The University of Maine Humanities Center has awarded summer research grants to two UMaine students.
Taylor Cunningham, an English major and Honors student with a minor in folklore studies, was awarded the Sandy and Bobby Ives Research Award. Elisa Sance, a doctoral candidate in history, was awarded the center’s graduate student research award. Each award is worth $500.
Cunningham of Massachusetts is the coordinator of a new interdisciplinary humanities series of lectures on linguistics and culture, and has been working on the Maine Hermit Project for two years.
The project is a collaborative interdisciplinary humanities lab venture involving a team of undergraduate researchers working with Sarah Harlan-Haughey, an assistant professor in UMaine’s Honors College and Department of English.
“As a student research assistant on the Maine Hermit project, I study the historical hermits of Maine — who they were and what they can tell us about the communities that remember them,” Cunningham says, adding she spends a lot of time researching old newspapers and the archives in the Maine Folklife Center, as well as conducting fieldwork around the state.
She says fieldwork is essential to a project that relies on oral history, and has visited historical societies and museums in Patten, Oxford Hills and Monhegan Island. She plans to travel more this summer, and the grant will help with related costs.
While a graduate teaching assistant at UMaine, Sance taught French in the Department of Modern Languages and Classics. For her doctorate, she is focusing on language policies in the 1960s and 1970s in New Brunswick and their effect on people in northern Maine.
This summer, Sance will study the role of the family unit in the transmission of the French language in U.S. and Canadian communities in the Madawaska region.
“The French-speaking population in the Madawaska region was divided by the establishment of the official border between Maine and New Brunswick in 1842. This population shares a common past but has evolved within different legal and political frameworks,” Sance says.
Sance also plans to collect data on the structure and evolution of the family unit as they relate to the establishment of public school systems in New Brunswick and Maine. She is specifically seeking information on the level of education, occupation(s), religious orientation, and size and composition of families.
Sance plans to conduct research at the Blake Library at the University of Maine Fort Kent and the Acadian Archives, which are housed in the same building. The facilities offer several useful documents that are not available anywhere else, Sance says. She also plans to use resources at the University of Moncton at Edmundston, New Brunswick.
She intends to present the paper at a conference organized by the Association of Canadian Studies in the United States in October, and at an on-campus event in March 2016, part of a monthlong series of programs to celebrate the French-speaking world.
The Sandy and Bobby Ives Research Award is funded by David Taylor and LeeEllen Friedland, and the graduate student award comes from other University of Maine Humanities Center (UMHC) funds.
For more information about UMHC, email director Liam Riordan at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the center’s website.