Zoe Ferguson

Class of 2017

Hometown: West Orange, N.J.

What is your College Scholar project?
My College Scholar project, "Women and Mental Illness in Modern Western Literature: a Psychological and Sociological Approach," analyzes the portrayal of women in literature as psychologically damaged and damaging. In my project, I intend to analyze the roles of female characters in modern texts who exhibit symptoms of mental illness. What kinds of illnesses do these women appear to have? How and why are female characters pathologized in literature, television and film? For what purpose are women demonized or victimized? I am most interested in the intersection of life and art, examining how sociology and law work in conjunction with art to produce and nurture certain concepts and ideals of women. I have a special interest in the ways that art and law work together to create extremely pervasive cultural notions about women as "femmes fatales." I intend to examine these artistic and legal characters in the social and historical contexts in which they are located, and further contextualize each figure by showing how decades and even centuries of artistic, social and legal precedent have built their characterization. Finally, I will argue how these portrayals both symbolize and influence women's daily lives in America.

I spent my spring semester of Junior year studying abroad in Paris, France, with the EDUCO program. At the University of Paris, I took courses on philosophy, film, immigration, and French history, building my understanding of artistic, legal and social history in the Western world.

What are your most important extra-curricular activities?
I have spent two years with The Cornell Daily Sun as a news writer, reporting on- and off-campus news. I also write for Kitsch, the on-campus literary and art magazine. 

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?
In the summer of 2015, I worked as an editorial intern at The American Lawyer magazine. In 2016, I worked as a community outreach intern at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, within the Open Source Program Office, in Fort Collins, Colorado.

What do you dream of doing after graduation?
I would love to write after graduation in whatever position or path I choose. I may go to law school after undergrad or a few years in the future. I may also choose to work at a newspaper or magazine, or for a nonprofit organization or technology company, working on the artistic and social side of operations.