Friday, July 29, 2005
Graduate student to present research in England
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Ten years ago, Dan Brown didn’t think he’d be here today. He didn’t think he’d be at OU. He didn’t think he’d be working on his second master’s degree in liberal studies. He certainly didn’t expect to be traveling to England to present his research, “The Scapegoats of London,” at the sixth annual British Association of Victorian Studies International Conference at the University of Gloucester Sept. 5-7.
After completing his bachelor’s degree in English at Western Michigan University and his master’s degree in information science from the University of Michigan, Brown was bored after a year out of school and wanted to go back. After accepting a job in the Rochester area, he decided to enter OU’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) in 2004 to supplement his information science degree.
Based on work in his independent study with Charles Mabee, special lecturer in religious studies, and the City in History, Literature, Art and Film class with Natalie Cole, director of MALS and associate professor of English, Brown researched the scapegoat figure. He used theories of author Rene Girard, examined scapegoat figures in Charles Dicken’s “Oliver Twist,” described a painting, analyzed street performances and studied Joseph Merrick, the “Elephant Man” of the late 19th century London to highlight his research.
“The interdisciplinary content of this research makes it so special,” said Cole, citing the many mediums Brown used in the research.
At Cole’s urging, Brown wrote to the head of the conference and was accepted to present the paper. Cole presented at the same conference last year, and said Brown can really benefit from this experience.
“This conference draws scholars from Europe, Asia and the United States and has some of the very best Victorian scholars from around the world,” Cole said.
The scholars and researchers in attendance can provide Brown with feedback on his research, which he can use when he has the work published.
To help with conference expenses, the University Research Committee awarded Brown a student research travel grant to cover a portion of his airfare. The MALS department is funding the remaining airfare, train travel and conference fee.
“I think it will be interesting to meet other researchers and also learn about things I can do in the future,” said Brown, who is the second MALS student to have work accept to an international conference, but the first to be able to attend the conference.
Now a graduate assistant in the MALS program, Brown isn’t sure what he will do after graduation next spring, but he has some ideas.
“This has been a very rewarding experience. It’s really the first time I’ve ever done anything like this and it has encouraged me to pursue my Ph.D., possibly in information science,” said Brown, who said he also would like to teach English or writing.
There are a lot of things Brown needs to do before he leaves for England, including making a few changes to the paper, creating a shortened version to be presented and developing a presentation to go along with it. However, he said with the support of faculty like Cole, he will be ready.
For more information on the liberal studies graduate program, visit the MALS Web site.