UMBC logo

Undergraduate Researchers

Hannah Kurlansky

Hannah Kurlansky,

English and Media and Communication Studies

“Cultural and Linguistic Implications on Language and Art: How Language Colors Childhood Imagination”

This research will examine the relationship between language and perception, specifically the role in imagination and artistic creation. Though communication is often thought to be transparent, language is closely related to culture and inherently conveys cultural differences. I will write a children's story in both English and Spanish with simple vocabulary to minimize translation differences. I will then present Spanish-speaking students with the Spanish text and ask them to create appropriate illustrations. This will be repeated with the English text and English-speaking students to provide an alternative set of images. Both sets of text and illustrations will be collected and produced into a dual-language children's book. This final product will allow for easy comparison between the two sets of interpretations and provide examples through which to discuss the impact of language. I will write a critical paper discussing the cultural similarities and differences as expressed through the illustrations.

How did you find your mentor for year research project?
I actually had some trouble finding a faculty advisor. I talked to Dr. Snyder from the MCS department about possibly using my research idea as my capstone project. He advised me to look towards other departments for an advisor. I contacted Dr. Bell from the MLL department and he put me in touch with Dr. Stolle-Mcallister who agreed to advise me. I had never met Dr. Stolle-Mcallister before, but he was very supportive of my idea.

How did you know this was the project you wanted to do?
I had been thinking of developing a research project to conduct while I was abroad. Though my study abroad plans fell through, I already had the idea and was still interested in following it through. I have always loved children’s books and working with young children, and I had been introduced to the analysis of language through my English and MCS classes. It seemed natural to merge topics that interested me.

Is this your first independent research/scholarship/artistic project?
This is not my first independent research project, though it is the first that requires any funding. I am writing an honors thesis for the English Honors program, which also focuses on a critical analysis of language and its implications.

Do you get course credit for this work?
I might try to use this project as a capstone for MCS, but as of now it is completely independent and self-motivated.

How did you hear about the Undergraduate Research Award program?
My teachers have advertised the URA program for years, but I never thought I would develop an idea worthy of one. I was not overly confident in my proposal idea, but as a junior, this was my last year to apply. I knew this was a great opportunity, and everyone was very supportive of me, so I decided to apply.

Was the application difficult to do?
The application was not difficult at all. Writing the application was beneficial because it forced me to expand and elaborate on my idea to make it stronger and more competitive. My advisor was supportive and helped with any concerns I had.

How much did your mentor help you with the application?
Dr. Stolle-Mcallister helped me with proofreading and final review. He supported my ideas and gave me the independence to craft the project I wanted.

What was the most unexpected thing?
I am still early in the program, but the most unexpected thing so far is the supportive community for URA Scholars. The program directors seem genuinely invested in my success, and the other students help create a positive environment. There is so much more to being a URA Scholar than just conducting independent research; it is a community dedicated to individual student success and achievement.

What else are you involved in on campus?

I work as a production assistant for The Retriever Weekly, as well as a tutor in the Writing Center. I am a member of the Oxfam International club and an editor for the school’s literary magazine Bartleby.

What is your advice to other students about getting involved in research?

If you have an idea - or even if you don’t have an idea - you should consider research! The URA Program offers a support system, but ultimately provides you with the independence and freedom to do whatever you want.

5/25/2012