Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

English Creative Writing-BA




Shannon Lakanen

First Committee Member

Tammy Birk

Second Committee Member

Margaret Koehler


Conquest, Masculinity, School Shooters, Experimental essay, American mythology, Western empire

Subject Categories

Nonfiction | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies


This paper tracks the archetypical figure of the conquistador across the historical impressions and canonical depictions left in his wake since European “explorers” like Columbus sailed into an unidentified land mass five hundred years ago and ushered the New World into the Imperial age. Through diverse and disparate set of sources--from pop culture to Columbus' log books--this paper maps conquest across the mythology of the American nation, weaving school shooters manifestos in with fictionalizations of the American West in with personal interviews and memoir to complicate and challenge the American understanding of nation—our gendered mappings of power and identity then and now, raise new questions about how these ideas came to collect within the cumulative American imaginary, shape and determine in very tangible and evidentiary ways the histories we canonize, those we discard, and the myths we continue to live.