A Summer of Research
The University's GRPP program provides $4,000 summer awards for selected English graduate students, who are advised by a faculty member. Below, three of this year's recipients describe their projects.
To Scotland with Michael Phillips
The funding I received from the GRPP fellowship enabled my access to Scottish archives in researching my dissertation chapter on Henry Mackenzie’s Man of Feeling. At the University of Glasgow the Bannerman Papers provided good background on Mackenzie’s sentimentalism as well as the thought process of those moral theorists establishing its foundations, such as Smith, Hume, and Hutcheson. At the National Library of Scotland, my most useful finding was a letter from Robert Burns to Henry Mackenzie, which I believe to still be unpublished, attributing everything Burns has learned about the human heart to Mackenzie’s protagonist.
The National Records of Scotland provided my most intriguing archival discovery: a draft of The Man of Feeling, unsigned and undated, that omitted almost every portion of the novel referring to the novel’s framing device of being a deteriorated manuscript. As my dissertation deals with omissions, fragmentation, and addresses to the reader, discovering a draft that omits all of these moments from the novel was exciting. I will need to do further research on this document to help pin down its placement and authorship, but would like to write an article on it in the future.
The research I was able to do allowed me to complete the first chapter of my dissertation.
What’s the advantage in being at the libraries themselves—how does it open up possibilities for research?
To San Francisco with Yuan Ding
With the generous support from the GRPP, I was able to finish extensive primary research at the University of Minnesota libraries in July and August of 2015. From July 10 to 18, I was also able to visit San Francisco, where I conducted in-person interviews and visited the Immigration Station at Angel Island. From August 13 to 15, I participated in the international conference: “New Angles on Chinese Film History,” where I networked with world-renowned scholars and discussed the latest developments in the field of Chinese cinema studies.
As a result of the preliminary research, I significantly narrowed down my dissertation research area to first-generation diasporic Chinese literature and performance. I am in the final stages of finishing up the first chapter of my dissertation, where I explore the transnational imagination in Chinese immigrant student literature.
My research supported by the GRPP summer funding also resulted in a proposal for a Seminar on China and diasporic Chinese identity at the upcoming 2016 American Comparative Literature Association conference. Over the summer, my co-organizer Janice Tong (UIUC) and I collaborated on drafting the proposal and recruiting participants. As of today, the seminar has already received participation confirmation of 10 renowned professors in the field of China studies and Asian American studies from both the US and China.
What was the most intriguing moment of your interviews and visits in San Francisco?
It’s hard to pinpoint one moment, but I was moved by the sheer creativity as well as heterogeneity of early Chinese immigrants. Seeing the relics of Chinese immigration at Angel Island and then chatting with more recent immigrants, I was struck by how much things has changed and how some things stay the same.
To England with Asa Olson
How Jonson edited and annotated his own books. Instead of accepting the editor’s text, Jonson compared editions of authors and corrected the text of a large anthology accordingly. In cases in which merely a word differed Jonson evidently reasoned what word most likely belongs. In other cases Jonson inserted lines that had been excised into the margins. We know that Jonson assisted his friend Thomas Farnaby on editing his own text of Lucan’s Pharsalia; however, it still intrigues me that he turned this particular anthology into his own new edition for certain classical texts by means of his annotations.