“The Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities (UNRH) is an organization committed to promoting, presenting, and encouraging rigorous student research in the humanities with an emphasis on incorporating digital technologies. We at UNRH fulfill our mission by hosting a competitive annual conference for accepted undergraduates with impressive digital humanities projects. As a project manager and co-founder, I have had the privilege of watching UNRH develop from an idea to two years of successful collaboration among students from all over North America. The idea for UNRH came when I met six other undergraduates at theIliADS Digital Humanities conference in the summer of 2015. We were there as assistants for our professors, and after sharing ideas about tools, projects, and research, we realized just how valuable time together with other undergraduates from different backgrounds and institutions can be. Thus the idea was born for a conference just for undergraduates. We designed a website and received approval from Davidson to host our first conference. Then we planned, crafted, and created a conference, received and reviewed applications, and finally held UNRH 2015 at Davidson College on November 6th a mere two and a half months after our first meeting at ILiADS. Having just returned from our second conference, this year at Washington & Lee University, I am blown away by how far our initial idea has come. I am excited to see the what UNRH becomes in the years to come.” -Taylor Mills ’17.
What’s it like going to a research conference?
“This January, I had the chance to travel to Lexington, Virginia, to present at the 2nd Annual Conference sponsored by the Undergraduate Network for Research in the Humanities. The conference itself was remarkable, as it was the first chance I had to engage directly with other digital humanists from regional liberal arts schools. Just the chance to talk side-by-side with other students about their prospective endeavors in the digital humanities both amazed and inspired me. Additionally, it was incredibly rewarding to receive feedback for my own research project on Boston’s 1976 Bicentennial celebrations. Though it was only UNRH’s second year, the opportunity to involve myself in a strong and ever-growing network of digital humanists was invaluable. It revealed to me just how vast the universe of the digital humanities is and how we as students continue to adapt and shape future research.”-Cullen Smith ’17.
What have you learned in the Mellon seminar this year? What are your favorite parts?
“My favorite part about the Mellon Scholars seminar thus far is the opportunity
to be around and collaborate with my cohort on the subjects we’re tackling within digital liberal arts and research. It has been new to us all, in a way. Being able to hear the thoughts of my intelligent and passionate classmates on topics like considering user experience or writing research questions is so valuable, because it allows me to better dive into these subjects myself. When certain projects seem tough, we definitely lean on our own groups (shout-out to Founding Sistas)! But we also have a great camaraderie as a cohort in general. I’ve been able to meet people with passions for so many different subjects within the humanities, and even outside it, too; from French to Political Science to Women and Gender Studies, these fellow students bring perspectives into the classroom that will benefit us all long after we leave it.”-Kelly Arnold ’19.
“Our seminar has allowed me to develop and hone my research skills, as well as introduced me to new technologies. My eyes have been opened to all of the amazing things that you can research, and how disciplines can cross to create projects that I never would have thought of. Working with my team members who are passionate about our topic has been a delight, and has shown me what can really be accomplished when people apply themselves to a task they love. I love to learn, and this program has allowed me to discover complementary areas of study to mix with my primary discipline, furthering my desire for knowledge in an incredible way.” -Rachel Brumagin ’19.
“I loved the exposure to high-level digital research, especially in fields outside the
hard science realm. The subjects we analyzed spanned across several significant and relevant aspects of the humanities. The research projects we conducted made me feel as though I was contributing important findings to the world of academia, even as an undergraduate. I was also appreciative of the amount of group collaboration and the relationships I eventually developed with my peers throughout the first semester.”-Irene Gerrish ’19.
What are you doing for Mellon credit this semester?
“This semester I’m taking COMM 255: Writing for Media, which counts for Mellon credit without an extra project. In the class, we’re learning basic journalism skills while developing our abilities to disseminate news across digital platforms such as Twitter and WordPress. Everyone in the class gets to choose a “beat” to write on for all the assignments, so it’s a great way to bring in your own interests. I’m covering undergraduate research and events in the natural sciences at Hope College.
“-Elizabeth Ensink, ’17.
“In my Mellon experience this semester, I have been examining Vietnam War literature with Prof. Gruenler in the English Department. Though I do not have a thesis statement yet for my final paper, I am trying to analyze Vietnam War literature, mainly the “meta”-narratives of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried, Going After Cacciato, etc, against more journalistic forms of war writing, such as Michael Herr’s Dispatches and A Bright Shining Light by Neil Sheehan. From these works, I plan to apply a lens of literary criticism to the various works to analyze their expressions of truth versus what “seems” to be the truth. So far, I have considered a few lenses, particularly structuralism, deconstruction, and new historicism, but of course, I need to do a little more reading. I am particularly excited in the results at the end of the semester!” -Cullen Smith, ’17.
“I’m researching the representation of minority on the covers of popular magazines, such as Seventeen, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, Playboy and Health. In the past year, I have seen an influx of minority women on magazines, but what issue of the magazine is it? Will you see a black woman on the cover of Vogue’s beauty issue? How do magazines cast minority women versus white women?”-Hannah Pikaart, ’18.
Welcome to the Mellon Scholars Blog. Over the next few months, this blog will be
exploring a variety of topics. Research, a day in the life as a Mellon scholar, community events, conference presentations and numerous Mellon festivities will all be featured at some point. We hope that the blog will offer the reader a glimpse into the Mellon program and how its members carry out scholarly research, academic presentations, community engagement and overall excellence in their day-to-day college lives.
The Mellon Scholars
The Mellon Scholars program aims to combine humanities research with digital platforms and presentation. The program recruits talented freshmen who have demonstrated excellence in the classroom. After undergoing a competitive selection process, students take two interdisciplinary seminars in their sophomore year, each focused on research in the digital humanities. At the end of this year, students present collaborative digital projects that are the result of the entire year’s work.
Who are the Mellon Scholars?
Mellon scholars are mostly humanities majors, but even this belies the breadth of majors and disciplines represented. Current Mellon scholars range from historians to dramatists to environmental scientists. Mellons can also be found in a variety of campus extracurriculars as well. Theater, Dance Marathon, Hope Democrats and a myriad of honors societies number among the other organizations Mellons can be found in.
One of the program’s goals for this year is to increase the sense of academic community among members. This blog will attempt to chronicle these social events for students, as well as some of the many Mellon events scholars will be involved in. Follow this blog throughout the year for insight into the Mellon program. Our next blog, released in early November, will be composed of interviews with Mellons about their research this semester. Stay tuned for more!