Students Present Findings in the Humanities and Social Sciences at the Hanna Holborn Gray Conference

Posted October 18th, 2012 at 11:34 am.

Photo of some of the Gray FellowsFourteen students presented research in the humanities and social sciences at the Hanna Holborn Gray Conference held in the Ely Room on Friday, Sept. 28.

This is the first year that the Hanna Holborn Gray Program held a formal conference for its fellows to present their findings. The idea came from graduate student mentors Jessica Lee and Mark Baugher, who hoped it would foster meaningful interdisciplinary conversations between fellows during and prior to the conference.

"Months ago, as part of the summer programming, the fellows talked through how they could see their projects relating to one another and envisioned various ways of setting up the panels," says Assistant Dean and Director of Student Funding Isabella Barker. "I think it was a really successful format, in large part due to the conversations that took place, both about the content of the projects, but also about the experience of doing research more generally."

Among those students participating was Lynne Ammar '13 whose research focused on the current power struggle between moderate Islamists of the Ennahdha party and secular feminists in Tunisia. Ammar researched how feminist discourse has evolved to respond to changes in moderate Islamist political tactics that are not always outwardly hostile to women's rights, but remain nonetheless regressive in nature. She also looked at the role social media has played within the political context.

Another student, Mary Margaret Peebles '13, researched the trial of the McNamara Brothers, who bombed the Los Angeles Times and killed 20 employees in October of 1910. The arrest, grand jury investigation, trial, and subsequent bribery charge leveled against the trial attorney for the McNamara brothers was named "The Trial of the Century." For her research, Peebles traveled to Los Angeles to conduct research in the Special Archives at UCLA and examined the intersection of justice, labor, journalism, and business interests in this historical event. She will be using this research from her Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowship to write her history thesis this fall.

Emily Scioscia '13 focused her research on the question of whether curators can be considered artists. Scioscia employed methodologies used in the field of art history to analyze different art exhibits and compared the curatorial work of Albert Barnes of the Barnes' Foundation with that of Fred Wilson, both of whom have used their curatorial work to challenge traditional conventions of the practice.

Vicki Sear '13 spent the summer in Oklahoma researching the Osage language, a language from the Siouan family. Among other aspects of language and culture, Sear was looking for evidence of the existence of pre-aspiration in the Osage language, a rare phonetic characteristic that up to the present day has been identified only in Icelandic. In addition to her research in phonetics, she worked on a project constructing a Kaw language dictionary via historical linguistics. She traveled to the University of Kansas for the 2012 Siousan and Caddoan Language Conference. Her research this summer will contribute to her thesis in anthropology and linguistics.

To read summaries of all the participants' research, visit the Hanna Holborn Gray Fellow's site. Students interested in the Hanna Holborn Gray Fellowship should look for a general information session held later this semester or contact Isabelle Barker at ibarker@brynmawr.edu. Student requirements and further information about the fellowship can be found on their website.

The Hanna Holborn Gray Research Fellowship supports undergraduate research in the humanities and the humanistic social sciences. Up to 15 students are selected each summer and have the opportunity to spend the summer conducting independent research. Students receive fellowships of $4500 while they do research that can either be the beginning of the senior thesis or a project that stands alone, but is relevant to their intellectual interests. The Andrew J. Mellon Foundation has funded this fellowship by giving Bryn Mawr College a grant in honor of Bryn Mawr alumna Hanna Holborn Gray, '50 who served as Chair of the foundation's Board of Trustees.

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