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Hendrix-Murphy Foundation Programs in Literature and Language Announces Fall 2018 Project Funding

CONWAY, Ark. (December 7, 2018) – In the Fall semester of 2018, the Hendrix-Murphy Foundation awarded $28,963 in grants for 10 student cocurricular projects, two faculty-led campus projects, and two faculty-led study/travel projects in literature and language. The following student cocurricular and faculty-led projects were approved for funding:

Student Cocurricular Projects in Literature and Language

*Bailey Brya

Chinese Language Immersion in Guilin, China

Project supervisor: Wenjia Liu, Languages                

Bailey Brya will build upon her Hendrix-based study of Mandarin Chinese at the Chinese Language Institute (CLI) in Guilin, China, for two weeks in January 2019 before the start of her semester abroad in Zhuhai, China. Bailey’s participation in CLI’s immersion and homestay programs will help to increase her proficiency in the language and expand her knowledge of Chinese culture. 

*Mackenzie Gearin

Community Narratives and Identity Formation in Writer Communities in London, UK

Project supervisor: Anne Goldberg, Sociology and Anthropology    

Mackenzie Gearin will study identity formation within communities of South American exiles in London through ethnographic interviews, visits to museums and oral history archives, and immersion in exiled writers’ written and oral stories. Her experience will illuminate the ways that South American exiles craft their identities within narratives of exile as well as the ways that being a writer and/or a storyteller affects the formation of personal identity within exiled and refugee communities.


*Leah Headley

A Transnational Journey through the Nation’s Capital

Project supervisor: Gabby Vidal-Torreira, Languages

Leah Headley will attend the 50th anniversary convention of the Northeast Modern Language Assocation (NeMLA), the theme of which is “Transnational Spaces: Intersection of Cultures, Language and Peoples.” Leah will present a paper written for Dr. Vidal-Torreira’s Murphy Scholar tutorial course “Spanish Lesbian Literature in Contemporary Spain.” The opportunity to attend a professional academic conference and present her own work will enrich and expand Leah’s understanding of what it means to study literature and language.


Emily Madden

Learning to Read an Illuminated Manuscript of the Divine Liturgy of St. John of Chrysostom

Project Supervisor: Rebecca Resinski, Languages

Emily Madden will spend a week at the British Library in London working with Greek manuscripts of the Divine Liturgy in conjunction with English texts and paleographical resources until she can fluidly translate and read from an illustrated manuscript. The project is designed as a way to combine Emily’s background in theology with the completion of her Greek studies at Hendrix and will allow her to put her studies into practice while adding new skills that are difficult to learn in the confines of a traditional classroom setting.


Chloe Matthews

The Reception of Jean Toomer’s Cane: An Immersive Archival Experience

Project Supervisor: Alex Vernon, English

The Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscript Library contains a significant collection of Jean Toomer's letters, reviews, and unpublished manuscripts from 1894-1967. Chloe Matthews will travel to Yale University to explore these materials and conduct research for her senior thesis project, which focuses on the reception of Toomer's Cane and how the novel itself fits into the movement of the Harlem Renaissance.


*Carlee Shepard

Intensive Arabic Language Study

Project Supervisor: Martin Shedd, Murphy Visiting Fellow in Classics

Over the winter break, Carlee Shepard will take 18 hours of private lessons in Arabic at the Atlanta Language Institute in order to increase her current proficiency in the language to a conversational level of speaking. After completing her intensive course of study, Carlee will return to campus and teach beginning students in the Arabic Language and Culture Club.


*Rachel Shepherd

Following Jesus: A Spiritual Odyssey

Project Supervisor: Jane Harris, Religious Studies

Following scripture from the New Testament of the Christian Bible and from the Hebrew Bible, Rachel Shepherd will tour Israel for 10 days over Spring Break and reflect on the power of connecting story with place in order to build a strong foundation for future work in pastoral ministries. Rachel will also study examples of the sermon as a literary form and write a series of reflections which will serve both as a window into the Holy Land and source material upon which she can draw for future sermons in her work as church leader. After her trip, Rachel will preach a Wednesday morning sermon at Greene Chapel.


Katherine Skartvedt

Immersion in the Language and Culture of Guanajuato, Mexico

Project Supervisor: Lilian Contreras-Silva, Languages

Katherine Skartvedt will travel to Guanajuato, Mexico, to improve her Spanish language skills and learn about Mexican culture through an immersive experience. While staying with a host family, taking language and history classes in Spanish, and participating in holiday celebrations, Katherine will have many opportunities to practice the language and gain a deeper understanding of modern-day Mexico. Upon her return, Katherine will use her increased proficiency in Spanish to interview her grandfather about growing up in Mexico in the 1930s, allowing her to connect her Mexican heritage with the Spanish language studies that she has undertaken during her time at Hendrix.


*Sarah Weems

What It Means to Be a Wemyss: Exploring Connection to Place, Identity, and Family History Through Creative Writing

Project Supervisor: Giffen Maupin, English

Sarah Weems will visit Fife, Scotland, during Spring Break to learn about the origins of her surname and family history by visiting relevant sites and conducting interviews. She will use Hendrix experiences such as her TEC: Writing Changing Places class, Murphy Scholars tutorial in Creative Nonfiction, and themes learned as an Environmental Studies major to help her explore place and identity through creative writing. In preparation for her trip and subsequent essay, Sarah will delve into literature about place to inspire and influence her writing.


Hueseng Xiong

Immersion in Guilin: Improving Chinese Literacy and Language

Project Supervisor: Wenjia Liu, Languages

Hueseng Xiong will study Mandarin Chinese for three weeks during winter break through the Chinese Language Institute Immersion Program in Guilin, China. In addition to intensive language classes, the program includes cultural excursions in and around Guilin that give students the chance to use Mandarin in real-life situations. As he continues on the path to becoming a physician, Xiong’s ultimate goal is to achieve a level of proficiency in Mandarin that will help him to communicate with Chinese patients in a predominantly English-speaking medical setting.

*Murphy Scholar in Literature and Language


Faculty-Led Study-Travel


Toni Jaudon, English

An Introduction to Literary Research in Slavery’s Archives

In the late 1930s, the Federal Works Progress Administration put journalists and creative writers to work gathering the life stories of formerly enslaved Americans. While much of this material was published as An American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, substantial portions remain unpublished and available only to researchers who travel to relevant archives. In this Faculty-Led Study Trip, students will travel to the Cammie Henry archives in Natchitoches, Louisiana, to spend two days examining these precious and understudied archival materials. They will then use these documents as they craft a substantive essay or work of creative non-fiction that captures something essential about the lives of the enslaved, the limits of our historical knowledge about them, or the risks and possibilities of writing about the past.


Gwen Stockwell, Languages

Japanese Immersion Weekend

16 students will accompany Gwen Stockwell (Instructor of Japanese), Chiemi Shimizu (JOI Coordinator of UCA), and two other native speakers of Japanese to a lodge at the Mount Eagle Retreat Center outside Clinton, Arkansas, where students will spend 48 hours engaging in relaxed conversation, games, and language lessons in a setting that emulates a weekend spent at a homestay in Japan. Students will learn appropriate words for communicating with a host family while participating in such activities as cooking, hiking, and playing Japanese games.  


Faculty-Led Campus Projects


Martin Shedd, Murphy Visiting Fellow in Classics

Hendrix Latin Play

The Hendrix Latin Play project challenges students to translate and adapt Classical literature to modern audiences. Students select a comedy by the Roman playwright Plautus to transform into a 20-minute script, balancing the need to preserve the structure and situations of the ancient comedy with the goal of producing a work that conveys humor in the present day. The script is composed through a collaborative process that requires each student involved to consider the author’s intention, the source and construction of comedy, and how best to portray these features to an unfamiliar audience. The Latin Play culminates with a brief performance tour to middle and high schools in Arkansas, to promote the study of Classical literature and language.


Andy Vaught, Murphy Visiting Fellow in Theatre Arts

4-H: Hendrix Grown Theatre

4-H is an immersive, collaborative workshop designed to foster the dramatic work of four Hendrix students from page to the stage. During the spring semester, four Murphy Scholar Playwrights will convene and workshop one play written by each Scholar. This program, which is based on the New York City organization known as 13P (13 Playwrights), will not only foster the creation of new work, but allow each Scholar to experience the professional aspects of playwriting, including casting, design, marketing, publicity, performance, and management. Each playwright will not only create their own work but also assist the other playwrights in the group with play critiques, organizational efforts, and production duties. The project will culminate staged readings of each play. This program will give student playwrights the opportunity not only to deepen their skills in writing dramatic literature but also to experience the professional process of new play development, linking their burgeoning literary abilities to real world practice.


About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit