Murphy Scholars Program

About the Murphy Scholars Program

The Murphy Scholars Program in Literature and Language allows Hendrix students from any major to deepen their knowledge of literature and language through a variety of enhanced experiences. Students join the program in the spring of their first year, selecting and completing their designated activities as they move through their sophomore, junior, and senior years. Murphy Scholars graduate with an added layer of distinction in literature and language that will enrich their lives as well as attracting the notice of future employers and graduate and professional schools.

Murphy Scholars have the opportunity to shape the literary and language scene at Hendrix and beyond. They help lead and sustain our rich array of existing literary and language activities while adding distinctive new voices through the work they undertake.  And they venture beyond the physical bounds of campus to study, explore, and serve in literature and language.

Murphy Scholars enjoy the following benefits:

  • Study-Travel Allowance Funds in the amount of $4,000, to be used for approved cocurricular experiences in literature and language;
  • structured ways to pursue deeper study of literature and language beyond the classroom;
  • opportunities for in-depth exchanges with Distinguished Visitors in literature and language — writers, translators, editors, and scholars whom the program brings to campus;
  • distinction upon graduation; and
  • the advantages of belonging to a community of scholars — including fellowship, professional preparation, and the excitement that comes from the collective investigation of literature and language.

Murphy Scholars are required

  • to participate actively in Hendrix’s community of scholarship in literature and language by attending the monthly Murphy Scholar meetings and supporting Hendrix-Murphy events;
  • to complete a tutorial course in literature or language;
  • to complete three cocurricular experiences in literature or language (many of which are activities Scholars may already be involved in, and may count for Odyssey credit). 

About the community of scholarship in literature and language

Each semester that they’re on campus, Murphy Scholars must attend at least one Hendrix-Murphy Distinguished Visitor event and one theatrical production, as well as frequenting their choice of the following:

  • Word Garden (student readings of original fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction — occasional Thursdays at 8:00 p.m. in the Murphy House)
  • ShopTalk (informal talks about the craft of writing, led by visiting writers in many genres)
  • Literature and Language over Lunch (Fridays, 12:10 to 1:00 p.m. at the Murphy House — brown-bag and box-lunch opportunities to share informally in literary conversation)
  • Book discussion groups (periodically led by faculty on a topic of interest)
  • Literary competitions (annual awards for original drama, poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction)
  • Campus community readings (collective out-loud readings of great works)
  • Language Commons activities (games, cooking, songfests, and holiday observances to increase fun and fluency in various languages)

About tutorial courses in literature and language

Tutorial courses, based on an instructional model developed at Oxford University in Oxford, England, feature weekly meetings where one to three students and a faculty member engage deeply in readings, discussion of student papers, or intensive translation work. Tutorials have long been considered the paragon of undergraduate instruction, promoting close relationships between faculty and students, intensive focus on texts (both reading and writing), and oral communication.

Hendrix offers tutorial courses in literary studies, world literature, creative writing, and dramatic literature through the departments of English, Languages, and Theatre Arts and Dance. Currently these are open only to Murphy Scholars, who are required to take at least one tutorial, ideally in the junior year (although study abroad or other circumstances may sometimes necessitate Scholars’ taking a tutorial in their senior year).

Tutorials are normal academic credits that in most cases count as 200- or 300-level courses or seminars. At the 300-level they may count for credit toward a major or minor, depending on that department’s policy. Tutorials do not satisfy Learning Domain or Odyssey requirements.

With their low student-to-professor ratio, Hendrix’s tutorial courses in literature and language foster deep, individualized exploration of their subjects. The tutorial’s intimate setting, with ample time for dialogue between professor and students, lends itself excitingly to exploration and discovery at the frontiers of research.

About cocurricular experiences in literature and language

  • Three of these must be completed across the span from sophomore to senior year.
  • These may be, but do not have to be, Odyssey projects.
  • Murphy Scholars may choose from activities that are preapproved for Murphy Scholar credit, or propose their own. 

Most literary and language cocurriculars that are already well established at Hendrix are preapproved for Murphy Scholar credit. For these, Murphy Scholars simply certify their participation in that cocurricular experience by submitting two items to the Murphy Scholars Program office — a Statement of Intent at the outset and a brief reflection once the experience is finished.

For individually designed cocurricular projects, Murphy Scholars must submit a proposal to the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation. A selection committee will evaluate each request to ensure it meets the program learning goals and, if so, to approve the funding, including any expenditures from that Scholar’s Study-Travel Allowance Fund.