Transferring Knowledge through Dialogue at the Fox Center

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by Mary Bohn, 20C East Asian Studies

My honors thesis has been greatly enriched by the support and guidance I have received from my peers and seniors at the Fox Center over the past year. Before starting my thesis, I falsely believed that a thesis would simply be a longer version of the many other papers I had written over my four years at Emory. As I began to delve further into the thesis-writing process last August, I quickly realized that this project required an entirely new set of skills and supports. Developing my honors thesis was often confusing as I tried to make sense of the massive amount of information I wanted to relay to my readers; compared to any other project I have completed, there were far more nights I sat staring blankly at my screen for hours trying to figure out what I wanted to say and how best to say it.

Meaningful dialogue with and feedback from my advisors, peers, and the Fox Center Fellows was integral to working through such moments. As I heard about the research of my peers and the Fox Center Fellows, I was able to identify new, creative ways to reevaluate my own research. Though our research covers different topics and disciplines, almost every conversation I had with fellow Fox Center scholars gave me new insight into my own project. In particular, presenting my research to my peers, Dr. Melion, Dr. Anthony, and the Fox Center Fellows was pivotal to my project’s development. The questions I received helped me to better understand and interpret my research findings as well as draw new connections between my research and that of my peers. The Fox Center’s focus on dialogue between different scholars and disciplines helped me to articulate the broader significance of my research as well as bolstered my passion for academic inquiry.

Above all, my experience at the Fox Center has taught me how to better communicate in and outside of the academic world. Over the course of many presentations and conversations, I learned how to translate my research into terms that others understand and articulate why it is important. At the same time, I learned how to listen to others’ research and gain invaluable insights from it. When I began my thesis in August, I remember a friend asking me over dinner, “So, what’s your thesis about?”, and I struggled to give her an answer. When my plumber asked me a few weeks ago what my thesis is about, I was able to confidently and clearly tell him not only what I research, but why.

To all of my peers, seniors, advisors, and friends I met through the Fox Center, thank you. Thanks to you, I wrote a thesis of which I am proud.

Mary Bohn is a senior majoring in East Asian Studies with a secondary focus on Global Development. Her senior thesis explores how North Korean migrants narrate their stories of escape and discuss their background in South Korean public spaces. Mary specifically analyzes how migrants tell their stories in three public “spaces”: South Korean protestant churches, a South Korean variety TV show “Now I am Coming to Meet You,” and migrant-run YouTube channels. By analyzing how North Korean migrants tell their stories differently based on each space’s respective setting and audience, Mary’s research reveals that migrants’ personal narrative storytelling functions as a tool to gain social and monetary capital in South Korea. Ultimately, Mary’s thesis explores a marginalized group’s strategies to “belong” in South Korean society in contestation with hegemonic discourses of citizenship and national belonging. 

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