ORCA Symposium


Posted by on Oct 20, 2018 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments

The Humanities Center in coordination with BYU’s Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) will hold its annual ORCA Symposium on Friday, October 26th at 3:00 PM in 4010 JFSB.

Blake Perry Smith – Open Source Consistency Evaluation for Chinese Word Segmentation

Chinese in its written form does not separate its characters by spaces. Imagine if this were the case with English and a sign at a job fair displayed “opportunityisnowhere.” Regardless of the intent being to announce that “opportunity is now here,” that can easily be read pessimistically without proper spacing.

Computers must first be able to accurately and consistently identify word boundaries before any other language processing takes place. Tools called ‘segmenters’ do this essential work of parsing Chinese. State-of-the-art systems ‘learn’ how to accomplish this task from training data composed of human-segmented text. These sets of training data, or corpora, are widely distributed for use by researchers and practitioners in the development of segmenters. Importantly, these manual segmentations serve as a basis for computing probabilities for whether to segment a given sequence. However, the involvement of human judgement in developing these corpora results in inconsistencies that have proven to be detrimental to segmenter performance (Sun et al. 2003).
Surprisingly, researchers have found that increased accuracy in segmentation does not lead to increased quality of machine translation output for Chinese (Chang et al. 2008). Rather, parser consistency was shown to produce better results in downstream machine translation. We believe that because of how segmenters learn to parse, consistent parses within training data strongly correlate to consistent parses by the segmenters themselves. Thus, ensuring consistency within corpora is a viable way to improve the quality of subsequent translations.

We present a tool that detects and reports inconsistent segmentations either within a single corpus or between two corpora. By releasing our software under an open-source license, our work can have real implications for advancing computer effectiveness in Chinese word segmentation and consequently in advancing the state-of-the-art for machine translation.

Kate Menlove – Das jüdische Weib: The Impact of Nahida Ruth Lazarus

There is little material that is written by women about the lives and work of women in the early nineteenth century. There are almost no works focusing on the Jewish concept of women and family. One book, written in 1896 by a German convert to Judaism Nahida Ruth Lazarus, combines both women’s social experiences and the Jewish attitude towards women in a book titled, “The Jewish Woman”. While Lazarus’ book is unique in content, there are also very few copies in circulation, making it very rare. For my ORCA project with Dr. Michelle James, I am reading this document and creating annotations, as well as preparing an introduction. I have used library and internet resources, as well as speaking with a library director in Leipzig, Germany and interviewing a Lazarus scholar, Dr. Katharina Gerstenberger, about Lazarus and the time period. This project is to be posted on BYU’s Sophie Digital Library.

The impact of this project will not affect the entire world, or even an entire University. However, it will be an invaluable resource to those interested in German History, Women’s Studies, or Jewish Studies. Lazarus doesn’t just write a historical account of women in Judaism; she celebrates the strength of women from several different generations. She highlights their sacrifices and how they have fought against societal norms on occasion. I truly believe that this book can empower women. Lazarus encourages us all to become who we want to be and not only settle for what life has allotted us.

Isaac Robertson – The White Girl’s Burden: Feminized Colonial Ecology as Access to Post-Colonial Natural History

In its first volume, L. T. Meade’s 1887 periodical for girls, Atalanta, published a variety of colonial fiction and boys’ adventure fiction written by the likes of H. Rider Haggard, Grant Allen, and John Strange Winter. Throughout the magazine, these authors explore life and travel in disparate exotic environments, from India’s military compounds to Hawaii’s volcanoes. Even Atalanta’s fairytale literature seems imbued with colonial elements. However, while much of the current scholarship devoted to Atalanta focuses on its position within education and the New Woman movement, much less has been said concerning its obsession with colonial environments. What purpose would colonial adventure fiction hold within a fin-de-siècle girl’s magazine like Atalanta?

Drawing upon recent theory in post-colonial ecocriticism, Victorian natural history, and nineteenth-century temporality, I argue that Atalanta’s girls advocate for a new imperial approach founded in ecological relationality. I trace how the changing concerns of the Empire in fin-de-siècle Britain, coinciding with the shifting role of boys’ colonial fiction, necessitated an adjustment to the imperial structure and its literature—including a better negotiation of cultural difference and a balance between domestic morality and the difficult realities of colonization. I then examine how Atalanta responds to these changes by presenting a liminal girl who interacts with the empire ecologically. The negotiating capabilities of this girl within a colonial environment, along with an imbrication of Darwinian and Rousseauian construct of nature, allow her to collapse hierarchies and characterize herself as a specimen of postcolonial natural history—capable of speaking on behalf of colonized nature. Her subsequent proposal for the empire to follow suit ultimately signifies a renewable moral resource for England’s imperial future. My presentation develops this argument through an analysis of how Paul Hamilton Hayne’s American poem, “The Story of an Ambuscade,” shifts in meaning when published within Atalanta’s context.

Maika Bahr – Japanese Exotica in Dutch Still Life Paintings: A Post Colonial Study of Harmen Steenwyck’s Vanitas Works

In 1635, Japan enacted a policy of seclusion and successfully shut themselves off from the world. The only country that Japan was willing to keep ties with was the Dutch Republic. For over two hundred years, Japan’s only contact with Europe was with the Dutch traders who would land on the island of Dejima to conduct business. The Dutch Republic, which was very wealthy at the time, began to paint still-life paintings that showcased their riches that they had obtained while abroad, including objects from Japan.

Harmen Steenwyck’s painting titled Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanitas of Human Life from 1640 is a humble piece that showcases an impressive example of a Japanese sword that was brought back to Europe. I propose that with this painting, the Dutch artist exhibited Orientalist feelings and meant to convey a sense of superiority in military prowess and commercial success over the Japanese. After looking through the archival images at the Netherlands Institute for Art History I was able to find two more paintings by Steenwyck where the same Japanese sword is depicted. After researching the symbolic meaning of other objects surrounding the sword in all three paintings and the symbolic meaning that the Dutch attached to weapons, I was able to solidify this thesis. Still Life: An Allegory of the Vanitas of Human Life clearly depicts the pride of the Dutch Republic and their condescending attitude towards their Japanese allies.

Corey Ketring – How to Improve Chinese L2 Learners’ Performance in Oral Presentations Formulaic Language Instruction and the CAPF List

This study examines disfluent phenomenon in thirty-nine L2 Chinese academic oral presentations. Eight types of disfluencies are found in the data. The most prominent types of disfluencies are silent pauses and filled pauses. Several features of disfluency were observed in learners’ speech in our data that are not commonly seen in native speakers’ speech; these differences significantly distinguish second language speech from normal native speech (1. silent pauses, filled pauses and hesitation with sound extension within a word; 2. repeating the first character of a word with/without sound extension; 3. silent pauses, filled pauses and hesitation with sound extension at an incorrect prosodic location; 4. content reduction).

In order to improve L2 learners’ speaking fluency and accuracy in their presentations, it is suggested that a list of academic formulaic sequences for oral presentations should be created, accompanied by systematic training on the sequences. A Chinese Academic Formulas for Presentation (CAFP) list of four sub-categories of formulaic sequences was therefore created in order to offer useful language tools for L2 learners to improve fluency in their academic oral presentations. Sequences are presented according to their pragmatic functions in discourse (e.g. introducing the main topic, introducing the background, describing methods, introducing the outline of the presentation, signaling transitions, referring to literature and citation, defining terms, describing quantities and trend, giving examples, explaining causality, expressing opinions and attitude, listing and classifying, comparing and contrasting, referring to visuals, referring to discussion objects, explaining, emphasizing important information, reporting findings, summarizing, expressing the contribution of the research, ending the presentation). It provides learners useful polywords, institutionalized expressions, and phrasal and sentence builders throughout the presentation. These tools can help students conserve mental effort in areas such as transitions and sentence building, thus allowing them to focus their attention on the content and accurate navigating specialized lexicon. Activities used to develop learners’ knowledge of formulaic language in presentations are also proposed to enhance formulaic language instruction in classroom settings.

Sophie Determan – The Pygmalion Project

The goal of my project is to assist Dr. Roger Macfarlane in developing the online index of the Oxford Guide to Classical Mythology in the Arts which will be centered at BYU. The OGCMA is an important and widely-used index that identifies 30,000+ artworks spanning from the 300-1900s. But despite the breadth of the index, there is not a single example of a film mentioned in any entry. This is a serious gap in classical scholarship because no other guide contains significant film references. The scope of my project is to evaluate and contribute scholarly metadata for over forty films that will comprise the “Pygmalion” article in the OGCMA-online index.

Scrutinizing various Pygmalion films and films proposed by others as Pygmalion films, I have established criteria to judge whether a film is a deliberate adaptation of the myth or merely shares archetypal similarities. The most fundamental points of consideration are three: 1) the act of creation, 2) the erotic potential of the artist, and 3) acknowledgement of the Pygmalion myth. I began with a simple grid system of these relevant characteristics, which soon developed into a dynamic three-axis graph. This graph not only charts each film’s adaptive treatment of the myth, but also its relationship to fellow cinematic adaptations and the original foundation text.

This presentation will explain how this analytical tool helps to clarify new ways of understanding the scope of Pygmalion reception, using the following six titles as examples: Mad Love (1935), One Touch of Venus (1948), My Fair Lady (1964), Miss Congeniality (2000), Lars and the Real Girl (2007), Ruby Sparks (2012). This presentation will contain benefit not only for classics students, but for adaptation studies and film departments since the three-axis graph can be modified to fit other foundation texts like Frankenstein or Cinderella.


Posted by on Aug 5, 2017 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments



Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments


Friday, October 14th from 3:00 – 4:30 PM in room 4010 JFSB.

Tamara Thomson — “The Intersection of Truth, Memory, and Fiction in State Mental Hospital Patient Experience”

RelyiTamara Thomsonng upon my research for context and as a foundation, I have composed six short stories dealing with the experiences of the youth patients and staff at the State Hospital which are based on the actual relationships and events that I experienced while working there in the early 1990’s. I believe that a fictive narrative can go beyond the mere facts of my experience, and the experience of those I have interviewed, to portray an authentic emotional truth about mentally and emotionally ill people who are often marginalized or completely disenfranchised from society.This presentation will give a brief description of my project and then I will read one of the stories I wrote.

Michelle Turner — “Interpreting Art History by Brazilian Modernist Anita Malfatti”PaulaMichelleTurner

This presentation will focus on the study of artist Anita Malfatti´s lectures as she taught Art History in early and mid-20th century in Brazil. By transcribing and studying her notes, I am trying to understand what her interpretation, and focuses were as she taught in São Paulo. Ms. Malfatti was the first artist to exhibit modern art in Brazil and one of the first to teach a history of modern art as well. I have transcribed her lectures on the subject and am analyzing their contents. This research also includes a critical comparison of her lessons from the early 1930s and the late 1940s including any changes regarding her stance and opinion on Ancient and Western Art.

Joshua Matthias — “Topic Adaptation for Machine Translation”

Joshua MathiasAdapting machine translation to specific domains or subject matter is essential to improve translation quality, and this is still a new field of research. Professional translators need to translate documents with the subject matter and domain in mind, in order to create a translation that uses the correct type of language and terminology for the domain, whether it be legal, political, technological, religious, or other types of documents. A machine translation system can be adapted to a specific domain by using training data from the same domain. My goal is to demonstrate improvements in statistical machine translation for specific domains using different methods for evaluating training data to be used for the machine translation system.


Catie Nuckols — “From Imposition to Integration: Teotihuacan Influence on Maya as Evidenced by Stela 7 at Piedras Negras”

The Trapeze and Ray motif found in Mayan art aCatie-Nuckolsnd the possible implications that it holds for understanding Mesoamerican culture and even politics will be the focus of this presentation. In analyzing the appearances of this motif in Late Classic Maya imagery, I have found that it commonly forms part of a “triple alliance” of iconographic elements: the Trapeze and Ray motif, the ochk’in kalomte’ title, and the War Serpent headdress. These elements all became integrated parts of Mayan art culture, despite having origins in and/or ties to the Central Mexican city of Teotihuacan. My research has revolved around analyzing the meaning of these elements and the consequent implications for our understanding of how Teotihuacan influenced the Mayan, even years after the city ceased to exist.

Katie Bowman — “Annotated Edition of the Reminiscences of Nate Salsbury”

Katie-bowmanThe purpose of this project was to prepare the unpublished manuscriptReminiscences of Nate Salsbury, written in the 1890s, for publication and to enter the critical conversation on the development of the frontier myth in American history. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Exhibition, an elaborate production demonstrating the key components of the American West, toured Europe in 1887-1888 where it sparked an international obsession with Western frontier culture that shaped the identity of the US in the eyes of Europe. Significantly absent from all published accounts of this transatlantic event is the perspective of Nate Salsbury, business partner to William F. Cody and creator of the show. The absence of Salsbury’s viewpoint leaves a gap in the biography of William F. Cody, the narrative of the Wild West Exhibition and the history of the American frontier. Beyond helping fill the historical gap, I looked at how Salsbury’s writing changes our understanding of that history. Through biographical research, editorial work, annotation, appendices and critical analysis I explore how Salsbury throws practical light on the creation of the mythic figure of Buffalo Bill and consequently the nationalizing myth of the American Frontier.


Posted by on Oct 26, 2015 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments


Friday, October 16 from 3:00 – 5:00 PM in 4010 JFSB.

Cai Elisabeth Olsen —” Mergulhando nos Bastidores: The Translation Errors Surrounding Grande Sertão Veredas”

Ash McMurray — “Korean Drama and Philosophy”

Ash’s research focused on how South Korean historical dramas advance the arguments of classical Chinese philosophy. He examined three dramas as argumentative analogies representing three key periods tracing China’s philosophical influence from Korea’s nascent years until its Golden Age under King Sejong (세종; 世宗): Jumong (삼한지-주몽 편; 2006), Queen Seondeok (선덕여왕; 2009), and Tree with Deep Roots (뿌리 깊은 나무; 2011). He found that each drama presents a uniquely Korean critique of the major philosophical traditions of China, namely Confucianism, Daoism, and Legalism. Despite incisive criticisms against Confucianism’s political idealism, misogyny, and class distinctions, the dramas ultimately promote Confucian over Daoism and Legalism because only Confucianism provides the moral wherewithal to cultivate and evaluate virtuous leaders and citizens.

Emily Furner — “Defining the Obvious, Or Not”

Victoria Fox — “Barbara d’Austria: Women and Religious Upheaval in 16th Century Europe”

Her research centered around the life of an Austrian princess, Barbara D’Austria, who married into the powerful Este family in Italy. Because there was so little information on Barbara herself,  Victoria had to come at her life from many different angles and build her biography from the outside-in. Her presentation, however, focused on just one aspect of the historical context. She spoke about the role of women in religious upheaval in the 16th century, including female mysticism and the ways in which women used religious upheaval to increase their power to an extent that would have been impossible in a more stable political and cultural environment.

Stephanie Hedges — “Accenting the job: How Speech Affects the Hiring Process”

Diana Sun Shelton — “A Quichua Video Dictionary: The Sight and Sound of Ideophones


Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments

2014-10-10 17.03.07

Megan Armknecht
Megan presented on how Louisa May Alcott was influenced by German Romanticism–specifically the German thinker and writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. She had noticed resonances between Goethe’s thinking and personality in the character of Dr. Bhaer in Alcott’s classic, Little Women, and wanted to find out if these connections meant anything and if Dr. Bhaer could have been based–at least in part–on Goethe. Her ORCA project allowed her to travel to Boston and Concord, Massachusetts to read Alcott’s correspondence, diary entries, and manuscripts, where she found out that Alcott was strongly influenced by Goethe’s writings. Although it wouldn’t be wise to say that Goethe was the only model for Dr. Bhaer, it is safe to say that Alcott was influenced by Goethe and that influence can be seen in the character of Dr. Bhaer, not only providing an interesting transatlantic connection, but also giving more depth to Alcott’s works.

Caroline Howard
Caroline presented on her project “The College Writing Experience for At-Risk High School Students.” She talked about the experience she had bringing high school students to campus four times over the course of the semester and the differences she observed in their attitudes toward writing, college, and their own abilities. Her research backed up theories that say mentored writing experiences can help improve the self-efficacy of struggling students. It also posed questions for further research about student identity.

Lauren Fine
Lauren’s paper covered how the transmission of affect (when physiological signals from one person trigger similar emotions in another person) can cause large groups to become unified and form cohesive group identities in a short amount of time. However, as the case study of the Occupy Dayton movement reveals, transmission only leads to unity when group members interpret their emotions the same way, which means effective rhetoric is still sometimes necessary to keep the group together.
Taylor Madsen
Can right make might? This translation of two years of gender studies quantifies variables such as educational deficiencies and social paradigms that nullify the empowerment intended in women’s property rights in Senegal.
Sara Guggisberg
By researching Mark Twain’s little-known 1907 novel “A Horse’s Tale,” Sara had the opportunity to be one of the first to engage in critical conversation about the novel and position it as a significant piece of Twain’s many works. She has drawn connections between this novel, William F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody, and the seminal work of animal activist literature, “Black Beauty,” to validate her claim that Twain’s writing of “A Horse’s Tale” was his truest moment of animal activism.
Ashley Brocious
Oral histories of LDS men offer important insight into how LDS men’s Mormon identity intersects with their masculine identity.  Ashley’s project offers a set of oral histories of LDS males in hopes that their experiences will illuminate the need to include and articulate LDS male experiences in future gender discussions.


Posted by on Nov 8, 2013 in ORCA Symposium | 0 comments

November 8, 2:30-5:00, JFSB 4186/88

Speakers: Daniel Cardoza (Russian), Romy Franks (German), Adam Lloyd (Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature), and Kylan Rice (English)

Keynote speaker: Bryce Christensen, Dept. of English, Southern Utah University: “Of Sonnets and Subphylums: How Poetry Lives (or Dies) in a Scientific World.”