Faculty Mentor:  Dr. Cristina Maria Cervone

Email Address: cmcrvone@memphis.edu

Project Description: The work is to support my monograph-in-progress, Vernacular Poetics of Metaphor: Middle English and the Corporate Subject. How do we recognize an “other sense” that springs to life from metaphor? While the nature of metaphor is contested and its neurological mechanisms not well understood, metaphor studies is a vibrant, multidisciplinary field. Yet, most theorists have set aside “literary” uses to study “ordinary” language. This book brings cognitive theory to bear on medieval texts and, conversely, sees value for metaphor theorists in medieval linguistic innovations and the poetics that fostered them. In the late fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries, when English writers increasingly selected Middle English (as against Anglo-French and Latin) for their thought experiments, metaphor was an important element in—perhaps even vital to—the vernacular’s emerging qualities. I take as a case study a metaphor vibrantly productive in medieval thought, as it is today: the body as used to represent individuality within unity, or “each of us” and “all of us” (“body of Christ”; “student body”). My claim that metaphor plays a significant role in English’s development is new; moreover, it engages questions of contemporary interest: how does thought work? Is metaphor fundamental to thought? Medieval practice, like current theory, suggests perhaps so.

Requirements for Student Applicants: Applicants should be detail-oriented and meticulous. Must have a Mac laptop and be comfortable with using software on a Mac. Reading knowledge of Middle English is desirable but not required; French and Latin are also helpful. English Honors students given preference. Hours per week are flexible, by arrangement (it is possible to set up your schedule to avoid working during your busiest time of the semester).

This project covers a range of disciplines and thus offers possibilities for students working in many areas; to some extent this position is customizable according to student interests and background. In particular, students pursuing one or more of the following may find the work especially rewarding: medieval studies, poetics, linguistics, cognitive studies, metaphor, drama, music, and history. A first stage project is to update a research database from a backlog of notes and to transfer files to pdfs. Research responsibilities include finding relevant books and articles and in some cases summarizing their arguments. This term I am also seeking support for a second, collaborative project on medieval lyric. Work on this project will entail quotation-checking and bibliographic work; the lyric project will give the student researcher experience with early stages of book publication.

Application Process: Students should apply by writing a letter of interest that outlines their background and qualifications. Please include one faculty reference. The research assistant should expect to work 10 hours per week.

Starting Date: Flexible

Faculty Mentor: Mark Mayer

Email Address: mmayer@memphis.edu 

Project Description: I am writing a research-driven novel set in 450 BCE in Croton, Italy, where Pythagoras established his school. It's a novel about the Pythagoreans' planned attack on aristocratic power and the fire in which nearly all the first Pythagoreans were killed. More than that, it's a novel about their math, their odd code, and their attempts to find rational order in a mysterious, irrational world. I'm seeking a student curious about how research and imagination interact in the creation of a novel and with a great appetite for history, philosophy, and (easy) math. You would do true research—reading, note-taking, synthesizing—rather than bibliographical proofing or fact-checking. All research can be done remotely.

Requirements for Student Applicants: All interested students are welcome to apply, but the ideal candidate would be a broadly curious humanities major in good academic standing with experience managing multiple sources. No advanced math or science knowledge is required, but affection for math will serve you. You should be comfortable reading and annotating PDFs on screen (rather than on paper).

Application Process: Students should apply with a letter of interest, a resume, an a research-based project from a previous semester

Hours per Week Student Will Work: 10

Starting Date: Flexible

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Faculty Mentor: Will Duffy

Email Address: weduffy@memphis.edu

Project Description: This a project that traces the history of "English-only" campaigns in the United State and the styles and argumentative techniques that such campaigns have utilized going back to the Americanization movement in the early 20th century. In particular, this project focuses on the roles of professional organizations (like the National Council of Teachers of English, the National Speech Association, and others) played as they both supported and opposed various programs that focused on the politics of the English language.

Requirements for Student Applicants:

-This position is ideal for a humanities major who is interested in rhetoric, history, and/or education, although students from any discipline are welcome to apply.

-The student must be capable of doing library-based research, especially using the tools of database searches.

-The student must be able to read, annotate, or otherwise summarize academic articles and similar publications, including archival materials like newspaper and magazine articles.

Application Process: Letter of Interest/Cover Letter, Unofficial Transcript, Interview

Hours per Week Student Will Work: 10-12 (negotiable) 

Starting Date: Flexible