Undergraduate Honors Theses


The College-Educated Trump Voter
In trying to explain the outcome of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, many post-election analyses focused on President Trumps’ perceived white working-class base. The idea that President Trump is an advocate for the working-class, though, is up for debate: many scholars have highlighted the ways in which President Trump is more of an advocate for the elite than for the working-class. Given President Trump’s appeal to individuals outside of the working-class, I decided to interview Trump supporters at Boston College—a campus with one of the wealthier student bodies in the nation. In my interviews, I looked for different narrative frames and discourses that my interviewees used in their articulation of their support for President Trump. I found that interviewees drew on parental influences, emphasized the value of hard work, shared narratives of victimization, and more. In addition, I learned about the large network of conservatives at Boston College. Given white working-class tropes surrounding the 2016 Election and stereotypes of college campuses as liberal echo chambers, this paper highlights the presence of conservatism on Boston College’s campus and calls for more research on the topic.
The Emergence of the Real in Modernist and Postmodernist Art
What qualifies a work as distinctly modernist or postmodernist? Moving beyond the idea that modernism and postmodernism are primarily distinguishable on a temporal basis, D’Errico instead argues that the key difference between these two movements lies on a theoretical level. Grounded in a framework of contemporary theory put forth by Žižek, Lacan, Deleuze, and Badiou, D’Errico proposes that the Real-Symbolic relation manifests differently in modernist and postmodernist works; the structural paradigms of the torus and rhizome are helpful to illuminate this fundamental theoretical difference. Expanding on Žižek’s definitions of modernism and postmodernism (from Looking Awry ), D’Errico posits that a torus-shaped Real-Symbolic relation accords with modernism and that a rhizomatic Real-Symbolic relation accords with postmodernism. This interdisciplinary analysis of twentieth-century art mainly focuses on literature, but also invokes poetry, visual art, theatre, and film. Overall, D’Errico dissects the theoretical structures of The Sun Also Rises, Waiting for Godot, The Trial, White Noise, and Caché to qualify the alignment of each with either the modernist or postmodernist canon.
The Impact of Childhood Cancer on Young Adult Survivors
This thesis investigated the impact that cancer has on young adult survivors of childhood malignancies. Existing studies explore varying physical, psychosocial, and psychological, late effects experienced by survivors of childhood cancer. However, there exists a gap in survivorship literature; young adults, and young adult survivors of childhood cancer in particular, are understudied compared to adult and pediatric survivors. Moreover, most studies address objective, clinical, aspects of cancer survivorship. They rarely focus on survivors’ subjective experiences. Yet, previous research suggests that positive cognitive appraisals of adverse life events such as cancer mitigate detrimental psychosocial and psychological symptomologies later in life. This study adopted the life course perspective to investigate the subjective experiences of young adult survivors of childhood cancer. It examined how events such as cancer diagnoses and transitions back to school are interconnected throughout one’s entire life history, rather than analyzing these specific occurrences as isolated events. Participants were invited to fill out two existing quality of life surveys and take part in an interview to explore areas of survivorship previously identified as being specific to young adult survivors. An analysis of interview transcripts and survey data revealed three major events that occur after being diagnosed with a pediatric malignancy. Furthermore, each participant not only recalled positive subjective experiences over the course of these checkpoints, but ultimately found positive meaning from their cancer experience. This thesis suggests that positive subjective experiences soon after a cancer diagnosis are critical in ensuring that patients have favorable conceptions of their journeys and their aftermath.
The Impact of Nigeria's Rice Import Policy on Household Welfare
I examine how increases in the tariff rate impacted market prices and household consumption of imported rice in Nigeria during 2001-2018. I find that the country-level tariff pass-through for imported rice was 7 percent and occurred three-months after implementation. When faced with increases in the tariff-rate, households decrease their consumption of imported rice. Households that face greater exposure to the tariff rate decrease their consumption more than those that are less exposed. The relatively small tariff pass-through and the responsiveness of consumption to increases in the tariff rates are crucial pieces of information for informing Nigeria’s future rice policy.
The Legal Endurance and Impunitive Nature of Intimate Partner Violence
The fact that the most dangerous place to be as a woman is her home is an unnerving reality experienced on a cross-national scale, no matter the socio-political structure of their nation-states. This thesis fundamentally sources and deconstructs a common denominator between the United States, relayed as a secularized, democratic nation-state, and Morocco, understood as a monarchal, Shari'a informed nation-state, to be a patriarchal framework. In identifying the patriarchal framework as that which writes, interprets, and acts on laws and cultural beliefs, there is a recognition of how legal literature and praxis gives widespread impunity to men in their violence against women, especially in the home. Where they seek to keep punishment in the private sphere, this paper, in coordination with both North American and Moroccan feminists, seeks to drive punishment into the public sphere. In doing so, men and women will be understood as wholly equal at every level of the nation-state.
The Modern-Day Female Labor Force Function
The questions that this paper intends to answer are: 1) Is there a U-shaped relationship between the female labor force participation (FLFP) rate and development in the present day? And 2) If we group countries geographically, will we see the U-shaped function outlined as development occurs over time? The U-shaped function is important because it allows us to predict the direction that the FLFP rate will move, dependent on a country's level of development. This prediction is crucial because there are endless gains of increased FLFP to both women and to society at large. Previous research has shown that in a snapshot in time (1985), there was evidence of the U-shaped function. However, there has been little research on how the function has played out throughout the past 30+ years. This paper finds that the U- shaped function remains robust to present day data. However, grouping countries geographically does not always produce results that support movement along the U-shaped function. Having a clearer understanding of the trends that FLFP follows through development will allow us to more successfully monitor and create policy to help women and society at large reap the benefits of increased women in the workforce.
This Time It’s Different: Speculative Asset Bubbles & Adaptive Expectations
Using insights from Hyman Minsky’s Financial Instability Hypothesis (FIH), we develop a theoretical framework for how speculative bubbles may materialize in securities markets. Our model and empirical analysis show that agents place undue emphasis on recent experience of risk and returns when developing future expectations. We use the aggregate investor allocation to equities (aggregate total market capitalization of equities divided by the price of all real liabilities outstanding), Tobin’s Q (the aggregate market price of equities divided by the replacement cost of nonfinancial firms’ assets), Shiller Total Return Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings Ratio (TR CAPE), and Shiller Cyclically Adjusted Price to Earnings Ratio (CAPE) as proxy variables for bubbles. We find statistically significant, negative relationships between all four of these proxy variables and two dependent variables, Subsequent Ten-Year Annualized Cumulative Equity Market Returns (Nominal and Real), and also Subsequent 10-year Average Losses, thereby providing evidence against the Efficient Market Hypothesis and suggesting the possibility of speculative bubbles.
Total Synthesis
Discoveries in organic chemistry have had profound impacts in many disciplines of science through the past century. Within the field of organic chemistry, research in total synthesis of natural products has provided a means of developing and advancing the study of different types of chemistry. The discovery of novel chemical transformations, use of total synthesis products in biochemical assay studies and structural studies of natural products are just a few examples of how total synthesis has influenced modern day chemistry. Developments in drug discovery such as the syntheses of penicillin and Taxol have led to applicable use of the science to help the greater global community. Total synthesis provides a means for chemists to use creativity and ingenuity to further develop knowledge of bioorganic compounds and to develop novel chemical transformations useful in medicinal chemistry. Within this paper, total synthesis will be illustrated as the most crowning achievement of modern day organic chemistry based on the earliest total syntheses, modern day total syntheses, the development of novel chemical reactions and its applicability to chemical biology research.
Under Pressure
It has been identified that academic stress is an issue plaguing college undergraduates across the country. A significant amount of academic stress can have a negative impact on both the physical and mental state of the individual. Six elements were identified as contributing to the make up of an individual’s stress profile and as a result, influenced the subsequent impact that academic stress may have on their daily life. Those elements included the following; definitions of stress, reactions to stress, timing, organizational strategies, support group and peer opinions. While the abundance of academic stress observed throughout colleges and universities is discouraging, its prevalence provides a large amount of data. By identifying the factors that contribute to the severity of academic stress, the avenues to a solution were identified as well. This study surveyed 16 participants at a large, private institution known for its academic rigor and competitive undergraduate environment thus rendering it an ideal setting for a study focused on academic stress.


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