Undergraduate Research in English
"The faculty bring so many diverse backgrounds and passions to their classes. There is always an opportunity to learn something new." - Terri A. Hoover, '19
What is Undergraduate Research?
Mentored Undergraduate Research is work done by an undergraduate student under close faculty mentorship that models the activities of professionals in the faculty mentor's discipline. For all disciplines, the research/creative process comprises both the analysis of past work and the creation of original material.
What does that mean for English?
Research in English involves the study of primary cultural texts (written, oral, visual, virtual). Scholars in literary studies formulate original arguments about the social, historical, political, artistic or cultural significance of such texts, informed by the work of other established scholars within the discipline; they produce original creative work; they develop materials and approaches for use by other scholars and teachers of English and cultural studies.
We encourage students to pursue undergraduate research projects with faculty mentors. Projects can be based around any aspect of English that interests YOU, and faculty often have a few good ideas of their own for research projects. If you are interested in research, contact a faculty member and we'll get things started. The goals of research are for you to increase your knowledge and understanding, and ideally to share that through publication or a conference presentation.
Committing to a research project is a valuable experience as it allows you to take the tools developed in class and apply them to delve deeper into an area of your own pursuit. Research demands equal parts perseverance and creativity, but the reward of finding or creating something new on your own is great. Taking part in a research project is a privilege - many schools do not encourage undergraduate research the way that Shippensburg does.
General information on student research at Shippensburg.
Examples of successful undergraduate research:
- The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner: A Thematic Analysis of Young Adult Literature by Dr. Thomas Crochunis and Evan Hallman. This Summer Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) project involved collaborative, qualitative inquiry into a substantial corpus of books featuring young adult characters who are long-distance runners. Springing off Alan Sillitoe's 1959 novella The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, the study involved student Hallman in extensive reading of literature, coding, and analysis of key themes, and development of presentations based on the finding of the research.
- More Human Than Human. In a collaborative work of fiction, students William Greenlaw, Kathryn Malone, Robert DiCarlo, and Jason Hahn explored the question of what distinguishes human consciousness from artificial intelligence. Assuming the voices of four characters in a future where advancements in technology have blurred the line between humans and computers, these writers presented their story at both the Celebration of Student Research and the EAPSU conference.
- The Poetics of Rome: Urban Pastoralism and Contemporary Romanticism. Paul Deichmann did extensive guided reading on the Romantics and the influence of space, particularly cityscapes, corresponding with his mentor before actually traveling to Rome. In addition to the original poetry produced during his time there, the experience inspired a lyric essay.
- Undergraduate Research Grants. At the beginning of the fall semester, a call goes out for students to apply for research funding. Each student (or student group) that applies must have a faculty sponsor, and grant funding can cover expenses like travel to conferences and poster printing. Applications are due at the beginning of October. More information.
- The Dean's Office. Some opportunities, like SURE (Summer Undergraduate Research Experience) program and the SFRE Grants (Student/Faculty Research Engagement) are seasonal. All English majors should receive emails about such funding, but don't be afraid to talk to your research mentor to get more information. If you have a large expense (like airfare to a national conference) that is not covered by an undergraduate research grant, the Office of the Dean might be able to help. Again, your research mentor is an excellent resource.
Conferences where undergraduates can present
- Celebration of Student Research Conference. Here at Ship, this takes place near the end of April each year. Registration opens near the beginning of the spring semester.
- Undergraduate Literature and Creative Writing Conference. Held each spring at nearby Susquehanna University. Proposals typically due in late November.
- EAPSU Undergraduate Conference. Annual spring conference sponsored by the English Association of Pennsylvania State Universities.
- PCTELA Conference. Annual conference sponsored by the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts. Educators of any level and at any phase of their career--including pre-service teachers--are encouraged to attend/present.
- NCTE. Annual national conference held by National Council of Teachers of English.
- AWP. Annual national conference held by the Association of Writers and Writing Programs.
Journals that publish undergraduate research
- Write the Ship. Shippensburg University's Journal of Academic Writing. Open to only current Ship undergraduates.
- Proteus. A Journal of Ideas. Published by Shippensburg University.
- Dewpoint. A journal sponsored by University of Alabama that is open to creative and critical works from undergraduates.
- FUSE. This site, sponsored by the Forum for Undergraduate Student Editors, includes a link to national journals that accept creative submissions from undergraduates enrolled at any institution.
- The Keystone Journal of Undergraduate Research. Housed here at Shippensburg, this journal is open to scholarly articles from the literary world. Only students enrolled at PASSHE schools (like Ship) can submit.