A Scholarly Community

by Xavier Sayeed, 20C Music Research and Jewish Studies


Participating in the scholarly community offered by the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry has been a thoroughly enriching experience. Over the past year, attending Wednesday lunches whenever possible has brought me so much joy. I delighted in learning about the research of the Fox Center’s doctoral and faculty fellows and particularly enjoyed being able to ask questions and discuss so many phenomenal presentations with my peers and the center’s more senior fellows. This engagement was crucial in my approach to my own work. The funding from the Fox Center supplemented my trip to present my work at the Yallah: Judeo-Arabic Conference at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies. The presentation skills I learned as a Halle Institute – FCHI Global Research Fellow in the fall semester were supplemented by my observation of weekly presentations, which allowed me to better understand the format of academic research presentations.

Beyond these practical skills, I have benefited greatly from the intellectual stimulation gained from engaging with other scholars’ research projects. The Fox Center community fostered an environment conducive to constant questioning and curiosity, which I found absolutely enlivening. I was able to translate that energy into the completion of my honors thesis, which was quite a mental undertaking. As I completed my project, I spent a significant amount of time lovingly agonizing over ideas and questions, producing around 300 hand-written journal pages of notes, thoughts, and observations. The support of the Fox Center aided my perception of myself as a budding scholar building a project instead of a student completing an assignment. This allowed me to approach my project with passion and excitement more than dread and anxiety, which was instrumental in allowing my project to flourish.

My work is the product of quite a bit of thinking and mental reshuffling. My fellowship experience has pushed me to articulate my ideas even when I felt like they were underdeveloped. This was such an important part of my project’s development as it allowed me to hone my ideas and jump-start my writing process. It also helped me overcome some of the fear that I had about how my positionality would impact the reception of my research. As an American Muslim writing about Israeli music, this fear dominated much of my early research and writing process, but the support of my peers and mentors allowed me to own my ideas and experiences and produce a project to which I am deeply and passionately dedicated. I am incredibly grateful to the Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry for shaping my early experience as a scholar in such an enlivening and enjoyable way. Through this experience, I have met so many phenomenal scholars and worked with peers and mentors that have made me excited to continue to pursue academic inquiry well beyond this project.

Xavier Sayeed is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying Music Research and Jewish Studies. His project will culminate in the completion of an honor’s thesis focusing on how the evolution of Israeli society and culture impacts the positionality of those from Sephardic and Mizrahi backgrounds and in what ways that shifts the approach to Andalusian music.

Palliative Care Education in an Undergraduate Curriculum


by David Kulp, 20C Interdisciplinary Studies

When I began my research just over a year ago, I hadn’t imagined my honors thesis project to be as relevant and as applicable as it is today. For many years now, I’ve developed a budding interest in pediatric critical care and palliative care, in large part due to my early exposure to mental health interventions at the end of life through my parents’ professions in healthcare. Shortly after arriving to Emory and learning further about the complexities of ethics and medical care, I developed an interest at the nexus of medicine and the humanities, focused on the delicacy of end of life decision-making in pediatrics.

Though it seems like a depressing and challenging topic to be interested in as a young adult and budding college graduate, given my parents’ vocations in pediatrics and psychiatry-oncology it was a clearly a natural and innate passion—of helping the underserved and the vulnerable through my academic and professional pursuits. As I grew through my coursework to better understand the challenges and nuances of medical care of adolescents and young adults with chronic illness, I developed an interest in integrating palliative care in an undergraduate setting. How do we foster supportive spaces to have challenging conversation about death? How do we proactively engage young adults to discuss decision-making—decision-making that will eventually no longer be theoretical, but inherently practical for themselves and their loved ones? And so, the foundation for my honors thesis project came to fruition.

Western culture proliferates the myth that conversations about palliative care and death can only occur at the end of life. Typically, such communication does not occur until it is too late—after life-limiting conditions present. However, dialogue about these difficult topics proves to be a crucial component of development in emerging adulthood (18-23-years old). Emerging adults are not immune to terminal illness, and many eventually become substituted decision-makers for their loved ones, forcing them to confront end-of-life decision-making. To decrease anxiety and fear about the end of life, the American Academy of Pediatrics and World Health Organization recommend having conversations with terminally ill children and emerging adults about decision-making as soon as they are developmentally and emotionally ready. However, despite these statistics and recommendations, end- of-life conversation is largely avoided with healthy emerging adults.

My honors project assesses the efficacy of a palliative care curriculum recently piloted for undergraduates at Emory University. Early interventions in educational settings—relying on resources typically used in advance care planning—may prove important in empowering healthy emerging adults to make well-informed decisions about their end-of-life care. While there is currently a wealth of literature showing the importance of end-of-life conversations with young adults suffering from terminal illnesses, the research—quantitative and qualitative—about communication with healthy emerging adults is lacking. This honors thesis bridges that gap by gauging both the pragmatic awareness of planning tools, and the effectiveness of an undergraduate curriculum focused on humanistic discussions about death.

With the COVID-19 crisis occurring in the United States and around the world, this thesis is remarkably, and tragically, applicable. As a child and adolescent, there was regular conversation about morbidity and mortality around the dinner table. However, these conversations were yet again once removed, in that I never had personal contact with individuals in their narratives. The dialogue, rather, involved rational and deliberative thought and analysis around the tragic deaths of their patients, of other people, in distant places. Now, that is no longer the case. These conversations are innately personal, challenging, relevant, and necessary.

The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry Humanities Honors Fellowship was immensely helpful in facilitating this research over the course of the spring semester. Thanks to the interdisciplinary work and mentorship of Dr. Walter Melion, Keith Anthony, Colette Barlow, and Amy Erbil, I had ample fellowship, funds, and space to further my research. The opportunity to engage with experts across the university and with fellow scholars was an unparalleled experience. I have benefitted deeply from the generosity of the FCHI. And as I near graduation, look towards graduate and professional school, and begin the next phase of my life and my research, I look forward to staying connected with the Center and the scholars who I’ve had the opportunity to connect with through it.

David Kulp is a senior majoring in Interdisciplinary Studies on the pre-medicine track, originally from Potomac, MD. His research focuses on the intersection of palliative care medicine, thanatology, and education. David aims to develop an undergraduate curriculum that focuses on the foundations of palliative care and its unique emphasis on a biopsychosocial-spiritual approach in clinical practice. Destigmatizing death through improved education in emerging adult populations may assist in their ability to act as proxy decision-makers for their loved ones and eventually themselves. An undergraduate course is ideally positioned in the life of an emerging adult to discuss future wishes and begin to catalyze a shift in the perspective of society towards the end-of-life. David was inspired to pursue this topic after studying ethics related to vulnerable pediatric populations, and particularly after interning in the Harvard Program in Neonatology at Boston Children’s Hospital on a project concerning neonatal care at the margin of viability.

Guoshang Cemetery and Chinese Collective Memory, 1945 and Beyond


by Junyi Han, 20C History and Media Studies

My honors thesis examines how China remembers World War II and what role this collective memory plays in post-war Chinese society. I address my research inquiry through a micro-historical study of Tengchong Guoshang Cemetery, the earliest and largest burial ground in mainland China for Guomindang soldiers killed in World War II. Dividing the history of Guoshang Cemetery into three stages in a chronological order, I argue that while the meaning of this cemetery has changed overtime, it has contributed to the emergence of a nationalistic historical narrative of World War II in Chinese society and the continuance of a collective identity. Combining archival research with ethnographic work, I draw upon a variety of primary sources, including gazetteers, legal documents, newspapers, photos, unpublished memoirs, and firsthand interviews. I also engage with substantial academic literature in Chinese, English, and Japanese. This thesis illuminates the nexus between China’s past and its present, and provides insights into the formation process of contemporary Chinese identity.

The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry has allowed me to further develop my honors project within a vibrant, supportive research community. I am thankful for this opportunity and I really appreciate the feedback from other researchers at Fox Center. Even under current circumstances, we are still able to share our research updates with each other remotely. Their advice has helped me better understand my research topic. It has been a pleasure to get to know the fascanting work of other fellows, and I have learned a lot from this valuable experience.

Junyi Han is a senior double majoring History and Media Studies. She is currently working on an honors thesis that examines war memories through the case of the Chinese Expeditionary Forces, a military unit dispatched to Burma and India by the Nationalist government in 1942 in support of the Allied efforts against Japanese invasion in Asia. The thesis will answer how and why the war efforts of the Chinese Expeditionary Force started to be recognized in mainland China in the late twentieth century. It will explore how war memories and post-war politics have mutually shaped each other, and thus provide new  insights into contemporary Chinese history.  

Transferring Knowledge through Dialogue at the Fox Center


by Mary Bohn, 20C East Asian Studies

My honors thesis has been greatly enriched by the support and guidance I have received from my peers and seniors at the Fox Center over the past year. Before starting my thesis, I falsely believed that a thesis would simply be a longer version of the many other papers I had written over my four years at Emory. As I began to delve further into the thesis-writing process last August, I quickly realized that this project required an entirely new set of skills and supports. Developing my honors thesis was often confusing as I tried to make sense of the massive amount of information I wanted to relay to my readers; compared to any other project I have completed, there were far more nights I sat staring blankly at my screen for hours trying to figure out what I wanted to say and how best to say it.

Meaningful dialogue with and feedback from my advisors, peers, and the Fox Center Fellows was integral to working through such moments. As I heard about the research of my peers and the Fox Center Fellows, I was able to identify new, creative ways to reevaluate my own research. Though our research covers different topics and disciplines, almost every conversation I had with fellow Fox Center scholars gave me new insight into my own project. In particular, presenting my research to my peers, Dr. Melion, Dr. Anthony, and the Fox Center Fellows was pivotal to my project’s development. The questions I received helped me to better understand and interpret my research findings as well as draw new connections between my research and that of my peers. The Fox Center’s focus on dialogue between different scholars and disciplines helped me to articulate the broader significance of my research as well as bolstered my passion for academic inquiry.

Above all, my experience at the Fox Center has taught me how to better communicate in and outside of the academic world. Over the course of many presentations and conversations, I learned how to translate my research into terms that others understand and articulate why it is important. At the same time, I learned how to listen to others’ research and gain invaluable insights from it. When I began my thesis in August, I remember a friend asking me over dinner, “So, what’s your thesis about?”, and I struggled to give her an answer. When my plumber asked me a few weeks ago what my thesis is about, I was able to confidently and clearly tell him not only what I research, but why.

To all of my peers, seniors, advisors, and friends I met through the Fox Center, thank you. Thanks to you, I wrote a thesis of which I am proud.

Mary Bohn is a senior majoring in East Asian Studies with a secondary focus on Global Development. Her senior thesis explores how North Korean migrants narrate their stories of escape and discuss their background in South Korean public spaces. Mary specifically analyzes how migrants tell their stories in three public “spaces”: South Korean protestant churches, a South Korean variety TV show “Now I am Coming to Meet You,” and migrant-run YouTube channels. By analyzing how North Korean migrants tell their stories differently based on each space’s respective setting and audience, Mary’s research reveals that migrants’ personal narrative storytelling functions as a tool to gain social and monetary capital in South Korea. Ultimately, Mary’s thesis explores a marginalized group’s strategies to “belong” in South Korean society in contestation with hegemonic discourses of citizenship and national belonging. 

An Original Spanish Translation of Catherine Cusset’s Une éducation catholique

by Natalia Garzón, 20C English/Creative Writing and French Studies

Being a Fox Center Undergraduate Fellow has been an inspiring experience for me this semester. Working on an Honors thesis can at times become a very solitary act for students and a lot of hours are spent doing research at the library or writing chapters and revising drafts. One of the greatest gifts the Fox Center gave me this semester was providing me with a shared office space at the center, where I felt supported and part of a greater community of scholars at Emory. There was nothing more satisfying than knowing your research and your curiosity was valued, encouraged, and echoed by others. Thanks to this fellowship I was able to spend my hours of solitude working amongst incredibly experienced and inspiring scholars who were always willing to talk about their projects and ask the right questions about mine.

In addition to spending time around inspiring scholars, I was encouraged to participate in events held by the center. One of the most enlightening experiences was attending the Faculty Response Forum one evening at the Carlos Museum. I had the opportunity to participate in roundtable discussions on some of the works-in-progress at the Center and also got to hear some of the innovative and generative questions faculty members are considering in their current research. The Faculty Response Forum not only empowered me as an Undergraduate student in making me feel welcomed and validated as

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El club de Lectura/LAA

a member of a larger community of learners but also inspired me in allowing me to witness what it would be like to do research full-time. It was also at this same event that I heard about the center’s partnership with El club de Lectura in the Latin American Association and soon after, began to work closely with Keith Anthony and Aixa Pascual at the Latin American Association to establish a successful partnership for the future.

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l-r: Natalia Garzón, Catherine Cussett

In terms of my own research, the Fox Center economically supported my travels to New York City earlier this year, where I spent a weekend meeting with Catherine Cusset, the author of the coming of age novel I translated for my thesis. Meeting the author was without a doubt the most fascinating part of my research; asking her specific questions about the novel and her literary ambitions motivated me to continue writing and translating. The opportunity of getting to know her and walk around the city with her confirmed how incredible conducting research can be and corroborated the impact institutional support can have in facilitating important networks within academia.

Overall, this fellowship has empowered me and given me multiple platforms of support in order for me to feel validated, encouraged, and inspired to continue my work as a scholar. I couldn’t be more grateful and honored to belong to the Fox Center and can’t wait to reconnect in the future with the people that have been so special to me this semester.

Natalia Garzón is a senior majoring in English/Creative Writing and French Studies. Her thesis is a Spanish literay translation of Une éducation catholique, a coming-of-age novel written by the french author Catherine Cusset. In addition to her translation of three key excerpts of the novel, as well as their critical analysis, she formulates her own translation theory, drawing from the works of Lawrence Venuti, Carol Maier, and Alison Phipps. Natalia’s thesis explores the ways in which Cusset’s novel in translation will challenge and nuance contemporary conversations of sexuality, female desire, and religion for hispanophone audiences. Her project considers the exigency of this literary translation and most importantly, highlights the need for nuanced female voices in coming-of-age novels. 


International Activism and the Women’s Human Rights Movement: 1990-2000

Drew Bryant Headshot

by Drew Bryant, 20C History
2019-2020 Fox Center Humanities Honors Fellow

The Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry has provided me with both an incredibly supportive and inspiring community of humanities researchers to learn from. Being an Undergraduate Humanities Honors Fellow this semester, I have been able to hear about the work of the other fellows, who are all endeavoring on unique and creative research projects. In this community, I have been both encouraged by those within the Center and inspired by the amazing work that others are accomplishing.

My honors thesis explores the history of activism related to the global women’s human rights movement throughout the 1990s. I focus on international conferences and activist publications as important stages in which activists were able to emphasize violations of women’s human rights that were occurring across the globe. These efforts ultimately produced a paradigm shift in the perception of women’s rights as human rights. My project explores how activists emphasized the overarching problem of violence against women, which served as an issue which could unite women around a global women’s human rights agenda despite the varying interests of women transnationally. Moreover, activist awareness-building regarding the issue of violence against women served as a platform upon which other issues facing women could be introduced into the human rights framework, such as those related to reproductive freedom.

I am ultimately very grateful for the opportunity to have participated within the Fox Center community this semester as it has provided me with very helpful resources and an inspiring intellectual environment.

Drew Bryant is a senior majoring in History with a minor in Sociology. Her honors thesis examines the international activist movement in the 1990s that coalesced around the creation of an International Criminal Court (ICC) as a vehicle towards protecting women’s human rights. She analyzes the work of activist organizations who were committed to this cause in order to understand why the ICC was targeted as a solution to addressing longstanding issues of sexual violence committed against women in war zones. By analyzing the arguments used by activists and the controversies which sprang from their advocacy, she seeks to evaluate how activists used the platform of wartime sexual violence to construct a broader movement about women’s human rights that applied to women beyond conflict zones.