancer has been diagnosed on both sides of my family tree, this statistic, Jolie’s 87 percent chance of contracting cancer, is not encouraging. Breast cancer is usually diagnosed with the same three steps. First, a woman will go in for a routine mammogram. After, if cancer is a likelihood, there will be a clinical breast examination. If this too shows the possibility of cancer, then a needle biopsy will take place. If the test comes back positive for cancer, it will most likely be one of three different types of breast cancer. Pre-invasive breast cancer involves cancer cells that have not yet penetrated the basement membrane. Invasive lobular cancer first affects the breast lobules and then spreads to the surrounding tissue. The most common form is invasive ductal cancer; and in that case, the cancer cells originate in the ductal epithelium and then break out into the surrounding breast tissue.12 All of these can be graded to determine the aggressiveness of the cancer cells, but the staging of the cancer will take place after treatment. David Jay’s photographs of young women who have undergone mastectomies show the real-

© 4thfullmoon / 4thfullmoon/5157483378/in/ set-72157625212635999

ity and the pain of women with breast cancer. The black and white images are startling in their raw truth-telling ability; the tears coming down faces, the missing pieces, the twisting scars, all scream out to the viewer. By participating in Jay’s SCAR-project, many women feel a small sense of victory over the disease.13 One woman is shown with her lover, another still wears the compression sock required after surgery, and yet another is pregnant without breasts. They are giving everyone, including other young women who may have recently been diagnosed, a fresh lens through which to regard the experience. Women with breast cancer may lose their breasts and no longer be able to breastfeed their children. Many of these women will also lose their fertility.14 Chemotherapy and early menopause can both cause a loss of fertility in women who have been treated for breast cancer.15 In some other cultures, it is the women with wrinkled, sagging breasts who are thought of most highly. These women were mothers and have stood the test of time. They possibly possess more wisdom than any girls with firm breasts can imagine.16 In 1521, Michelangelo designed tombs for two Medici men. On their combined tombs is the cycle of the day personified. The tomb of Giuliano de Medici has the figures of night, a woman, and day, a man. Night appears to have two large lumps that slightly resemble breasts pasted onto her otherwise masculine chest. Again, it was Volume 4


The study found that men who chose large breasts consistently had higher scores in terms of their hostility and sexist attitudes. Take from this what you will. Rembrandt, Bathsheba at Her Bath © Steven Zucker

not that Michelangelo had never seen breasts in person; the reason is much more complex. Medical men of the time may not have known what breast cancer was or how to treat it, but they did recognize that once a woman’s breasts started to appear extremely abnormal and lumpy, she was going to die. Night represents the death of the day, and, just so, her unnatural breasts represent, perhaps, her disease, and the end of the cycle. Once one has been diagnosed with breast cancer, there are a few treatment options depending on the stage of the cancer and the potential for recurrence. Chemotherapy is an option. It is usually undergone in conjunction with surgery for moderate to severe cases because the combination is most effective in ridding the body of cancer and ensuring that it does not come back. Since chemotherapy affects the healthy cells as well as the cancer cells, however, the quality of life for the patient may be greatly reduced for a significant portion of time. Radiation is another possibility. This treatment is given to most patients because it is a point specific method and usually only causes redness to the area and fatigue. Hormone therapy is meant for women whose hormones, such as estrogen, caused the tumor to grow. Various drugs are taken for a period of five or more years and are dependent on whether or not the woman has gone through menopause.17 An additional treatment that many women receive to some degree is surgery. All breast cancer surgeries involve taking out the tumor as well as a fair amount of tissue that sur58

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rounds the cancer. Around one-third of patients will be advised to receive a mastectomy because conserving the breast would be dangerous to their health.18 In a mastectomy, all of the breast tissue is removed and, rarely, part of the pectoral muscle. Mastectomies cause the most psychological damage to their patients compared to all other treatments. To many women, breasts are the most feminine part about them. The cutting away of breasts means that a woman will have to deal with her body image and overall sexuality in entirely new ways. One woman from a study on the effects of breast cancer on young women (under 50) said that “in one fell swoop I was told that everything that was feminine to me was gone.” 19 While the pain is physical and psychological, I know that a woman who has breast cancer does not merely become the disease. When my mother first was diagnosed, she felt as though the world that she knew was ending. Even though her cancer was diagnosed early and the treatment options were statistically high for recovery, the small chance that something could go wrong and that her life could have ended was still present. When she first received radiation, my mother felt incredibly vulnerable and insignificant. She went into the pre-operation room and undressed. When she came into the radiation room, medical students, both male and female, were simply observing her. To them, she

I have come to read breasts as texts, as signs and symbols.

was part of a textbook, a study. After the surgery, when asked to write a review of the experience, she wrote: “I did find it difficult for me to have student [physicians] observe my breast radiation session as it made me uncomfortable with individuals casually walking around and watching.” None of the students even asked if it was acceptable for the group to watch her procedure. After the operation, my mother, a person in the medical field, turned to research to find both information and solace. She changed her diet, completely eliminating animal protein, and I changed my diet to be mostly vegetarian. Her findings changed our paths. The 17th century painter, Rembrandt, a widower, fell deeply in love with a woman he could not marry. Since their love was looked down upon by the church, he chose to recreate the story of Bathsheba, a Biblical woman who loses her child because of her adulterous affair, and to use his mistress as a model. She is fleshy and nude; her breasts exposed. The left breast is asymmetrical and shows discoloration, which can be one of the signs of breast cancer if the tumor is close to the skin.20 Some think Rembrandt was painting the cancer. In Rembrandt’s later depictions of his mistress, we can see that her health deteriorates. She died within nine years. Rembrandt avoided idealizing his lover’s body and her breasts; and, knowingly or not, the artist depicted the cause of her eventual death. I have come to read breasts as texts, as signs and symbols. At one level, they are physical assets. They suckle babies. They catch the popcorn that drops from our mouths in movie theatres. They make seatbelts a daily challenge. They display name tags. They change the way we wear clothes, the way we notice ourselves in the restroom mirror, the way we turn and gaze at ourselves, sometimes in dismay, sometimes proudly, as we

struggle to lower the neckline of our clothes to show our breasts off. They can be inflated. They are Pamela Anderson’s brand. They cause men to call out to us on the street. Breasts are also texts of a woman’s inner being, her spiritual health. They force us to assess our identity as women. They are a part of our body that is milk-transporter, life-giver, mother. They are fat cells, adipose tissue, mounds, vessels, soul-flesh, arousal mechanisms, and, always, prompts to self-knowledge. They are mortal parts. Sometimes I consider how, like Rembrandt’s mistress, my mother knew pain and diminishment and how, like Angelina Jolie, she had to find measures (in my mother’s case a biopsy and radiation) to save her life. When this happens, I think of the early-nineteenth-century artist William Etty, who was known for his ability to study a woman’s physicality for hours. He would translate the curve of her body and softness of her flesh onto canvas, making his teacher comment that if he were to prick the study with a pin, it would bleed.21 For Etty, God’s most glorious work was woman, and all of the capabilities of human beauty were in her. I am standing in the women’s restroom at a local restaurant. A young woman is studying herself in the full-length mirror. She is looking at her fun bags, readjusting her low-cut dress so that her tittyboopers are even more evident. She is enjoying the moment, gazing at her body and possibly thinking of the attention it might bring to her. I smile at her as she passes by and exits. I understand her pride, her desire. She is a beautiful woman with a fine, healthy body. We all want to be that. I step up to the sink. I look in the mirror. I look down at my own breasts for a moment, my cupcakes, my own tig ol’ bitties. Then I look up at my face. I see I have my mother’s eyes.

Volume 4


Michelangelo, Tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, Night and Day © Miles Berry

Endnotes 1. “Breast Anatomy,” National Breast Cancer Foundation,

11. Ed Paye. “Angelina Jolie Undergoes Double Mas-

Inc, 2012,

tectomy,” CNN Entertainment. CNN, May 6, 2013,


2. Rose Weitz and Samantha Kwan, The Politics of Wom-


en’s Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior (New

12. Dean, “Primary Breast Cancer,” 49.

York: Oxford University Press, 2003).

13. “The SCAR Project by David Jay,” Daily Art, July

3. Jake Marcus, “Lactation and the Law,” Breastfeeding Law: Know Your Legal Rights, 2014,

2014, 14. Elisabeth Coyne and Sally Borbasi. “Holding it All

4. Viren Swami and Martin J. Tovée, “Men’s Oppres-

Together: Breast Cancer and its Impact on Life for

sive Beliefs Predict Their Breast Size Preferences

Younger Women,” Contemporary Nurse 23.2 (2007):

in Women,” Archives of Sexual Behavior 42.7 (2013):



15. “Fertility After Chemotherapy.”

5. Clare Chambers, Sex, Culture, and Justice: The Limits of, March 2, 2014, http://www.

Choice (University Park: The Pennsylvania State

University Press, 2008), 185.


6. Judith Timson, “Breast Stroke.” Maclean’s, Sept 26, 2005: 44–45.

16. Weitz and Kwan, The Politics of Women’s Bodies. 17. Dean, “Primary Breast Cancer,” 49.

7. Chambers, Sex, Culture, and Justice, 190.

18. Dean, “Primary Breast Cancer,” 49.

8. Antonia Dean. “Primary Breast Cancer: Risk Factors,

19. Coyne and Borbasi, “Holding It All Together,” 161.

Diagnosis, and Management,” Nursing Standard

20. Peter Allen Braithwaite and Dace Shugg, “Rem-

22.40 (11 June 2008): 47–55. 9. “Breasts.” Urban Dictionary, Feb. 16, 2004, accessed April 1, 2014, define.php?term=breasts. 10. Dean, “Primary Breast Cancer,” 47.

brandt’s Bathsheba: The Dark Shadow of the Left Breast,” Annals of the Royal College of Surgeons of England 65.5 (1983): 337–38. 21. Corinne Saunders, Ulrika Maude, and Jane Macnaughton, The Body and the Arts (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).


WRIT Large: 2015

“Conceal, don’t feel”: A Queer Reading


Disney’s Frozen

Kade Wilson WRIT 1633: Fans and Fan Writing Practices Professor Juli Parrish

The first time I saw Frozen, I was unprepared for the effect it would have on me. I went into the

theatre disillusioned by all the hype surrounding the movie and the music in it, expecting to be disappointed when it couldn’t live up to the enthused reviews of all my friends. I wasn’t. As a queer woman, I was hit hard by all of the themes in Frozen and their potential to be read as

parallel to the struggle of queer individuals (especially queer youth) in society today. I couldn’t stop singing the soundtrack for weeks, blasting Elsa’s power ballad, “Let it Go,” at every conceivable opportunity. For a brief time, Frozen became an essential part of my self-image; I

was Elsa, concealing powers to protect myself from the fear of others, and the world around me was Arendelle, beautiful but confining.

When I had the opportunity to choose a topic for the final research paper in my WRIT 1633

class focused on fans and fan culture, Frozen immediately sprang to mind. As I began my research, the paper evolved from a discussion of Frozen’s fans to a discussion of the movie

itself. This paper explores the many themes in Frozen that can be connected to the queer

community and sheds light on some of the common queer narratives. In my analysis, I consider the appeal of Frozen as a queer film and the importance of media to queer audiences,

especially queer youth. Delving into different strategies for constructing queer readings of Disney stories and other fairy tales has been extraordinarily rewarding, both academically

and personally. I hope this paper opens up a dialogue for queer readings to be viewed as an important and necessary part of our culture, and paves the way for queer readings of other children’s texts to become acceptable in academia.

Introduction Disney’s 2013 animated film Frozen was an enormous success, grossing over one billion dollars and ranking as the highest-grossing animated film of all time. Consequently, Frozen has a huge fan following, with many fans buying into what is called the “queer Elsa headcanon,” a fan-developed interpretation of the film in which Elsa, one of the protagonists, is queer. A comprehensive queer reading of Frozen sheds light on common queer narratives and creates a lens through

which to view other texts more queerly. This paper seeks to combine much of the disparate research into one cohesive reading of a specific Disney film and then analyze why queer readings, and queer readings of this film in particular, are so inviting and important.

What is a Queer Reading? The first important question to explore is what queer readings are and how they are constructed. It is necessary to define what is meant by “queer,” Volume 4


Queering a narrative does not entail searching for some type of hard evidence that a character is queer, but rather searches for ways in which the narrative breaks down traditional boundaries and leaves room for reading a character or a situation in a way that doesn’t fall within the dominant hetero-patriarchy. Kade Wilson / © LP Picard

Kade is a sophomore at the University of Denver majoring in German and English

with a concentration in literary studies. She spends her time as a member of

DU’s Queer Student Alliance, Diversity

Committee, and Mock Trial team. She

also laughs hysterically over cat videos or funny Buzzfeed posts with her roommate of two years. Kade grew up in Aurora, Colorado, with her parents, brother, and feline best friend.

both as a noun and a verb. According to Caitlin Ryan and Jill Hermann-Wilmarth, “queer” refers not only to the community of gender and sexuality minorities commonly known as LGBT, but also to any sexuality, relationship, gender identity, or gender expression that falls outside of what society has constructed as “normal” (145). In their words, “Our use of queer theory is not focused on whether or not people (or characters, as we will see) are gay, but rather assumes that categories around gender, sexuality, bodies, and desire are artificially strict to begin with” (Ryan and Hermann-Wilmarth 147). This is to say that queering a narrative does not entail searching for some type of hard evidence that a character is queer, but rather searches for ways in which the narrative breaks down traditional boundaries and leaves room for reading a character or a situation in a way that doesn’t fall within the dominant hetero-patriarchy. Once we have defined queer, we can move onto, more broadly, defining a queer reading. 62

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As Henry Jenkins notes in Textual Poachers, fan audiences in general construct a variety of readings—including queer readings—of the texts they read and watch, adapting those texts to meet their needs and ideas. For Frederik Dhaenens, Sofie van Bauwel, and Daniel Biltereyst, queer readings are concerned with “repositioning texts outside the borders of heteronormativity” (335). To put it simply, a queer reading involves searching a text for themes, ideas, or messages that seem contradictory to what we are taught is “normal.” As Dhaenens puts it, “the practice of queer reading should not be interpreted as making texts queer but rather as trying to understand how texts might be understood as queer” (341). Ryan and Hermann-Wilmarth discuss several strategies for constructing queer-readings of literature, including page-by-page analysis, holistic analysis, themed analysis, and gendered analysis (144). In this paper, I use a themed analysis to pick out elements of Frozen that defy traditional ideas surrounding gender and sexuality, whether literally or metaphorically, in order to construct a comprehensive queer reading of the ways that Frozen can be queered.

Magic or Curse: Elsa’s Powers as Queerness The film Frozen follows the story of sisters and princesses Anna and Elsa of Arendelle. Elsa has been confined to her room since childhood because she cannot control her magical powers to create snow and ice. Elsa is finally allowed out for her coronation ball, where Anna meets and falls in love with Prince Hans, who is secretly


plotting to marry Anna, then kill Elsa and gain the throne. During the ball, Elsa inadvertently reveals her powers and escapes to the mountains. When later confronted by Anna, she accidentally shoots ice into Anna’s heart, to be healed only by an act of true love. Though Anna originally believes a kiss from a man she loves will thaw the ice, it is her attempt to save Elsa that thaws her heart and teaches Elsa to control her powers. The first description of Elsa’s powers comes from Anna. Anna calls them “the magic,” and the ice and snow are shown to be childishly playful and fun, with nothing inherently bad about them. Elsa’s powers only become negative when she becomes frightened and scared or when others react badly to what she can do. For example, when Elsa and Anna are playing and Anna begins to jump too fast, Elsa becomes frightened, even saying, “Wait, slow down!” Elsa’s fear then causes the mishap where Anna’s head is struck by ice. Queer identities are not inherently bad; they do not inherently harm anyone, and queer love doesn’t have fundamental differences from heterosexual love. However, the way society frames queer identities is what makes them negative in society’s eyes. Elsa’s powers serve as a metaphor for this framing and for queer identity. The film establishes early on that Elsa’s powers are not a curse. When asked by the troll leader, the king immediately replies that Elsa was born with her powers rather than cursed by them. This definition of Elsa’s powers parallels discussions of queer identity, insisting on the innate nature of sexual orientation and gender identity rather than due to some sickness of the

mind or spirit. The effects of society on Elsa’s powers become apparent early on, as she is slowly socialized to believe negative things about herself. Though she has only ever hurt one person, and in an accidental, non-malicious way, Elsa has internalized the connection between her powers and harming others. She tells her parents that she doesn’t want to hurt them, and her father responds that “getting upset makes it worse,” showing how Elsa’s perceptions of others and her beliefs about how they will react to her powers influence how she expresses herself. These ideas Elsa holds about herself affect her well into her teenage and young adult years. In “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise),” Elsa distinctly calls her powers a curse, claiming that she can’t control them, as though some external power is influencing her. The idea that her powers are not an inborn and beautiful thing reflects how queer identities are painted by society today; these identities are demonized and described as the product of some external force, whether that be improper parenting, skewed media images, or sin. Elsa has also absorbed this idea, trying to deny and repress her identity as if it were the function of a curse rather than embracing the magical potential that her natural identity holds.

Repression and Parental Influence Anna and Elsa’s parents play a particularly important role in Frozen. Though they die early on in the story, their short presence leaves a lasting impact on Elsa. Many of Elsa’s core feelings about her powers stem from the lessons her parVolume 4


ents (specifically her father) taught her, telling her to “conceal it, don’t feel it, don’t let it show.” As dictated to her by her parents, Elsa needing to learn control over her powers turns into a need to repress her powers and attempt not to feel. This idea is easily accessible for a queer audience, as much of the modern discourse surrounding queer sexualities and gender identities is to repress and hide rather than to embrace and love. An essential part of the narrative of many queer youth is an attempt to “not feel” their sexuality, often as dictated to them by their religion, community, or family. Elsa’s uphill battle to keep her powers hidden is a clear parallel to this all-too-common situation. However, the harder Elsa tries to not feel her powers, the more she cannot control them. During “For the First Time in Forever,” Elsa is shown singing about repressing her powers (“Don’t let them in, don’t let them see”) while standing directly underneath an intimidating portrait of her father. The visual parallel between her father’s coronation and hers is made clear when Elsa imitates his pose and then breaks it as ice begins to cover the objects she is holding. Her father’s advice still has power over her even long after his death, and Elsa is still striving toward his ideals. In many Disney princess films, the conflict between father and daughter parallels the state of the kingdom, and the plot is effectively resolved through the courtship and eventual marriage of the princess (Do Rozario). Though this trope applies to Frozen, significant parts are changed. Elsa’s relationship with her father and his advice does fall in line with the state of Arendelle. When Elsa’s powers are finally revealed during the ball, she runs away to escape to the North Mountain, where she has the ultimate conflict with her father’s advice. When Elsa runs away, she freezes over Arendelle completely, demonstrating how negative her powers can be when she feels scared or threatened, in this case by both her potential betrayal of her father’s advice and the immediate reactions of the people around her. Once she has escaped that environment, she can think more clearly, and, as her ballad “Let it Go” demonstrates, she can reject her father’s ideals. During the song, she throws away her gloves, cloak, and tiara. The gloves and cloak, used physically to cover Elsa and repress her powers, symbolize the 64

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In contrast to the dark state of Arendelle, which Elsa froze while still under the influence of her father’s repressive ideology, the palace she builds while freeing herself is beautiful, showing what she can accomplish when free from the limitations others place upon her.

“conceal, don’t feel” mentality championed by Elsa’s father. By literally letting these objects go, Elsa obtains freedom from the physical, mental, and emotional constraints of her father’s ideology. Because parental ideologies are established as “normal,” by releasing these symbols Elsa is queering the established rules set forth by her parents. Elsa sings, “The fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all,” further demonstrating her rejection of her father’s normative ideas. Additionally, Elsa’s continual emphasis of the phrase “good girl” (in “Let it Go,” she sings, “That perfect girl is gone”) leaves room for a queering of Elsa’s gender identity. Though Elsa’s rejection of her father’s idea of “the good girl” could be a way of becoming a “bad girl,” this also could be read as a rejection of the idea of being a “girl” altogether. Elsa’s rejection of the ideology that was forced upon her from childhood opens many opportunities to queer her narrative. As she sings, Elsa builds a beautiful ice palace. In contrast to the dark state of Arendelle, which Elsa froze while still under the influence of her father’s repressive ideology, the palace she builds while freeing herself is beautiful, showing what she can accomplish when free from the limitations others place upon her. Rebecca-Anne DoRozario argues that the tension between father and daughter in princess movies is typically resolved through courtship; however, in Frozen, it is resolved through Elsa accepting herself and Anna’s act of true love to save her at the film’s end. This rejection of heterosexual courtship, along with Elsa’s relationship with her parents, allows for Elsa’s character to be queered.


Elsa As a Monstrosity The first words spoken by Elsa and Anna’s parents in the film are, “Elsa, what have you done?” From Frozen’s beginning, Elsa is set up as “the bad guy” by those around her. Even from that very first line, other characters in the story frame Elsa as evil. This idea becomes essential for a queer reading of the film. The outsider as a monster is a potent trope in queer readings and dates back to queer interpretations of the Disney film Beauty and the Beast. As Sean Griffin discusses in his book Tinker Belles and Fairy Queens, the Beast was often said to represent an AIDS victim, due to how he is misunderstood and constructed as a monster by those surrounding him. Griffin also describes how society teaches that queer individuals are “bad objects,” a concept crucial to understanding how Elsa’s construction as a monster can be read queerly (68). In Frozen, Elsa’s character is made to be a monstrosity in several ways. When the troll leader is showing Elsa her future, he states that fear will be her enemy. This line could be taken to mean that Elsa’s fear is her own enemy, which is later demonstrated in the film through her powers becoming unmanageable when she gets upset. However, the image the troll leader actually displays is one of red figures attacking Elsa, not of her own fear damaging her. The fear of others is the most dangerous part of Elsa’s powers and not her own control of them and her emotions. This is a familiar queer narrative. Even though there is nothing inherently harmful or bad about queer sexualities (or sexuality in general), the reactions of others, especially those motivated by

fear, can be potentially dangerous to queer individuals, and Elsa illustrates this struggle. When Elsa’s power is first revealed to the public at the coronation ball, it is framed in a dangerous way. She shoots out spikes of ice around her, which could potentially harm those in the surrounding area. However, Elsa doesn’t actually harm anyone throughout the entire movie. She often threatens others with her powers, but it is always a form of self-protection. For example, when the Duke of Weselton’s men attack her, she shoves one of them against the wall with ice, a scene that, to those just entering

Anna here functions as a clear representative of the “real” world where people function properly in society through conventions like heterosexual marriage, making this literal “outing” of Elsa’s hand, the vehicle of her powers, even more dramatic.

the room, makes her appear to be the aggressor. However, Elsa’s behavior is motivated by self-defense against physical and emotional threat. Despite this, the immediate reactions to her powers are fear and anger, with the Duke calling her a monster immediately afterwards. These reactions then serve to foster more fear and anger Volume 4


in Elsa herself, which results in a negative cycle where only the dangerous parts of her powers are shown. Negative reactions from others are, unfortunately, an intrinsic and painful part of the lives of queer individuals, and these reactions understandably create adverse feelings in the queer community. Expression of these feelings by the queer community only feeds more unfavorable ideas and stereotypes about queer individuals, increasing the antagonistic reaction to them, creating a cycle much like the one in which Elsa is trapped. This cycle is emphasized in a literal way when Elsa fashions a monster out of snow in order to protect herself from the emotional confrontation instigated by Anna. Elsa’s creation of a monster with her powers can serve as a direct analog for the anger and pain many queer individuals feel. And the fact that she used her powers, which can also be used for beauty and good, to make a monster can be read as queer. Elsa’s construction as a monster is further realized in the film when Prince Hans (who has been against Elsa from the film’s onset), in response to seeing Elsa pinning a man up against the wall, calls out to her, “Don’t be the monster they fear you are!” His statement results in Elsa’s distraction, which is enough time for the pinned man to shoot the chandelier on the ceiling. The chandelier then falls and traps Elsa, ultimately allowing Prince Hans to imprison her. Hans’ comment not only allows the viewer to see how others in the film have constructed Elsa as a monster, it also causes Elsa to pause for a moment to ask: “Have I become a mon-

Everyone deserves to see their identity represented in their media, and children’s media in particular is lacking in positive portrayal of queer characters.


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ster?” The idea of being called a negative thing so many times that one starts to become it is also a very queer narrative. Through different means of socialization—such as religion, school, the media, and family—many queer individuals are taught that non-heterosexual sexualities are somehow wrong, immoral, or sinful. Elsa’s sudden and forced reflection on whether her powers are monstrous is a painful reflection of a social reality many individuals face, and it further constructs her as a monstrosity. The fact that she has been told to conceal her powers as if they were a negative thing (despite her parents’ clear statement that she was not cursed but rather born with the magic) has made her internalize ideas about the inherent negativity of her so-called “curse,” as Elsa sings in “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise)”: “I can’t control the curse.” Because of the constant construction of Elsa as a monster by other characters in the film and her own internalized negativity, when she is confronted by Hans’ statement, she actually has to consider whether she is a monster, resulting in a moment painful for even non-queer viewers to experience. However, Elsa, as one of the film’s two main protagonists, cannot remain constructed as a monster through the film’s end, and the dismantling of this construction is accomplished in an inherently queer way. After Elsa creates a giant snowstorm to free herself from captivity (another act of self-defense), the winds only stop after Hans falsely reports that Anna is dead because Elsa struck her in the heart with ice. Elsa is still constructed as a monster by Hans here, but the information is obviously false to the viewer, who now understands that Elsa cannot be the antagonist of the story. Hans’ lie constructs him (in the viewer’s eyes) as the monster and removes this burden from Elsa. Once he lies to Elsa about Anna’s death, the snowstorm stops entirely, and Elsa doesn’t even try to fight back when Hans draws his sword in preparation to kill her. Quite simply, Elsa has given up and doesn’t even have the will to repress her power anymore. Elsa has become the victim of another’s construction of her, a plot point that is queer in its nature, as many queer people, especially queer youth, are either killed or take their own lives due to the false and highly damaging perceptions

(left) © Ricky Brigante /8080479064 /9927416815/in/set-72157635866791793

of others. Elsa has accepted her fate and is willing to die because she has internalized the idea of herself as a monster, making her a tragic hero that is willing to punish herself with death for a crime she didn’t actually commit. Elsa’s acceptance entirely reverses her construction as a monster for both the audience and for Anna, who steps in at the last moment to save her sister, thus sacrificing herself. This “act of true love” serves as the turning point that allows Elsa to see clearly and bring back summer in Arendelle, and it shows how Hans and the Duke of Weselton, not Elsa, are the real monsters of the story.

senting the hetero-patriarchy and magic becoming representative of anyone outside the “norm.” This division of worlds manifests in a concrete way when Elsa is locked in her room and, in a larger sense, when both sisters are locked in the palace. Anna has the entire palace to roam, but she longs for both the outside world (representative of reality) and entrance to Elsa’s room (the mini-world that has been created around Elsa to maintain her powers). Elsa is trapped in a small world inundated with her magic, and despite how she may long to enter the reality of “normal” society, she must remain where her parents and society have placed her, supposedly for the good of both Elsa and those around her. Even once the gates to the palace are opened and Elsa must come out of her room, she has a clear conflict between her desires and what she believes is necessary. In response to Anna’s probing about why the gates can’t be open all the time, Elsa merely responds, “[They] just can’t,” never providing a clearer explanation. Here, the viewer can distinctly see how Elsa is seeking to combine her real and magical worlds. She enjoys being in the “reality” world of the castle with open gates; however, she believes the only place she can exist is in her room, the “magical” world of ice that has been built around her, teaching her to feel shame about her powers. When Elsa escapes to the North Mountain later in the film, she literally creates her own world, a palace made of ice. This castle, in contrast to the one in Arendelle, is made from and by her ice powers, creating another “magic” world that she uses to escape the pressures of the

Duality and Fantasy Worlds in Frozen Frozen’s opening scene has the viewer looking out into the world from underwater. From this moment on, the idea of “inside” and “outside” worlds is repeatedly demonstrated in the film. As Ryan and Hermann-Wilmarth discuss, queer identity as shown through queer readings of popular texts is often about “creating a queered hybrid world,” where aspects of traditional society and queer society can coexist (154). A good example of this is Laura Sells’ discussion of The Little Mermaid. Sells says, “In this dualistic and hierarchical construction, the human world can be aligned with the white male system and the water world situated outside [the patriarchy]” (177). Rather than existing underwater and on land as in The Little Mermaid, these two worlds exist in the case of Frozen as the so-called “magic” and “reality” worlds that are constructed around Elsa and her powers, with reality repre-

(right) ©

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hetero-patriarchy. However, Elsa cannot exist in an isolated state and is confronted again with reality when Anna comes looking for her. In “For the First Time in Forever (Reprise),” Elsa pleads with Anna, trying to convince her to return to Arendelle. Elsa sings, “You mean well, but leave me be/Yes, I’m alone but I’m alone and free/ Just stay away and you’ll be safe from me.” The song demonstrates both Elsa’s desire for a world of her own and her recognition of the problems of living an isolated life. Though she wants to have a meaningful relationship with Anna, she still maintains that her loneliness is justified because she is free to use her powers as she wishes, without harming anyone else or being harmed by society. The solution to this problem would be the combination of Elsa’s reality and magic worlds, resulting in a place where she can have love and acceptance but also feel free to express her identity without judgment or anger from those around her. The film goes on, however, to reveal that Elsa isn’t yet ready to gain her power within Anna’s system (the very system that oppressed her), and the sudden confrontation between the real and magical worlds is distressing, resulting in her shooting Anna in the heart with ice. The conflict between reality and magic is also demonstrated when Elsa’s confrontation with Anna during the ball escalates, culminating in Anna pulling off Elsa’s glove. Anna here functions as a clear representative of the “real” world where people function properly in society through conventions like heterosexual marriage, making this literal “outing” of Elsa’s hand, the vehicle of her 68

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powers, even more dramatic. The removal of Elsa’s glove creates the tension that causes her to shoot ice spikes in a circle around her, further revealing her powers to everyone. Being “outed” creates the turning point where Elsa can no longer pass as non-magical (or straight) and so is no longer safe inside the hetero-patriarchy. Her various outbursts show the tension between reality and the magic world Elsa constructs (or has constructed around her), demonstrating a queer narrative where rejection from mainstream society necessitates the building of one’s own external fantasy world. By the end of the film, Elsa’s magic and real worlds have finally become one. She resides in the Arendelle palace, where the gates have opened, rejecting the isolation that characterized earlier moments in the movie. Additionally, Elsa’s powers are widely known and, as far as the audience sees, widely accepted. Anna’s role as the vehicle of “reality” has also diminished, with the notion of marriage (earlier shown to create the tension that facilitated Elsa’s outburst) abandoned. Additionally, Anna is talked into skating on the ice that Elsa created. Even Olaf, a snowman brought to life by Elsa, has a place in Arendelle. Though summer, and thus normality, has been restored, Elsa creates a snow cloud to follow Olaf around, ensuring he doesn’t melt. These examples of the magic and real worlds blending together demonstrate the perfect conclusion of a queer narrative: the comforts of mainstream society intertwined with the magical aspects that have served as the vehicle for Elsa’s queerness throughout the film. Sells writes that in The Little Mermaid, Ariel’s

ascent into the human world is “sanitized” by Disney, changing her desire for knowledge and power with desire for love (180). In this way, Ariel is stripped of her autonomy, and the film sends the message that she has succeeded within the white patriarchy by mutilating her body and losing her voice. However, Frozen eschews this sanitization. Elsa’s desire to be accepted for who she is isn’t diluted by a love interest. She wants acceptance from her friends, subjects, and family, particularly Anna. Elsa’s achievement of this goal on her own terms sends a dramatically different message than The Little Mermaid. Rather than succeeding within the realm of heteronormativity, Elsa queers the system and makes her individuality an inherent part of Arendelle. She isn’t content with living outside society, but she also isn’t content with giving up a part of herself to live in it, as Ariel does. To resolve this, she combines the two worlds, creating an ideal fantasy for many queer individuals—a world where they can live a “normal” life but also have their queerness be visible and accepted.

Conclusion Frozen is important to read queerly because of its high visibility and popularity, in addition to its unique plot devices and subversion of many norms of its genre. Queer readings such as this one, particularly of popular Disney films and children’s films, serve an important cultural role. They generate important conversations, as they illuminate identities and ideas that are often obscured by mainstream media. Everyone deserves to see their identity represented in their media, and children’s media in particular are lacking in positive portrayal of queer characters. Though queer readings of texts such as this one are a strong beginning, they cannot be the end. Representations of openly queer characters in children’s media need to exist as role models and guides for children struggling with their identities in a world that is often uninviting and intimidating. But for now, Frozen fans of all ages can look to Elsa and see something beyond a side character or a one-dimensional stereotype. Elsa is a queen: powerful, beautiful, and queer.

Works Cited Dhaenens, Frederik, Sofie Van Bauwel, and Daniel Biltereyst. “Slashing the Fiction of Queer Theory: Slash Fiction, Queer Reading, and Transgressing the Boundaries of Screen Studies, Representations, and Audiences.” Journal of Communication Inquiry 32.4 (2008): 335–347. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. DoRozario, Rebecca-Anne C. “The Princess and the Magic Kingdom: Beyond Nostalgia, the Function of the Disney Princess.” Women’s Studies in Communication 27.1 (2004): 34–59. Web. 23 Feb. 2014. Frozen. Dir. Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. Walt Disney Pictures, 2013. Griffin, Sean. Tinker Belles and Evil Queens: The Walt Disney Company from the Inside Out. New York and London: New York UP, 2000. Print. Jenkins, Henry. Textual Poachers: Television Fans and Participatory Culture. New York: Routledge, 1992. Print. Ryan, Caitlin L., and Jill Hermann-Wilmarth. “Already on the Shelf: Queer Readings of Award-Winning Children’s Literature.” Journal of Literacy Research 45.2 (2013): 142–172. Web. 14 Mar. 2014. Sells, Laura. “‘Where Do the Mermaids Stand?’: Voice and Body in The Little Mermaid.” In From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture. Eds. Elizabeth Bell, Lynda Haas, and Laura Sells. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1995. 175–92. Volume 4


  Appendix A: Interview Protocol for Heupel, Martin, & Momot The set interview protocol we used for all interviews appears below. Questions posed to all interviewees are numbered; follow-up questions, which depended on the answers to the main questions, are italicized.

Introduction: Our goal in interviewing various subjects is to understand the social perceptions athletes and non-athletes have about each other at DU. We also hope to see if there is a correlation between academic success and athletic participation. General: 1. How old are you [especially important for hockey players]? 2. What academic year are you? 3. Do you play a competitive sport at DU? a. If yes, is it D1 or club? b. If no, are you involved in any on-campus clubs or greek life? 4. What is your major and minor? 5. How much time do you estimate you spend studying per week? a. Where do you study? 6. How many of your friends are athletes? a. How much time do you spend with them during the season? b. How much time out of season? Non-Athletes: 1. If you are not currently an athlete, did you play a sport in high school? If yes, which one? 2. How many DU sporting events do you attend during the year? 3. How many hours per week do you think athletes study? 4. What do you think the minimum GPA should be for an athlete to be a part of the team? 5. If involved in a club or greek life: how much time per week is dedicated to your obligations (i.e. meetings, chapter, events)? 6. What is your GPA?


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Athletes: 1. How much time a week is designated for practice? Games? 2. How much class do you guesstimate you miss for away games during season? Do you feel it affects your academic performance? 3. How many hours per week do you think nonathletes study? 4. What is the minimum GPA to stay on the team? 5. Do you receive special academic services? 6. Do you feel you receive special treatment as an athlete (from both your peers and your professors)? 7. Do you feel athletes receive special treatment? 8. What is your GPA? Club Sports: 1. How much time a week is designated for practice? Games? 2. When do you have practice? Does that affect your academic performance? 3. How many hours per week do you think nonathletes study? 4. What do you think is the biggest difference between club and D1 sports? 5. What is your GPA? Ending Question: Overall, do you think there is any truth to the stereotype behind student athletes as being less focused on academics when compared to their non-athletically involved peers? Do you think student athletes tend to be more socially exclusive (mainly spending time with their team and/or other athletes)? If so, how do you feel about it?

We are pleased to announce our annual call for submissions. WRIT Large showcases academic writing produced by University of Denver undergraduates. We welcome essays and research papers, as well as scientific and business reports, creative nonfiction, multimodal projects, and more. If your work is accepted for publication, it will appear in the 2016 issue. Submission Guidelines: 1. Texts may be submitted electronically (by students or by instructors on behalf of students, with their permission) to Please limit each submission to 20 double-spaced pages or fewer. There will be 2 rounds of submissions, and each round will be given equal consideration. •  First round submissions are due by March 15, 2015. •  Second round submissions are due by June 15, 2015. 2. Authors must be University of Denver undergraduates, and submissions must have been completed during the Fall 2014, Winter 2015, or Spring 2015 quarters. 3. Submissions must be the original, previously unpublished work of the authors (group submissions are also accepted). Authors must assume full responsibility for the accuracy and documentation of their submission, and a bibliography must be included, when appropriate. 4. Submissions must also include all of the information below. Incomplete submissions will not be considered for publication. •  Name, Student ID, & Contact Information •  Expected Date of Graduation •  Course & Instructor •  Full Title & Brief Description (<100 words) of Submission

  We are pleased to announce a call for Undergraduate Editors We are looking for DU undergraduates to join our Editorial Board for the 2015–2016 academic year. Activities will be concentrated in the fall quarter and involve (1) collaborating with other faculty and student members of the Editorial Board to choose submissions and (2) working closely with selected authors to edit their work for publication. This volunteer position is an exciting opportunity to gain experience with reviewing and editing. If you are interested in being a part of WRIT Large, please contact the Editorial Board at, and we will send you an application.

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Acknowledgments We are very grateful to Doug Hesse and the DU Writing Program for funding and supporting this project, and to Teresa Finn for her diligence in managing the journal’s budget and printing process. We extend our thanks to the newest members of our Editorial Board, who have helped us expand and enhance this year’s publication: Shawn Alfrey, April Chapman-Ludwig, Matt Hill, Geoff Stacks, Celia Smits, Stella Swartz, and Jack Thomas.

2014–2015 Editorial Board Managing Editors: David Daniels, Megan Kelly, Heather Martin, and Juli Parrish Design and Production Editor: LP Picard Faculty Editors: Shawn Alfrey, April Chapman-Ludwig, Matt Hill, Sarah Hart Micke, Kamila Kinyon, Carol Samson, Geoff Stacks, and John Tiedemann Student Editors: Celia Smits, Stella Swartz, and Jack Thomas


WRIT Large is published by the Writing Program at the University of Denver

All rights reserved.

No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without written permission from the University Writing Program at the University of Denver. 303.871.7448 2150 E. Evans Ave. Denver, CO 80208

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WRIT Large: 2015

Afterword: A Note from the Student Editors On December 5, 2013, the toll of bells pierced the air everywhere, each tremendous vibration reverberating lament and respect in the ears of millions and the hearts of billions. On that day, one of the most prominent leaders of the 20th century, Nelson Mandela, died of respiratory complications, leaving behind a legacy so great that people across the world bent their heads in awe and mourning. Heralded as the Father of South Africa for his efforts to dissolve institutional racism, Mandela’s most extraordinary feat was the manner through which he attacked the unjust form of government in South Africa: he didn’t march across the country with a powerful military and take the government by force, he didn’t kill, and he didn’t destroy. He wrote, and he spoke. Nelson Mandela showed that sometimes the two most powerful weapons in an arsenal are writing and speaking. Mandela broke the status quo, instigated social change, and helped start a revolution in the minds and hearts of people across the globe, all from a small cell where he was incarcerated for 27 years, armed with nothing but his ideas, his words, his voice, and a pen. The power of Nelson Mandela’s words was rooted in the events and experiences that transpired throughout his life. This is true for all of us; every person has a unique lens, molded by a specific history and a wealth of experiences, through which we view the world. Our individual viewpoints allow for the creation of novel and powerful works of art and ideas that can leave a lasting impression. We see this novelty and power in the undergraduate population here on DU’s campus. Every student who comes and goes adds a little flavor to the rich history of the University of Denver, layering dimensions onto the character of this institution that we call home. Each of the pieces in this year’s issue of WRIT Large represents one of the many faces that make up the character of DU’s student body. These essays struck a chord with us and with the faculty editors. We are pleased to bring you these 11 pieces from writers with unique perspectives. Whether or not you are aligned with an author’s position, we hope you will allow these engaging works to start a conversation and, perhaps, to inspire you to speak and to write. Celia Smits, Stella Swartz, and Jack Thomas Student Editors

Universit y Writing Progr am / Universit y of Denver

WRIT Large 2015  
WRIT Large 2015  

Volume 4: Spring 2015 A journal of undergraduate research and writing from the University of Denver.