American Studies Seniors Present – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

American Studies Seniors Present

Presenting research from their capstone seminar, HWS American Studies majors William Fix ’15, Kelsey Goggin ’15, Olivia Lowenberg ’15 and Connor Rehbaum ’15 traveled to Rochester, N.Y. for the first Upstate New York American Studies Undergraduate Research Conference.

The HWS students joined undergraduates from colleges and universities across the Upstate New York region for an opportunity to exchange ideas with their peers and gain recognition of the broader community of American Studies researchers.

“Many of our students commented on how the conference allowed them to see the breath of American Studies scholarship and get a sense of the larger American Studies community,” said Assistant Professor of American Studies 

Elizabeth Belanger, who accompanied students to the conference. “They also commented that the conference helped them to reflect on what they have learned here at Hobart and William Smith. Despite the breath of the presentations, our students were able to connect with many of the ideas and themes presented.”

Alongside undergraduate research from Skidmore College, SUNY Geneseo, SUNY Fredonia, and the University of Rochester, as well as from the host campus of St. John Fisher, the HWS presentations included “Adderall Culture” (Fix), “Whole Foods and the Use of Social Media” (Goggin), “Nixon and the New Left on Saturday Night Live” (Lowenberg) and “The Fight for a Native American Identity Within White America” (Rehbaum).

Goggin, exploring how “social media has become a way for customers to engage with brands,” looked specifically at the ways “Whole Foods has responded in order to remain a leader in the industry,” she said. Focusing on the “various social media outlets (primarily Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook)” and analyzing “the rhetoric, stories, images, and responses Whole Foods has used,” Goggin argued “that Whole Foods uses their core values as a way to build relationships and connect with customers and potential customers.”

In Lowenberg’s project, she looked back at the early days ofSaturday Night Live” and argued “for the legitimacy of Dan Aykroyd’s portrayal of Nixon as a contributing element to the political humor of the show during its formative years.”

“It was both fun and interesting to present at the conference,” Lowenberg said. “I’d never done something like this before, and getting exposure to a wider community of American Studies scholars enabled me to frame my argument in a wider context. I appreciated getting the opportunity.”

“Every student had such passion for their topic which allowed for a constructive environment where audience members provided helpful suggestions and praise,” Goggin added. “Overall, it was a very exciting environment to be presenting my research to. In between sessions professors from various schools came up and applauded my presentation. The question and answer session provided me with ideas to add to my project.”