Isabel Paner ’18 was surprised when she heard that the research paper she presented last year at Dominican’s Scholarly and Creative Works Conference (SCW) has been downloaded by people in the United Kingdom, Spain, Argentina, South Korea, Finland, Thailand, Australia and Canada.
She was even more surprised to hear that her paper had been downloaded more than 4,380 times.
Isabel’s thesis analyzes and dissects the marginalization and stereotyping of Asians in American films through text and film analysis and critical theory.
“Historically, if Asians are not portrayed in a stereotypical role, then they are given no role at all, rendered invisible by Hollywood and mass audiences. Their marginalization in the film industry has damaging effects on the perception of Asians in society," Isabel writes in her abstract.
“By relating portrayals of Asian stereotypes in film to societal effects, this study emphasizes how fictitious portrayals can have damaging effects once taken outside the realm of film.”
The research was the culmination of almost two years of work for Isabel, the daughter of immigrants from the Philippines. The topic was inspired by her own childhood.
“I just remember growing up getting excited whenever there was an Asian on TV,” Isabel explains. “The history of Asians in Hollywood and the film industry was interesting because it tied into the history of Asian-Americans in the United States. It all intersects and fiction can’t be always be separated from reality—real world issues affect media, what we create, and how we consume it.”
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Presenting at SCW was a highlight of Isabel’s Dominican experience.
“My a-ha moment at Dominican was presenting my thesis at the Scholarly and Creative Works Conference,” she recalls. “I felt fulfilled.”
What Isabel didn’t realize at the time was her “voice” was going to have a greater impact worldwide.
Like many of the works presented at SCW, the 30-page paper was published by Dominican Scholar, Dominican’s online repository. Dominican Scholar was created to showcase and share the intellectual, professional, and artistic skills of Dominican faculty and students, and the depth of their knowledge in their field of study. A majority of the research papers and master’s theses are deposited by students and discovered via Google Search.
Almost a year since presenting at SCW, Isabel receives updates from Dominican Scholar alerting her when her research is being regularly viewed. In addition to being downloaded, it also has been gaining traction on social media in recent months.
“It’s good to know my paper is being useful. It’s fun looking at the specific demographics and who’s reading it and in what countries on the map,” Isabel says. “I chose not to have it published in a journal, even though I could have. I thought it should be a free resource and I’m glad people are using it.”
As a freshman from Dublin High School, Isabel majored in Communication and Media Studies, yet an introductory graphic design class inspired her to minor in graphic design with the support of her advisor Brad Van Alstyne in the School of Liberal Arts and Education.
“He was very positive, very encouraging, and very supportive,” says Isabel, now a freelance graphic designer whose experience includes working as a Creative Marketing Specialist at Good Use in San Francisco. “Having a communications background means I can apply those skills to my career, too.”
To sharpen her communications skills, Isabel applied for the Semester Abroad Program her sophomore year. Isabel’s choices to study abroad were at communications programs in Italy, England, and Belgium—in that order. She was assigned to Artevelde University in Ghent, Belgium for the Spring semester of her junior year. It was a life-changing experience in more ways than one: Isabel met her future husband, Ben, while abroad. She plans on moving to Belgium in May and they will be married in this July.