At the end of every semester, students from FSC’s Association of Honors Students present their capstone projects at Fiat Lux. This year’s Fiat Lux took place Thursday, April 19.
Students from various disciplines presented research projects that covered theater, music, political science, business and accounting, psychology, various STEM fields and Spanish. Three such presenters were Assia Angelini, Derrick Jean-Baptiste and W James.
Angelini and Jean-Baptiste co-presented on the philosophical concept of cosmic pessimism. As a philosophy major and minor, respectively, Angelini and Jean-Baptiste determined their project topic based on their Philosophy of Horror class.
“Humans see the world as made for us,” Jean-Baptiste said. “Cosmic pessimism is when humans realize that the world was not made for them and does not care. That idea creates a sense of panic and despair.”
The presentation analyzed the concept of cosmic pessimism through the video game “The Persona Series.” Their purpose in tying the philosophical concept to a video game was to help people realize they can see philosophy in their everyday lives.
“Cosmic pessimism isn’t something that is discussed very in-depth in philosophy, but we wanted to open people’s minds,” Jean-Baptiste said. “It’s so important for people to be exposed to different thought patterns.”
To prepare for their presentation, Angelini and Jean-Baptiste had to read many works of philosophy and replay the video game. Then, they had to break the concept of cosmic pessimism down into the simplest possible terms in order to prove anyone can discuss philosophy.
“Being a philosophy minor really helped build a foundation for my work in other disciplines,” Jean-Baptiste said. “We wanted people to know that philosophy is a subject to pay attention to.”
Another presenter, W James, gave his presentation on how comic books reflect social justice issues in each decade they were published.
Beginning in the 1930s, James traced the patterns in comic books to argue that comics mirror society.
The idea for his presentation came from a project James did in his online media class in the communication department, and it turned into a passion project. James said through his findings, comic books are not “filler media” but their own classification of media.
“Telling stories visually isn’t a new concept. Just look back at the hieroglyphics,” James said. “But for some reason, comic books have this stigma of being childish.”
Due to regulations imposed in the 1950s and 1960s, the content of comic books changed, and James looked at the comics published before this shift. He also analyzed a movement beginning in the 1980s that attempts to return comics to uncensored publications similar to those of the 1930s.
“If you think comics are only meant to be funny, then that reflects more on you,” James said. “Challenging how comics are seen is a conduit for a wake-up call to look at ourselves.”
James also tied his argument to the present day by stating how relevant social justice movements are to the current climate given the increase in advocacy movements.
This was James’s first Fiat Lux presentation, and he was nervous but interested to see how his presentation was received.
When he was deciding his project’s subject, James knew he wanted to work with comics
He said loving comics blends both the creativity of interpretation while structuring the mind enough to follow the story the creator intended.
“With my presentation, I wanted to open people’s minds,” James said. “If they pass a comic book store, I want them to be more inclined to go in and see what’s up.”
Fiat Lux provides a platform for presentations like those of Angelini, Jean-Baptiste and James to reach an audience and expose the viewers to new perspectives that they might not have known of before.
In addition to oral presentations, Fiat Lux also showcases poster presentations in Honeyman Pavilion and hosts honors students who must present their capstone proposals up to a year before giving their own final presentations.
Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, held a one-dollar book sale at the Christoverson Building at the same time. They offered books from varying genres, and raised money in the name of their mission, promoting literacy.
Editor’s Note: Derrick Jean-Baptiste is the Editor-in-Chief of the Southern. W James is the Features Editor of the Southern.