Summer Research Fellowships

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.

Undergraduate Research Fellowships Call and Application

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.