BY: CAROLYN QUEST
Edward Branigan, class of 1940, was forced to work over the summers to pay for his college education. So, when he retired, Branigan gave an endowment to Manhattan College to provide students the opportunity for paid humanities summer research. This opportunity was previously available for students of other schools, but not for students interested in the humanities. The fund was established in 1976 and has grown in grant money and student participation each year since.
This past summer of 2013, MC’s Branigan scholars received $3,250 to work on a project they have a passion for with the guidance of a faculty advisor. The Branigan committee, composed of professors and Dean of the School of Arts Dr. Richard Emmerson, awarded four students the grant for 2013. The seniors Carolina Boutureira, Katelyn Connor, Thomas Engelhart and Pamela Segura all presented their summer research to an audience in the Rodriguez Room on April 15. Dr. Joan Cammarata, modern language and literature professor, was the moderator of the panel.
Boutureira presented her research on “The Role of Regionalism (1931-1950) Literary Representations of Galicia during the Spanish Civil War.” She worked with Dr. Evelyn Scaramella, modern language and literatures professor.Boutureira was born into a Spanish family and had connections to the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) that she wanted to explore.
“Today this war still plays a huge role in Spain’s identity and politics,” Boutureira said. “It is a historic event that is very close to my family, and a war that my great grandfather fought in himself.”
Her great grandfather fought on the Nationalist side with Francisco Franco. She wanted to understand the other side of the war, the Republicans. Boutureira studied Republican and Nationalist literature about Franco produced in rural Galicia during the war. Since Boutureira was researching primary sources she had to translate the native language of Galician herself.
For his Branigan, Engelhart questioned why Americans romanticize whaling in the 1800s, and also uncovered the truth about the conditions of whalers at sea during that time. Engelhart discovered that whalers worked at least 16 hour shifts, suffered from malnutrition, physical punishments, boredom and disease while aboard the cramped quarters of a whaling ship.
His project, “A Whaler’s Toll at Sea, in Port, and in Memory,” was advised by Dr. Jeff Horn, history professor. Engelhart explained that the romanticism is derived from American curiosity of the whale, and from the wealth that whaling brought to certain American towns and families that want to keep the pride alive.
Connor presented “Meaning Making in Freshman Writing Classes.” She worked closely with Dr. Kelly Marin, psychology professor, and Dr. Adam Koehler, English professor. Connor explained that students who write about their emotional experiences are able to gain a better perspective on events and an outlook of the world, or “meaning making.”
“Through meaning making and expressive autobiographical narratives people can come to realize the important implications of their experiences and their world views,” Connor said.
Students can improve their physical and mental wellbeing through personal narratives. Connor states that MC promotes this knowledge in writing classes, for a person to grow not just in academic merit but also holistically.
Segura, a Senior Writer for The Quadrangle, presented her study on “Treating and Mistreating Gender in Demonic Horror and Possession Narrative Films” advised by Dr. Margaret Toth, English professor. Segura examined horror films such as “Rosemary’s Baby,” “The Shinning” and “The Exorcist.” Segura discussed how gender is represented in these films and the anxiety the viewer has over gender and familial roles.
“The Branigan helped me grown as a writer,” Segura said. “There is pre-Branigan Pam writing, and post-Branigan Pam writing.”