Language and Literature Announces Summer Research Fellows

Friday, June 23, 2017

Six students majoring in English and English Education have won departmental research fellowships this summer, according to Dr. M. Angela Schwer, chair of the Department of Language and Literature.  The six are Chelsi L. Latocha, Laura E. Morris, Lily M. Peterson, Joyanna N. Poe, Veronica Grace Ryan, and Thomas J. White.

The fellowships financially support students, who are selected to participate in research experiences under the direct supervision of faculty mentors. The purpose of the Summer Research Program (SRP) is to enhance learning opportunities for students while encouraging collaboration in learning and research between faculty and students. The competitive fellowships are open to students majoring in French, Spanish, Spanish Education, English, and English Education. The fellowships, which are open to sophomores and above, run six weeks.

The Department of Language and Literature has also funded a research grant for Tina M. Nichols, who is pursuing the B.A. in French and the Master of Arts in Teaching.  Working under Dr. Erin L. Hippolyte, Nichols will be studying Canadian shorty story writers in light of national and bilingual identity in Montreal with its cosmopolitan cultural scene during the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s.

In announcing the fellowships, Schwer said, “During the term, there simply isn't time for students to really dig into literary research, but these fellowships allow our outstanding students to do full-blown humanities scholarship, under the direction of professors interested in their topics. It's a win for both professors and students.”

Myers described the fellowships as “a wonderful opportunity for our students to begin working on a graduate level and keying in on what they are passionate about and intellectually stimulated by.”

Drs. Leland M. George and Donna J. Long vetted the proposals for Language and Literature.

Latocha, a senior from Mannington West Virginia, is majoring in English Education.  She is studying the connections of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and contemporary politics as they have evolved from 1985 to 2017.  Latocha’s project includes the Hulu production of Atwood’s novel and its dystopian vision.  Latocha is working under the supervision of Dr. Nathan C. Myers.

A native of Beckley, West Virginia, Peterson, is a sophomore English major; she is also pursuing minors in Business and Tech Writing, and Spanish. Working under Dr. James Matthews, she is examining the influence of J.R.R. Tolkein’s experience in battle during the First World War on his writing of The Lord of the Rings.  She said, “My goals are to show how a) the battles and fighting Tolkien endured are exhibited in his Lord of the Rings trilogy and b) the landscapes he fought in affected the setting of these novels. Many of the large battle scenes depicted throughout the three novels can be traced back to some of the major battles of the Great War that Tolkien had either witnesses or heard about/seen images of.”

Poe, a native of Fairmont majoring in English Education, is a sophomore. She is exploring the intersections between Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and contemporary efforts to “create” life.  Her mentor is Dr. J. Robert Baker. Poe reflected that she was “bringing Frankenstein to life.” Rine, a senior English major from Sistersville, is investigating issues that arise from male standup and musical comedians’ hyper-masculine stage personae in order to demonstrate and to undermine accepted norms of male behavior. Her study, she said, examines “how men like Bo Burnham, Louis C. K., and Jim Jefferies fit into the various strategies of Third Wave Feminism and what roles these men and other entertainers have in the fight against misogyny.”

A senior English major from Wadestown, White is exploring the connections between the depictions of damnation in Dante’s Divine Comedy and the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. He also is working with Baker.  In reflecting on his fellowship, White remarked, “I look forward to discovering how my research will benefit me as a literary student and as an aspiring theological scholar.  I look forward to my intellectual betterment.”

Morris is a junior from Fairmont majoring in English.  Her research, “Victor Hugo’s Outsider Women," is directed by Dr. Elizabeth Savage. Morris is using feminist scholarship and postcolonial theory, “to answer questions raised by the characters of Fantine and Esmeralda. Do these characters break or expose systems of male power in the novels? In what ways are these characters other/ed by their societies? These forms of theory will allow me to examine binaries and privilege in these books and decide what message Hugo sends about the “outsider” woman through his works.”