Six comms students will present their research during a national conference in June
Even though their Comms 302 class has already ended, six students are still working on research projects they started during the class. It might sound extreme to anyone else, but not when true crime and Sherlock Holmes are some of their research topics.
For the last four years, professor Scott Church has been encouraging his students to enter their research projects from his class into the PCA-ACA conference — an international conference highlighting the top pop culture scholarship. This year, all six BYU students who submitted their research were admitted to the conference and will be presenting in June. Church has served as their mentor on the projects, and through the process has received affirmation of why he chose to work at BYU.
“I have been so impressed seeing their quality of work, their motivation and their ability to receive feedback,” said Church. “It’s always hard to be critiqued on your own work. For them to take feedback and use it to make their work even better has been so impressive for me.”
The students and their projects are presented below.
Adelaide Burgess | The Silent Doughnut Hold within America’s Doughnut Hole: A Dramatist and Semiotic Analysis of Marginalized Voices in America as Portrayed by Marta Cabrera in Rian Johnson’s “Knives Out” | Co-Authors: Emma Tracey and Peter Jefferies
Adelaide Burgess is double-majoring in English and public relations with a minor in creative writing. In Fall 2021, she will graduate from BYU.
The movie “Knives Out” by Rian Johnson follows the story of Marta, who is initially portrayed as guilty of murder. By analyzing the pop culture from this film, Burgess believes we can “better understand the cultural significance of giving a voice to the marginalized in American media and show different perspectives of life other than the white man’s narrative.”
Cecilia Foster | New Sincerity in “Jane the Virgin”
Cecilia Foster is graduating from BYU in April 2021 with a Bachelor of Science in environmental science and a minor in communications.
Foster’s research explored the postmodern aspects of the CW television show “Jane the Virgin,” where she discusses how Jane is part of a growing movement called the New Sincerity.
“In this trend, although there are postmodern and ironic traits, the heart of the show is sincere and driven by the characters. In ‘Jane the Virgin,’ this is exemplified through the pervasive love and respect of Latina culture (especially telenovelas, which Jane is an American parody of) and the meaningful relationships the character Jane has with her friends and family.”
Nathan Hicken | A Hero’s Downfall: The Cultural Significance of the Death of Sherlock Holmes | Co-Author: Camille Warnick
Hicken will graduate in April 2021 in communications with an emphasis in communications studies and a creative writing minor.
Using one of pop culture’s greatest heroes, Sherlock Holmes, Hicken and Warnick asked, “How do changing cultural views and values affect popular entertainment?” They analyzed the climax of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem” with the BBC “Sherlock” adaptation of the same scene in “The Reichenbach Fall.”
“We uncovered changes in cultural and entertainment values from the original 1893 story to the modern 2012 television finale. These changes revealed interesting perspectives on storytelling methods and the portrayal of heroes,” said Hicken.
Paige Lee | Back to Bayside High: Exploring “Saved By the Bell” and its Reboot
Paige Lee graduated with a Bachelor of Science in experience design and management from the BYU Marriott School of Business in April of 2020 with two minors in communications and nonprofit management. She is currently working toward her Masters of Communications at BYU and will graduate in April of 2022.
Lee’s research paper looks at the popular early 90’s television show, “Saved by the Bell,” featuring a mischievous teen with a good heart. “This analysis discusses how ‘Saved by the Bell’ uses certain television tropes to create relationships between the audience and characters to promote social productivity and awareness,” said Lee. “Finally, this research highlights the difference in the tropes used and lessons portrayed in the original series and the reboot series that came out in 2020.”
Stephanie Morales | Horses Meet Porsches: Exploring the Unusual Pairing of Country and Hip-Hop Genres in “Old Town Road” | Co-Author: Cas Kersten
Morales is working toward a major in public relations and a minor in Latin American studies.
Morales’ presentation explores the relationship between popular music and societal values through the hit single “Old Town Road” by Lil Nas X, which “employs an unusual fusion of the country and hip-hop genres.” In her research, Morales explores the “evolution of popular music and blending of genres through the lens of remix and postmodernism. The rise of ‘Old Town Road,’ and songs like it, stems from values centered on concern towards racial discrimination, class distinction and defiance of traditional norms.”
Olivia Morrow | Eudaimonic Media: How True Crime Warms the Heart
Olivia Morrow is studying communications with an emphasis in communication studies. After she graduates in April 2021, she hopes to continue her education by pursuing a master’s degree in mass communication.
Morrow researched why viewers enjoy being scared by examining HBO’s 2020 true crime documentary, “I’ll Be Gone in the Dark.”
“By embracing the principles of eudaimonia, this series allowed for the dark or scary parts of true crime to blend together with feelings of hope, appreciation and meaningfulness,” said Morrow. “This sparked a shift in the genre away from the one-dimensional scares of horror and traditional true crime, focusing instead on highlighting the emotional, poignant and reflective tone of eudaimonic media.”