Jamie Watson ('15, English and Studio Art)

Jamie Watson standing by wall

What do you do for your undergraduate research?

For my undergraduate research project, I wrote and defended a thesis exploring the implications of womb imagery in Gothic, male-authored literature of the nineteenth century. I primarily examined Herman Melville's Moby-Dick, Charles Brockden Brown's Edgar Huntly, and Bram Stoker's Dracula. I also completed a preliminary Directed Independent Study on Gothic literature before beginning the ENG 499 honors project.

What made you want to pursue an undergraduate research project?

My primary motivation for pursuing an undergraduate research project was that I wanted to read the books I'd never been able to. Also, I knew that the one-on-one structure of the English honors thesis would help me learn how to articulate complex ideas, argue points, and demonstrate that I was a self-motivated student without twenty other students to act as a crutch when I couldn't incite interesting discussions. Some days, I'd be exhausted, and it would take me longer to form cohesive thoughts, but I learned to have more confidence in expressing myself as an academic.

How did you start your research project?

I approached Dr. Mark Boren in the English department about starting a DIS that would prepare me for a larger thesis project. I'd already taken two courses with him and knew he would be a supportive project director. We assembled a booklist and discussed my ideas before starting my project the fall of my junior year.

Was doing your own research fun? Be Honest.

This is where everyone can ultimately agree that I am-unironically and unapologetically-a dork. The research was incredibly fun, and I greatly enjoyed the conversations about the works of authors like Jacques Lacan, Herman Melville, Charles Brockden Brown, Bram Stoker, Washington Irving, and William Faulkner. And even when the reading process was done and the writing started, it was greatly rewarded to turn in draft and draft, watching the thesis reach completion. Also, I had the opportunity to present my Honors research at the 2014 SNCURCS Annual Conference at NC State and the 2015 NCHC Annual Conference in Denver Colorado. Traveling and discussing my work with professors and students inside and outside my discipline was both intense and gratifying.

It isn't required to do research as an undergrad, so what advantages do you think this experience has provided you?

Over the course of the project, I developed rapport with my director and committee members (Dr. Katherine Montwieler, Dr. Bill Atwill, and Ms. Anne Lindberg) that I wouldn't trade for all of the university t-shirts UNCW could promise me. But in all seriousness, it was a great experience getting to know English department faculty members, which has helped me learn how to conduct myself professionally. They inspire me often. Also, working on a research project as an undergraduate has prepared me for the rigors of graduate study. Learning how to read with the intention of writing a longer essay or a manuscript-length work is important when working toward an academic profession.

What are your plans after you receive your degree from UNCW?

I have currently applied to seven M.A. and Ph.D. programs in English literature, and I hope to continue studying nineteenth-century American literature and teach at the university level.

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