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Emelie George ’02 (Stroudsburg, Pa) transformed her admiration of film director Howard Hawks into an honors thesis on his works and a campus film festival.

George, a double major in English and French, is examining how Hawks’ films reflect “a gendered landscape of characters and how characters use genders as masquerades.” Her adviser on the project is Andrew Smith, instructor of English.

George spoke at the Hawks festival the first three Monday evenings of March. Hawks’ genre-spanning films include The Big Sleep, Bringing Up Baby, Rio Bravo, and the original Scarface.

“This project is like nothing I have ever experienced,” says George. “When it is finished, it will be the product of a year of intense research, writing, and editing. I began my project just knowing that I wanted to study film in some way. I narrowed my project to the films of Howard Hawks because I admired his work, but felt that he was not so well known or studied so I could bring a fresh perspective to his work.”

The student watched nearly all of his films, about 20, a couple of times, which led her to focus on ways in which the men and women in them act against gender stereotypes or reinforce them, depending on the plot situation.

“This project is important to me because it has grown organically out of my own experiences with and reactions to these classic films,” George says. “Because it is such a personally motivated subject, I find the hard work even more rewarding.”

Smith describes George, a film-lover who knows a lot about the medium, as “doing great.” He believes the project is allowing her to stretch herself academically and intellectually and also to become a better writer.

“I think she’ll give us an interesting reading of the films, focusing on the fluidity of gender,” says Smith. “I think she’ll say something original. She’s moving beyond Lafayette by placing herself in the conversation of people who criticize films. She’s adding something to it.”

A graduate of Stroudsburg High School, George works as an EXCEL Scholar in Skillman Library’s special collections and college archives. In that role last summer, she prepared an exhibition on foreign travelers’ impressions of America. She is a member of Tri-Delt sorority and the History Club, and participates in intramural sports.

Categorized in: Academic News