The Humanities Research Center will award summer research practica to undergraduates with strong backgrounds in the humanities. This program requires 200 hours of research-based work over the course of the summer with cutting-edge faculty on innovative humanities-based research projects. Fellows will receive stipends of $3000.
The HRC Undergraduate Fellowship program is made possible through the generous support of Nancy and Clint Carlson, Nancy and Don Mafrige, Charles and Jane Szalkowski, Keith Lovin, John and Annette Eldridge, and Lily McKeage.
For more information on HRC undergraduate summer research fellowships, contact John Mulligan (firstname.lastname@example.org).
2016 Undergraduate Research Fellowship Projects
Faculty Mentor: Kimberly Davenport, Rice Gallery
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Emilia Cavallaro (Architecture, ’18)
Project Description: The summer fellow will be responsible for overhauling the Rice Gallery’s image library, including thinking up strategies to move forward. Student will add photos to the library and create metadata. The fellow will also work on a model/database that will eventually use selected images to ‘diachronically’ depict a 3D environment of the gallery. This project is in conjunction with Digital Scholarship Services and the Woodson Research Center at Fondren Library. Additional projects may include: researching upcoming installations, working on gallery catalogues, and assisting with the gallery’s physical archives.
Faculty Mentor: Nicole Waligora-Davis, Associate Professor of English
Undergraduate Research Fellow: James Carter (English and Psychology, ’17)
Project Description: James Carter will assist Dr. Waligora-Davis in gathering primary source material for both the introduction to a volume on African-American writing that she is editing for Cambridge University Press, and for an essay Dr. Waligora-Davis is commissioned to write for a separate volume in the series that addresses the response of the Black Left (1930-1940) to the Italo-Ethiopian conflict. He will also work on developing a relevant historical chronology for the 1910-1920 volume Dr. Waligora-Davis is editing.
The student will work with microfilm and electronic database research related to noteworthy historical, literary, cultural, and legal events and figures between 1910-1020,, including but not limited to WWI; Pan-American Conferences; formation of the NAACP and Urban League; lynching; “new negro movement”; Red-Summer 1919; precedent-setting legal cases related to black Americans; W.E.B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Charles Chestnutt, Ida B. Wells, Booker T. Washington, etc. For the second project, James will be focusing on 19th and early 20th century representations of Ethiopia in black literature and expressive traditions; political histories of the Italo-Ethiopian crisis; and coverage of the conflict in mainstream and African-American newspapers and periodicals.
Faculty Mentor: Matthias Henze, Isla Caroll and Percy E. Turner Professor of Hebrew Bible and Early Judaism
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Sparrow Gates (Religion, ’17)
Project Description: The Hebrew Bible only presents us with a slim excerpt of the literature in circulation in ancient Israel. This project, titled Lost Judaisms, seeks to collect information about the non-canonical ancient Jewish writings. This year the focus is on a text known as the Ascension of Isaiah, a Jewish apocalypse that has been adopted and rewritten by Christians in Late Antiquity.
Faculty Mentor: S. Wright Kennedy, Doctoral Candidate in History
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Manlin Yao (Cognitive Sciences, ’18)
Project Description: The New Orleans Mortality Project (http://nola.spatialhistory.org) focuses on the city in the Gilded Age (1877-1910) to examine how health, environment, and socioeconomics impacted urban and community development. This project investigates the nexus of environment, health, and poverty. It will employ interdisciplinary methods to analyze individual-level mortality data in New Orleans to uncover the spatial characteristics of the mortality transitions and the effects of uneven transitions; an approach that is only recently possible thanks to the development of geographic information systems.
This project uses a new approach to study history: historical geographic information systems (HGIS). The research team is building a spatial mortality database of 200,000 deaths to study the evolving spatial and temporal patterns of health across individuals and communities in New Orleans at the end of the nineteenth century. This will enable an examination of the intersections of disease, economics, and urban development with new levels of complexity and insight. The results of this analysis will reveal the process of the mortality transitions and the evolution and effects of the urban disease terrain, crucial information for understanding the history of urban development.
Faculty Mentor: Melissa Bailar, Professor in the Practice of Humanities
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Marley Foster (English and Visual & Dramatic Arts, ’18)
Project Description: Marley Foster worked with Melissa Bailar on identifying contemporary French and Francophone women filmmakers who experiment with cinematic narrative form. Marley conducted research in published collections and online resources to determine the works of such filmmakers, watched the films that might or might not be experimental, and wrote an annotated filmography. She identified dozens of films made in the 2000's that disrupt classical cinematographic and narrative conventions to account for female experience in new ways.
Faculty Mentor: Moramay Lopez-Alonso, Associate Professor of History
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Raul DeLira (History, ’18)
Project Description: Mapping Disease and Famine in Eighteenth Century Mexico (New Spain): This project examines the living standards of the population of New Spain (colonial Mexico) during the second half of the eighteenth century. For this, we intend to reconstruct the living conditions of people at that time, we will be working with two bodies of evidence: agricultural disasters and epidemics of that time period. With GIS tools we will construct a map to see which localities experienced climate disasters that produced a decline of agriculture production in a given year. We will also create a map of disease and epidemic outbreaks by year and by localities. By putting together these two layers of information we will ascertain the causal relation between agriculture disasters, famines and spread of disease in the different localities of colonial Mexico.
This project will also assess the nature of diseases, and their link to malnutrition with the information available today. The analysis of diseases will be complemented with literature on the history of medicine to investigate what the medical knowledge on the recorded diseases was at the time, in terms of diagnosis, prevention, and cures. We will examine if higher densities of population were correlated to disease environment due to poor sanitary infrastructure with supplemental information from the population census of 1791-93.
This is an interesting period to study because there were various years of bad weather and one that was catastrophic: 1785, also known as the “year of famine” (año del hambre). In contrast, this is also a period of economic prosperity due to a significant increase in silver production. This information will be useful to investigate how much of economic prosperity translated into better living conditions for the population of colonial Mexico, and if there were regional differences or not. This would shed light on how wealthy mining regions fared relative to other regions in the country and the degree of market integration.
Faculty Mentor: Anthony Brandt, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory, and David Eagleman, Adjunct Assistant Professor of ECE and Cognitive Sciences
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Sarah G. Graves (Composition, ’18)
Project Description: What is creativity? How does it work? Why do we have it? And where is it taking us? In a time when the old ways of living are being torn up and remodeled, human civilization is facing challenges that require all our ingenuity to address. In The Runaway Species: How Human Creativity Remakes the World (Canongate, forthcoming Oct. 2017), neuroscientist David Eagleman and composer Anthony Brandt unravel the threads of the arts, neuroscience, evolution and technology which make up the tapestry of human creativity, leading us on a tour through the history of innovation from the moon landings to Picasso's 'Les Demoiselles d'Avignon'. In doing so, Brandt and Eagleman offer a powerful examination of creativity, the strategies which stimulate it, and how it can be a driving force to propel us into the future. Through understanding our ability to innovate - our most profound, mysterious and deeply human capacity - we can rise to meet the challenge of remaking our constantly shifting world.
Undergraduate composer Sarah Grace Graves has agreed to assist David Eagleman and Anthony Brandt on the final preparation of The Runaway Species, which includes researching the images, completing the footnotes and bibliography, proofing the manuscript and more.
Faculty Mentor: John Mulligan, Lecturer in the Public Humanities
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Benjamin Rasich (Mechanical Engineering, ’18) and Isaac Philips (Mechanical Engineering, ’17)
Project Description: The Electronic Vesalius: This project attempted to "reanimate" Andreas Vesalius' 16th-century anatomical atlas, De humani corporis fabrica, one of the foundational texts in modern medicine. The end-product was an interactive, life-sized exhibit of one of Vesalius' flayed bodies, which responds to a reader's touch with information about that body part as represented over the last five centuries. It has been installed in the TMC Library. In a close collaboration between partners at Fondren Library (Ying Jin), the Texas Medical Center Library's McGovern Historical Center (Philip Montgomery and Sandra Yates), and the OEDK (Matthew Wettergreen, Benjamin Rasich, and Isaac Philips), this project seeks to explore 1) the possibilities of interdisciplinary work in humanities/engineering collaborations, 2) the role of physicality in the digital humanities, and 3) the anatomy of ersatz life forms.
You can read about the project's construction here.
Faculty Mentor: José Aranda, Associate Professor of English
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Stacie M. Martinez (English, ’17)
Project Description: Stacie Martinez assisted Dr. Aranda in his ongoing research on serial novels in the Spanish-language press of the United States prior to 1960, which focuses mostly on writers of either Mexican or Mexican-American descent. As part of this research, Stacie assisted Dr. Aranda in finalizing primary materials for the course English 471, The Mexican American Novel in the Spanish-Language Press, a course designed to translate one of these novels into English, by retrieving materials from the database America’s Historical Newspapers and reformatting them for class purposes. She furthermore researched on available biographical data on the author Jorge Ainslie, whose novel Los Repatriados will be translated in the course.
Faculty Mentor: Scott McGill, Professor of Classics
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Susannah Wright (Medieval/Classical Studies and Early Modern Studies, ’18)
Project Description: Susannah Wright assisted Prof. McGill in his commentary on Virgil’s Aeneid II, which is under contract with Cambridge University Press. The commentary is a line-by-line analysis of Aeneid II. Such commentaries are standard in Classics; they focus on matters of interpretations language, prosody, and history. Essentially, they are designed to explicate the poem line-by-line and even word-by-word. In this fellowship Susannah, an advanced student in Classics with an expertise in Virgil, has offered her feedback on Prof. McGill’s translations. Furthermore, Susannah has researched and annotated books and articles pertaining to Prof. McGill’s project.
Faculty Mentor: Scott Colman, Assistant Professor of Architecture
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Toshiki Niimi (Architecture and German, ’17. Undergraduate research assistant Spatial Humanities)
Project Description: Comprehending Ludwig Hilberseimer: This project concerns the digital reconstruction of the key urban proposals of the influential German-American architect Ludwig Hilberseimer: his Hochhausstadt project of 1924, and his studies for Chicago, published in The New City in 1944. Hilberseimer was central to art and architectural discourse in the Weimar Republic, an important Bauhaus pedagogue, and a long-time collaborator and friend of the leading modernist architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. Focused on the principles of urban design, Hilberseimer’s planning is particularly suited to digital representation that models the controlling parameters rather than the final form of a designed work. In this way, a synthetic three-dimensional model not only helps in the historical comprehension of Hilberseimer’s propositions, it becomes a tool for generating projective alternatives to those Hilberseimer might not have himself envisioned. Fundamentally concerned with the mutable spatial and temporal relationships between individuals, society, and the environment, Hilberseimer’s visionary conception of the city exceeded the representational capacities of its time. This has limited our understanding of his work and its potential influence. This project is an effort to leverage new representational means toward an expanded realization of Hilberseimer’s historical and contemporary relevance. Hilberseimer’s humanistic approach to the city, encompassing the historical, social, political-economic, technological, environmental, and aesthetic aspects of urban life, offers an important precedent and valuable tools for the comprehensive re-conception of our urban world.
Faculty Mentor: Anne Chao, Adjunct Lecturer of the Humanities
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Jason Yin (Statistics, Mathematical Economic Analysis, ’19)
Project Description: The Houston Asian American Archive (HAAA): The Houston Asian American Archive is a collection of oral history interviews of Asian American immigrants to Houston. It has become an important repository for the history of Asian American immigration to the Southwestern region of the United States, and remedies the overlooked contribution of Asian Americans in Texas history. Started in the summer of 2010, the archive has come of age and it is time to re-assess the entire project. The fellow will help design a new training module for interns by researching the current best practices in the field. The fellow will also participate in formulating a strategic plan for the future of the archive, in exploring some of the potential directions for collecting oral history, as well as in preparing a guideline by which the archival history will be collected. The fellow will also have an opportunity to suggest potential design for a web page on HAAA, but he/she does not have to possess any web-design skill. The fellow will meet with Dr. Chao on a flexible schedule throughout the summer.
2015 Undergraduate Research Fellowship Projects
Faculty Mentor: Melissa Bailar, Professor in the Practice
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Jake Levens (English, '16)
Project Description: Quantum Cinematics examines the ways in which French and Francophone experimental women writer-directors craft alternative narrative structures to communicate experience, perception, and imagination. While they do not consciously explore scientific advancements, the narrative models that they create adopt traits of the quantum conception of the way the universe works as they move beyond gender and genre categorizations. The intern will watch films and read novels key to this project; find other critical resources; and meet with Melissa Bailar regularly to talk through written pieces and ideas still in formation.
Faculty Mentor: Anthony Brandt, Associate Professor of Composition and Theory
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Greg Kamback (Architecture, '16)
Project Description: Neuroscientist David Eagleman (author of Sum, Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain and Wednesday is Indigo Blue) and Rice composition professor Anthony Brandt are co-authoring a book with the working title The Innovation Manifesto: Cultivating Creativity from the Boardroom to the Classroom. In the book, they assert that creativity is a universal feature of human cognition whose basic mechanisms can be described in simple terms and thereby modeled, practiced and taught. They take a broadly inter-disciplinary approach, linking disparate fields through shared creative processes.
Central to the book are the numerous illustrations that serve as exemplars. They are seeking a fellow with research and graphic and website design experience to help them with: securing copyright clearance for the images that they have selected and, when necessary, researching alternate and supplemental images; and helping with the layout and design of several sections of the book that are visually intensive. There may be additional research projects as well. In addition, Dr. Brandt is seeking the fellow’s help in developing a professional website for his composition and research.
Faculty Mentor: Joseph Campana, Alan Dugald McKillop Associate Professor of English
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Arlen Walker (Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations, '17)
Project Description: Renaissance Life Webs is a long-term, collaborative, and multi-disciplinary digital humanities project devoted to creating an open-source repository of Renaissance natural history texts. The project will yield an editorial collective where scholars will “sign on” to edit and annotate various works of natural history. This project will be an open archive, controlled-crowd-sourced site that will provide access to these Renaissance texts in modern editions, some for the first time. The texts will be modernized, fully annotated, and tagged to maximize searchability and to allow users to create their own clusters of texts in response to their own research interests. This larger digital project itself hopes to tap into the ethos of the hive, a collective of scholars where many labor to produce modern editions for the benefit of a larger community. To launch the platform, co-collaborators—Joseph Campana (Rice University) and Keith Botelho (Kennesaw State University) would create a pilot site by creating a collaboratively-authored edition of eight significant bee treatises published in England from 1593-1679, which will form the inaugural instance of Renaissance Life Webs and enable experimentation with digital platforms and styles of presentation and provide an initial instance of the project both useful to a wide scholarly attention and highly realized to attract future funding. The summer internship would involve transcription, TEI work, and other research work involving these Renaissance texts.
Faculty Mentor: Anne Chao, Adjunct Lecturer
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Patricia Wong (English, '16)
Project Description: The Houston Asian American Archive is a collection of oral history interviews of Asian American immigrants to Houston. It has become an important repository for the history of Asian American immigration to the Southwestern region of the United States, and remedies the overlooked contribution of Asian Americans in Texas history. Started in the summer of 2010, the archive has come of age and it is time to re-assess the entire project. The fellow will help design a new training module for interns by researching the current best practices in the field. The fellow will also participate in formulating a strategic plan for the future of the archive, in exploring some of the potential directions for collecting oral history, as well as in preparing a guideline by which the archival history will be collected. The fellow will also have an opportunity to suggest potential design for a web page on HAAA, but he/she does not have to possess any web-design skill. The fellow will meet with Dr. Chao on a flexible schedule throughout the summer.
Faculty Mentor: Farès el-Dahdah, Professor of the Humanities
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Christian Hauser (Classical Studies, fall '15)
Project Description: The objective of this project is to design a digital atlas of the Rice Campus where visual archives, locatable in time and space, can be embedded. This involves building a map that not only changes according to specific years but that ultimately shows the campus as it once was as well as it was once imagined. In its first iteration the project addresses the history of the campus, the organizing of its architectural archives, and the mapping of its evolution between 1908 and 1912. The Fellow will learn about the history of the institution as well as train in such applications as ArcGIS and Shared Shelf.
Faculty Mentor: Matthias Henze, Isla Carroll & Percy E. Turner Professor of Biblical Studies
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Ellen Marsh
Project Description: Jews at the time of Jesus and Hillel continued to write books, even though all the books of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament were already written. Not many of these "extra" writings are well known today, mostly because they are not part of our Bibles. The purpose of this project is to compile a data base of these ancient texts. The focus this summer is on a text known as "Joseph and Aseneth." The project involves some reading, library work, and discussions with the professor.
Faculty Mentor: Scott McGill
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Susannah Wright (Classical Studies, '18)
Project Description: I am completing a verse translation, with introduction and notes, of a 3200-line Latin poem, the Evangeliorum libri IV of Juvencus. The poem, from the fourth century CE, is the first Christian epic in the western tradition. The student will help with the translation, going over every line to edit and polish the work. By summer's end, we will have reviewed the entire poem.
Faculty Mentor: Alexander Regier, Associate Professor of English
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Matt McGee (English, '16)
Project Description: William Blake is what these days we might call a multi-media artist. This project will trace his impact in contemporary culture and scholarship. The student will need to be able to search databases and have familiarity with bibliographical research. Knowledge of German is an advantage.
Faculty Mentor: John Sparagana
Undergraduate Research Fellow: Monica Burckhardt (Architecture, '15)
Project Description: Assist with a series of complex visual constructions utilizing deconstruted images from Dick Tracy comics with a conceptual link to the Sonnets of the New York School poet, Ted Berrigan, paralleling opposed mythos-practices, American Comic Noir and American Transcendentalism.
Faculty Mentor: Kerry Ward, Associate Professor of History
Undergraduate Research Fellow: David Ratnoff ('18)
Project Description: From Slave trading to human trafficking: exploring illicit slave trading in the Indian Ocean during the era of abolition explores British and colonial responses to the long process of abolishing slave trading and slavery in the Indian Ocean during the nineteenth century. By comparing British initiatives to end the slave trade and slavery along the East African coast with what was happening in the Straits Settlements and the South China Sea, I will demonstrate that “slave abolition” in the British empire varied greatly according to location. Whereas the anti-slavery squadron of the British Navy patrolled the East African coast from their base in Cape Town, no similar initiatives took place in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Attitudes to what constituted slavery changed during the period of legal abolition and the issue of bondage became more complex during this period. I hope to argue that this period was a precursor to the emergence of “human trafficking.” The student-researcher will help Dr. Ward analyze primary sources on illicit and illegal slave trading and slavery cases as well as the debates on abolition and free labor.
Student Role: The student-researcher will go through the online data bases and microfilms of newspapers from southern Africa and Southeast Asia looking for articles on slavery, slave trading, and commentary on abolition. The library is purchasing an online set of British colonial reports on the Straits Settlements and Hong Kong and the student-researcher will also look for reports pertaining to the issue of slavery and forced labor. These sources will reveal that there were different perspectives and vehement debates about the nature of slavery in Africa and Asia as colonial law intersected with customary law in British colonies.
For a list of Past Fellows, click here.