Rising Senior Olivia Gillespie Wins President’s Fellowship for Summer Research

Congratulations to Olivia Gillespie (BA, English, 2016) for winning one of the university’s competitive Summer Research Fellowships. The grant provides her with funds to live on campus over the summer, to help defray some research travels, and to set her up for continuing research. Liv will be doing academic work and also beginning a related creative project

Liv’s project is entitled “Rewriting Time in the Works of William Faulkner and Toni Morrison,” and she will be working with Prof. Jody DeRitter.

The beginning of her impressive proposal reads:

The American Gothic novel is fiction that seethes with the grotesque. Elizabeth Kerr affirms that the grotesque refers to “the ambivalently abnormal” (Faulkner’s Gothic Heritage 20). The grotesque reflects most strongly in the treatment of time in William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and The Sound and The Fury, as well as Toni Morrison’s Beloved and Song of Solomon. Duncan Aswell posits that Faulkner’s fiction “consists of several interrelated attempts to make sense of the past…none of these attempts is definitive” (“The Puzzling Design” 67). Susan Mayberry claims that Morrison’s characters “circle about each other in an unsatisfying perpetual present. They have survived enslavement by burying their past and ignoring their futures” (Can’t I Criticize 154). These characters are ambivalent to their past and to time. The notion of a “perpetual present” and indefinite temporalities is abnormal, yet the characters depend on these perceptions. Time in the American Gothic is grotesque and essential.

I am applying for the Summer Presidential Fellowship to research the function, treatment, and effect of time in the specified works. My project will consist of archival research, reading and analyzing the named fiction and respective criticism of these authors’ handling of temporality, and writing the first 100 pages of a unique novel…


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