Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholars Presentations 2016

Tuesday, 6 September 2016, 9-10 a.m. & 2-5 p.m.
Glasscock Center Library, 311 Glasscock Building

The undergraduate students who participated in the Glasscock Undergraduate Summer Scholars program during summer 2016 will present their research on 6 September.

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 faculty directors. 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 studios created especially for this program through the Writing Center.

Beowulf’s Afterlives

Dr. Britt Mize
| Associate Professor, Department of English

The 19th through 21st centuries have seen an immense variety of modern and postmodern Beowulfs, and over the past decade Professor Mize has built a large unique collection of materials in addition to those which exist in Cushing and Evans Libraries. The course focus was not on the Old English epic itself, but rather on its appropriations, adaptations, and reimaginings over about the past century and a half. The published translations (well over 100 into Modem English, and many into numerous other languages) that continue to pour out year by year are only the most obvious of these re-productions. The first part of the course was devoted to discussing Beowulf in a few selected translations having very different styles (it is a relatively brief text, easily managed in several versions if read in familiar language), with the goal of comprehending the relation of each to the environment and conditions of its making. This start created a shared knowledge base about the story and its thematic concerns, which served as a common reference point for the group’s discussion of the extraordinarily diverse subsequent material.

Forming the bulk of this course’s subject matter were selections from the many inventive redactions of Beowulf. These include several works of fiction by authors such as John Gardner, Michael Crichton, and Neil Gaiman, as well as, sci-fi, cyberpunk, fantasy, and detective novels by lower-profile writers; at least eight comic book series or graphic novels, representing each decade but one since the 1940s; several films and television productions; nearly 100 children’s books; a few continuations and sequels; live retellings or recitals; musical settings (including rock songs, an animated musical film, and a full opera); stage plays; parodies; role-playing and video games; and depictions in the visual arts. Other appropriations of Beowulf’s perceived value include serious attempts by at least two religious groups to invoke its authority in support of their belief systems; intellectual and artistic assertions of its relevance to several real wars; the publication of a Beowulf-based self-help book; and an allegorical reading of the stoiw as a critique of present-day American society.

At the conclusion of the intensive two-week session students considered historical and present-day uses of Beowulf in the academy: how it went from being the hobby-horse of Renaissance antiquarians, mainly interested in rediscovering its language, to becoming institutionalized as “literature”; what it means that a course like our biannual Old English sequence is taught, and that people are paid salaries to teach them; and how the questions of utility and value that we have asked might influence our understanding of familiar scholarly and pedagogical enterprises like the production of new editions, interactive web resources, scholarly translations, and anthology extracts.

Undergraduate Scholars:
Patrick Dolan
Claire Nowka

Epidemics in literature, literature as epidemic

Dr. Jessica Howell
 | Assistant Professor, Department of English

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.

Undergraduate Scholars:
Clella Evans
Kimberly Fayard

The Body and/in Performance

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

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.

Undergraduate Scholars:
Nicole Green


9:00-9:15 a.m. | Glasscock Center Introduction

9:15-10:00 a.m.| The Body and/in Performance
9:15-9:30 a.m. | Dr. Kirsten Pullen, Associate Professor, Department of Performance Studies
9:30-9:45 a.m. Nicole Green
9:45-10:00 a.m.| Q&A

2:00-3:00 p.m. | Epidemics in Literature, Literature as Epidemic
2:00-2:15 p.m. | Dr. Jessica Howell, Associate Professor, Department of English (pre-recorded video)
2:15-2:30 p.m. | Clella Evans
2:30-2:45 p.m. | Kimberly Fayard
2:45-3:00 p.m. | Q&A

3:00-4:00 p.m. | Coffee & Cookie Break

4:00-5:00 p.m. | Beowulf’s Afterlives
4:00-4:15 p.m. | Dr. Britt Mize, Associate Professor, Department of English
4:15-4:30 p.m. | Claire Nowka
4:30-4:45 p.m. | Patrick Dolan
4:45-5:00 p.m. | Q&A