Tabitha Shiflett ('14, English)
What do you do for your undergraduate research?
My undergraduate research consists of two rhetorical analyses on the two popular women's fashion magazines Vogue and Cosmopolitan. By doing the analyses, I was not only able to better understand the world of advertising and fashion, and what the industry is doing to persuade the public, but my research also revealed the cultural codes (ideologies) of each magazine.
What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?
Honestly, my thesis director Dr. Anthony Atkins is the reason I decided to do an honors project. I didn't really know much about it until he introduced the concept to me, but once I found out how enlightening the experience could be, I was certain that it was something I wanted to do.
How did you start your research project?
I am a journalist and current web content writer who focuses on fashion and entertainment news, local and national. So, after looking over all of my publications I knew that I wanted to do something that directly correlated with my career and my love for designers and clothing. Doing an analysis on Vogue didn't even cross my mind until my thesis director asked me to list off the things that I love, Vogue being one of the things on that list.
It isn't required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?
Due to my participation in honors, I was able to travel to Raleigh to present my research at the North Carolina Symposium on Teaching Writing. Being able to go to that conference was a great experience that I wish all students had the chance to participate in. I not only met friendly, very intelligent people, but I was invited to dinner with the keynote speaker Washington State University professor, Dr. Bill Condon, as well. At dinner I made several connections with conference presenters, out-of-state and in-state English professors, conference coordinators, and Doug Day, a Senior Editor at Norton Publishing, all of whom I had breakfast with the next morning.
What recognition and/or grants did you receive for your research?
I received a CSURF Travel Award to attend the North Carolina Symposium on Teaching Writing and the Undergraduate Research Scholar designation.
What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?
After graduating, I hope to find a position as a fashion editor for a magazine in New York. My dream is to one day work for Vogue, but at this early point in my life that is a pretty far off goal. For now I am just going to keep doing what I love, which is writing about fashion. I am also applying to a few schools including the Condé Nast College of Fashion and Design, Pratt Institute, and the University of the Arts London. If I get into Condé Nast, I will work on receiving either the Vogue fashion certificate or the Vogue fashion foundation diploma. If I am accepted into the MA program at Pratt, I am planning on finishing up my novel and finding a job at a magazine in New York, and if I am accepted into the MA program at the London College of Communication, then, I might stay in London for a year or so, exploring fashion and the culture overseas.