Explorations in Selfhood

June 2023

This edition of Emergence offers a collection of writings by the 2022-2023 cohort of Arnhold Undergraduate Research Fellows in the Department of English at UC Santa Barbara. Each of these undergraduate writers have spent this academic year reading, writing, reflecting on their research topics, their formal approaches, and the relationship between their own identities and their work. Titled “Explorations of Selfhood,” these works each engage the complexities of individuality, community, and selfhood in their respective literary periods, creative genres, and cultural traditions.

The Arnhold Undergraduate Research Fellows Program is part of an initiative to foster undergraduate research, both critical and creative, within UCSB’s Department of English, which sits on the traditional and unceded lands and waters of the Chumash people. To read the UCSB English Department’s formal land acknowledgment, click here.

Made possible by a generous donation from John and Jody Arnhold, as well as the mentorship of graduate student teachers and faculty, this program offers an opportunity for students in years three and four to pursue a research-based project according to their unique interests and passions. A goal of the Arnhold Program is to provide the structure, mentorship support, and community setting for students to push their academic and creative interest beyond the structure of grade-based coursework and instead cultivate a research practice that is shaped by their own perspectives, goals, and interests. Each of the writers featured here offer examples of the kinds of intellectually stimulating critical and creative work that make this program such a valuable part of the undergraduate experience in the English Department at UC Santa Barbara.

Importantly, many of this year’s Arnhold Fellows have grown the seeds of their projects in English department courses, drawing on the support, mentorship, and expertise of faculty and graduate student teachers alike. They have also cultivated their ideas and methodologies through collaboration, working with one another in a group setting across two quarters to create projects that are at once intellectually invigorating and creatively self-reflective.

 Each of the works included here bear the mark of thoughtful, engaged writers seeking to make sense of the world through their own situated perspectives. As the Arnhold Graduate Mentor for the 2022-2023 academic year, I am grateful to each of these writers for sharing their words with me, for encouraging me to expand my own thinking, and for reminding me of the joy that comes with putting thought to paper. 

Jamiee Cook, Arnhold Graduate Mentor, 2022-2023

A Conversation with Mr. Parker 

by Madison Connaughton

Planet Other

by Cassidy Creer 

Eternal Companion 

by Robin Le