Brace Fellowships

The Brace Center for Gender Studies supports outstanding scholarship and research by students and faculty.  Every year, a handful of students work through the spring and summer to better understand a variety of topics as see through the lens of gender.  Through the mentorship of a faculty member, students research an area of interest, write an extensive paper on the subject, and eventually present their findings to the entire community.

Introducing the 2021-2022 Brace Fellows!

A Note from the Director

This year, four fabulous Brace Fellows explore rich and varied topics within the field of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, carrying on the tradition of this Fellowship with exceptional interdisciplinary and thought-provoking papers. I’d like to offer congratulations to the four fellows, and I extend overflowing gratitude to their four amazing faculty advisors, also listed below, who fostered these inspiring and vanguard pieces that will expand our community’s minds and perspectives this year!

– Emma Staffaroni, September 2021

Fall 2021

Dorian Park Wang, ’23

“The Monster Out of the Closet: Trans Monstrosity and Metaphor in Hollywood Horror”

Advisor: Dr. Marissa Schwalm, English Department


On the silver screen, the trans/queer subject has long been regarded as monstrous. The sissy villain, the trans predator, the deceitful ‘trap,’ the subject of extended vomit montages, the psycho killer clad in women’s skins, abjected. Film, within the modern age, wields immense influence in its ability to construct major images and conceptions of marginalized groups for public consumption. Because the majority of the American public (80%, according to GLAAD) does not personally know a trans person, film and media often serve as the only interaction they will have with trans identity. These portrayals in cinema thus become the primary channel through which trans identity is understood, by cis and trans audiences alike.

In this project, Dorian Park Wang ’23 draws on Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of the Rabelaisian grotesque and Julia Kristeva’s Essays on Abjection to examine the trans monster metaphor in cinema. Analyzing the Frankenstein and Skins/Clothes metaphors, Park Wang discusses Frankenstein (1931), Psycho (1960), and The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and their movements within the trans monstrosity metaphor. Ultimately, Park Wang posits that this analysis holds the potential for dismantling transphobia in visual narratives, seeking to examine the ways we conceptualize, produce, and consume transness—as subjects, and as spectators.

Monday, November 1, 2021  |  5 PM Dinner, 5:30 Presentation  |  School Room, 3rd floor Abbot Hall

(Photo courtesy of Dorian Park Wang)


Dr. Schwalm (left) with Dorian after an amazing presentation on November 1. It was a full house in the School Room!


“How can these metaphors be subversive?”: Dorian concludes a thought-provoking talk.

Upcoming in Winter and Spring 2022….

Nina Choophungart, ’22

“The Meaning of Marriage: Exploring the Nature of Transnational Partnerships Between Isan Women and Western Men”

Advisor: Dr. Holly Barnes, Music Department  |  Presentation Date: Feb 14th

Nick Gibeley, ’22

“Language as a Tool for Survival: A History of Secret Queer Communications Since the Sixteenth Century”

Advisor: Dr. Emmanuel Odjo, French Department   |   Presentation: early spring term, Details TBD

Avivit Ashman, ’22

“The New Transsexual Empire?: Homonationalism, the Military Industrial Complex, and the Transgender Subject”

Advisor: Dr. Emily Raymundo, English Department   |    Presentation: spring term, Details TBD

Past Brace Fellowship Projects

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The “Miss” in Miss Saigon:  Deconstructing a Fantasy of Asian Femininity.

by Junah Jang ’20

Uanne Chang Poster Dec 2019

The Body in Ballet:  How the Male Gaze Shaped the Ballerina Archetype

by Uanne Chang ’20

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Anatomy, Autonomy, and Abuse:  an Analysis of the Abuse of Physically Disabled Women.

by Julia Lane ’17

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Lives Gamed:  The Challenges Facing Underage Homeless Female Victims of Sex Trafficking in the United States

by Trevor Lazar ’17

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The Modern Politics of Abortion:  State Laws and the Debate on Women’s Reproductive Rights.

by Wendy Zhang ’17

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Women and Mental Illness:  Stigma and Stereotypes.

by Zoe Sottile ’17