Research, the Humanities, and Keeping Things Straight

Oct 2018
10-minute read

In COURI, students may take part in SURPASS (Summer Undergraduate Research Program Assistantship), which is a 10-week program where students work for 20 hours per week (or 200 hours maximum). MERITUS (Mentored Experiences in Research, Inquiry, and Creative for Undergraduate Scholars) is a 32-week program where students work 15 hours per week (or 480 hours maximum). Students have to register for Undergraduate Research, RSRC 4033, for both SURPASS and MERITUS.

I worked in the SURPASS program for the summer of 2016. For the SURPASS COURI program, I worked on “Preparing PAVEMENT (Paratextual Verse in Early Modern English Texts” under the direction of my mentor, Dr. Andrew J. Fleck. In this program, I worked on proving that we could find paratextual verse in early modern texts.  I used two databases to prove our argument.  I used ESTC (English Short Title Catalogue) to look for the STC (Short Title Catalogue) number, so I could look up the STC number in EEBO (Early English Books Online).  For EEBO, I was able to look at early modern texts to find texts that might have paratextual verse. We began our research by looking at two books: Salve Deus Rex Judeaorum by Aemilia Lanyer and The Faithfull Shepheardesse by John Fletcher.  In our results, we were able to produce possibilities of creating our database by demonstrating how paratextual verse can be used from PAVEMENT. 

I worked in the MERITUS program for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters.  In MERITUS, I worked on “Developing PAVEMENT (Paratextual Verse in Early Modern English Texts)” also under the direction of Dr. Fleck, and we used both ESTC and EEBO to look at the paratextal verses from Aemilia Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judeaorum.  We decided to search early modern texts from Richard Bonian ("Seller") and Valentine Simmes ("Publisher"), and we collected data on many early modern texts that have paratextual verse.  In our results, we found 21 STC records for Richard Bonian, and 15 of them had paratext, but 3 of them were in paratextual verse.  For Valentine Simmes, we found 138 STC records, and 99 of them had paratext, but 70 of them were in paratextual verse.

I organized my time as a researcher into three different parts: personal, mentor, and SURPASS/MERITUS.  I made sure to track my progress in a Moleskine journal, I created folders for the STC records and reports, I made an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of the STC records, and I made my own work schedule.  For my mentor, we set up weekly meetings (where I reported my weekly progress and findings), created a Dropbox folder (where I could share my reports and progress), established great communication between us, and asked “What more?” types of questions and any other questions for clarity.  For SURPASS and MERITUS, I prepared book reports, scheduled meetings for what to expect in the future, and final presentations (poster presentation or PowerPoint presentation).  For the Excel spreadsheet, I organized it by separating the data into STC Number, Publisher, Author, Year, Seller, Paratext, In Verse, Notes, and Title columns.

For both SURPASS and MERITUS COURI, we had to provide book reports and our final presentation. For the book report, I made sure to include Introduction, Methodology (terminology, tools, and process), Results, Conclusion and Future Work, and References (bibliography) sections, and for the final presentation (poster/PowerPoint), I made sure to provide Introduction, Methodology, Results, Conclusions and Future Work, References and Acknowledgements sections.

In the end, taking part in the SURPASS COURI and MERITUS COURI programs provided me with valuable experience in utilizing a diverse array of tools in humanities research as well as experience in how to organize my work time and how to interact with a faculty mentor.  As part of these projects, I learned to do the following:

  • Create a great social network with my mentor, COURI people, and other students in both SURPASS and MERITUS.
  • Become comfortable to speak out regarding any concerns with my mentor and other faculty members in COURI.
  • Have the courage to expand further into other areas where I can grow academically and independently.
  • Inform other students about the resources that are provided to them.
  • Use the experience for my future academic career.

Written by Carmen Ordaz

Graduate Fellow, The Humanities Collaborative at EPCC-UTEP


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