The Collegian
Wednesday, October 04, 2023

Seniors present theses during Symposium

University of Richmond students from several disciplines and majors presented their thesis topics at the 25th annual Arts and Sciences Symposium.

Senior Beth Ann Platt presented "Systematic Rape: a Form of Terrorism" at the symposium, explaining that while rape does not rely on bombings or hijackings, it does rely heavily on the debilitating effects of fear, which is something that is commonly related with terrorism.

Platt practiced presenting in front of five faculty members in the Rhetoric and Communication Studies department before her presentation, which she said had given her confidence.

She discussed why it was important to recognize systematic rape as a method of terrorism for preventative purposes and also for appropriate policies of justice.

"I felt really comfortable because I was presenting my research to faculty that I admire and peers who were interested in my area of research," Platt said.

The symposium was practice for Platt. The following day, Platt left to present the same research in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Central States Communication Association's honors conference.

Senior Alexis Reynolds also presented her topic, "Don't be Silly, Barbie Can't Beat up G.I. Joe: Male Victims of Female Domestic Abuse," at the symposium. She studied stereotypes of gender behavior and the inaccuracies of their characteristics.

"By reinforcing them, American society has been ignoring the victimization of some men at the hands of their female partners," she said.

Reynolds argued that the matter of domestic abuse had been popularly constructed to look as though women were the only potential victims.

"Going in to present, I was a little nervous," she said, "but I gained confidence as I continued discussing my research. It felt gratifying to receive recognition for something I had worked so hard on and was so passionate about."

Reynolds hopes to expand her thesis and get it published, she said.

Anthony Ferguson, a senior studio art and art history major, presented "Satire in the Comix of Robert Crumb: An Investigation of 'Joe Blow' and 'Genesis,'" which he said he had felt uneasy about.

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"With all of the controversy that was sparked over Crumb's visit in the fall, I had no idea how the people in the audience would react to my presentation," he said. "I was worried that my thesis could be misconstrued as defending Crumb's beliefs, when in reality I was just asking people to consider the social and political relevance of his work."

In response to a Facebook group titled "Protest Crumb at UR" that was started in November, Ferguson defended the university's choice to discuss Crumb's work.

"Any conversation about counter-cultural popular art imagery would be severely lacking if R. Crumb was excluded," he wrote on the group's Facebook page.

Ferguson also wrote that he was not defending Crumb's messages or condoning his perspectives on women and minorities.

"Luckily, no rotten vegetables were flung at me," Ferguson said about his thesis presentation. "So I guess my presentation went well."

For his studio art major, he presented "Spiritual Struggle Through Comic Fragmentation" at the Feed Me Art: 2010 Senior Thesis Exhibition.

"Through my art, I wrestle with my doubts and confusions," he said.

His exhibition included five large-scale oil paintings in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art that questioned "the grittier, more challenging aspects of Christianity," he said.

Ferguson hasn't determined his post-graduation plans.

"It's mortifying," he said. "With the economy in the toilet, I have no idea what I'm going to do with my life. Hopefully 'starving artist' isn't on the agenda, but at this point I'm willing to do pretty much anything to make my art a viable career."

Contact reporter Elizabeth Hardy at

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