Past Theses

Here are some of our best senior theses from the past few years. Hard copies of all senior theses from the last four or five years are available for reading in our department offices in Flanner Hall. Extra copies may be checked out with Katie Schlotfeldt; originals must remain in our office area.













Lucy Adams - "'Not a Death Sentence Anymore': Guilt, Innocence, and Shame in Representations of HIV/AIDS in American Medical Dramas"

Clarkston Doman - "Climate Mitigation in California: Gold Rush to Dust Bowl to Climate Catastrophe"

Love Lee - "'Settlers of Color': A Critical Analysis of Settler Colonialism on the Islands of Hawai'i and Okinawa"

Mannion McGinley - "Pushing Back on the Patriarchy: How Women Created Spaces for Themselves in Sports Journalism Behind Second and Third Wave Feminism" 

Grace Rozembajgier - "Order(ed Liberty) in the Court!: Them Modern Tug-of-War over Civil Rights and the 14th Amendment"

Kayla Swiderski - "Power, 'Problem Students,' and Popular Culture: An Investigation of Portrayals of Youth and Student Discipline in School-Centered Pop Culture Texts"

Nancy Kane - "The Hidden Truth of Sexual Abuse: An Exploration into the POwer Dynamics of American Sports Culture That Coerce Female Athletes Into Silence"


Cate Cappelmann - "The Idea of Greatness: American Battles Over the Western Canon"

Julianne Maria Downing - "When the War on Terror Became the War for Women: Feminism as Counterterrorism"

Bridget Kelley - "Podcasts and The Production of History: The Rememory of Silenced American Narratives in the Aural Medium"

Maura Kostelni - "The Pancit Pot: Shared Pasts and Presents of Filipino Food"

Katherine Machado - "'Faith is Caught More Than It's Taught': Examining the Role of Faith-Based Education in Adolescent Religious Identity Formation"

Fiona McMahon - "Riots: The Study of Political Participation, Police Force, and Elections in Chicago, August 1968 and D.C., January 2021"

Hailey Oppenlander - "'He puts himself in a box in a tongue-in-cheek way'" Lil Nas X & Disidentification in Music Video & Social Media Performance"

Grace Scheidler - "What's for Lunch?: A Cultural-Political History of the National School Lunch Program"

Lily Strailey - "Peace, Love, and Colonization: American Hippies' Dual Imagination"


Theresa Azemar - "How to Be a Neoliberal Superstar: Free Market Ideology in the American Popular Music Industry"

John Eli Draves - "Where Have All the Brothers Gone: Exploring the Identity and Mission of Religious Brothers in American Catholicism"

Caroline Freeman - "The Socialist Origins of American Public Education and Modern Policy Implications"

Dessi Gomez - "The Myths of Taylor Swift: Race, Gender and Politics & Constructing 'Miss Americana'"

Analisa Pines - "'Lies Your Textbook Told You': American History Textbooks' Portrayal of Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement, 1880s-2000s"

Cristina Ribera - "Mental Health in The Media: An Analysis of Change Over Time"

Mariah Rush - "Are We Still Comforting the Afflicted? An Examination of New Deserts, Epidemics, and Covid 19"


Katherine Leyden- “The Evolution of U.S. Housing: Shifts in Culture, Inequality, & Design”

Irla Atanda- “Vernacular Theorizing: diasporic Voices and Their Solutions to the Venezuelan Crisis”  

Alexandra Lloyd- “Refugees and NGOs: An Analysis of Power in the U.S. Resettlement Process”

Carroll “Will” Coots- "Becoming Salt Lake City: Tracing Salt Lake City’s Urban Development Through its Sporting Past, Sustainable Present, and Socially Responsible Future”  

Bridget Simons- “A Movement, Not a Moment”: The US Women’s National Soccer Team and its Fight for Equal Pay, 2016-2020

Emma Scheibel- “The Crown of the Continent or a Stolen Land? The Conflicting Narratives of Glacier National Park”  

Patrick McKelvey- ”La Cosa Nostra: The Evolution of Cultural Influence and Media Portrayals of the Italian-American Mafia”

Katie Hieatt- “In Search of 'The Nice Blonde Lady I Was Supposed to Be': Representations of White Femininity in Orange is the New Black"

Julia Allpow- “Structural Violence in Public Schools: Criminalization of Black Boys and Limited opportunities”


Alexa Coubal- “The Crossroads: Hip-Hop and Basketball in New York City”

Luke Smith- “Our Pursuit of Excellence: ’Refashioning Respectability Politics in the NBA”

Lucas Masin-Moyer- “Heritage of a Small Village: ‘The African Diaspora and Black Cultural Diplomacy in the Long 21st Century”

Julie Mardini- “Desert Adventure: Making Jordan Safe for American Tourists”

Rose Ashley- “The National Parks: America’s Best, Able-Bodied Idea”

Maria Lally- “Desert Sands and Public Lands: Developing an Environmental Education Seminar in the Desert Southwest” 

Marie Fazio- “Painting a Protest: Gentrification and Latino Muralism in Pilsen, Chicago”

Emma Erwin- “Historic Preservation in St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, Michigan”

Bailey Kendall- “Constructing Citizenship: Mount Cristo Rey, Catholicism, and Border Enforcement”        

Madeline Doctor- “From Shared Meanings to Shattered Solidarity: The Congressional Prayer Room, 1952-2000”  

Jessica Olson- “Defining Catholic America: How Notre Dame Used the Laetare Medal to Bridge Church and National”  

Kaitlyn Wong- “Culturally Diverse Literature: Where Are the People of Color?”

Darcy Dehais- “Indiana’s Housing Crisis: Weaker Renter Protections and a Culture of Eviction”    

Madison Riehle- “From Blaming the Addict to Treating the User: A Comparative Analysis of Drug Reportage in The Philadelphia Inquirer During the Crack Epidemic and the Opioid Crisis” 

R. Tyrel London- “A Poetics of Liberation: Art as Counterhegemony”

Adriana Fazio- “Shattering the Glass Screen: Katie Couric’s Career and Shifting Perceptions of Femininity in Broadcast Journalism”

Noelle Gasper- “Commemoration or Controversy?  Defining America in the US Capitol’s National Statuary Hall” ​​​​​​​


Tessa Bangs- "A 'Portrait' in Grief: Collective Identity and memory in Post-9/11 New York"

Kelsey Dool- "Coming of Age on the Page: Exploring the Place of Young Adult Authors in the American Literary Canon"

Grace Garry- "Beneath the Habit: Sisters in Science who Challenged the Narratives of Faith and Education in America"

Emily Greetree- "Disney’s America: The Misrepresentation of American History in the Walt Disney World Parks"

Melissa Gutierrez-Lopez- "Representation of American Citizens: Portrayals of Mexican Americans and Japanese Americans, 1929 - 1945"

Claire Kramer- "Man Down: ESPN’s Coverage of the NFL’s Concussion Crisis"

Jacob McKenna- "Culture Kraft: Christopher Emmet, the American Council on Germany, and Cold War Cultural Activism"

Carlysa Oyama- "The HIV/AIDS Epidemic A Medical and Cultural Crisis"


Robert Browne - “President Bush on the Mound and Uncle Sam at the Plate: How Professional Baseball Marketed Therapeutic Nationalism in Wartime”

Anna Busse - “Queering the Classroom: How LGBTQ Students Fit Into American High Schools”

Jennifer Cha - “Not Your Model Minority: Asian American Memoir in the 21st Century”

Caitlin Hodges - “American Carnage: Rhetoric and Responses to ‘Death’ in ’America’s Dying Cities’”

James Kane - "Framing the ‘Other’: The Politics of Figurative Representation in American Photography"

Elizabeth Kowalik - “Millennium Australia: History, Identity, and Representation at the Sydney 2000 Olympics”

Katherine Laskey - “Integrating Race in the Classroom: A Curriculum for Change in Diverse Catholic High Schools”

Grace Nickels - “Movements for Change: Dance as a Political Platform for Indigenous Peoples in the United States and Australia”

Jacqueline Winsch - “A Stage for Social Change: Empowering Youth Through Integrated Theater Education”


Lena Madison - "The Academic Guide to the African-American Natural Hair Movement"

Sarah Morris - "The Haight & The Hierarchy: Church, City, and Culture in San Francisco, 1967-2008"

Jack Rooney - "Where Have All the Manly Journalists Gone? :Gender and Masculinity in Representation of Journalists on American Television" 

Hannah Ashley - "Magnificent Megafauna: American Wildlife in National Park Iconography"

Gretel Kauffman - "Attica!: Representations of the 1971 Prison Riot in National and Local Journalism"

Victor Benavides - "Rap & Responsibility: Black Music & The Burden of Representation"

Maria Do - "The Cultural Costs of High Achievement: An Oral History of First Generation Asian-American High School & College Students"


Meg Handelman - "Headlines and Hashtags: The Story of Michael Brown and Ferguson"

Ted Korolyshun - "The Catholic School Niche: English Language Lerners and Vouchers in Milwaukee and South Bend"

Caroline Schuitema - "Literary Environmentalism in the Desert Southwest"

Bailey Stavetski - "Atomic America and Australia: The Emergence of American and Australian Discourses on the Atomic Bomb"

Kelsey Johnson - "Fashioning a Rape Culture: Glamourizing and Resisting Sexual Violence in the High Fashion Industry"


Alex Barr “Alcatraz Island: Carceral Icon, Liberatory Beacon, and Public Park”

Aubrey Butts “Classrooms of Democracy: Libraries and Museums as Sites of Citizenship” 

Sarah Cahalan "Everbody’s Serious but Me: Humor at Time and in the American Upper Class"

Tori Creighton "Remade in Chile: The Story of a South American Dream"

Mary Frailey "Selling Gaelic Games in America"

Maria Kosse "Striptease: The Politics of Neo-Burlesque"

Cait Ogren “Sexpots and Servants: Latina Representations on Contemporary Scripted Television”

Mike Vangel “Delta Sound: The Modern Search for Authentic Blues”

Mary Kate Veselik "Formation Through Foundation: The Implications of Residential Living on Students’ Identity at the University of Notre Dame""

Mara Walsh "More than Mrs. Carter: The Feminist, Racial, and Classed Politics of Beyoncé"


Chris Herlihy – Pro Football and Its Uncertain Future as American Icon

Olivia Lee - Creating and Contesting the Cult of Girlhood: Magazines, Zines, and the Girls Who Read Them

Lauren Kelly - Media Darlings: Feminism and Female Murderers in the 1990s

Colin O’Neil - Identity, Activism and Queer Representation in the Age of AIDS, 1985-1995

Linda Scheiber - Going Green in the Classroom: an Elementary School Environmental Education Unit for Citizen Stewards

Cooper Triggs - The Dawn of the Platinum Age of Television

Christina Wiech - “The Biggest of Stories on the Grandest of Stages”: An Analysis of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies of 1996 and 2002

Ben Zelmer - Selling Mystique, Tradition, and Nostalgia in Big Time College Football


Kevin De La Montaigne: "Does It Get Better? The it Gets Better Project and the Commodification of Social Activism"

Ross Finney: ""A Blank Generation": Richard Hell and American Punk Rock"

Katie Gabriel: "Fame, Fortune, Celebrity, and Scandal: The Evolution of the Collegiate Head Football Coach"

Eileen Gillespie: "Nutritionally Bankrupt: Supermarkets in South Bend, Indiana, and their Role in Food Insecurity"

Amanda Gray: "Dungeons, Dragons and ‘Dweebs’: American Role-playing Games in the 21st Century “

Amy Holsinger: ”Making Race on the Frontier: Disney’s West in Anaheim and Paris"

Barbara Johnson: "Overcoming the Myth of the American Indian: Representations and Identity of Upper Midwest Tribes"

Kjerstin Johnson: "From “Keeping up with the Joneses” to Keeping up with the Kardashians: American Consumerism on Display"

Molly Madden: "Women Candidates, Media, and American Politics: Image Projection and Electability"

Annie McKeon: "American Efforts to End China’s One-Child Policy: All Girls Allowed and Gendercide Prevention"

Maisy O’Malley: "Cul-de-sac Culture Within City Limits: Exploring Urban/Suburban Borders in Chicago"

Becca Page: "The French Chef in America: Developing A Role in American Culinary Media, 1960s and Today"

Stephanie Perez: "They Made It, Now What? An Analysis of Cristo Rey High Schools’ Preparation of Latino Students for College"


Bilma Canales: “Salvadoran Migration: Perspective from Both Homelands”

Delia Cronin: "The Cost of a Dream: An Analysis of the Biographies of Olympic American Icons"

Amanda Johnson: “The Forgotten Fair:Omaha’s 1898 Contribution to Western Identity”

Anna Katter: “The Price of Patriotism: The Commemoration of Soldier Dead in Contemporary America”

Carrie Powell: “Two Riders Were Approaching:Bob Dylan’s Appropriation of The American Cowboy”

Mark Purcell: “Shifting Sands and Nurtured Nature: The Cultural Identity of the Indiana Dunes”

Catherine Scallen: “Bitch. Contemporary Feminism in American Consumer Culture”

Sierra Skelton: “Creating California’s New Art City” 

Francesca Swalwell: “Guinness is Good for You: Irish American Identity and Pub Culture”

Matthew Swanson: “Aaron Copland and Appalachian Spring: Toward an American Sound”

Sam Warner: “A Declining Standard: Sports Media in the Internet Era”


Denise Baron: From Slum Clearance and Public Housing High Rises to the Olympic Village: The History of Housing in Bronzeville and the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid

Dylan Blake: “Self-Consciousness Never Dates”

Meghan Bliss: Narrated Nostalgia: Narratives of Highway 50 and their Present Histories of America

John Bracke: Cultural Representations of Conspiracy.Theories in Contemporary America

Charlotte Buhler: “Beaming Blackness: Imaging African Americans 1965 to the Present”

Cynthia Curley: Developing the Unripe American Market: Wine in Domestic Consumer Culture Domestic Consumer Culture

Sarah Rodts: The Erasure of Interracial Contact at Colonial Williamsburg

Mariel Synan: Serving at the Pleasure of the President: Representations of Gender and Power in NBC’s The West Wing

Colleen Walter: Mexican Migrant Children in the U.S. Print Media: Towards a More Responsible and Informed Journalism


Amy Karwoski: "The Most Wonderful Human Beings Ever Brought to the Notice of the Public: Perceiving, Performing, and Politicizing the Disabled Body in P.T. Barnum’s America"

Andrew Nesi: "The Nature of Disney: Navigating the Wild at Disney’s Animal Kingdom"

Eileen Zander: "The Next of Kin to the Wayward Wind: The Protean Image of John Wayne as Maverick American Cowboy"


Robert Costa: "The Moment is the Message: the End of Traditional Political Journalism?“

Steve Tortorello: ”Body Slammed Through the Looking Glass: How Professional Wrestling Acts as a Mirror of American Archetypal Values and Cultural Trends"

Kathleen Coverick – Manifestations of Gentrification in Pilsen and Bronzeville, Chicago


Liz Coffey: “Remembering September 11th: United 93 and World Trade Center as a Window into American Attitudes, Five Years Later”

Joey Falco: "And that’s the way (we say) it is: The Effects of Citizen Journalism on the News Industry and American Political Life"


Jack Brill: "Don DeLillo, Jonathan Franzen and Charles Bukowski: Literary Perspectives on Consumer Waste, Technology and the Corporation’s Deleterious Effects on American Culture and the Lower Class"

Jessica Lienau: “Consumerism and the Feminine Identity: a Modern Perspective of Changing Female Identities in the Literature of Theodore Dreiser and Plum Sykes”

Matthew Skinner: "Will the Vietnam War Ever End?: John Kerry, the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, and the Dynamics of a New American Political Phenomenon"

Alexis Zouhary: “Unequal Justice Under Law: White Citizenship, Interpretative Instability and the Syrian Naturalization Cases”


Kathryn Finn: “The Boston Irish: a Comparative Study in Strongholds of the Celtic Culture”