Virginia Dow & Isaiah Quigley
The focus of research for this narrowed field is Children’s Literature; Isaiah Quigley tapped into the works that we researched throughout our Children’s Literature course to respond specifically to a prompt from the Children’s Literature Association. The theme for the upcoming Children’s Literature Association conference is Refreshing Waters/Turbulent Waters. Isaiah focused his in-depth research on several books that we studied together and their particular associations with water.
How has research mentorship played a role?
Most of our collaboration took place in the classroom. As the semester progressed, I observed Isaiah’s diligent work ethic and strong research/writing skills. I then prompted him to submit a proposal to present his findings at the national Children’s Literature Association, which will be held in San Antonio, Texas in June.
What impact will this research have in your field?
I believe that collaboration within the discipline of literature is important. Sharing ideas and research can not only be helpful to others in the field, but it can also provide inspiration for further research. I also believe that volunteering in a panel is a positive contribution to those who are presenting. Not only will I be supporting and assisting my own two students at this conference, but I will also be networking with other professors and helping my students to connect with professors and/or students who might have similar interests. This research can provide valuable long-term benefits.
What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of collaborating with students in a research experience?
As a professor, I find promoting students to present their original work to be extremely satisfying. As students step out of their comfort zone to present their original ideas and research at national conferences, they grow in knowledge and increases confidence in their own field. Observing this growth is both exciting and rewarding for me as their mentor. For the students, presenting at a national conference is a powerful addition to their CV. Furthermore, their diligence in research and presentation at this prestigious level can encourage other students to push harder for excellence.
My research project focuses specifically on the water in Children’s Literature, with a narrowed focus on the figurative use of water. Han’s Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid is the primary example of Children’s Literature used in the project. In my paper, I begin with a description of the literal uses of water in Children’s Literature, citing examples from various pieces of Children’s Literature, such as Louis Sachar’s Holes and Linda Sue Park’s A Single Shard and of course The Little Mermaid. Water’s figurative use in Children’s Literature is given much more attention than its literal use. Water is often described in contradictory ways when used figuratively. Water can either take life or give it, water can be either serene or violent, and it can obstruct a person’s path, or it can provide a way for them to go. As with water’s literal usage in literature, its figurative usage is first explored in various works of Children’s Literature, then again in The Little Mermaid.
How did you get involved in research collaboration with a faculty mentor?
In the 2017 Fall semester, I studied Children’s Literature under Professor Dow as part of my undergraduate program. Professor Dow asked me in class if I would be interested in writing and presenting a paper at the 2018 Children’s Literature Association Conference. I assented and began the process of researching information for the conference paper.
What impact will this research have on your future academic and professional opportunities?
I’ve written many papers as an undergraduate student, but I have not had the opportunity to present a paper at a national conference. Professionally, I intend to teach elementary school in the future, so having the opportunity to hear presentations in the field of children’s literature will be very beneficial to me professionally. This conference will also allow me to network with other teachers and scholars of children’s literature.
What is the most exciting and/or rewarding aspect of your undergraduate research experience?
The most rewarding and exciting part of this experience will be the opportunity to present my research to people from all over the country at this national conference. I am very excited to present this research to such an audience and to hear presentations from others at the conference.
What advice would you give a student who is considering getting involved in undergraduate research?
I would advise such a student to get involved. Participating in research under a faculty mentor, no matter what the field, it is a very rewarding experience. It is beneficial both academically and professionally as it gives students the chance to network with other professionals and to develop their skills as a researcher and a writer.