Cadet Projects

Grace McDonald, Class of 2020: The Element of Spontaneity: a novel in progress.

"My project stems from the independent study I did with MAJ Atwell last spring where I learned more about fiction writing. It was during this time that I was inspired to take a closer look at young adult literature. I find this genre interesting not only because my own novel can be categorized as it but also because these books have had such an impact on younger generations. It is my hope that through studying this genre I can continue to improve my writing and better understand its influence on society."

Faculty advisor: MAJ Mary Atwell, who teaches courses in British literature and creative writing.


Maddy Moger, Class of 2020: The Grimm Truth: the Power of Fairy Tales and the Dangers of Splitting.

"In my capstone project I explored how fairy tales might be beneficial to children by taking a psychoanalytic approach to literary analysis. Or in other words, I examined the presence of childhood psychology within Brothers Grimm fairy tales. To accomplish this I analyzed the classic story of “Hansel and Gretel” and the lesser known tale of “The Juniper Tree.” Through a close reading of these stories and the research of an Austrian psychologist named Bruno Bettelheim, I was able to draw a correlation between these storylines and their literary devices and the ego defense mechanism called “splitting.” My research revealed that fairy tales mirror a child’s psychological processes and help them to cope with real life problems."

Faculty advisor: LTC Steven Knepper, who teaches courses in American literature, especially Romanticism, Modernism, and Moby Dick, as well as ways of reading.


Joseph F. Murray, Class of 2021: The Unity of the Virtues: The Role of Virtue-Prioritization in Moral Reasoning.

"My project seeks to answer a fundamental question of virtue ethics, the tradition of ethical thought derived from Aristotle and the ancients and adapted into Christian moral theology. The question I am pursuing is of the nature of the virtues' relations to one another and how this is integrated with Aristotle's notion of the soul. Specifically, the project seeks to fully show how or why the virtues are hierarchized while also being, in some sense, unified. In order to pursue this question, I am analyzing Aristotle's ideas about "practical wisdom," or prudence, and the role prudence plays in unifying the virtues in the soul of the virtuous man. I am also drawing on Thomas Aquinas and Josef Pieper's adaptation of Aristotle to understand how this idea has been developed by other thinkers within the tradition of virtue ethics."

Faculty advisor: Dr. Reshef Agam-Segal, who teaches courses in logic and critical thinking, the history of philosophy, and the relation between philosophy and literature.


Andy Hunt, Class of 2019: Fascism as Faith: Nationalist Spain and the Rhetoric of Francisco Franco.

"This thesis came out my research interests in history and rhetoric. In my project, I conducted a rhetorical analysis of three speeches by Spanish fascist dictator Francisco Franco. I first detailed the historical context of the speeches, focusing on Franco’s identity as speaker, the composite audience he was addressing, and the events surrounding the Spanish Civil War. I identified three key recurring themes in all three speeches: the construction of enemies; the combination of nationalism and religion; and the emphasis on order and rule of law. I then examined several of the rhetorical techniques of arrangement and style Franco used to convey each theme and how he incorporated them into fascist rhetoric. I concluded that further analysis of fascist rhetorics is urgently needed as a means of countering fascism, with an emphasis on the conditions and emotions that make an audience see fascism as a viable option."

Faculty advisor: MAJ Michelle Iten, who teaches courses in the history and theory of rhetoric, rhetoric in democracy, rhetorical style, and military writing.



VMI: Forging 21st Century Leaders