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Lauren Rocha, '11, is the first Bridgewater State University student to have a single-authored article, produced through the Adrian Tinsley Program for Undergraduate Research, accepted by a peer-reviewed journal.
"Mirror, Mirror: Gender and Beauty in the Twilight Series," a scholarly analysis of the popular vampire books by Stephenie Meyer, was accepted by Popular Culture Review. Lauren's mentors were Drs. John Kucich and Kathleen Vejvoda, both of the English department.
"I never thought I'd be able to research vampires in literature," Lauren said. "Vampire fiction has been a lifelong passion for me, and when I was brainstorming to develop a thesis John Kucich suggested this."
A year of work, that was funded in part by a 2010 ATP summer research grant, resulted in roughly fifty pages of scholarly rumination on Dracula, Carmilla, the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" television series, as well as the key characters in the Twilight books. Lauren looked at these texts through a variety of lenses including Victorian anxiety regarding issues of sexuality, female empowerment, notions of beauty and even a backlash against the idea of women with power.
A section of this larger thesis became the article that will appear in Popular Culture Review.
Lauren lives in Braintree, and is a substitute teacher in surrounding communities. She has applied to doctorate programs at a handful of top-tier institutions, including Harvard. She feels her research taps into a longstanding interest.
"I feel vampires have always been a fascination in literature, and you can definitely see it now on T.V.," she said. "With this wealth of literature out there, be it film, television, or the novels, it's interesting to dive in with an academic point of view and interpret it in your own way."
Lauren presented a version of her project at the 2011 Popular Culture Association-American Culture Association National Conference. Her proposal for the 2012 conference has also been accepted, and she will be speaking on a panel with BSU faculty member Dr. Ellen Scheible (English) on gender subversion in "The Vampire Diaries" television series.
"All of these accomplishments are very rare for a student in English," said Dr. Jenny Shanahan, director of Undergraduate Research at BSU, "it is a discipline that usually maintains separate venues for publishing student and professional work."