Undergraduate Summer Scholars Program Archives

The objective of the program is to expand undergraduate research in the humanities by providing an intensive summer research experience in which students are introduced to important research questions, trained in methods of research and analysis, and guided in the development of critical thinking, independent learning, and communications skills. The students enrolled in a two-week intensive seminar taught by Professor Katz and Professor Bracher. In the seminar the students were immersed in a focused topic and developed a research question that they continued to investigate under the mentorship of the faculty member for the remaining eight weeks of the summer. Students attended writing workshops created especially for this program through the Writing Center on topics including: How to Use the Library;  How to Formulate a Research Question and Answer It (methods, research); Writing a Proposal Topic; and Peer Review of Draft.

2017-2018 | 2016-2017 | 2015-2016 | 2014-2015 | 2013-2014 | 2012-2013

Academic Year 2017-2018

“The Trials of History”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Richard J. Golsan, Distinguished Professor, Department of International Studies

Undergraduate Scholars:
Sarah Kilpatrick
Trey Dietz
Matthew Kiihne

This course will focus on several historical trials from the post-World War II era that deal with the crimes perpetrated by Nazi Germany and its Allies and Collaborators during World War II. To use a somewhat dated term, these trials are “world-historical” in their implications for several reasons. First they either introduced or deployed in both national and international contexts the newly minted concepts of “genocide” and “Crimes against humanity.” Today, these concepts shape international prosecutions in places as far flung as Cambodia, Rwanda, the former Yugoslavia, as well as in Latin America. They also inform efforts to explore the outer reaches of human cruelty and human evil, and they impact as well international politics and interventions and also international human rights and aid efforts around the globe.

“Adaptation Then and Now: Medieval England and Contemporary Culture”

Facutly Director:
Dr. Britt Mize, Associate Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Meghan Collier
Cody Ellis

This advanced undergraduate seminar is a special engagement with “adaptation studies”: an interdisciplinary field that has mainly focused on novels turned into films, but whose theoretical features can offer us powerful tools for analyzing relations among cultural objects in any medium or mode, so long as they are connected by lines of influence.

We will explore a paradox that is central to my current research, and which unites present-day popular culture with medieval forms of cultural production: namely, the fact that most adaptations rely on the source’s authoritative, canonical status while simultaneously offering audiences something different in place of it. We will work together to test the usefulness of a completely new application of adaptation theory: while the theory has often been used to examine instances of medievalism (that is, modern adaptations of medieval sources), never before has it been applied to acts of adaptation happening within the Middle Ages. Because our culture and medieval culture share a similar attitude to canonical works, wishing simultaneously to reassert their importance and change them, the benefits of adaptation theory for the analysis of film versions of novels, for instance, may prove equally informative for the analysis of medieval acts of appropriation and transformation.

The outcome of this course will be your presentation of a viable proposal for an original research project to be carried out over the next academic year. What will you notice or figure out about adaptations of medieval literature—whether within the Middle Ages or in modern culture—that no one has noticed or figured out before?

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Academic Year 2016-2017

“Beowulf’s Afterlives”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Britt Mize, Associate Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Patrick Dolan
Claire Nowka

During the first two weeks of this Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholar Seminar, the participants engaged in an intensive study of a number of films, literary texts, popular songs, comic book, and graphic novel appropriations of the Old English epic Beowulf. Students discussed the environment and conditions of the original tale’s making, which served as a common reference point for the group’s discussion of the extraordinarily diverse subsequent material. The seminar concluded with a discussion of the historical and present-day uses of Beowulf within the academy. Thus immersing themselves for more than four hours per day, morning and afternoon, each scholar gained an understanding of the place Beowulf continues to occupy in modern and contemporary culture, as well as theoretical perspectives and analytical tools that will enable them to set out on the path of an individual research topic related to the seminar’s themes.

“Epidemics in Literature, Literature as Epidemic”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Jessica Howell, Assistant Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Clella Evans
Kimberly Fayard

This course examined representations of epidemics and the consequences of epidemics in literature. It also engaged the ways in which literature itself has been perceived as a mode of contagion causing social unrest, moral corruption or somatic illness. It examined how authors envisioned epidemics changing social relationships and physical environments, as well as how these authors develop innovative narrative patters and styles to reflect the spread of epidemic diseases and the consequent effects on human communications. The students studied works such as Mary Shelley’s Last Man, stories by Edgar Allen Poe, and Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. They developed skills of close literary analysis, as well as became adept at applying theoretical concepts drawn from medical history, women and gender studies, psychoanalytic criticism, and literature and science studies. The students were encouraged to see the course as a foundation to developing their own unique topic. They practiced presentation skills by choosing and speaking about an extract related to epidemics in contemporary culture on the last day of class. The course learning outcomes included the development of interdisciplinary research skills, peer collaboration and editing, crafting a proposal for a research paper of significant length. These skills will enhance the students’ professional development and allow them to be competitive for future graduate study in English.

“The Body and/in Performance”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Kirsten Pullen 
| Associate Professor, Department of Performance Studies

Undergraduate Scholars:
Nicole Green

This seminar parallels Dr. Pullen’s current book project, Theory for Theatre Studies: The Body, and the students followed the monograph’s argument and explored its case studies. The book borrows Julie Holledge and JoAnne Tompkins’ understanding of the three bodies of performance: the body of the performer (which includes training and technique, as well as social, cultural, gender, and racial identity), the performing body (the body as it appears in performance, as a character or persona, and aided by costume, make-up, prosthetics, and other non-physical aspects), and the body of the audience (an understanding of an audience as sharing a particular time and place of performance and therefore a particular orientation toward that performance).

The course was intended to introduce the students to several performance studies considerations of teh body, and to prepare students to undertake their own research on embodied performance practices, audiences, and performers. At the end of the course, they were able to articulate different theories of the body in performance, analyze key performances that highlight the performing body on its own an din relation to the audience, use our own bodies in performance, and write a proposal for individual research projects.

The course professionalized students by introducing them to the modes of performance studies research and the written and oral avenues for communication that research. In addition, they’ll be able to follow the process of academic writing, editing, and publishing through the book’s initial draft to final proof.

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Academic Year 2015-2016

“Beowulf’s Afterlives”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Britt Mize, Associate Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Erin Simoni, Department of English
Christina Owens, Department of English

During the first two weeks of this Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholar Seminar, the participants engaged in an intensive study of a number of films, literary texts, popular songs, comic book, and graphic novel appropriations of the Old English epic Beowulf. Students discussed the environment and conditions of the original tale’s making, which served as a common reference point for the group’s discussion of the extraordinarily diverse subsequent material. The seminar concluded with a discussion of the historical and present-day uses of Beowulf within the academy. Thus immersing themselves for more than four hours per day, morning and afternoon, each scholar gained an understanding of the place Beowulf continues to occupy in modern and contemporary culture, as well as theoretical perspectives and analytical tools that will enable them to set out on the path of an individual research topic related to the seminar’s themes.

“Life and Death at Sea in Ancient Greece and Rome”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Deborah Carlson, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology

Undergraduate Scholars:
Brook Kaiser, Department of Anthropology
Victoria Hodges, Department of Anthropology
Holly Hayden, Department of Anthropology
Jonathan Ramos, Department of Anthropology
Steven Ramos, Department of Anthropology

The goal of this seminar was to examine the topic of death at sea in Greco-Roman antiquity. Students began with an evaluation of the literary and historical accounts of seafaring, shipwrecks, and death at sea, which will serve as a catalyst for evaluation of the meager but direct archaeological evidence for ancient seafarers, which includes epitaphs and so-called sailor cemeteries. Assigned readings were in translation, though students with classical language training had the opportunity to delve deeper into question of linguistic symbolism and etymology. Other students interesting in physical anthropology took up the challenge of determining why human remains are rarely found on ancient shipwrecks. In the process of exploring their individual interests, participants became familiar with the research methods, scholarly resources, conventions, and methodologies that classical philologists and archaeologists use as they develop their own research, writing, and oral presentation skills.

“Narrative, Conversion, and New Media from Augustine to the App”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Nandra Perry, Associate Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Caroline Sonnier, Department of English
Kelsey Morgan, Department of Philosophy

This seminar used the genre of the Christian conversion narrative as a starting point for exploring the epistemological and ethical value attached to first-person narrative in the West, from pre-modern to post-modern times. How is our understanding of what counts as “truth” mediated through the telling of “real life” stories? How do “canonical” language, ritual, and story work to authorize narratives of personal assimilation and transformation? These questions were contextualized within an emergent critical discourse about the relationship of religious culture to the media through and within which they circulate. By the end of the immersive seminar, students were able recognize the major narrative features of Christian conversion narratives, theorize the relationship between medium and message as it relates to generic conventions of conversion, appreciate the influence of such narratives on modern and post-modern narratives of personal transformation, as well as formulate and pursue an independent research topic related to the seminar’s themes.

“Sociology of Community”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Sarah Gatson, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Undergraduate Scholars:
Hannah Klein, Department of Sociology
Heidi Jauregui, Department of International Studies

This seminar involved an analysis of the social construction, social experience, and community as an institution and as a set of everyday relationships and networks. Participants discussed particular concepts of community and its attendant institutions and roles as important cornerstones of ways to structure social interactions on various levels. Particular attention was paid to relations of power and inequality in society. The seminar sought to challenge our taken-for-granted notions about these topics and ask the sociological questions, “How constructed and/or natural is community? What is community, and what is it for?” The seminar dealt primarily with these issues over the last two decades, with an eye simultaneously towards a historical grounding of our understanding of contemporary issues.

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Academic Year 2014-2015

“Faces of Evil in Philosophy, Religion, and Literature”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Daniel Conway, Professor, Department of Philosophy and Humanities

Undergraduate Scholars:
Katherine Parada
Humberto Gonzalez Nunez
Steven Haug
Laura Reid

This two-week seminar was an interdisciplinary investigation of several depictions and personifications of evil that has been influential in philosophy, religion, and literature. Over the course of this investigation, Professor Conway introduced students to his own interpretation of evil as the “unfamiliar familiar.” The seminar was designed to explain why attributions of evil tend to be minimal, remote, tentative, and ultimately unrealistic.

“Golden Age Theory Laboratory: Reading Spanish Renaissance Classics through a Postmodern Lens”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Hilaire Kallendorf, Professor, Department of Hispanic Studies

Undergraduate Scholars:
Maci Greene
Jackie Marcheschi

This two-week seminar was devoted to creating a “theory laboratory” where students could experiment with applying a variety of postmodern literary theories (feminism, Marxism, deconstruction, psychoanalysis, New Historicism, biopolitics, book history, etc.) to Renaissance Spanish literary texts. This involved teaching the basic principles of each of these theories as well as introducing the students, often for the first time, to primary texts by Cervantes, Quevedo, Calderon, Zayas, and other classic authors of the Spanish Golden Age. The process was cumulative in the sense that each primary text could potentially be analyzed in light of any and all theories we had discussed so far, in order to see which theory or theories might be most applicable in each case (our motto was Cinderella’s: “if the shoe fits, wear it”). The course thus sought to address the frequent disconnect between theory and practice by integrating theoretical abstractions with a hands-on, get-messy willingness to experiment in the literary realm.

“Mission on the Rhine: The American Occupation of Germany, 1945-9”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Adam Seipp, Associate Professor, Department of History

Undergraduate Scholars:
Isabella Martin
Matthew Lee Greeson

This two-week seminar focused on the history of Germany under occupation from 1945-1949 in order to understand the dramatic transformation the country made after the fall of Hitler’s Reich in Spring 1945. Surveying a range of topics including American military history, history of the Holocaust, democratization, gender and sexuality, modern German history, and the Cold War, students traced the emergence of a new and durable political and social order from the turmoil of the Second World War.

“The World of the Ballad”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Jennifer Goodman Wollock, Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Grace Kelly
Brock West
Casey Robertson
Amy Arndt

This two-week seminar was an intensive introduction to the study of the ballad, with the goal of familiarizing a new generation of student-scholars with this fundamental and too often neglected genre. Students assessed the impact of the ballad on English and American literature, international connections, and important as an ongoing vehicle of cultural transmission across time, space, gender and classes from the Middle Ages to the present.

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Academic Year 2013-2014

“The Enlightenment and the Jewish Question”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Claire Katz, Professor, Department of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies Program

Undergraduate Scholars:
Christopher Black
Desirae Embree
Jessi Green
Michael Gonzales
Thomas Sekula

The two-week seminar focused on the German Enlightenment and its limits. The readings could be divided into three categories: Readings addressing the question “What is Enlightenment?” (18th century German philosophers, e.g., Kant, Mendelssohn, Hamann); readings that addressed the failure of the Enlightenment: Arendt, Horkheimer/Adorno, Levinas, Levi, Amery; readings that recouped the values from the Enlightenment to argue for a return to humanism through humanities education (e.g., Martha Nussbaum). The students were asked to consider how the “self” is described in the enlightenment and what it means for a new description of the self that enlightenment ethics failed in the most spectacular way in the 20th century.

“The ability to have an office with my own computer in the center of campus was amazingly beneficial to my studies and enhanced community with other scholars.”
~ Michael Gonzales

“War, Memory, and Diversity in Contemporary France”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Nathan Bracher, Professor, Department of International Studies

Undergraduate Scholars:
Stephanie Courtright
Mikayla Hall
Mason Morgan

During the first two weeks of this Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholar Seminar, the participants engaged in an intensive study of a number of films, literary texts, and historical studies illustrating the various ways in which the coexistence of peoples of widely varying cultural, linguistic, religious, and national origins in mainland France today stems from colonization, world war, and colonial uprisings from the era of the French Revolution up until the first decade of the twenty-first century. Thus immersing themselves for more than four hours per day, morning and afternoon, each scholar then set out on a path of individual research on a topic related to the various themes of war, memory, and diversity discussed during that initial period.

“This opportunity has been a highlight of not just college but my entire academic career.”
~ Mason Morgan

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Academic Year 2012-2013

“After Combat”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Marian Eide, Associate Professor, Department of English

Undergraduate Scholars:
Marissa Madsen
Stephen O’Shea

There is much coverage in popular media concerning the numerous soldiers returning to the United States from lengthy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the particular challenges these veterans face in returning to civilian life. This research project seeks to tell the stories of combat and return from the perspective of combat soldiers. Drawing on research from popular accounts to academic studies, a series of interviews were conducted with combat veterans. Their stories were presented providing readers with a context for these anecdotes and accounts.

Student researchers have compiled an archive of popular and academic sources on combat in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001 to the present. Having completed IRB-required ethics training, these students participated in interviews and produce transcriptions. Additionally they pursued their own research projects drawing on their training in literary studies and addressing combat narratives from Iraq and Afghanistan. Two of Stephen O’Shea’s creative writing pieces were published in Explorations the Texas A&M Undergraduate Journal.

“Biblical Critisicism”

Faculty Director:
Dr. Steven Oberhelman, Professor, Department of International Studies

Undergraduate Scholars:
Veronica Bueno
Haley Christofilis
Garrett Flatt
Ryan Kinkade

Historical and literary criticism of the Hebrew Bible and the Christian New Testament began in the early modem period. This scholarly discipline seeks to recover when and where a particular text originated; how, why, by whom, for whom, and in what circumstances it was produced; what influences were at work in its production; what sources were used in its composition and the message it was intended to convey. The methods used include textual, source, form/tradition, and redaction criticism, postmodernism, gender and feminism, and literary critical tools. The students evaluated the following critical tools: what are the strengths, what are the weaknesses, what insights can be gained into the text (e.g., was Jesus a peasant who was executed for being a political revolutionary, or was he was put to death for disturbing the religious establishment, or was this part of salvation history?; or how did the transitions between the phases of Israelite social organization—from tribes to kingship to refugee status to re-colonization—affect the development of the Pentateuch?); and an assessment of the validity of biblical criticism.

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