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Marquis Scholar Adrianne Pasquarelli ’03 (Rhinebeck, N.Y.) is examining film noir and the detective novels on which they are based in a year-long research project.

Pasquarelli is undertaking the study in pursuit of departmental honors in English. She is doing her research under the guidance of Andrew M. Smith, instructor of English and chair of American Studies.

Pasquarelli is focusing on film noir characters who don’t conform or fit comfortably into society. She says this is a result of the characters giving free rein to their Jungian “shadow,” a creative force which all humans possess but many hide.

“The protagonists use their shadow to their advantage,” she says. “They become different from other people and don’t follow all the rules. They’re trying to think more as individuals, but society is trying to assimilate them. At the end, they’re assimilated.”

Pasquarelli is exploring the films The Big Sleep, Double Indemnity, Mildred Pierce, and The Maltese Falcon and the novels on which they were based.

Smith, who says the project is going well, describes it as larger and more complex than any other project Pasquarelli has undertaken before. Pasquarelli has completed a 60-page draft of her thesis argument that she is now expanding and revising.

“Adrianne is learning how to manage an analytical research subject that has many components and that requires steady work over a long stretch of time,” says Smith. “She is learning to be a writer and will have the opportunity to present her work in a professional academic setting at the end of the process.”

Pasquarelli is excited about the project because it allows her to combine two popular media, books and films, and explore the similarities and differences between them.

“I decided to do this project after taking an introductory course in film last year with Professor Smith,” she says. “I enjoyed the class so much that I wanted to continue learning more about the avenue of film and its forms and capabilities.”

She describes Smith as “incredibly knowledgeable about film” as well as very supportive of the project. She enjoys being an English major because it offers the latitude to explore other areas of interest as well, she adds.

A participant in Lafayette’s Senior Fund Drive, Pasquarelli studied abroad in Seville, Spain, last spring. She has also been a member of the crew team, participated in the Phonathon, written restaurant reviews for the school newspaper, and worked as a Writing Associate.

Categorized in: Academic News