Aerial view of campus with Williamsport, the Susquehanna River and Bald Eagle Mountain as a backdrop

Lycoming College marks first Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference a success

Lycoming College marks first Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference a success

Award Winners (l-r): Left to right: Lucy Lu Cai, Nicholas Sifford, Dorian Hansen, Jeovannee Castillo, Taleen Postian (not pictured: Emily Sanchez)

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Lycoming College concluded its inaugural Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference this weekend after presenting awards to six students for their dedication to excellence in research. More than 100 conference goers representing 24 institutions of higher education from across the region and beyond participated in the event, attended student presentations, a keynote address, and enjoyed lunch together, all while helping to bridge the gap between their status as students and their futures as professionals in their fields.

A panel of Lycoming College humanities faculty and students selected more than 50 students to present research at the event. Presenters hailed from colleges and universities including Sarah Lawrence College, Villanova University, Lafayette College, Drexel University, Susquehanna University, Juniata College, and more. Presenters will be invited to submit their research for subsequent consideration of publication in the inaugural volume of Lycoming’s humanities research journal Mid-Atlantic Humanities Review: A Journal of Undergraduate Research.

The conference consisted of four sessions, each tackling research within the humanities and its related disciplines of history, literature, philosophy, art history, modern and classical languages, religious studies, interdisciplinary humanistic studies, and social sciences with a humanistic emphasis. Although only a small number were awarded honors, all accepted work displayed the drive to deepen our understanding of the chosen field. The following students were selected and awarded for best papers:

  • Nicholas Sifford, Juniata College, won the award for the best paper in the category of History, Archaeology, & Humanities-Focused Social Sciences for “An African American Odyssey: Reclaiming the History of the Siffords.”
  • Emily Sanchez, University of Scranton, won the award for the best paper in the category of Philosophy, Ethics, & Religion, for “Why Liberal Education Belongs in Elementary Schools.”
  • Dorian Hansen, Susquehanna University, won the award for the best paper in the category of Literature, Languages, & Art History for “An Androgynous God: Beardless Dionysus in Ancient Greek and Roman Art.”
  • Taleen Postian, Villanova University, won the award for the best paper in the category of Ethnic & Racial Studies, for “Khachkars: From Destruction of Culture through the Material to Survival through Replica.”
  • Lucy Lu Cai, Lafayette College, won the award for the best research paper in the category of Women’s & Gender Studies for “The Influence of French Feminist Theories on Chinese Feminism: Tributes, Borrowings and Transformations since the Early Twentieth Century (L'influence du féminisme français sur le féminisme chinois: hommages, emprunts et transformations depuis le XXe siècle).”
  • Jeovannee Castillo won the award for the best research paper by a Lycoming Student for “The Cause and Cycle of Child Labor in Mexico.”

When asked why she submitted her research paper, titled “Shakespeare’s Characterization of Ideal Leadership through Henry V and Richard III,” Sarah Lanphear ’24, double major in creative writing and ecology at Lycoming College, said, “I was recommended by my professor and hoped that sharing my piece would inspire other students to think differently about how we classify leadership and how the press can control historical narratives.”

Briana Bell ’23, double major in history and archaeology with a minor in medieval studies at Lycoming College, also submitted to the conference with “Tyranny, Crusades, and Conflict: Cyprus in the Late Twelfth Century.” When asked why she thinks the conference is significant, she said, “I think it is really important to learn about other students’ research and see how their thoughts and perspectives are important to understand and apply to my own research. I could learn skills and other methods of critical thinking. It is also interesting to see what interests other people and why it is important to them.”

After awarding individual papers, the conference culminated with a keynote address. Robert Parkinson, Ph.D., an associate professor of history at Binghamton University and an award-winning author, discussed the catalysts of the American Revolution. His lecture, titled “Making Thirteen Clocks Strike as One: Race, Fear, and the American Founding,” explored how racial fear helped to unite the thirteen colonies as well as how Patriots weaponized rumors of British officers enlisting enslaved and Native people against the rebellion.

“The interdisciplinary, humanities-focused format of our conference is unique, and we are really excited about the quality and breadth of submitted research that engages medieval literature, Chinese philosophy, Mediterranean archaeology, African American history, Cold War politics, indigenous identities, feminist art, popular culture, and much more,” said Andrew Leiter, Ph.D., professor of English and co-coordinator of American studies at Lycoming College, as well as director of the College’s Humanities Research Center and of the conference.

The Lycoming College Undergraduate Humanities Research Conference is a gathering and celebration of the region’s bright minds who are dedicated to furthering the humanities through high-level research. The Humanities Research Center at Lycoming College bolsters educational opportunities for those majoring or minoring in the humanities by supporting joint student-faculty research, internships, guided scholarship, digital humanities, graduate school placement, and fellowships. More information about the Conference can be found at