Each summer, the college offers up to 15 Hanna Holborn Gray Research Fellowships, which give rising juniors and seniors $3,600 grants to pursue specialized research projects in the humanities and humanistic social sciences. The work can be the beginning of a senior thesis or a project that stands alone.
The summer 2011 Hanna Holborn Gray Fellows will present their research on Thursday, September 15, and Thursday, September 22, from 4:30-7 p.m. in the Dorothy Vernon Room in Haffner. The event is open to any members of the Bryn Mawr community interested in learning about their research projects or finding out more about the program.
Among those presenting will be Rachel Kesselman ’12.
A double major in French and English, Kesselman examined Edgar Allan Poe’s inclusion in the French literary canon as a result of the French fascination with the author.
“I think one of the main highlights of my experience was the feeling of entering the conversation of Poe academia and the feeling that I might have something new to contribute to this conversation,” says Kesselman, who plans to continue her research on Poe while teaching in France for a year, before furthering her studies in comparative literature at the graduate level.
Molly Seavy-Nesper ’12, a double major in Growth and Structure of Cities and French, performed a comparative study of the City Beautiful movement in urban planning after the World’s Fairs in Paris and Chicago for her fellowship. She plans to use her fellowship research as part of her senior thesis on the study of urban nature in cemeteries and world’s fairs in Paris and the United States.
As an English major with a Native American studies concentration, Kate Severance ’12 pursued a research project that looked at the portrayal of Native Americans in “frontiersman novels” in the 1800s and early 1900s.
Isabella Warren-Mohr ’12, a Growth and Structure of Cities major, spent her summer in Washington, D.C, studying the capital’s historic firehouses and their associated social histories and architectural distinction. Warren-Mohr’s senior thesis will draw heavily on her fellowship research “to propose a redevelopment project that would turn one of these historic firehouses into a space that could start rebuilding relationships between the fire department and local communities.”
As a Classical Languages and Linguistics major, Allyson Bunch ’12 examined the use of misspellings to represent dialect in Petronius, a Latin author of the 1st century A.D. Bunch notes that it was “satisfying to have the whole summer to focus on one project” and to have the freedom to explore routes of research that may not be successful.
Cynthia Spalding ’12, a Growth & Structure of Cities major and McBride Scholar, researched the history, planning, and development of the eastern neighborhoods of Upper Darby Township by builder and developer John H. McClatchy. Spalding says that her favorite aspect of the fellowship was “the excitement of finding previously undiscovered or long-buried facts and information.” She also shared her hope that other McBride Scholars will be encouraged by her experience to apply for the Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowship or other funded summer research programs because “these are great opportunities for us as well as for the traditional aged students.”
Leah Humphrey ’12 complemented her independent major in Egyptian & Classical Languages & Literature by researching similes in Ancient Egyptian Literature. Humphrey says, “It was an absolute pleasure to work with the graduate-student mentors, who made the process fun” and who were also helpful in challenging the fellows to reflect continually on their research and writing processes.
Hanna Holborn Gray fellows spend eight to 10 weeks during the summer on their research. While it is expected that some if not all work will be done on campus, fellows may work elsewhere if the project is best conducted in another location.
An application-information session for summer 2012 fellowships will be held on Monday, Jan. 23, and the deadline for summer 2012 applications is Monday, Feb. 6. For more details, check the Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowship page as those dates approach.
Early in the summer, all the recipients of the fellowship attend a two-day workshop on the demands of long-term research. Weekly meetings to discuss work in progress are held with graduate-student mentors for all those working on campus. Students not residing in the area are expected to participate in online discussions. All scholars are required to have a faculty research advisor, but this person need not be on campus during the summer.
The Hanna Holborn Gray research grants honor Bryn Mawr alumna Hanna Holborn Gray ’50 through a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
An historian who earned her Ph.D. from Harvard, where she held her first faculty position, Gray is best known as a trailblazer in higher education leadership. She was the first woman to be appointed an officer of Yale University when she was named provost in 1974. While at Yale, she also served as acting president, the first woman to hold that post at an Ivy League University, for 14 months in 1977 and ’78. She became the first woman to lead a major research university when she began her 15-year tenure as president of the University of Chicago in 1978. Gray retired in June 1993, but remains Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita and continues to offer advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in history.