Signature Experience Award funds study of Argentina films and their role in LGBTQ rights

University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Dylan Wright, a University of Arkansas at Little Rock Spanish and political science double major, is using his Signature Experience Award to examine Argentina’s films and determine the role they play in citizens’ LGBTQ rights.

During the fall 2017 semester, Wright was one of 79 UA Little Rock students awarded $1,000 from the undergraduate research grant program. The funds were granted to students to assist in the purchase of materials for a one-semester project or experience in research or creative works.

In addition, Wright was accepted into the School for International Training through the study abroad program – “Argentina: Human Rights and Social Media.” Since March, he has been roaming the countryside of Argentina, seeking to fill in the gaps of his project, “Framing LGBTQ Rights: Critical Film Perspectives in the Argentine Queer Community.”

“I was drawn to my particular topic because film has always interested me as something more powerful than it is often given credit for,” Wright said. “I’m immensely interested in the ability of film as an artform and an often shared cultural experience to shape public perception surrounding various issues.”

Through the study of Argentina and Latin America’s film and Third Cinema, a Latin American film movement, as well as through the concept of cultural agency, Wright will work to enhance and develop an understanding of the role that art and culture can play in advancing civil rights and social equality.

“The rise of queer representation in film and television in the past few decades has been a major boon to self-acceptance within the LGBTQ community, so I wanted to explore the potential implications of deliberately political film to perhaps further shape external social perceptions of queer identities and lifestyles,” he said.

Wright’s project is scheduled to conclude in June. He is currently composing his final research paper under the mentorship of Dr. Erin Finzer, assistant professor of Spanish and chair of the Department of World Languages.

After graduation from UA Little Rock in 2019, Wright plans to attend law and public policy school to eventually work in the field of civil and human rights.

“I strongly believe in the potential of film as a tool to bring about changing public and cultural perceptions that could be instrumental in civil rights movements in the United States and abroad,” he said.

Wright is grateful to UA Little Rock for the opportunity to conduct research utilizing resources he would not otherwise have access to.

“I believe the Signature Experience Awards program is a wonderful opportunity and a strong incentive for undergraduate students to begin research in whatever interests them, with less of the often overwhelming pressure of academic research funding,” he explained. “The award has allowed me to focus my research into a single area that consolidates many of my interests, and I’m excited about the opportunity to bring this research to an academic conference.”

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