GW English Alums on the Move: Sarah Kuczynski Gets Mellon Fellowship

Recent English department grad Sarah Kuczynski, who has just started a PhD program in English at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, has been selected for a Mellon Fellowship there.  It provides a service-free first year and a service-free fifth year for dissertation writing with a stipend of $15, 200. In years two through four,  Sarah will teach one class a semester and receive the normal stipend given to teaching fellows, with an additional $7, 000 dollars per summer to conduct research.  

She’s stoked:

I have always had travel/research fantasies, but since I received word that I would be receiving the Mellon Fellowship, I can say that those fantasies transformed into plans. This November, I may travel to the American Studies Association meeting in Washington (in which case I would visit GWU) because several members of my class–and my professor–have decided to make a trip there. During the research for my [GW] honors thesis, I became intent on visiting the Yvor Winters archive at Stanford because there is some evidence that Winters taught the Puritan poet Philip Pain (with whom my thesis was concerned) in his poetry seminar. Winters is also just an extremely interesting person and I think reading through his correspondence and annotated mimeographs of his syllabi and his class notes would be extremely interesting and rewarding. Like the Puritan poet Pain, Winters has been stereotyped in many ways –he was, of course, eccentric and did things like tote a full-size harpoon to teach his class on Melville’s Moby Dick–that I believe diminish the power of some of the conclusions he came to as a critic. The Massachusetts Historical Society has open archives, so a trip to Boston might be a good idea. Although this may seem tangential, I would love to visit the Centre for Iris Murdoch Studies.  I believe her archive and Peter Conradi’s papers are all housed at Kingston University and I have always found her philosophical writing really powerful. I also have some undeveloped plans to find out more about the printer Marmaduke Johnson, who published Pain’s poetry, so maybe, travel would be involved in that. It is good that I have a year to think through all of this.

What about the experience of graduate school in particular?

In my undergraduate study, it always felt as though I wanted to go even deeper and read even more into the history and criticism of any given text, but there was always the pressure of general course requirements and science labs to attend. Graduate school strikes me as an institutionalized version of that impulse I had in undergrad; indeed, the impulse I had to read more and more deeply and to spend sustained time with a text is, much to my enjoyment, the very business of graduate education in English. 

And Chapel Hill? 

After living on L Street in D.C., it is hard not to relish the almost absolute silence that envelops my apartment in Chapel Hill during the day; nevertheless, I don’t take much pleasure in finding disemboweled squirrels and other animals on the pavement–victims of owl and hawk attacks–when I take my dog for a walk. There are also spiders that I swear are large enough to be in Harry Potter.

Alums! Remember to send us your successes and adventures: pass them on to Professor Margaret Soltan at 

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