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Capstone Projects

For each student, the core of the program is a significant, ambitious capstone project, intended to engage the student in experiential learning. A capstone project is expected to be an ambitious undertaking, which will occupy significant time in the student’s final year and will be evaluated with rigor. It should be based on original research, using methods that the student has explored during his or her interdisciplinary course work. Methods might include ethnographic, textual, linguistic, documentary, archival, journalistic, or artistic research methods.

Capstone projects can be thought of as experimental explorations of a student’s possible career paths. For this reason, they can take any variety of forms, including but not limited to a traditional thesis, a grant proposal for a UM or NGO project, an investigative and research-oriented report on a public-service project or an internship in the public or private sector, or an individual or collaborative artistic work or performance.

A project proposal must be approved by the advisor by the beginning of the fifth year; the completed project must be approved and graded by the advisor and one additional faculty member by the end of the fifth year.

Examples of Capstone Projects

2021 Cohort

Samantha Dunlap
Light Rising: Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, and the Oxford School of Fantasy

After graduating with a degree in International Studies and Spanish, and a minor in Translation, Samantha completed a Master's thesis on the relationship between fantasy literature and British nationalism in the 20th century. Her immediate plans after graduation are to publish her novel, and longer-term, work in the international relations sphere.

Alyson Grigsby
Alliances as Recursion: Imagined Afro-Japanese Solidarities Through #BlackLivesMatter

In the Transcultural Studies Program, Alyson studies the intersections of social justice movements with racial politics. Their capstone thesis examines the historical racial alliances between African-American and Japanese communities. These alliances are then used as a lens to examine present Afro-Asian and Afro-Japanese solidarities in light of social movements such as #BlackLivesMatter. After graduation, Alyson hopes to work in the public sector and target systemic social and economic inequalities.

Casper Kazor
X-Jendā: History and Performativity of Nonbinary Gender Identity in Japan

Nathan Wojcik
BALL ACROSS THE NATION: Empowering The Next Generation Through Soccer and Social Justice

Through my time in TCS I have found myself enriched with a great curriculum that has expanded my interest in and responsibility over fighting for social justice. I will take the work I've done for my capstone project as the first step that I make toward helping to create a more just society for the generation currently growing up, and to empower them to make it for themselves. This has been a difficult and rewarding year, but as we stand at its completion, there is nothing else I'd rather have been than a Wolverine! GO BLUE!

Elizabeth Gabriella Byara Wood
Byara: An American Story Told Through Lao New Year

2020 Cohort

Bailey Compton

Bailey Compton studies at the intersection between literature, feminist theory, and contemporary film, with an emphasis on the fairy tale genre. Her capstone thesis performs a feminist analysis of caretaking in Disney films to reconsider traditional gender roles and reimagine non-familial intimate relationships.

Allison Hodge
Elisabeth: Translating Love and Death in Takarazuka

Allie Hodge practices translation to analyze Japanese popular culture, with an emphasis on gendered performance across contemporary media forms. In their capstone they consider translation as a means of crossing boundaries both linguistically and theatrically, especially through intricacies of body and sound in a musical theater production by Takarazuka Revue. By translating with a focus on multiple performative aspects, they explore the queering of gendered bodies and roles in the all women’s genre.

Kaley Makino
The Allegory of Boy: Tracing the Hegemonic Channel of Social Informants in Turned Out: Sexual Assault Behind Bars

Kaley Makino’s main fields of interest are literature, sociology, and gender studies, with emphasis on regional poetry and social justice. Her capstone project examines the intersection of androcentrism and racialization in the prison industrial complex to perform a comparative reading of how patriarchal ideology in the U.S. justice system produces conditions of exploitation. Specifically, through recourse to feminist and psychoanalytic theory, she analyzes literary and cinematic narratives of violence to consider how misogyny and racism shape the production of social hierarchies.

Alex Prosi
Cultivating Faith: The Production of Religion in Meiji Japan Within the Writings of Nishi Amane and Kashiwabara Takaaki

Alex Prosi studies religion in modern Japan. In their capstone thesis they examine how the concept of “faith” emerges and is defined at key moments from the Meiji era (1868–1912) until the contemporary moment. By considering how shifting notions of of faith functioned in different discursive spaces, they demonstrate how various actors revised its definition in an effort to redefine the boundaries of religion and the secular.

Jeremy Ray
Teaching Across Linguistic Boundaries

Jeremy Ray uses an anthropological lens to study the translation of educational curriculum and methodology abroad. In his capstone project, he will conduct ethnographic interviews of instructors who have taught across linguistic and cultural boundaries. He hopes to craft better standards for international education by examining the efficacy of current pedagogical approaches.

Rachel Willis
“Young women of Martinque, come out in great numbers!”: Jane Léro’s Union des Femmes and Post-War Feminism in Martinique

Rachel Willis’ major fields of interest are African-American literature, francophone studies, modern Caribbean history, and gender studies. Her capstone project is a traditional thesis that examines Black women’s embodiment in the francophone Caribbean during the 20th century. Specifically, she is interested in exploring the various tactics that francophone Black women sought in order to reclaim their bodies from the state, with particular focus on women’s political organization, print culture, and literary/poetic expression.