Canterbury Scholars Profiles
The Canterbury Program has, since 1997, provided faculty mentoring and financial support for select senior English majors conducting independent research projects. Below are descriptions of this year’s projects in the scholars’ own words.
For my Canterbury project, I decided to deconstruct one of America’s most beloved and frequently taught novels, To Kill a Mockingbird. Spurred by my own childhood nostalgia and the urgency of the school-to-prison-pipeline in our nation, I examined the different ways that we, as citizens and educators, must more thoughtfully teach what was dubbed the “Great American Read” by PBS in 2018. While my suggestions for pedagogical adjustments were in no way exhaustive, they mostly focused on re-centering the novel in the often avoided context of the Jim Crow South, as well as the missing acknowledgement of ongoing incarceration that gives the novel, and its flawed characters, a deeper meaning to students living in 2019. The most essential adjustment to our current way of teaching the novel hinged on beloved father and lawyer, Atticus Finch. Often hailed as the hero of the novel, a counter-reading of Finch reveals him to truly be a white savior who couldn’t save anyone. Additionally, a close reading reveals the very problematic ways that class and racial dynamics in Maycomb are boiled down to a town-specific issue instead of acknowledging the structural racism and systems of oppression that made Tom Robinson’s fate tragic, but not shocking.
Working on this project was one of the most challenging, yet exciting, ventures I took on during my time at Santa Clara. Watching the project evolve from its beginnings -- conversations in office hours with Professors Danielle Morgan and Allia Griffin to the paper I presented back in May -- demonstrated to me the ever-evolving nature of research. This was a project of collaboration. I could not have accomplished it without the support and guidance of my faculty advisors, Professors Morgan and Griffin, nor the funding and trust that the Canterbury Selection Committee and the English Department gave me, which allowed me to pursue my academic interests in a new way.
From October 2018 to May 2019, I taught creative writing therapy/workshops once a month at Stanford’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital with and for a handful of student in-patients at the LPCH school. Inspired by the power creative writing and journaling had on me during and after my brother’s cancer treatments and subsequent passing in our childhoods, as well as the myriad of creative therapies offered at LPCH -- from music therapy and art therapy to bedside theater, improv therapy, and even VR therapy -- I aimed primarily to offer an outlet to the kids, working to get them journaling and writing for English credit and the opportunity for publication in LPCH’s patient literary and arts journal, Healing HeARTS.
Back at SCU, mentored by Professors Kirk Glaser and Claudia McIsaac, and alongside my time as Editor in Chief of the Santa Clara Review, I wrote my own poems, both during and outside of the hours spent at LPCHS, reflecting on love, loss, family, and more, in an informal collection called "Are You There, Dog? It’s Me, Riley." It can be found here on Scholar Commons.
My Canterbury Fellowship, titled “Press Play on Composition: Bringing Engagement to Multimodal Assignments in the Writing Classroom,” was born from the feeling that we weren’t taking full advantage of the many affordances that digital multimodal composition offers. I wanted to see digital composition assignments encouraging students to create texts that would be more engaging for both the reader and the composer in ways impossible for traditional written texts. I began researching rhetoric and composition journals and compiling digital multimodal assignments to see how these texts could be more engaging. The Canterbury Fellowship provided me with the necessary funding to present my preliminary research at the Association of Writing and Rhetoric Seminar in Austin, Texas. My experience attending the conference, presenting my research, and getting feedback from other scholars proved to be pivotal for my project. After my weekend in Austin, I knew that I wanted my final project to offer professors key suggestions for drafting assignments that encourage creation of engaging digital texts and, most importantly, I knew I wanted my final product to be one of the engaging digital texts I was talking about and not a traditionally written text.
After a lot more research and many meetings brainstorming with my faculty mentor, Professor Amy Lueck, I created a multimodal website that offers tactics for making digital texts more engaging: dynamic, immersive, and non-linear. I also suggest numerous easy-to-use, free online tools that students can incorporate to increase the engaging qualities of their work and help encourage students to think differently about the ways we compose and read digitally.
I am so thankful for all of the support I received from the English Department and especially from Professor Amy Lueck for always coaching me through my process and supporting me and my ideas. The Canterbury Fellowship was a really great experience that I will always be thankful for.