Undergraduate Humanities Research Fellows
Karen Lau, “Soup Dumplings for the Soul: Ethnic Studies and Social-Emotional Learning”
and Rylee Thomas, “The Ghostly Dynasty: Victim-Blaming, the Gothic Novel, and the Modern True-Crime Drama”
Wednesday, April 19, 2023, 5:00pm, Humanities Institute Conference Room (HBL 4-209)
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The event will also be livestreamed with automated captioning.
“Soup Dumplings for the Soul: Ethnic Studies and Social-Emotional Learning”
Karen’s public humanities project examines the link between ethnic studies and social-emotional learning. She will share conclusions from a series of Asian American history workshops she led at EO Smith High School and their impact on students’ mental health and sense of identity.
Karen Lau, from Norwich, CT, is a Day of Pride Scholar majoring in political science and economics with a minor in Asian American studies. As an inaugural UCHI Undergraduate Research Fellow, her project’s aims are two-fold: 1) pilot a qualitative study that implements a novel Asian American history curriculum at a local high school and 2) investigate how the curriculum affects students’ mental health, social-emotional learning, and sense of identity. With funding from UCHI, the UNH Center for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation, her fellowship will produce publicly engaged humanities scholarship, culminating in a student-curated exhibit and a journal publication. Karen’s research interests include ethnic studies, curriculum development, digital humanities, and education policy. She pursues these interests as an intern for Make Us Visible, a member of the Humanities Undergraduate Research Symposium, and the Secretary of the Human Rights Symposium. Karen is also a 2022 Holster Scholar, a UConn@COP27 Fellow, a Campaign Fellow for Joe Courtney for Congress, and a member of the Special Program in Law. She aspires to serve the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund as a public interest attorney. In her free time, Karen enjoys curating Spotify playlists, exploring trails, visiting farmers’ markets, and shopping for corduroy pants.
“The Ghostly Dynasty: Victim-Blaming, the Gothic Novel, and the Modern True-Crime Drama”
Throughout history, a disturbing trend in social perceptions of domestic abuse and violence against women is a tendency to blame the victim. While feminist movements have changed this culture for the better, contemporary society continually criticizes women for behaving in ways that bring tragedy upon themselves. To explore this dichotomy, Rylee is writing a contemporary young adult horror novel that plays upon the conventions of both the gothic novel and the modern true-crime drama. Her novel, titled The Ghostly Dynasty, will explore the double standards that society places on women in both literary and criminal justice.
Rylee Thomas is a junior at UConn double majoring in English and communication with a creative writing concentration. After graduation, Rylee plans to get her masters in English and pursue a career in publishing. She’s incredibly grateful to have won the Wallace Stevens Poetry Contest, the Collins Prize in Poetry, and the Aetna Prize for Creative Writing for Children. When not writing, she can be found figure skating, drinking matcha lattes, and rereading Austen novels. For her project, Rylee wants to explore the culture of victim-blaming double standards that contemporary society continues to place on women through tropes of nineteenth-century gothic novels. She hopes to explore this dichotomy by writing a contemporary young adult fantasy novel that plays upon the conventions of both the gothic novel and modern true-crime drama.
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