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Sun Angel Scholarship funds research in the humanities


May 15, 2008

From teachers using Japanese comic books in the classroom to “green” advertising to a controversial moment in the history of the American Revolution revisited through a gender lens, students majoring in the humanities study unusual and interesting topics with funding from a Sun Angel Foundation research award.

Stefanie Craig, Kendra Kennedy and Ginger Hanson are the 2007-2008 recipients of the Sun Angel Excellence in the Humanities Research Scholarship. The scholarship provides undergraduate students in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences a chance to pursue a research project related to their majors and also their personal interests. The award requires that the research culminates in a scholarly article or related form of publication.

For Craig, who received a bachelor’s degree in English this past December, the chance to study a topic she loves was the best part of her project. “Manga is something I’ve been interested in for over a decade,” Craig says.

Manga are Japanese comic books, read by people of all ages. They can be about anything – fantasy or science fiction, romance or school life. Craig, who also speaks Japanese, focused her research on how teachers of young adult literature can use this popular medium in classrooms.

“My main goal is to give educators, parents and any interested party a look into what manga actually is; its history, themes, characters, archetypes and structure,” she says.

Craig’s findings are published in the April 2008 eighth edition of “Literature for Today’s Young Adults,” a textbook written by Alleen Pace Nilsen, an ASU English professor, and Kenneth L. Donelson, an ASU Professor Emeritus of English education.

Kennedy, a senior with a double major in history and women and gender studies, became interested in her topic after stumbling across in her readings a reference to the Meschianza, an elaborate party thrown by the British Army in Philadelphia in 1778. Curiosity piqued, Kennedy made her first archival research trip to Philadelphia, which revealed intriguing gendered aspects of the event and the after effects on the Revolution.

The research will serve to illustrate the role that gender and culture had on political events that shaped United States history, Kennedy says.

Combining both of her majors into one project is what Hanson found so interesting about her analysis of ecological and environmental language and rhetoric in advertising. Hanson, a junior with a double major in English and conservation biology, is able to put both disciplines to work in her research.

“It was not until I noticed my heart rate was picking up every time I viewed an ‘eco-friendly’ advertisement on television that I realized I had to propose a project based on analyzing the rhetoric employed in such ads,” Hanson says.

All three scholarship recipients intend to go on to do graduate level research.

“What began as a curiosity about the Meschianza and an experimental research trip has become the basis for my graduate school studies,” Kennedy says.

Hanson said the experience gave her newfound confidence.

“It felt good to be trusted to plan and conduct my own study, and my mentor gave me great advice along the way that I will be able to put to use in future studies,” Hanson says. Her mentor is Peter Goggin, assistant professor of English, rhetoric and composition

The Sun Angel Foundation is an organization that was founded in 1946 to provide financial aid to outstanding scholar athletes. It has since extended its support to students throughout the university, including the humanities.

Kennedy describes the humanities as the way humans can “explore and understand the human experience.”

“I am constantly amazed by the social, cultural, political and economic dynamics that interact in society,” Kennedy says.

“The humanities are dedicated to who we are, and where we come from in a different way from natural sciences and other subjects,” Craig says. However, there are more reasons to study the humanities than simply academic pursuits, she claims.

“We also study it, of course, for fun.”

Ashley Lange, ashley.lange@asu.edu
480-965-1441
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences