Each semester, the Department of English offers 5-7 UPREP projects for undergraduate students. The Undergraduate Professional and Research Experience Program (UPREP) allows students the opportunity to work alongside a faculty member on a research project outside of the classroom. Student involvement can range from working as an editorial or research assistant to aiding in the preparation for an academic conference.
Students who are selected to work on a UPREP project will:
- serve as a project assistant for a faculty member for up to 100 hours throughout the semester
- gain invaluable practical experience in an area of interest for future academic or career plans
- submit an evaluation report of her/his experience at the end of the term
- have the opportunity to earn academic credit in the form of an ENGL 485 contract
- receive a $750 stipend at the end of the semester when all duties are completed
In order to apply, please complete the UPREP Application and email to email@example.com or drop off a hard copy of your application to LAAH 352 by the deadline. Students may apply to more than one project, but will need to complete a separate application for each one.
Description: I am requesting a UPREP student for Fall 2020 to help me edit Seventeenth-Century News. Working on this project would help the student gain valuable practical experience as a magazine or journal editor, while helping me substantially with my research.
Student Involvement: Seventeenth-Century News is a book review journal sponsored by the Milton Society of America, though it seeks to keep its international readership abreast of the best new scholarship in all fields of seventeenth-century studies—art, history, literature, including continental and American, music, and philosophy. Reviews run usually about one thousand words. Seventeenth-Century News is now published digitally <journals.tdl.org/scn>. My editorial assistant would help edit reviews to make them conform to our house style as well as conduct regular correspondence with contributors. The student would also assist me in laying out the issue with InDesign and then uploading the issue to the Texas Digital Libraries site. He or she would gain invaluable practical experience.
As time allows, the student would also help me work on the Oxford edition of the Prose Letters of John Donne. A student assistant who would like to learn something about scholarly editing could (1) help me establish the copy-text and verify it against the first printed editions, and (2) help track down material in the library for notes and annotations.
Required Skills & Interest: Basic computer skills are required, such as familiarity with Microsoft Word. Knowledge of InDesign would be helpful. This is an opportunity for a student to learn—through hands-on experience—about editing.
Benefits to Student & Faculty: The student would learn about copy-editing, laying out the issue with InDesign, and uploading to the Texas Digital Libraries site. He or she would gain invaluable practical experience. The student would also learn something about scholarly editing.
In the past seven years, all of my former UPREPs have found employment as editors or technical writers in part through the experience gained with me.
Description: “The Millican Massacre, 1868” is a small scale digital humanities project, housed in Omeka (http://millican.omeka.net). Developed through a partnership of students, faculty and community members, “The Millican Massacre, 1868” documents a relatively unknown and understudied massacre of African-American freedmen and women in Millican, Texas in 1868. Though the event attracted international interest and was perhaps the largest race riot in Texas during the reconstruction, little scholarly attention has been given to the event nor has any effort been made to collect, archive and preserve related materials. The digital project is an expanding archive that contains newspaper clippings, historical documents, political texts, letters and oral histories. Additional materials include a historical overview of the event. A key component of the project is public outreach, including numerous community talks, such as a recent presentation at the Gregory School, the African-American library within the Houston Public Library system, and, in collaboration with a community group, the granting of a Texas historical marker.
Student Involvement: The student will work with the faculty member to edit the digital objects found in the archive. I have a backlog of digital objects that are collected, but not yet included on the public site, so the student will be involved with the production of the digital archive. This work will teach digital humanities, editing and metadata skills, all of which are extremely desired in the job market.
Required Skills & Interest: An interest in African-American and Texas history, public humanities, and digital humanities are a plus, but not necessary. While skills working with digital materials would be helpful, those without such skills are encouraged to apply.
Benefits to Student & Faculty: Students will learn skills that will benefit them on the job market. They will develop a profile for the website that will publicly document their work on the archive. The faculty member will be able to advance the digital project, a stand alone project and also a part of a current book project.
Description: Maria Edgeworth (1768-1849) was an Anglo-Irish author of children’s literature, moral tales, and novels. In the early nineteenth century, Edgeworth’s Irish novels, such as “Castle Rackrent” and “Ennui”, and her novels of manners, such as “Belinda”, were more popular than Jane Austen’s novels. Edgeworth and her father Richard Lovell Edgeworth penned early advice books for parents on raising and educating children. The Edgeworth family (with more than twenty children) put into practice many Enlightenment philosophies for educating children in the arts and sciences. Edgeworth was active in the management of her family estate in Ireland and wrote about literature, politics, agriculture and education in her voluminous correspondence. The Maria Edgeworth Letters project is locating and describing Edgeworth letters held in libraries all over the world. Whenever possible, we are transcribing and coding the letters to be posted on the Maria Edgeworth Letters hub. Students interested in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women’s writing and/or Irish literature are welcome to apply. The student does not need experience with TEI coding but should be willing to learn (we will provide TEI template and any support needed). Good research skills and interest in transcription of manuscript letters would be beneficial. This is a chance to be involved in developing a major resource for literary and historical research. An independent study project on Edgeworth and/or contemporary women writers would be possible.
Student Involvement: I am Associate Editor on the Maria Edgeworth Letters digital humanities project (https://mariaedgeworth.org/). We are looking for an undergraduate student interested in working on the first and phase of the project; in this phase the student would be coding the Maria Edgeworth Letters calendar, transcribing letters and working on TEI coding of letters. The student would also be working with our research and technical team at Wake Forest University.
Required Skills & Interest: Interest in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century women’s writing and/or Irish literature would be welcome. The student does not need experience with TEI coding but should be willing to learn (we will provide TEI template and any support needed, including WebEx seminars with our technical team). Good research skills and interest in transcription of manuscript letters would be a plus.
Benefits to Student & Faculty: The student would learn basic transcription practices, enhance his/her/their research skills, learn TEI coding, contribute to an ongoing public literature resource (and be credited for that work), and gain the additional professional experience of working with our chief editor Jessica Richard at Wake Forest University and an undergraduate researcher there. I would benefit by having assistance in locating Edgeworth letters and in the transcription and coding of the letters and the letter calendar. Whatever we are able to accomplish in spring 2020 will enhance the site as a resource for researchers at every level of scholarship.
Description: At the same time that we are witnessing a decline in the number of majors here and at many universities, readers across the country are engaging communally in serious reading practices in book groups that meet in person and appear also in virtual forms like Goodreads.com and the PBS News Hour/New York Times book club. I am applying sociological and literary theoretical methods to understand this phenomenon, including participant observation, interviews, and surveys. I have some preliminary hypotheses: 1) the centrality of cultural capital in modern bourgeois life, 2) the pleasure of a hobby pursued with passionate seriousness, and 3) the actual import of that old platitude about the “the life of the mind,” and 4) the value of community building in a neoliberal context.
Student Involvement: Students would 1) read the scholarship of the last decade on reception theory and reader response, 2) visit book clubs meeting on campus and at the local public libraries and share their observations in written form, 3) conduct interviews with participants with my supervision. Students could enroll in a 485 to write a thesis on the topic.
Required Skills & Interest: Writing and observational skills. An interest in reading advanced literary critical theory. Investment in a thesis on the subject.
Benefits to Student & Faculty: The student could develop an undergraduate thesis for LAUNCH drawing on the materials. I would value additional participant observations for my own research.
Description: The World Shakespeare Bibliography Online (WSB Online) contains entries for professional Shakespearean performances (plays, mixed media performances, musical performances, films, opera and ballet premiers, recorded music, radio broadcasts, and staged and recorded readings) from all over the world. Performance entries in the WSB Online include information about where and when the plays are produced, theatre companies, key personnel (director, dramaturg, translator, adapter, set design, costume design, etc.), production languages, and reviews. The student selected for the Shakespearean Performance History project will learn about all these production aspects and will also learn how to create entries for the World Shakespeare Bibliography.
Student Involvement: The student selected for the Shakespearean Performance History project will gather data through theatre-company websites, occasional correspondence with theatre companies, books, theatre publications and databases, performance reviews, and articles; will determine what data needs to be included in the WSB Online; will research histories of particular productions; and will compose and submit entries to the WSB’s editors. The student will be guided through each stage of this process and will also get to see the entries published to the WSB Online.
Required Skills & Interest: The student should be interested in Shakespearean performances and researching these performances. The student should be familiar with searching for items using electronic databases and Evans Library’s LibCat and Get It For Me systems. The student needs to be able to use Microsoft Word and Google Drive (including spreadsheets). Although reading knowledge of a foreign language isn’t required, it’s useful for this project. A detail-oriented, intellectually curious student would be best for this position.
Benefits to Student & Faculty: The student will develop skills in research and bibliography and will learn a great deal about Shakespearean performances, as well as trends in production techniques and performance scholarship, from all over the world. Additionally, the student will benefit from involvement in an ongoing and well-established digital project that is crucial to early modern and Shakespearean scholarship. This could help prepare the student for a career in editing or publishing as well as provide training that will be useful in graduate school. The meticulous research and analytic skills gained by participating in this digital project, not to mention the exposure to arts and culture around the world, will stand this student in good stead.
Faculty members will benefit from the student’s work because it will directly impact the number of performances added to the WSB Online, which will make the WSB a better research tool for faculty. The WSB’s workload is always high, and there is a backlog of performances to be entered into the WSB Online.
Description: Continued development of an online database documenting all adaptations of the Old English epic, Beowulf. At present the database contains about 575 entries and can be seen at beowulf.dh.tamu.edu.
Student Involvement: The work will include information gathering and fact-checking, with additional tasks being formulated as needed and as may fit the student’s interests and abilities.
Required Skills & Interest: The project requires attentiveness to detail, the ability to keep good records, and aptitude for managing tasks in a highly organized way. An interest in medieval literature is helpful but not necessary.
Benefits to Student & Faculty: The benefit to me is continued development of this major research project. The benefit to the student is direct engagement with ongoing faculty research, with the possibility of an ENGL 485 built around little-known Beowulf materials in modern popular culture.