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Duke University Arts

Graduation With Distinction Projects in the Arts

Mar 20, 2012

Graduation With Distinction Projects in the Arts

The Graduation with Distinction program in Trinity College of Arts and Sciences allows students to pursue individual research and creative projects at the culmination of their undergraduate studies. The projects can be within their major or outside of it. This year, as always, there is a diverse array of distinction projects in the arts, including original creative work in many genres as well as productions and performances and works of scholarship.

Projects are listed below by department or program. Click on a link to jump to the appropriate section:

  • Arts of the Moving Image (student-made films)
  • Creative Writing (novels, short stories, and a screenplay);
  • Dance (original choreography and classic ballet)
  • Theater (productions of classic plays and a medieval pageant)
  • Music (a study of gospel and a composition for carillon)
  • Art, Art History & Visual Studies (original artwork and documentary photography, art historical studies, a graphic novel and an interdisciplinary exploration of biological boundaries)

Many of the projects include a performance or exhibition. Here are some of the events that we are aware of. Please consider attending — these students have worked very hard and deserve our support.


Jennifer Blocker
Coloring Matriarchy: a Big Mama of a role
Performance: February 2-4 / 7pm / Brody Theater, East Campus

An analysis of Big Mama from Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by examining Williams' life and the major matriarchs in his work to determine how I can blacken Big Mama. Advisors: Jody McAuliffe and Jay O'Berski

Ragtime (photo: Daniel Scheirer)

Nathaniel Hill
Performance: April 5-7 & 12-15 / Reynolds Theater

Produce Ragtime, the first distinction project in theatrical producing, and the first collaboration of the departments of Theater, Dance, and Music as well as Hoof 'n' Horn and the Duke Chamber Players.

To Our Lady We Sing (photo: Eddie Wu, design: Andy Chu)

Mandy Lowell
To Our Lady We Sing: Translating, Staging, and Understanding the N-Town "Mary Play"
Staged Reading: March 23-24 @ 8pm / March 25 @ 2pm / East Duke 209

A translation into modern English of the Middle English N-Town Mary Play, a collection of short pageants detailing the early life of the Virgin Mary, and a stage reading of the same work. Advisor: Sarah Beckwith

Kim Solow
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
Performance: February 2-4

Direct Tennessee Williams' Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Advisor: Jody McAuliffe

Jenny Madorsky and Nick Prey in Creditors (photo: Marissa K. Bergmann)

Ali Yalgin
Performance: February 23-25 / 8pm & 10:30pm / Brody Theater, East Campus

Direct a production of August Strindberg’s Creditors which tells the story of Adolf, a painter, and Tekla, an author, who have been married seven years. When Tekla leaves Adolf for a week, a mysterious and charismatic stranger shows up and interrogates Adolf, leading to paranoia, jealousy and revenge. Advisor: Jody McAuliffe

Arts of the Moving Image

Steven Feister
Burnt Bridges

A short film about two recently clean heroin addicts who try to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.  Advisors: Janos Kovacsi, Josh Gibson, Michael Malone

Christine Ko
In Hindsight

A short narrative science fiction film set in the near future where new invention called the Digital Memory Encoder allows a person to encode memory as data and then use the device to re-experience those memories. Advisors: Josh Gibson, David Gatten, Jeff Storer


Anna Hevia
Swan Lake: An Exploration of Tchaikovsky’s Music As Suited For Dance

Advisors: Barbara Dickinson, Purnima Shah and Harry Davidson.

Morgan Lea in Heartwork (photo: Monica Hogan)

Monica Hogan
Heartwork:  Triptych Concluded
Performance: April 7 / 8pm / Hull Avenue Dance Lab

An exploration of dance through technology, art, and performance production. Advisors: Tyler Walters, Barbara Dickinson, Thomas F. DeFrantz

Danika Manso-Brown
Performance: April 27 / 7pm / Ark Dance Studio, East Campus

This project that explores politics, music, and the impact of the late rapper Tupac Shakur through original dance, spoken word and video. Advisors: Barbara Dickinson, Andrea E. Woods-Valdes, Ava Vinesett


Martin Connor
A Haitian Requiem

Performance:  April 19 / 8:30pm / Duke Chapel

A requiem written for the carillon in the Duke Chapel that uses the musical setting of the Latin text of the Christian burial mass to memorialize the victims of the 2010 Earthquake in Haiti.

All Things to All Men (Richard Smallwood)

Braxton Shelley
All Things to All Men: Richard Smallwood's Gospel Music

Presentation:  April 24 / 3pm / Music Library Seminar Room

A thesis that examines the Gospel/classical synthesis of Richard Smallwood, one of the most successful living composers of African American Gospel Music, plus a recording of pieces written for Music 161 featuring a gospel choir and instrumentalists performing the music of Smallwood. Advisor: Anthony Kelley

Creative Writing

Matthew Akers

A young man's poetic exploration of love, loss, and life.  This manuscript of poetry encompasses my transition to college, the loss of my parents, my experienc abroad, the future, and everything in between.. Advisor: Fred Moten

Joshua Brewer
Cursed by Cotton: Cypress Memories on Backward Faces

A family memoir that explores the "always" complicated notion of Southern identity through the oral traditions to which I have been privy. Advisor: Thomas Ferraro

Zach Carlton
Fragments of an American Institution

A brief collection of fiction, art that looks at exploitation. Advisor: Joe Donahue

Katarina Chun
The Reappearings

Two stories about two sisters, Nora and Melanie Kang, and the relationship between appearing and being. Advisor: Sean Metzger

Cassidy Fleck
Skye and the Magic Cauldron

An excerpt from a young adult fiction novel that sets Celtic mythology in the southern landscape. The story follows Skye Murray, a fifteen year-old medium and gourmet cook as she learns about her mysterious heritage and enters into the magical community of Charleston, South Carolina.  Advisors: Joseph Donahue and Christina Askounis

April Harrison
The Common Reader and the Uncommon Writer

A creative investigation of the aesthetics and ethics of Virginia Woolf's writings situated in a modern context by blended elements from her works and my personal journals.  Advisor: George Gopen

Logan Hasson
Fever Crisp

A story of love and loss that revolves around a man caught in a perpetual dream/trip who's unable to determine what is and what isn't real. Advisor: Michael Malone

Johanna Kirby

A creative nonfiction piece about my family.

Shining Li
Telling Futures and Other Stories

A collection of short stories loosely gathered around themes of time, growing up, and memory.  Advisor: Melissa Malouf

Christina Pena

A series of personal vignettes about family, dating, Greek life, alcohol, and other social dynamics that looks at how social class and gender shape the experiences of undergraduates at Duke University. Advisor: Joseph Harris

Becca Scheuer
Maybe We Should Have TAlked First

A creative writing thesis consisting of a collection of short stories featuring protagonists who often make the wrong choices. Advisor: Melissa Malouf

Abram Smith
Last Will and Testament

The story of a woman who witnesses the last moments of a young man dying in a car crash. He entrusts her with a series of messages intended for those he knew. She must relay words of intimacy, confession, and regret to strangers she will only know by way of this dead man. Advisor: Melissa Malouf

Connor Southard
Warrior's Day

A collection of six short stories, ranging from the tale of a North Korean shopkeeper's friendship with an army officer's cat to a bewildering day in the life of a ranch kid in pre-WWI Wyoming. Advisor: Melissa Malouf

Justin Yi
The Call

An apocalyptic story set in war-torn Europe near the end of World War II about strangers who are summoned by a mysterious force manifested from the souls of the persecuted to battle a supernatural entity that is manipulating the end of humanity.  Advisor: Joe Donahue

Vivian Zou
I Want to Tell You

The stories of a girl who was a boy, a roommate's red dragon, and the most fabulous pair of shoes in the worl are united in this surreal collection of fifteen short stories. Advisor:  Melissa Malouf


Art, Art History & Visual Studies

Morgan Beard
Garbage Bombs

A visual art project about garbage that serves as a jumping-off point for a conversation about personal waste as well as waste on a larger scale and its environmental impact. Advisor: Raquel Salvatella de Prada and Mark Olson

Min Cui
Illegal Chinese Immigration:  A Graphic Novel

Write and illustrate a 100+ page graphic novel. Advisors: Bill Fick and William Noland

Aubrey Frazzitta
Visualizing Biological Interfaces

Colloquium: March 30 / 1pm / East Duke 204B, East Campus

An examination of how the division between the living biological system and its non-living environment has traditionally been rigidly defined, and how advances indicate compartmentalization on cellular and organismal levels may be archaic. Advisors: Mark Olson and William Seaman

Carmen Hernandez
España en Guerra
Exhibition: April 25 / Time: TBA / Smith Warehouse, Bay 11

Advisor: Raquel Salvatella de Prada and William Noland

Andrew Huff
Weeks In Venice

Colloquium: March 30 / 1pm / East Duke 204B, East Campus

A multimedia based photography project documents my time spent working in Venice, Italy during the summer of 2011. Advisors: Mark Olson

Jessica Newman
The Rise of the Commercial Art Gallery
Colloquium: March 30 / 1pm / East Duke 204B, East Campus

A project that traces the development of the commercial art gallery from its early beginnings in London and Paris to its maturation in New York, and ultimately into the final form that we know today. Advisor: Hans Van Miegroet

Linda Yi

Colloquium: March 30 / 1pm / East Duke 204B, East Campus
Exhibition: February 24

Create a body of work that explores “universally subjective” themes that manifest-by definition-on a personal level, such as love, anger, sadness and fear to find the strange in the common-and the common in the strange. Advisors: William Noland, Pedro Lasch and Victoria Szabo



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