The four years I spent studying as a Levine Scholar at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte taught me the immense value of belonging to an academic community. The opportunity to belong to a community whose express focus is the study and application of the humanities drew me to the Ertegun Graduate Scholarship at Oxford. Having been granted the enormous honor of joining the Ertegun community, I am grateful to continue my studies of French and German literature in greater detail and within a comparative methodological framework.
During my MSt in Modern Languages course, I am eager to explore the writings of early modern French and German women, particularly lay devotional texts, in the context of sociopolitical trends such as humanism, the (Counter)-Reformation, and the French religious wars. During my undergraduate studies, I wrote an extensive thesis on the Catholic poet Gabrielle de Coignard who wrote, among other poems in her collection, a mini epic entitled Imitation de la Victoire de Judich. I intend to examine in greater detail the deuterocanonical figure of Judith in French and German literature and how women of varying religious backgrounds lay claim to her story in a personal or polemical fashion. I am also thrilled by the opportunity to continue my interest in the digital humanities by undertaking a paleography option as part of my course. I hope to apply my background experience in transcribing early modern manuscripts by getting involved with the Cultures of Knowledge project, and taking advantage of training opportunities such as the Text Encoding Initiative, as well as other resources offered by the Centre for the Study of the Book, and Centre for Digital Scholarship at Oxford.
My interest in digitizing and transcribing manuscript writings from the early modern period, particularly by women, stems from a primary motivation guiding my research as well: uncovering the voices and experiences of marginalized groups who have worked to find autonomy within orthodoxical structures. The study of manuscripts as a counterpoint to print culture, of lay religious writing in addition to strictly secular or entirely conventual texts, and of women’s literary and intellectual networks as equally important as formal political structures, allows us as modern readers to access a more complete image of our past and contextualizes the way we approach our studies today. I believe that such an interdisciplinary, critical approach to literature also enriches our perspectives on the present-day: access to information and technology continues to inform the structure of our society and hopefully by uncovering alternative sources of authority in our records (literary, medical, political and otherwise) we will also further our inclusion of people of differing backgrounds, and come to valorize competing narratives equally. I believe that the Ertegun community expressly supports such a mission, and am excited to learn all I can during my year at Oxford from my studies and fellow scholars.