I began preparing for my interdisciplinary Honors project in visual poetry as contemporary feminist poetics with a DIS in concrete poetry with my advisor. My research investigates visual, collage, and comics poetry as strategies of a feminine aesthetic, featuring work by North American women from the 1950s through 2017. I started the first semester of my thesis with a Wentworth Fellowship to upstate New York to conduct archival research in the Poetry Collection at the University of Buffalo and attended a conference in concrete poetry at St. Bonaventure University. I continued my research into the summer with the help of a Support for Undergraduate Research and Creativity award (SURCA) and completed two of my thesis chapters and a journal review under Dr. Porco's mentorship. Last fall, I presented my research at the National Collegiate Honors Council conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and my project was recognized with a 1st-place prize across all presentations in the arts and humanities. I'm preparing to defend my thesis in April of this year.
As a member of the Honors College, I knew that I had to complete a departmental honors project and I wanted it to be something I could use for my graduate school applications. I was first introduced to comics poetry after I started reading graphic memoirs and the idea for my project came together when I took Dr. Porco's class on the Black Mountain College poets, which included some study of visual poetry. While I hoped to leave UNCW with a polished thesis I could excerpt from for writing samples, I also hoped to gain some skills that would come in handy down the road—things like archival research, poster-making, and presenting at conferences. I was able to do all of those things and more as a result of my research.
My Honors project has been the most difficult and most rewarding thing I could imagine doing as an undergraduate. I learned so much about my own practices as a writer and overcame a lot of self-doubt I had about my abilities. I don't see much of a divide between my critical and creative writing as a result of doing interdisiciplinary research. It contributed to my creative work in so many ways. I'm now working on my own poetry comics, one of which was published in a journal last fall.
My undergraduate research experience has already been a huge help to my job search for positions in academic publishing. It indicates that I'm able to work independently and grasp scholarly research methodology. I know that my thesis project will support my graduate applications in the future. Working closely with a faculty mentor and thesis committee helps with my recommendation letters, and my writing samples are already prepared from my thesis chapters.