The Mellon Seminar

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.

Mellon Research

elizabeth-ensinkWhat 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 cullen-smith-1literature 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

14390639_1149509928437805_6078842723332815139_nexploring 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?

14191954_1131891136866351_6595221005175628559_nMellon 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!