Six UNC Undergraduates selected as 2019 Robinson Honors Fellows

Six students from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were selected as recipients of the 2019 Anne L. and S. Epes Robinson Honors Fellowship, which provides funding for students who propose a program of study wholly focused on some aspect of the history and culture of Europe and the Mediterranean from 5th century B.C.E. to 1920.

The Robinson Honors Fellowship was established in 2015 by a gift from UNC-Chapel Hill alumni Anne L. Robinson and S. Epes Robinson. Its purpose is to recognize and support undergraduate students at Carolina who possess extraordinary capability and imagination. The program provides up to $6,000 in funding for expenses for domestic or international learning experiences that explore art, literature, music, history, politics, economics, philosophy or religion in Western Europe and the Mediterranean. The fellowship is open to all Carolina students who meet the eligibility criteria.

To be chosen as a Robinson Honors Fellow, an applicant must give convincing evidence of exceptional ability and promise through the application, recommendations, and personal interview. The proposed fellowship experience should be one that will allow the recipients to study the humanities and the ideas that have molded Western society and form the foundation of Western culture.

John Collier Cobb, class of 2020, is from Raleigh, NC. Majoring in English and philosophy has inspired in Collier a fascination with the concepts of the self, identity, and interpersonal relationships. In the aftermath of the First World War’s devastation, Virginia Woolf and her peers in the Bloomsbury Group were likewise interested in these ideas and presented them as deeply damaged and fractured. Collier will investigate how these thinkers addressed such topics in their respective compositions, and how they changed over the course of the war period, by studying their original notes, letters, diary entries, and drafts at the British Library and Bloomsbury Museum in London.

Anna Grace Freebersyser, class of 2020 is from Fuquay-Varina, NC and is majoring in journalism with a concentration in reporting with minors in studio art and artistic and media entrepreneurship. Anna Grace is traveling to England to explore how imagery in the British abolitionist movement of the late 18th and early 19th centuries held a mirror to the institution of slavery in a way that catalyzed social action and began the process of redefining a society’s moral perspective. Focusing on two of the most pervasive images, she will research their role and influence over the course of that movement and beyond.

Turkan Banu Karatas, class of 2020, is from Chapel Hill, NC via Istanbul, Turkey and Germany. She is majoring in sociology and global studies with a minor in chemistry. Banu plans to spend her summer visiting historical mental asylums in England and France to conduct a comparison of the physical space of the institutions. She will analyze the architectural design of those institutions in relation to the confinement of psychiatric patients and compare how the decisions made in designing the institutions reflect the historic cultural values surrounding the needs of psychiatric patients in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Rachel Mauney, class of 2020, is from Shelby, NC, and is majoring in art history with a minor in neuroscience. Her research will focus on medieval death culture and the ways it was influenced by the Dance of Death, depicted by the frescos in the Cemetery of Innocents in Paris, France in the 15th century. Because these frescos no longer exist, Rachel will use different medieval representations of the Dance of Death and commemorative monuments around France to reconstruct the influential art work.

Claire Ruch, class of 2020, is from Greensboro, NC, and is majoring in art history and journalism with a minor in social and economic justice. This summer, Claire will travel to New York, London, Paris and Florence to study the history of the reclining female nude and women artists’ reclamation of the iconic genre. She will immerse herself in museum collections and contemporary exhibitions, following the evolution from Old Masters to modern feminist creators. Claire plans to design a website that features her findings, placing art of different styles and eras in a visual dialogue. She hopes this will cast familiar works in a new light and bring innovative works to the forefront, making art history more accessible.

Laura Wilder, class of 2021, is from Raleigh, NC and is majoring in global studies and Italian with a minor in entrepreneurship. This summer, Laura will travel to Venice, Italy to study the effects of changes to the Burano lace-making industry on both the creators and the durability of the trade between the 17th and 20th centuries. Laura plans to interview various generations of lace makers in Burano, learn the basics of lace making herself, and analyze lace and fashion exhibits in Burano, Venice, Milan, and Brussels. Following the fellowship experience, Laura hopes to publish an article that will give a voice to the lace makers of Burano and keep the practice alive by teaching the art of Venetian lace-making at UNC and within the wider community.

Read more about the Robinson Honors Fellowship here.