Exemplary Capstone Projects

English majors in their final year of studies carry out independent research on a topic approved by the Department and supervised by a teacher. The project is centered on a topic related to literature or applied linguistics. The project includes critical reflection on the research process and builds on undergraduate learning in the major. The Department nominates and recommends at most excellent capstone projects each term. These exemplary capstone projects demonstrate the excellent quality of undergraduate training offered by the Department.

2023-2024 Term 1
Cheung Yu Him Aiden

The impact of ChatGPT on the acquisition of English indirect questions: A mixed-methods study

Supervisor: Prof. Haerim Hwang

Aiden's capstone project is outstanding in its originality, clarity, and contextualization within current research on AI. It explores the thought-provoking research questions surrounding the use of ChatGPT in the authentic context of learning conditionals. The research design combines both quantitative and qualitative methods to yield a comprehensive understanding of ChatGPT's potential benefits and drawbacks in second language acquisition of syntax.

Wong Shin Ying Janice

Does studying abroad legitimize Hong Kong English? The role of Study Abroad programs on attitudes and perceptions of HKE

Supervisor: Prof. Wilkinson Daniel Wong Gonzales

Wong Shin Ying (Janice) is a worthy nominee for the award due to her diligent and innovative exploration into the development of Hong Kong English, focusing on its attitudinal and social dimensions. Janice's hardworking nature and receptiveness to feedback have significantly contributed to her groundbreaking study, which employs a mixed-method approach to understand the prevailing attitudes toward the Hong Kong English accent among university students. She has uniquely identified a practical approach to legitimize and foster the development of Hong Kong English - study abroad programs. Through her research involving university students, including those who participated in study abroad programs, Janice has found that while local students generally harbor unfavorable stereotypes towards Hong Kong English, exposure to diverse linguistic environments can enhance appreciation and acceptance of its uniqueness. Her work not only highlights the necessity of reevaluating language attitudes but also underscores the potential of international experiences in reshaping perceptions and language itself. She plans to work with her supervisor to transform her capstone into a journal manuscript, attesting to her scholarly abilities.

To Wing Yin Justine

Language, Signs, and Little Manila: The role of visual semiotics in constructing diasporic identity among Filipina domestic workers in Hong Kong

Supervisor: Prof. Wilkinson Daniel Wong Gonzales

Justine To is a deserving candidate for the Exemplary Capstone Award, reflecting her dedication and innovation in social research. As a meticulous and self-aware researcher, Justine has remarkably contributed to our understanding of the Filipino domestic helper minority group in Hong Kong. Utilizing both advanced quantitative and qualitative methods, her study delves into the intricate relationship between space, language, and identity among these domestic helpers. Her work is not only original but also pioneering in its approach to exploring the diasporic identity of Foreign Domestic Workers (FDWs) through physical spaces, particularly in the bustling urban landscape of WorldWide Plaza in Hong Kong. Her study methodically illuminates the linguistic landscape and identity construction of FDWs, challenging the reductive stereotypes often associated with this group. By collecting and analyzing signs in the WWP area and conducting in-depth interviews, she reveals the prevalent use of English and Tagalog over Chinese and captures the divergent perceptions of Hongkongers and FDWs towards these linguistic representations. This study not only adds depth to our understanding of FDWs but also opens avenues for further research on marginalized communities. Justine's commitment to transforming this capstone into a scholarly manuscript with her supervisor demonstrates her potential for significant future contributions to academic discourse and social awareness.

2022-2023 Term 2
Cheng Tin Yin Duma

Hong Kong Daze (A Creative Writing Project of Rap Lyrics)

Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne Wong

This is a delightful creative writing project that uses rap lyrics as the medium to bring out the lyricist’s personal observations and reflections on the myriad aspects of life in Hong Kong. Juggling sound and rhyme, playing with puns, mix-ups and double entendres, the artist presents us with new perspectives to look at both the harsh and gentle facets of Hong Kong life, all tinged with sharp wit, keen perception and redeeming hope.

Lee Wing Lam Winnie

Perception of Hong Kong Accent on language attitudes, language ideology, and identity: Case studies of Hong Kong ESL university students

Supervisor: Prof. Tongle Sun

Winnie investigated the language attitudes of Hong Kong university students who graduated from EMI/CMI secondary schools. Adopting a multiple case studies design, she explored the impact of the participants’ language attitudes on their language identity and ideology. Findings of the study have valuable implications for English language education in Hong Kong secondary school contexts.

Winnie demonstrated her excellent research skills and critical thinking skills from the conceptualization and designing of the study to data collection and analysis. Her presentation was coherent and professional. Her report was well written. I highly recommend her for the exemplary award.

Alquitran Chloe Denise Hipolito

Untangling & Weaving Identities: Rediscovering and Asserting Individuality and The Collective Africanness at Mariama African Hair Braiding Salon Through the Poetics of Hair Braiding in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah

Supervisor: Prof. Collier Nogues

Chloe Alquitran’s capstone essay is a brilliant example of how a student’s interests within and beyond academia can come together, fueling an artful, timely, and sophisticated inquiry into a literary text. “Untangling Identities” deploys sharp close reading alongside careful attention to Americanah’s larger patterns, culminating in a thoroughly engaging, fresh, and persuasive argument. The final result is not only a pleasure to read, but pushes forward the conversation about Adichie’s work—it’s a true contribution to contemporary literary scholarship.

Yuen Ying Circle

Exploring the multi-faceted linguistic landscape of Hong Kong: A regional analysis

Supervisor: Prof. Wilkinson Daniel Wong Gonzales

Circle’s capstone project explores the linguistic landscape of Hong Kong from a comparative approach, with a focus on three regions: Mong Kok, Tin Shui Wai, and Discovery Bay. She examines how the signs in these regions, such as the presence of languages, the use of multiple languages, text size, and position, are conditioned by regional factors like Japanese influence, proximity to the mainland, and status as a foreign tourist hub. The strengths of Circle’s project are remarkable. She employs a quantitative approach and goes above and beyond in her data collection methodology, exceeding expectations for undergraduate students. Her methodology is theoretically grounded and supported by relevant literature. The analysis is sophisticated yet easily understandable, with complex data coding. Circle presents clear hypotheses and predictions, effectively supporting her arguments with empirical evidence. The discussion section provides insightful connections between semiotic resources and the notion of indexicality in sociolinguistics, as well as theories in economics, highlighting the interdisciplinary nature of the paper. Moreover, Circle’s work fills a gap in the current literature, as a significant portion of linguistic landscape research in Hong Kong was conducted a long time ago, making her study a valuable contribution to contemporary work on Hong Kong's linguistic landscape. Circle’s ability to work independently with minimal input is commendable, and overall, her work is impressive and holds the potential for publication.

Tai Yuen Yi Edna

Reshaping for Beauty: Understanding Raymond Carver’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Love with its Editorial History and the Influence of Editor Gordon Lish

Supervisor: Prof. Eli Park Sorensen

Edna’s capstone project presents an original argument about the complex editorial history of Raymond Carver's What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, and the controversial relationship between Carver and his editor Gordon Lish. It examines how Lish’s aggressive editing significantly altered Carver’s original stories and themes, raising essential questions about Carver’s literary legacy and reputation as one of the pre-eminent minimalist writers of the late 20th century. Overall, a well-written and well-researched dissertation.

Lee Tsz Yan Grace

Fluidity between Existential Lightness and Weight: Kierkegaard in Milan Kundera’s The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Supervisor: Prof. Eli Park Sorensen

Grace’s capstone project provides a sophisticated and insightful reading of how Kundera’s novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being extends Kierkegaard’s philosophy by presenting a more fluid sense of existence. Closely analyzing the trajectories of each main character, the dissertation explores how the novel articulates the complexity and ambiguity of human existence and the struggle to find a balance between existential lightness and weight. The overall argument—and the thorough and rigorous research to support it—is exemplary.

Ma. Rosario Clarizza Catingan

Milk Teeth – A Collection of Confessional Poetry

Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne Wong

This collection of poems serves as an important milestone in the author’s creative writing journey, marking the rediscovery of her passion for writing and a breakthrough in her relationship with poetry. As she worked on the drafts, she found strength in being vulnerable, hope in delving into despair, and a voice that is both personal and universal. The collection captures the poet at the crossroads of innocence and knowledge, on the cusp of transformation.

Rabindra Gurung

A Comparative Analysis of Cultural Appropriation in Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever as Reflections of Postcolonial Sentiment

Supervisor: Prof. Wilkinson Daniel Wong GONZALES

Rabindra offers a critical analysis and comparison of two sequel films, Avatar: The Way of Water and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, through a postcolonial lens. Rabindra’s major finding is particularly notable, as he demonstrates how the first film reinforces the Western colonial legacy, while the second film portrays postcolonial dynamics with more nuance. One of the key strengths of the project is its qualitative approach, providing a deep understanding and interpretation of the films. Rabindra’s exceptional writing and presentation skills are evident in his ability to make the project easily accessible and appreciated by readers who may not be familiar with the related literature. He skillfully summarizes both films and supports his arguments with empirical evidence. Moreover, Rabindra engages adeptly with concepts such as the "Western gaze," "White Savior," "Othering," sociolinguistic variation, language and power, and identity. His work shines a light on the colonial underpinnings of media and illuminates how language and film mediate the relationship between individuals and colonial forces in a society where colonial influences are often taken for granted or glossed over. Rabindra’s ability to work independently with minimal input is impressive, and his project contributes significantly to the much-needed research on postcolonialism and literary criticism. Overall, his work is commendable and deserving of recognition.

Sek Betty

Are English Language Proficiency Tests valid indicators of one’s language skills, and can these tests improve one’s English spoken and written skills?

Supervisor: Prof. Jung Jookyoung

Betty's Capstone project explored the relationship between the IELTS test and test-takers' academic performance in a university setting. Her study is particularly relevant considering the significant implications and washback effects of high-stakes standardized English proficiency tests on English language education. Through triangulating data from multiple sources, including IELTS scores, cumulative GPAs, survey responses, and in-depth interviews, Betty presents a comprehensive picture of the status quo. While the study confirmed a significant relationship between IELTS scores and overall GPAs, it also revealed that preparing for the IELTS does not necessarily improve test-takers' academic English abilities. In so doing, Betty's project challenges the habitual reliance on IELTS and highlights the need for reexamination of how to better measure English proficiency in a way that is conducive to English learning during test preparation. By successfully combining relevant theories such as English language teaching and learning, English language assessment, and language policy, Betty's project further demonstrates exemplary academic rigor and scholarship. Her work will contribute meaningfully to the ongoing discourse around language proficiency testing, and I wholeheartedly recommend Betty's Capstone project as an exceptional contribution to the field of English language education.

2022-2023 Term 1
Ng Wing Shan Alice

I Just Want to Keep the Goldfish with Me

Supervisor: Prof. Collier Nogues

Alice’s capstone project, I Just Want to Keep the Goldfish With Me, is a strikingly beautiful, poignant, carefully-crafted collection of poems, accompanied by photographs that elegantly underscore her poetic themes. Taking up questions of migration, collective memory, and the relationship between the private and public self, the collection explores what it means to call Hong Kong home. As Alice writes, the collection “aims to be a call and response to the city, written to and for the people as a voice that addresses the collective trauma and difficult times.” It succeeds, bringing to life a spirit of connection and community that unites these poems and serves as testament to what poetry can do for not only the individual poet or reader, but for all of us who live and love the city.

But Cheuk Lam Sherry

A Critical Discourse Analysis of Facial Cream Advertisements

Supervisor: Prof. Prem Phyak

Sherry’s research investigates the use of linguistic features in facial cream advertisements and their social meanings from the perspective of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA). The source of the data for the study includes the commercials for facial cream products such as Shiseido, L'Oréal Paris, Lancôme, Estee Lauder, La Mer, Dior, and Kiehl's. Sherry used Fairclough’s three-dimensional model of CDA to analyse linguistic forms/features and sociocultural meanings in the commercials distributed mainly in the social media. The findings show that the facial cream commercials use direct address and rhetorical questions to express their close relationship with customers. Manufacturers also use positive adjectives, conjunctions, and to-infinitives to explain the benefits of facial creams and to appeal to female clients. Sherry’s study shows that the manufacturers construct and define ‘perfect beauty’ by using adjectives such as young skin, glossy, smooth, hydrated, and free of evident signs of aging. Additionally, the commercials use appealing and exotic language to attract the customers and to make them feel proud of using their products.

Kosain Sardar

The Effectiveness of Vocabulary Teaching Strategies Used by Teachers for Young ESL Learners in Hong Kong

Supervisor: Dr. Jette Hansen Edwards

Kosain carried out a project on vocabulary teaching for primary school students in Hong Kong due to her own career aspirations to become a teacher at the primary level. Kosain conducted a careful review of the literature and designed a mixed-methods study that included a synthesis of previous research in the area and interviews with in-practice primary school teachers. Her data analysis was thorough and of a high calibre, as she was able to connect findings from previous research with her own findings. The project is extremely well written and demonstrates a level of understanding of conducting research and content knowledge expected of an MA student. Her oral presentation was equally of a high calibre and felt like a professional presentation by an in-service teacher at an academic conference.

Tsang Yuen Man Mary

A Sociolinguistic Analysis of Cantonese-English Code-Switching in Hong Kong WhatsApp Conversations

Supervisor: Prof. Wilkinson Daniel Wong Gonzales

As Mary's capstone advisor, I had the pleasure of working with Mary on her investigation of sociolinguistic variation in Cantonese-English code-switching. Mary's project -- which utilized state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing tools to investigate the common topic of Cantonese-English codeswitching and its relationship with social variables -- provided fresh insight into sociolinguistics in Hong Kong. She complemented her quantitative analysis pf WhatsApp data with a qualitative analysis of questionnaire data. By doing so, she provided interesting insights using novel datasets. The result was a rigorous analysis that focused on part-of-speech patterns and social variables using descriptive statistical tools. The dataset feeds into a larger project of sociolinguistics in Hong Kong, addressing inequality in the region. Mary's project was so good that I invited her to collaborate with me on at least one paper that is in progress as of now. She demonstrated an impressive ability to think critically, creatively, and independently, and was able to take the initiative to develop a unique and original research project. I strongly believe that Mary's work is worthy of recognition and is a prime candidate for the Exemplary Capstone Project Award. I wholeheartedly endorse her for this honor. I can confidently say that Mary has produced some of the most impressive and thought-provoking work I have seen in my time as a professor at CUHK.

2021-2022 Term 2
Tung Nok Tung

A study of Cantonese-English Code-switching in CUHK English Major and Non-English Major Students’ Daily Utterances.

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

Nok Tung's capstone is exemplary for a number of reasons: 1) theoretical understanding and framing of research on Cantonese-English code-switching, 2) comprehensive and expansive data collection; 3) innovative data collection tasks; 4) a large scale and robust data set for analysis; 5) deep and complex analysis and interpretation of the data. This project evidences understanding of code-switching at a level not usually expected of undergraduate students but rather of Master’s degree students. Truly an impressive project.

Lee Hei Tong Jessie

Investigating the motivation of English language learning and use: Case studies of English majors from Hong Kong and South Korea

Supervisor: Prof. Tongle Sun

Hei Tong’s capstone project explored the language learning motivation of English majors in Hong Kong and South Korea. Informed by second language motivation theories, the study investigated the English language learning experiences of four case participants (two from Hong Kong and two from South Korea). From analyzing questionnaire survey results and in-depth interview data, Hei Tong’s study identified multiple factors that appeared to influence the divergent developmental trajectories of the participants. Findings of the study had valuable pedagogical implications to enhance English language education in the two contexts under investigation. This well-planned and well-conducted project demonstrated Hei Tong’s solid grasp of motivation constructs and her excellent research skills.

Lam Hoi Tung Janice


Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne Wong

As with a lot of creative works, it took a while before Janice's short story "Gwai" began to take shape in her mind. From then on, and within a limited period of time, Janice worked with determination and vision to write and rewrite the chapters, answering to the ambience and ambiguity of a world of ghosts and choy sum flowers that she was trying to capture. The result of the hard work is a beautifully-written story about grandmothers, mothers and the ghosts that we want to carry with us.

2021-2022 Term 1
Lee Christopher James

Ludic decisions on screen and paper: anti-agency in If on a winter's night a traveler and The Stanley Parable

Supervisor: Prof. Grant Hamilton

James's project on the narrative structures of If on a winter's night a traveller and The Stanley Parable demonstrates well the progress that students can make during their undergraduate years. Profoundly creative and extraordinarily sophisticated for undergraduate work, this project showcases the highest standard of analytical work conducted in the department today.

Sze-to Hiu Yuet

Effects of Single-Player Video Games on Incidental Vocabulary Learning

Supervisor: Prof. Jung Jookyoung

Sze-to Hiu Yuet explored incidental vocabulary learning from a single-player video game, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Her Capstone project addresses a timely issue, i.e., technology-mediated and autonomous second language learning. She asked her participants to play a particular route of the game and examined how the frequency, the modality (image vs video), and learners' prior knowledge affected incidental learning of vocabulary items that appeared in the game. Her analysis was conducted in a systematic and methodical manner using the Vocabulary Knowledge Scale Test. In addition, her interpretation of the results is based on a robust understanding of relevant theories such as the Involvement Load Hypothesis (Hulstijn & Laufer, 2001), the Trade-off Hypothesis (Skahen, 2009), and the Dual-coding Theory (Paivio, 1971). This study provides meaningful insights on the pedagogical use of video games for promoting second language vocabulary learning, and it has full potential to evolve into a larger-scale study in the future. That said, I would pleasantly nominate this project for the Exemplary Capstone Project Award 2021-22 Term 1.

Tsang Cho Kiu Natalie

Constructing a Hongkonger Community on Instagram

Supervisor: Prof. Ron Darvin

In this elegantly written and well-researched paper, Natalie Tsang examines how influential local Instagrammers perform their Hongkonger identities while constructing a community online. Drawing on Anderson’s (1983) notion of imagined communities and Boyd’s (2009) networked publics, Tsang conducted a multimodal discourse analysis of posts and comments by this networked Hongkonger public. The study demonstrated how creators and users creatively assembled their linguistic and semiotic resources, using images, captions, hashtags, and emojis to promote not only pride in the city, but also commitment to civic duty. By mapping out connections between identity, culture, politics and social media, Tsang weaves together the narrative of a Hongkonger community that thrives online and is made stronger through personal conviction, action and compassion.

Wong Ting Yan Grace

Absolute Justice in Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment

Supervisor: Prof. Eli Park Sorensen

This is a very original thesis that develops a sophisticated and highly original argument about ‘authorial strategies’ in Dostoevsky’s novel Crime and Punishment. Ms. Wong engages thoroughly with existing scholarship on the novel, while at the same time demonstrating a clear awareness of her own argument. The thesis furthermore demonstrates excellent close-reading skills paying specific attention to the many layers and variety of textual strategies in the novel.

Yuen Wai Shiu Ernest

Construction through Rejection – The Influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy on Blake’s “A Memorable Fancy” from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell

Supervisor: Prof. Li Ou

Ernest’s project explores Dante’s legacy in Blake, but he manages to make the ambitious project feasible by focusing on a section (A Memorable Fancy #4) in Blake’s Marriage of Heaven and Hell, in which he traces Dantean elements by considering two episodes in The Inferno, since the knowledge of Dante in the Romantic era was mainly confined to those two particular episodes. The paper is an exemplary capstone project, built upon his readings in both Romanticism and Renaissance courses between which he has made creative and convincing links. The conception of the paper is brilliant, which is solidly supported with an acute and reflective reading of Blake, who, he argues, both subverts Dante with his revolutionary energy and inherits from Dante the creation of a system with multi-faceted symbols. The project has a particular resonance with our own time as well, by bringing us back to Blake who challenges and ridicules institutionalised religion with fierce and at times comic creative energy.

2020-2021 Term 2
Ho Hei Ting Bibiana

The Devil who Saves Christianity: Exploring Netflix’s Lucifer’s Portrayals and Solutions to the Crisis of Christian Faith in the 21st Century

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

There is a strong argument here pertaining to how the TV series, Lucifer, can be seen as a positive reassessment of the Christian faith in light of modern skepticism concerning religious values. In addition, the analysis of the film as a hybrid genre of police procedural, comedy drama and Christian mythology speaks of the accomplished application of the concepts of literary analysis to the cultural text.

Cheung Hei Yu Charlene

A Labyrinth of Nothingness: Contours of Meaning in Paul Auster’s The New York Trilogy

Supervisor: Prof. David Huddart

Charlene's project is a fluent and careful examination of Paul Auster's 'crime fiction' that is rooted in her own experiences as well as the life of Hong Kong. Beginning with apparent meaninglessness, Charlene eventually came to accept the 'inescapable power of chance'. Her experience of researching and writing the capstone matched the pursuit of characters in Auster's writing.

Lee Dominic Shing Yuen

A Play on Words

Supervisor: Prof. Julian Lamb

This was a theatrical performance of 4 scenes – 3 monologues and one duologue – from Shakespeare and Caryl Churchill. This was a highly innovative thoughtful, and powerful piece of theatre which amply fulfilled the requirements of a capstone: it both served as the culmination of some of the things you’d learned over your English major, but also intimated some of what you will continue to explore in the years ahead. The overall theme of the piece – the difficulty of speaking about/in such times as HK has lived through – was well chosen. I saw that most powerfully in the first monologue. Here, the barriers to expression were articulated as a kind of artistic blockage (as Grotowski might have termed it) in which the artist becomes consumed with self-awareness and self-consciousness such that they cannot create. (Hamlet is the perfect avatar for this.) This idea of the difficulty of speech was perhaps also present in the final video montage in which, essentially, you give over some of the performance to others: they say the words, and you become a more implicit and less visible directorial presence. This was well-handled, very interesting, and well-performed. Although your performance in Cantonese of that section from the “Tomorrow” speech was excellent, it was your grandpa (?) and the children which were most powerful. Here, the fundamental problem the play was exploring – how can we speak at such a time? – achieves a kind of resolution: we don’t speak, but listen; and, in listening, we bear witness; and, in bearing witness, we show (i.e. put on a play). Thus conceived, the whole piece assumes a very exciting shape: the actor at the beginning, who is creatively impotent due to an excess of self-consciousness, gradually gives his piece over to others. To me, that was the story that was emerging here. And that was very beautiful.

Wong Wing Tuen Emily

The Change in Gender Representation in Superhero Movies of the Last Decade

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

This project looks at gender representations in popular cultural texts. Its argument that there is a shift in male characters from “toxic masculinity to soft boy personalities” is particularly intriguing. It also argues that in recent portrayals of women superheroes film and TV series, there is a tendency for women to be represented as being accomplished in the areas of STEM and warfare strategies, as in the case of Black Panther and the recent The Flash TV series, among others. Nonetheless, the paper is careful to point out that despite such representations in popular culture, in STEM-related industries in the real world, women are still under-represented.

Chor Tsz Him Ernest

Language in adversity: How should language be used in times of crisis?

Supervisor: Prof. Rowan Mackay

Capstone projects are supposed to be a culmination of learning within the context of the undergraduate degree, they bring together previous experience, previous earning, and a personal interest in a particular topic. Ernest brought to his Capstone project something additional: contemporary relevance. The project looked at how language has been – and is being - used by leaders during this time of the Covid 19 pandemic crisis. It asks: ‘How should language be used in handling a crisis?’. By analysing the language of two world leaders, Jacinda Ardern and Boris Johnston, whose handling of the crisis have been judged very differently, Ernest provides a very clear and persuasive analysis. Using a corpus-assisted critical discourse analytical approach, Ernest focussed on three specific areas of difference: epistemic modality, or how certain the speakers were in the statements they made; expressions of empathy and how genuine these seemed; and internal contradictions – that is how consistent the messaging was and how concisely it was expressed. The findings are extremely relevant as they not only help us understand the public opinion of the two leaders, and help us judge for ourselves the communication of other world leaders, but the also help us to understand what good leadership communication consists of more generally. Ernest’s diligence and insightfulness resulted in a capstone project which was impressive, enjoyable, and relevant – not a mean feat.

Wong Cheuk Yiu Herin

Down the rabbit hole of Victorian Femininity: An investigation of the deviation from Victorian femininity in Lewis Carools’s Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

This project begins with the Victorian context of Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland and examines how Tim Burton engages with femininity in the modern context in his film. The comparisons between Wonderland and the dystopian Underland in the film are particularly insightful. The analyses pertaining to Alice as a teenager in the film are fascinating and speaks to the application of literary analysis to filmic texts.

Chan Hiu Wai Kiana

Pragmatic Competence of Hong Kong EFL Learners: Politeness in Production and Perception of Requests and Refusals

Supervisor: Prof. Jookyoung Jung

Kiana’s Capstone project demonstrates her excellent understanding about second language English pragmatics, research skills with a high standard of methodological rigor, and proficient academic writing ability. In her study, Kiana explored how EFL learners would comprehend and produce English requests and refusals. Participants for her study were secondary six students in local HK schools, and data consisted of their responses to discourse-completion tasks and a post-task survey. The results of her study revealed that the EFL learners’ ability to perceive and process English request and refusals varied considerably depending on their English proficiency. To be more specific, advanced-level learners were more competent in utilizing diverse conventional and indirect devices to avoid face-threatening expressions, whereas intermediate learners tended to overuse direct strategies. The findings of this Capstone project fit neatly into the existing L2 pragmatics theories, underscoring the need to incorporate instructions on pragmatic skills in English education in Hong Kong. Kiana successfully acknowledges the pedagogical implications of her Capstone project, highlighting the need for revisions in the local English language curriculum to better promote learners’ communicative competence. Considering the theoretical, methodological, and pedagogical strength of this study, I pleasantly and confidently recommend Kiana’s Capstone project for the Exemplary Capstone Award.

Wong Yuet Tung Melody

Mindfulness in Milton’s Paradise Regained: An Anatomy of the Second Temptation

Supervisor: Prof. Julian Lamb

This was an analysis of the theme of mindfulness in Milton’s Paradise Regained, looking in particular at the second temptation. Overall, this was an excellent capstone essay which was, in many respects, far beyond the standard that one might expect from a fourth year student, and amply showing that you are ready for postgraduate research. Your writing is a joy to read! Not only the syntax, but the structural ordering of ideas is very intuitive and easy to follow. Yet more impressive is the research. To have done the reading required to know your topic well is one thing; to have truly understood what you have read such that you can make dexterous and creative use of it is another. This proceedure of reading, understanding, and using is central to what research in the humanities is. You execute this procedure with great skill. Keep doing what you’re doing.

Li Man Yu Michelle

“I know that’s not a Real English”: Language Ideologies and Hong Kong English

Supervisor: Prof. Prem Phyak

In her capstone project, Michelle investigates language ideologies of accent preferences. Using “language ideology” (Woolard & Schieffelin, 1994) as a theoretical framework, she critically examines the ideological meanings of Hong Kong undergraduate students’ rationalization of using Hong Kong English (HKE) in different domains. Michelle defines accent preference as an ideological phenomenon and argues that the use of HKE represents Hong Kong youths’ awareness about their identity as “Hongkongers”. Analysing the data drawn from the interviews with undergraduate students, Michelle’s capstone project examines “contested” and “multiple” language ideologies of HKE. While the use of HKE is rationalized, by the participants, as a marker of “in-group identity”, it also carries, as the study shows, a deficit view vis-à-vis British English and American English, particularly in academic domain. Overall, Michelle’s project demonstrates her critical understanding about the place of Englishes in the historical, sociocultural, and political context of Hong Kong. It provides critical insights into understanding the contested language ideologies of HKE across domains.

Shing Tung Yi Roxanne

The Conflict of Gender Ideologies in Fairytale: A Case Study of “Little Red Riding Hood”

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

This paper is particularly accomplished as a work of scholarship in the way it traces the history of the well-known fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” from the Middle Ages to its re-imagination in the works of Angela Carter. Its main argument, that Carter’s work represents a feminist appropriation of the essentially patriarchal narrative, is convincing and is accompanied by strong textual analyses.

Ng Pak On Tom

Hong Kong protesters’ discourse on Twitter: their linguistic behaviors and construction of identity and affiliation

Supervisor: Prof. Rowan Mackay

Tom’s project is a timepiece: an analysis by a young person of the language of young protesters at a critical time in Hong Kong’s history and development. Even during the duration of the project, months after the anti-ELAB protests had been quelled, the language being analysed was disappearing from its online platform, being deleted for fear of political reprisal. Tom’s corpus is a snapshot of this liminal period of the city and his analysis demonstrated the multiple functionality of language in communication, in building an identity, in protesting, and in building group affinity. Using a methodology which was new to him - corpus analysis and discourse-centered online ethnography – Tom embraced all the complications which such an embedded study brings to the fore, finally, after working very hard on the presentation part of the project, finding a narrative for the paper. Unfortunately Tom’s writing-up was impeded by difficult personal circumstances, yet he persevered and produced a piece of work which is a perfect testament to what the Capstone experience is all about: it is personal to him, to society, and to the academic field of identity and movement studies.

Mak Yvonne

Emma on Film: Feminist Influence in the 2020 Adaptation

Supervisor: Prof. Li Ou

Yvonne’s capstone project examines the 2020 film adaptation of Austen’s Emma to argue for its feminist elements within the original text’s framework. It first traces the evolution of the idea of womanhood from the Regency period to our contemporary time and then, looks into the adaptation’s revision of the heroine, her relationship with other characters, and the social critique on gender and class inequality. The project stands out in its originality to explore the still understudied new adaptation, but its originality is backed up with her sensible and sensitive reading of both the original text and the film, which often suggests fair-mindedness on top of its sharp perceptiveness. It is thus an exemplary capstone project, built upon her knowledge about both textual and filmic studies, displaying critical insights into medium-specific features of both the novel and the adaptation, and making thoughtful reflections upon the historical context and our contemporary culture. Also commendable is her writing, which exemplifies a reliable accuracy and precision.

2020-2021 Term 1
Wong Sze Man Emilia

The Hong Kong Metamorphoses: Stories of Transformation in Hong Kong Folklores

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

This project explores the theme of metamorphosis, specifically, women who undergo transformation. Two popular tales in Hong Kong folk stories, the story of the Seven Sisters and the story of Amah Rock, are discussed alongside Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This project is commendable because it applies insights gleaned from reading the epic poem to the Hong Kong context. The paper is broad-ranging, from discussions of the relationship between folklore and community-building to the use of mythology in the works of Neil Gaiman and Margaret Atwood. The significance of the transformation motif in Hong Kong folk stories is further explored in interviews with Hong Kong residents and visitors to Amah Rock. A work like this reflects a sensibility forged by deep literary immersion alongside a love of Hong Kong culture.

CHAN Wai Hang Marcus

To What Extent Hong Kong English Is Acceptable Viewed by Its Young Users?

Supervisor: Prof. Rowan Mackay

Through his Capstone project, Marcus has provided us with a timely picture of the status and legitimacy of Hong Kong English (HKE) for its young users. Inspired by Hansen-Edwards’ 2016 study conducted after an earlier period of social and political unrest, this study, undertaken only months after the Anti Extradition Bill Movement of 2019-20, asked ‘to what extent Hong Kong English is acceptable, viewed by its young users’. Utilising Schneider’s (2003) model for (new) language categorisation, Marcus designed a very impressive study with which to interrogate the feelings young adult HKE users hold towards their language, focusing upon their reception to its grammatical and phonological features, as well as to its more general identity-related aspects. The project was very well-designed, well-executed, well-researched, and well-presented, reflecting Marcus’s quiet diligence and thoroughness. What made the paper stand out as exemplary was the author’s clear engagement not only with the academic part of the project, but with the personal and political implications of the subject matter. The discussion on the phenomenon of linguistic schizophrenia (Kachru, 1986) and its relevance to the HK situation, was brought to life by the discussion of Marcus’s evolving relationship to his own and others’ HKE usage. This paper provides an important analysis of the state of play at a crucial stage in the timeline of Hong Kong.

LEE Nga Man Shirley

Analysing Evaluation in News Articles of the National Security Law

Supervisor: Prof. Ron Darvin

For her Capstone Project, Shirley Lee examined how news platforms used language to convey different stances regarding the implementation of the National Security Law. By conducting a discourse analysis that focused on evaluative parameters such as comprehensibility, emotivity, importance and evidentiality, she shared insight on how specific language can index various ideological positions and how readers need to develop critical literacy.

2019-2020 Term 2
Cheung Chi Yu, Rose

Truth and Falsehood in The Faerie Queene, Book I

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Ms. Rose Cheung’s capstone project is an admirable attempt by a diligent student to come to terms with English Renaissance (specifically Protestant) conceptions of the nature of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ and ‘truth and falsehood.’ As Ms. Cheung points out, these concepts were particularly difficult for sixteenth-century Protestants to articulate since, according to the Protestant theory of ‘double predestination’ (not accepted by Catholics or even all Protestants), the ‘reprobate’ are chosen by God before birth and therefore not defined by sin. Moreover, the Protestant approach to human ‘psychology’ meant that all people, including the ‘elect,’ are defined by sinfulness, further reducing the gap between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ people. Thus the Protestants were placed in a position where they were utterly convinced of the infinite difference between ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (as seen by the distinction between God and Satan) at the same time as they were largely unable to distinguish them in practice.

These are the conditions that Ms. Cheung articulates as characteristic of Protestants in the late sixteenth century. Ms. Cheung sensibly focuses her efforts on one particular text -- the first book of Edmund Spenser’s challenging epic, The Faerie Queene -- in order to show how these premises function in Spenser’s narrative of the Red Cross Knight. This is a figure, as Ms. Cheung explains, who believes himself to be living in a ‘medieval’ universe of knights and ladies, dragons and monsters, where good and evil are more easily distinguished. Yet the ‘allegorical’ mode of medieval literature, as Spenser conceives it, is inadequate to provide Redcrosse with meaningful learning experiences. He kills monsters, such as “Error,” but continues to make mistakes. At every stage, Ms. Cheung articulates the tremendous challenges faced by people, such as Redcrosse, who strive to be ‘ethical’ in a Protestant world. They are simply incapable of fighting the lies and deceptions of evil people, who are far more cunning than they are.

While, at times, Ms. Cheung’s analysis reiterates some older critical commonplaces about ‘good’ and ‘evil’ (about, for instance, the need for divine inspiration to distinguish the two), by approaching the issue by the means of ‘truth’ and ‘falsehood,’ she opens up more room for discussion of these topics. Perhaps Ms. Cheung’s most complex idea is that truth, for Spenser and other Protestants, cannot be discerned except by contrast to falsehood. This makes truth and falsehood two parts of the same whole and gives ‘falsehood’ value in forming that whole. Ms. Cheung also provides careful, detailed analysis of how the ethical norms of both ‘good’ and ‘evil’ characters are practically indistinguishable in this section of Spenser’s epic.

Ms. Cheung proceeds with her capstone project with the same diligence that she approaches all her scholarly work. There are relevant digressions into numerous other texts, including Hamlet and Paradise Lost, both of which Ms. Cheung has studied in her other coursework. Ms. Cheung’s ability to integrate such material is additional testimony to her ‘whole person’ development and her developing knowledge of early modern Western culture.

Minda Fan Wing Yan

Hong Kong Advanced and Intermediate English Learners’ Comprehension and Appreciation of English Language-based Jokes

Supervisor: Prof. Jookyoung Jung

In her Capstone project, Minda Fan demonstrated an excellent research ability, in regards to (a) performing purposeful participant recruitment (i.e., advanced vs intermediate English speakers), (b) conducting a thorough review of relevant literature, (b) developing a structured and systematic survey, (c) conducting semi-structured interviews, and (d) using and interpreting inferential statistical analysis (i.e., ANOVA). I was deeply impressed by her inquisitive mind, commitment to her research project, time management skills, and independence as the leader of her own research project. Minda Fan, in her Capstone project, explored how L1 Cantonese speakers comprehend and appreciate English language-based jokes. She further investigated if the type of English jokes (i.e., lexical, morphological, syntactic, and phonological) and the participants’ L2 English proficiency would play as moderating factors. Based on the results from survey responses, interview protocols, and statistical analysis, Minda found that lexical and morphological jokes are easier to understand than syntactic or phonological jokes, and advanced English speakers were significantly better at understanding the jokes. Interestingly, she further found that there was no significant difference in the humour ratings (i.e., how funny they found the jokes) between the two English proficiency groups. Based on the findings, Minda draws meaningful pedagogical implications as to the need to incorporate English humour in language classrooms to enhance L2 learners’ English communicative competence. I am sure that her project can be developed into a larger-scale research project, and I can confidently say that she deserves the Exemplary Capstone Award.

Fok Wing Ting

Writing Migrant Domestic Workers of Hong Kong (English) Literature

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O'Sullivan

Hazel’s capstone project on the representation of domestic helpers in Hong Kong and on work written by domestic helpers in Hong Kong shines a light on one of the most pressing social issues in Hong Kong. Hazel’s project is exemplary not only because of its originality and its pressing social importance. It is also an exemplary project because of the methods employed to gain an insight into the issue, i.e. interviews and fieldwork.

Wan Ho Yi Kirsten

Reading George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four from an Althusserian Perspective

Supervisor: Prof. Grant Hamilton

The capstone project stands as an opportunity for our students to demonstrate just how affecting the study of English language and literature can be. I don't think I have read another project submitted under this code which illustrates this fact so clearly as the piece of writing presented by Kirsten. Following a poignant self-reflection on the significance of the study of literature, Kirsten puts together a well-thought out, well-structured, and well-written extended essay on George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four that does much to enrich our understanding of the novel. After focusing on a critique of the operation of the Althusserian sites of the Ideological State Apparatus and Repressive State Apparatus in Orwell's novel, Kirsten concludes by stressing the continuing importance of reading such literature today.

Wong Wing Sze Ceci

An Investigation of the Role of L1 Gloss and L2 Context in English Vocabulary Learning Among Primary ESL Learners

Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne Wong

Based on her own experience, her observations as well as the knowledge she gained as an English major, Ceci embarked on a project to look at the use of L1 gloss versus L2 context in vocabulary teaching in second language classrooms in Hong Kong. She gained a good grasp of the topic and articulated challenging and worthwhile research questions. She designed her materials meticulously and analyzed the data in a thorough and thoughtful way to yield nuanced conclusions and pedagogical suggestions that are worth our attention.

2019-2020 Term 1
Chan Seen Man

Words and Spaces

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Amanda Chan Seen Man’s capstone project as an English major is exemplary in content, purpose, and background. Amanda has been writing poetry for many years, largely “micropoetry,” with accompanying drawings. The words and images shed light on each other in unexpected ways, and producing such extremely short poems requires special skill. Amanda has published two collections of her work, Skins and Thoughts and Broken and Breathing. She is, moreover, always writing, aiming even to supplement her shorter verse with a considerable number of longer poems. For this project, Amanda and I selected some of what we felt were her best poems from the two collections and those written since; that many of these poems were written recently stresses the ongoing attentiveness Amanda is giving to her writing. Amanda’s capstone also contains an essay by her, Words and Spaces, in which Amanda discusses her poetic approaches and some writers who have influenced her. This capstone represents what Arts Faculty students can do as they move from University life into the life of the working world: namely, retain their commitment to the Arts and do their best to become ever-better artists, even under challenging social conditions.

CHAN, Sze Lok (Charlotte)

Language as Both Oppressive and Emancipating Power for Females in Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale

Supervisor: Prof. Grant Hamilton

Charlotte's capstone project was a tour de force of critical thinking. Introduced to French Feminism and the difficult idea of phallogocentricism in our meetings, Charlotte was able to use the time granted to her for this independent research project to read, understand, and think dystopian literature in profoundly new ways. Her sophisticated management of such complex material surely leaves no reader in doubt that they have in their hands a truly extraordinary piece of writing.

Kenneth Tong King Hang

Native Son -- A Black Murderer’s Journey to Becoming White

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O'Sullivan

I would add that the work demonstrated great innovation and originality in researching critical work on Richard Wright’s novel Native Son. Kenneth also applied his reading of racism in the novel to the situation in his own society.

Hazel Wong Lok Ching

Disorientating the Readers: Challenge to Our Limits of Empathy in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Supervisor: Prof. David Huddart

Hazel started out with one idea about the relevance of the panopticon to a novel by Kazuo Ishiguro (and also, perhaps, to local society). She tested her hypothesis to its limits, adapted to the problems she faced, and ended up producing a very interesting paper which is relevant to reading novels more generally. It moves from close reading of the novel to more abstract ideas, and in both is sophisticated and engaging.

2018-2019 Term 2
Cordelia Choi

From Ancient China to Modern West: Cross-dressing in Disney's Mulan

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Ms. Choi's capstone project on the cultural significance of cross-dressing was an excellent piece of work. Using the famous Chinese tale of "Mulan," along with its adaptation into English as a film from the Walt Disney Hollywood production company, Ms. Choi first researched the nature of cross-dressing as a world-wide phenomenon in relation to both long-term and short-term practice, and in relation to male and female cross-dressing. Her general conclusions are persuasive: that short-term cross dressing is seen (for instance in Shakespeare's comedies) as an acceptable strategy, on the part of both genders, to accomplish a short-term goal; and that, in terms of long-term cross dressing, females wearing male attire [for instance in the workplace] are clearly more acceptable than the other way around. Ms. Choi took her work further by focusing it on the figure of Mulan, whose depiction reinforces the conclusions noted above, and who, in her Disney configuration, is used to make the USA nation seem superior to ancient (and by extension modern) China, which is depicted as 'backwards' in its limited range of female role model options. As Ms. Choi argues, this justifies Mulan's cross-dressing in relation to the film's presentation of China, while at the same stressing its inappropriateness in the modern USA where women can retain their 'femininity' and still succeed.

Luk Sin Kwan

Idealism and Cynicism in Superheroes

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O'Sullivan

While it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, Alison believes strongly in the inclusion of comics and graphic novels and superhero movies in the literature canon for English departments and I think she presents a good case in the thesis.

Ngai Beverly Hiu Wai

Resistance and Self-Assertion in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave and Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Ms. Ngai's capstone project on two famous 19th century American slave narratives by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Jacobs managed to make original contributions to the study of this often-investigated genre. Ms. Ngai's larger agenda, which involved the nature of 'self-assertion' in slave narratives, covered sensible subtopics relating to the acquisition of literacy and the efforts to control one's body. The project reached a level of higher excellence by stressing the gendered distinctions between these two approaches, emphasizing to some degree, the even greater obstacles placed upon female American slaves in their efforts to achieve some level of autonomy in their lives.

POK Yan Kei Jacqueline

The Neologism Trend in the Korean Context: Attitudes towards "Konglish"

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

Jacqueline Pok's capstone research focuses on attitudes towards Korean English (Konglish). To investigate attitudes, Jacqueline employed a mixed-method research methodology, with interviews, survey questions, and online data analysis. She is deserving of the exemplary capstone award for a number of reasons: Her literature review was thorough and expansive, and her discussion of the literature demonstrates her solid understanding of her research topic; her research questions addressed issues that have not previously been well researched; and Jacqueline’s research provides additional insights into the acceptability of new Englishes and therefore makes a good contribution to the field.

Angie Tam On Chi

Language and Bloodline in Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O'Sullivan

Angie gave a really great reading of the poet Sarah Howe. It is one of the most sensitive readings of Howe by a Hong Kong scholar that I have read. Alison also produced a good thesis on the superheroes and Marvel genre.

2018-2019 Term 1
Chan Wing Ki

Exploring “Japanglish”: An Investigation into English Accent of Japanese and Language Ideology in Japan

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

Chan Wing Ki’s Capstone project focuses on Japanese English; unlike most research on varieties of English, Chan’s focuses on more than one aspect of Japanese English – she conducts interviews, a phonological analysis of 5 speech samples, and a thorough background research on educational practices in Japan.  As such, the project is ambitious but Chan is able to link the various research findings into a coherent and engaging discussion about the status of Japanese English in Japan today.  As such, the project is exemplary, as the topic not only is demanding and comprehensive, but also requires a high level analytical (including phonological analysis) ability in order to pull together the various strands of research into a cogent and articulate argument. Chan has been able to do this, and therefore deserves the Exemplary Capstone Award for this project.

Wilson Kwong Wai Kit

Hedging Devices in Negatively-polite Spoken Discourse of Hong Kong Secondary School Students

Supervisor: Dr. Suzanne Wong

The project examines the use of hedging devices (such as “I guess,” “well” and “I am afraid that”) in the oral discourse of Hong Kong secondary school students and demonstrates that explicit instruction is effective in increasing the use of hedging devices to enhance pragmatic competence.
The student has shown a solid grasp of the subject-matter and has identified a worthwhile research gap in the field to fill. The research questions are clearly articulated, and the teaching intervention was conducted professionally. The methodology is sound, and the data collected is analyzed meticulously. The report not only sheds light on the underuse of hedging devices in Hong Kong secondary school students’ oral output but also argues convincingly for the effectiveness of pedagogical intervention in heightening students’ awareness and application of hedging devices for negative politeness.

Stephanie Leung Tsoi Hang

“See you in the same old place”: the postcolonial uncanny in Killing the Angel: Short Stories by S. Quanan

Supervisor: Prof. Evelyn Chan

Stephanie Leung's capstone project examines the idea of the "uncanny" in the Hong Kong writer Quanan Shum's collection of short stories, showing how the notion maps onto the physical, historical, social, and political landscape of Hong Kong in Shum's works. Both the topic of the capstone project and Stephanie's approach are original, combining Stephanie's knowledge of the particular context of Hong Kong, effective use of reference material on Hong Kong's socioeconomics, and in-depth literary analysis. Stephanie's competent close reading of the texts, the high level of critical analysis she conducts, and the keen and subtle insights she derives, make this capstone project exemplary.

2017-2018 Term 2
Candy Ho Lok Tung

Exploring Medieval Female Archetypes in Game of Thrones

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Candy Ho’s capstone project on Medieval influences on the representation of women in the popular TV show, Game of Thrones, provides a useful model of what undergraduate English majors can achieve when exploring literary history. Ms. Ho takes, for her paper topic, three archetypes of women in the Middle Ages (the warrior woman, the evil queen/mother, and the ‘female rebel’) and explores how each type is presented in Game of Thrones. More impressively, Ms. Ho charts the history of each archetype with a great deal of specificity, citing numerous examples from antiquity to the Middle Ages and into the European Renaissance. The scope of the project is well-suited to a 25-30 page essay and the overall presentation, in terms of writing and organization, is exemplary. The overall effect of the project is to convey a strong sense of continuity in literary history, as well as gesturing towards new representations of women in contemporary media.

Candy Leung Tsz Ching

Incidental L2 Vocabulary Acquisition in Poem Comprehension by Hong Kong Advanced Learners of English

Supervisor: Prof. Helen Zhao

I recommend Ms Leung Tsz Ching Candy for the Exemplary Capstone Project award. Candy addresses a classic topic in second language acquisition research, i.e., how learners acquire new words. She approaches this question from a unique angle: how learners acquire new words in poems. Almost all of our undergraduates in the Department, who take various English literature courses, have to deal with this linguistic problem at some point as a second language reader of English literary texts. In her capstone project, Candy used the think-aloud technique, a commonly adopted instrument in applied linguistics research, and asked her participants to verbalise their ongoing thoughts while reading a carefully selected poem written by an Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. She did detailed qualitative analyses of the types of knowledge and strategies that learners made use of during think-aloud interpretations of target unknown words in the poem. The depth of the data analyses is rarely seen among undergraduate work. The research is innovative and revealing. It is truly a wonderful synthesis of Candy’s undergraduate studies of English literature and applied linguistics in the Department.

Joyce Tse Wing Yi

Hong Kong Identity Today

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

This is a socio-literary project on Hong Kong identity. It looks at how Hong Kong's history continues to influence the identity of Hong Kong people. It also examines literary works by Leung Ping-kwan, Louise Ho, Tammy Ho and Xu Xi, looking at moments when the writing engages with the question of identity. It also describes how the different generations of Hong Kong people think about their identity. The final argument, that the complexity (and inevitable conflicts that result) of Hong Kong's multiple identities should be celebrated is an authentic and heartfelt reaction to the polarized contemporary political landscape.

Mickey Pang Yin Chong

Investigation into speech performances of Hong Kong ESL learners at tertiary education level

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

I would like to nominate Yin Chong Pang for the Exemplary Capstone award. His project, Investigation into Speech Performances of Hong Kong ESL Learners at Tertiary Education Level was excellent both in research design as well as analysis and interpretation of results. What sets the project apart from others is the careful and insightful analysis and interpretation of the data in light of current research on speech processing. Ying Chong Pang’s work is on par with that expected of MA/MPhil students in applied linguistics. He is very deserving of this award.

Natalie Ng Lok Wing

Unveiling the Music in Irish Poetry

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O’Sullivan

The essay is entitled “Unveiling the Music in Irish Poetry”. It is highly original, interdisciplinary and also one of the best capstone projects I have read. The writing is graduate level and the research is wide-ranging. In all honesty, I believe the essay would very easily make a very worthwhile MA or even Mphil thesis topic. The idea to relate literature to music at the level of verse and poetic structure is also an important one for the department.

Vivien Chan Ying Tung

Melancholy across the Eras of Romanticism and Modernism: the Cases of John Keats and Franz Kafka

Supervisor: Prof. Li Ou

This is an original research project on two apparently very different writers, Keats and Kafka, brought together by the idea of melancholy. The project traces the history of the idea of melancholy and considers the relevance of melancholy to the two authors, in their personal lives and writings. The project analyses the sources of the two authors’ melancholy, their different responses to it, and finally enquires whether they have managed to transcend it, especially through creative writing. The conclusion on Keats’s embrace of melancholy and Kafka’s vain grappling with it then broadens up to the different tenors of the Romantic and Modernist age, which gives the project a further scope. The reading of the text is keenly insightful and the critical analysis dexterous. The whole project stands out in its originality, in-depth reading, and the daring scope it attempts at.

2017-2018 Term 1
Alison Ng Tsz Ying

A Comparative Study of Early English Consonant Development between North American and British Children: Same or Different?

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

I’d like to nominate Alison Ng, for her project ‘A comparison of early English consonant development between North American and British children.’ Alison’s project had a unique focus, one that has been underexplored in the literature on child phonological acquisition. Her study is therefore both original and significant. Alison carried out her project through a careful phonological analysis of a large amount of child language, which both requires expertise and precision. It is also extremely time-consuming. Her careful and considered analysis of the data provided Alison with interesting findings, which she interpreted against the available literature. In all tasks – project development, data collection and analysis, and project write up – Alison displayed great maturity in her research engagement. Her work is excellent.

Canis Cheung Yee Ki

History and Class Consciousness in Post-colonial Hong Kong writings in English

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O’Sullivan

I feel that Canis’s presentation and essay are hugely important for Hong Kong Studies. The essay essentially questions why very little Hong Kong literature in English examines the issue of class in Hong Kong. Class is an important element and theme in writing in the UK, Ireland and the US, however, writing in English in Hong Kong, according to Canis, does not cover class, what she feels should be an important concern for writers in Hong Kong especially when social inequality is on the rise in Hong Kong. Canis also makes very use of Marxist scholars such as Lukacs and Eagleton in her paper and I feel this is quite an original use of these critics in relation to Hong Kong writing in English. I also think that the interview material that Canis chose to use in the essay is very original and shows that literature students are also very eager to incorporate other forms of research into their work.

Heather Wong Siu Ting

Women Awakening: A Hong Kong Perspective on Social Class and Women’s Independence in Early 20th Century Women’s Writing

Supervisor: Prof. Michael O’Sullivan

The essay by Heather on feminism and identity in Woolf and on Xi Xi’s “Mourning Over the Breast” was, I felt, a deeply moving and important essay. It is written in a style that demonstrates for me that Heather has clearly taken on board the teachings and writings of feminist writers. I also feel it is well –written and that it demonstrates well how our students can learn to relate important ways of reading texts to events in their own lives.

Milton Lam Chin Hang

“of which…” vs. “(which)… of.” – A Corpus-based Study of Pied-piping Usage in Hong Kong English

Supervisor: Prof. Gerald Nelson

This research project addresses a fairly arcane topic in English grammar, namely, the pied-piping construction (eg. the job for which I applied), in contrast with the stranded preposition construction (the job I applied for). The methodology, too, is unusual at undergraduate level, since it uses corpus data and methods to examine the use of these constructions among Hong Kong speakers, across a variety of spoken and written genres. Although Milton has had no formal training in corpus-based methods, the resulting research is quite exceptional at every level. Milton analysed a very large amount of language data with meticulous care, and he applied some very sophisticated statistical measures to the analysis of the results. The discussion of those results shows an unusual level of awareness of the many variables that affect language performance. I was particularly impressed when Milton – without any prompting from me – clearly distinguished between the pied-piping construction and another construction that looks superficially similar to it (eg. the land, some of which was sold). Milton refers to this is as ‘pseudo-pied-piping’, and he quite correctly excluded it from his analysis. That level of discrimination among grammatical forms is vanishingly rare at undergraduate level. The final research report is by far the best I have supervised, and is far better than many of the reports I receive from students taking our MA course in Corpus Linguistics. Indeed, I have seen some published reports of corpus-based research that show none of the sophistication of Milton’s work.

2016-2017 Term 1
Felix Lo Tze Chun

A Queer Writing in Crevasse: Spectrality, Subjectivation, Subversiveness

Supervisor: Prof. Julian Lamb

Felix Lo’s capstone essay offered a very sophisticated analysis of Nicholas Wong’s recent collection of poems, Crevasse. Wong is a gay Hong Kong poet, and though the collection is not explicitly gay, its themes and formal experimentation are sensitively analysed by Felix, whose approach was heavily influenced by queer theory. Felix argued that queerness is always inevitably spectral and elusive, and to define Wong’s collection as “queer” not only potentially curtails its relevance, but is fundamentally to misunderstand what queerness is.

Sally Leung Yuen Sze

Language Identity Exploration through my Study Abroad Poems:
An introspective, critical account of my year abroad

Supervisor: Prof.Jane Jackson

I would like to recommend Sally Leung Yuen Sze for the capstone award. She worked very well throughout the semester (enthusiastically!) and throughout her project she engaged in critical reflection on past, present, and future elements. Her project, which is entitled ‘Language Identity Exploration through my Study Abroad Poems: An introspective, critical account of my year abroad’, fits with the aims of the capstone course. During the semester, she experienced significant personal growth as she reflected on her self-identities, coursework, and international experience. Her study incorporates creative literary works (poems she wrote that illustrate her study abroad experience and unique developmental trajectory/identity expansion) and applied linguistics analysis (a critical investigation of language and identity elements in relation to relevant theories). Her report is both descriptive and analytical and demonstrates growth in self-awareness and deep reflection. In particular, she reflected on the impact of her UG studies/study abroad experience on her future career as an English language teacher and identified personal strengths as well as gaps in her preparation. Sally has applied to join the postgraduate Diploma in Education (PGDE) after graduation and her reflective work has helped prepare her for this. In sum, she was actively engaged in this project throughout the semester and she produced very good work (presentation and written report).

2016-2017 Term 2
Ashley Lau Yee Ting

Floating and Drowning in Fluidity: Identity Creation in The Woman Warrior and Mona in the Promised Land

Supervisor: Prof. Eli Park Sorensen

Ashley wrote a sophisticated capstone thesis on the complexities of Chinese-American identity, creating a subtle theoretical framework around Maxine Hong Kingston’s The Woman Warrior and Gish Jen’s Mona in the Promised Land. Working through a wide range of identity-related concepts — such as hybridity, mimicry, the liminal, double-consciousness and performativity — Ashley managed to combine this bold theoretical approach with an authoritative and passionate reading of the literary texts. Her discussion of the delicate balance between socio-cultural influence and individual creativity linked particularly well with the chosen texts. Lastly, Ashley brought her ideas into a broader discussion of diversity and identity-formation in today’s society, thus stressing the ongoing relevance of literary thought.

Renee Lee Yi Ki

The Pedagogical Potential of Code Switching in ESL Classrooms

Supervisor: Prof.Derek Chan

Renee Lee studied how alternating language use, or code switching (CS), could benefit or hinder English language education in local secondary classrooms. Although CS seems inevitable in many language contact situations, as psycho- and socio-linguistic studies have robustly attested, the Education Bureau discourages or even prohibits CS in the official Medium of Instruction (MOI) policy. Seeing the contested issues involved, Renee strategically triangulated classroom observation and survey data to gain a deeper insight into the myths and realities surrounding CS. The entire capstone project was meticulously designed and implemented. Renee even completed her target milestones ahead of schedule. I was impressed, once and again, when Renee shared her interesting novel findings. CS is a well-received pedagogical tool, especially in domains of grammar acquisition and meaning negotiation, by learners and teachers alike. Teachers especially welcome CS, seeing it as an affective bridge between teachers and learners who share the same language background. Renee called for more research into this untapped potential of CS, which has far-reaching implications to pedagogy and policy. Renee’s performance in this capstone project, from beginning to end, is stellar.

2015-2016 Term 1
Helen Wu

Paradoxes and Contradictions in Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

Supervisor: Prof. Simon Haines

Helen’s capstone essay was an intelligent synthesis of two very different kinds of thinking. She had to tackle the complex logical categories of paradox and contradiction, and show she understood them, before applying them to the unlikely material of two of the most famous and influential (and long) Romantic poems: Byron’s Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage and Don Juan. The result is really a most original approach to tone and personality in poetry. One wouldn’t normally think of Byron’s poetry as containing tensions of quite this kind, and yet Helen was able to show that they are to be found in many places, including quite unlikely ones. She also shows that there may be more continuity than is commonly thought between the two works, famously seen as representing completely different modes of self. I would not usually expect writing of such intellectual sophistication from a student at this level. Finally, Helen has been able to reflect thoughtfully on her work and on the significance of poetry in general.

Jamie Ching Yee Lam

Pro-American Values in Hollywood Movie Musicals

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Jamie Lam’s capstone project accomplishes the goals of this activity well. Focusing on four popular American musicals, three of them set in foreign nations (The Sound of Music, Evita, and Les Misérables) and one set in the USA (Annie), this project explores the ways that American identity is forged through popular art. This project demonstrated a rich knowledge of twentieth-century American and European history (American ‘democracy’ versus Nazism, communism, and oligarchy) and, even more impressively, a knowledge of the sorts of character traits that American popular culture encourages in the people – such as a yearning for upward mobility, an obedience yet suspicion of the law, and a distaste for aristocracy and demagoguery. In addition, Jamie’s project conveyed her wide-ranging affection for American musicals and her expertise in the genre; the complex ideas are integrated with expressive, detailed depictions of the way musical scenes are presented in films to subtly convey ideological values.

Joanna Siu

Acquisition of Present Perfect by Advanced Cantonese Learners of English

Supervisor: Prof. Derek H. L. Chan

Joanna Siu examined the usage patterns of English present perfect — a grammar focus that poses immense theoretical and pedagogical challenges within the domain of tense and aspect — among advanced English learners from Hong Kong. Joanna’s ingenuity in coming up with simple and effective tasks, namely translation and narrative story telling with a psycholinguistic twist, far exceeded my expectation. This endeavour would have required a solid understanding of the vast literature, which may take years to develop. Yet Joanna mastered it within a span of three months. The transformation, from a complete novice to a budding expert, is illuminating. Her project, though small in scale, yields new findings that hold important theoretical and practical implications to second language acquisition at large. Her co-authored abstract has been accepted by a leading international conference on tense, aspect, and modality in L2, scheduled to take place at the University of York, UK, on 20th and 21st June 2016. This is due recognition of Joanna’s sharp intellectual insights and commitment to applied language issues.

Wong Po Chun Jane

The Phonological Aspect of Hong Kong English and Intelligibility

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

Jane’s capstone topic – the intelligibility of Hong Kong English – is to some extent quite difficult. Despite this, she was able to read critically and analyze, summarize, and synthesize the findings of a number of journal articles about Hong Kong English. She used them to construct a data collection survey that she gave to ten teachers of English at varying levels (primary, secondary, tertiary). After collecting her own data, she in turn compared her data against the synthesis from her readings, in order to better understand which features of HKE should be focused on in terms of instruction at the three levels of English education in Hong Kong. Her project was also linked directly to her own vocational goal of becoming a speech therapist in Hong Kong. A very impressive project for an undergraduate student!

2015-2016 Term 2
Sum Acca Penelope Kwai Ching

The Vagina Poems

Supervisor: Prof. Eddie Tay

SUM Acca Penelope Kwai Ching’s creative project is very successful in the way it puts together its theoretical, critical, activist and poetic agenda. It was inspired by _The Vagina Monologues_ by Eve Ensler, a play consisting of monologues that explore what it means to be a woman. This project which consists of poems likewise uses the vagina as a symbol, allowing for the exploration of the female self. The accompanying essay is especially insightful because it discusses the creative process and at the same time, engage with what it means for a poet with an activist agenda to speak on behalf of others.

Zhao Jiaxi Meya

Acquisition of Formulaic Expressions in English Legal Contracts and Agreements

Supervisor: Prof. Helen Zhao

Meya chose to work on a very unique topic for her capstone project: second language acquisition of formulaic language in English legal contracts. It’s a particularly meaningful topic for many extremely advanced learners of English in Hong Kong who aspire to become a lawyer for their future career. Legal contracts and agreements are an important genre of legal documents. There are many formulaic chunks that are unique to contracts, such as “in witness whereof” and “remain in full force and effect”, which seldom appear in daily communication outside the legal register. These formulaic expressions define the genre-specific features of contracts, and in some way, the identity of this particular speech community. It’s already a challenge for native speakers to acquire these social conventions. For second language learners, the demand is huge. The biggest contribution of Meya’s capstone project was to identify these unique formulaic expressions by using methods of corpus linguistics. It was impressive for an undergraduate student to implement this corpus-based study. It can easily be developed into a study of a much larger scale that has important values for students who wish to join the law society.

Cherry Ma

The Corporation in Joseph Conrad’s Nostromo

Supervisor: Prof. Jason Gleckman

Cherry Ma’s ENGE4700 final project is an extensive (27 page) exploration of Joseph Conrad’s 1904 novel, Nostromo. Cherry’s focus is on the concept of the ‘corporation,’ which she sees as the dominant model used by the European-influenced elite of Conrad’s fictitious South American nation of Costaguana in their efforts to improve the economic and political conditions of an emerging regional power. Cherry’s analysis of the novel shows how its leading characters all view the process of political change in an optimistic manner, privileging ideas of ‘science,’ ‘progress,’ and ‘materialism’ which will ultimately generate investment, economic growth, and stable political institutions. Cherry’s most exciting idea is how this model of national growth is premised not only on a view of the nation as a ‘corporation’ – a well-organized administrative bureaucracy dedicated to economic expansion – but on a view of the corporate nation as a ‘person,’ a legal fiction that has its origin in the middle ages and continues, even today, to exert a great influence in determining the legal rights and duties of large and powerful institutions. In Cherry’s analysis, the efforts in the novel on the part of the Costaguanans, and their European financers, to construct the nation using a corporate model, are unsuccessful for the same reasons that envisioning a corporation as a person are problematic in the modern world. Instead of making a corporation more responsible and ‘human’ in its aims, the idea of ‘corporate personhood’ instead functions as an ideological mystification, providing corporations with the ‘rights’ of a person but without any spiritual component. As a result, the desperate efforts of the corporate ‘stakeholders’ to identify their values with an abstraction to which they have assigned human identity, can only result in failure – a process that Cherry meticulously analyzes in the course of her first-rate capstone project.

Katrina Lau

An investigation of the stress influences on intelligibility and comprehensibility – The case of advanced Hong Kong ESL learners

Supervisor: Prof. Jette Hansen Edwards

Katrina went above and beyond the expectations of an undergraduate level capstone project in both the depth and range of her understanding of her research area, construction and operationalization of her research questions into an appropriate methodology, and analysis and interpretation of her data. Her final project was MPhil level work and far exceeded the other projects presented on the evening of her final capstone presentation. An extremely high caliber effort, deserving not only of the A that it was awarded, but also of an award of ‘Exemplary Capstone Project.’