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MacLeish and Hersey Scholars Present Archival Research

MacLeish and Hersey Scholars Present Archival Research

MacLeish and Hersey Scholars Present Archival Research

REMY LEE ’26/The Hotchkiss Record

MacLeish scholar Amelie Zhang presents her final project

Staff Writer

June 2, 2023

Sean Ye '25

MacLeish and Hersey scholars wrapped up their capstone projects and presented their research to community members on May 24 in the Faculty room. 


The MacLeish and Hersey Scholars programs offer small groups of Seniors the opportunity to conduct literary and historical archival research over the summer followed by year-long courses developing their projects.


 Named after Archibald Macleish 1911, a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, the MacLeish Scholars program is directed by Dr. Jeffrey Blevins, instructor in English, who is assisted by Ms. Janan Alexandra, instructor in English and of creative writing for the program. “The goal of the program is to make literature come alive for students,” he said. 


This past summer, MacLeish Scholars conducted research at the New York Public Library and stayed at Manhattan College. During their two weeks in the city, they not only researched a wide range of authors — from Vladimir Nabokov and Maya Angelou to John Milton and Phillip Lopate — but also took workshops in creative writing and bookmaking. 


Named after John Hersey ’32, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of the groundbreaking book on the effects of nuclear war, Hiroshima, the Hersey Scholars program is directed by Dr. Lisanne Norman, instructor in humanities and social sciences, assisted by Dr. Thomas Fisher, instructor in history, philosophy, and religion.


Students’ research topics ranged from historiographies of Richard Nixon to the effects of professionalization on missionary work in 20th century China. This past summer, the Hersey Scholars visited the archives at Harvard’s Houghton and Schlesinger Libraries. In 2023, the program plans to use the archives of the Boston Public Library in addition to Houghton and Schlesinger. Dr. Fisher said, “There are not many high school students who are doing archival research, and both are pretty expansive archives.” Students in both groups authored 40-page research papers based on what they found during their archival research. 


From 7:00 to 9:00 p.m., the students showcased the culmination of their research, which covered a wide variety of topics, including medical missionary work in China by Hersey Scholar Annie Dong ’23, ‘queer’ temporality and spatiality by MacLeish Scholar Celina Wang ’23, the health politics of the Black Panther Party by Hersey Scholar Clara Ma ’23, and Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths) in Virginia Woolf’s writing by MacLeish Scholar Lauren Sonneborn ’23. 


Lucy Jervis ’23, a MacLeish scholar, had the rare and exciting opportunity to study the personal diaries of Russian-American author Vladimir Nabokov at the New York Public Library this summer. Jervis said, “I was lucky enough to be granted access to his diaries, which are usually restricted [unavailable] to most scholars. I spent most of my time in the libraries looking through his diaries, and I really felt as though I gained a glimpse into Nabokov’s mind.” 


Next year’s group of MacLeish and Hersey Scholars have already been selected after an extensive application process that involved essays and an interview. Parth Jain ’24, a future MacLeish Scholar, said, “I am excited to learn about the process of conducting intensive archival research and immersing myself in my authors as much as possible over the summer.” Future Hersey Scholar Jacob Zweibeck ’24 said, “My goal for the summer is to gather as much information as possible, take as many photos as possible of archival content, and then go through those photos later to fi nd the diamonds in the rough.”

Sean Ye is a staff writer for The Record.

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Editor's Note: This article was recovered from The Record's online archive. There may be stylistic and visual errors that interrupt the reading experience, as well as missing photos. To read this article as it appeared in print, view our print archives.

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Editorials are written by members of The Record's Executive Board. They typically center on issues related to the school or student life on campus.

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