• Academics
  • Summer Programs
2022-23 Merrill Scholars Literary Research and Creative Writing Announced

By Helena Chen ‘24/The Lawrence

The Merrill Scholars in Literary Research and Creative Writing program, directed by English teacher Rebecca Findlay, allows students to conduct interdisciplinary research in the humanities by utilizing resources from library archives. At the end of the program, each Merrill Scholar will submit a 20-25 page paper with their own original topic after conducting significant research. The 20022-23 Merrill Scholars are Fourth Formers Andrew Boanoh, Yewon Chang, Grant Shueh, Ashley Wang, Tiffany Wen, Jasmine Zhang, Daniel Zhu, and Victor Zhu.

The Merrill Scholars program is far more independent than other English classes currently offered at Lawrenceville, as it requires a certain independence of thought and genuine excitement about student research. “In the Merrill Scholars program, you’re required to engage both critically and creatively with your topic, to stretch yourself in both directions, because it’s all about opening up your eyes to new possibilities, “Findlay said. She hopes to introduce different critical theories to students in order to have “conversations with the text” instead of simply reading. “We really hope that [the Scholars] will leave this program understanding just how much more there is to literary research than simply reading a text and responding to it,” Findlay said.

There are two main parts of the Merrill Scholars program designed to help students develop their arguments. First, regular meetings with Findlay and teachers from other departments allow students to gain a more thorough understanding on their topic. Next, through extensive peer editing and discussion, students help each other discover alternate arguments and new perspectives on their research.

Regarding the selection process, Findlay emphasized that the Scholars Selected were not necessary “the best English students;” rather, students were selected based on how successful they would likely be in the program. Thus, the selection process was more focused on the work submitted by the students rather than their personality or their past performance in English classes.

Boanoh has always been fascinated with language and the way language affects actions and thoughts. “During Harkness discussions in Lawrenceville’s English classes, as intensive and in-depth [as] they are, I always feel that there’s always a little big left that I could dive into. . . Merrill is the place where those discussions and those ideas that are sometimes left behind are going to get inspected and scrutinized,” Boanoh said. He is excited about being accepted to this program and is ready to begin working on his research once the program begins.

Similarly, Chang has always loved literature as a young child. The Merrill Scholars in Literary Research and Creative Writing program provides a mix of creative writing and archival research on a topic of her interest, allowing her room to explore a variety of subjects. “Traditionally, I thought that these research opportunities were limited to university or undergraduate level,” said Chang, but Merrill will allow her to pursue her interest in humanities at a high school level.

Looking forward, the most challenging aspect of this program will be about building an argument that is original and interesting. “It’s a really exciting process. It’s also really hard because you have to keep [discovering] new ways of looking for more information,” Findlay said. “I think that the more you look at something, the more it reveals itself, and that’s why this process starts in the summer. It takes three months to figure out what other people haven’t said.”

For additional information, contact Lisa M. Gillard H'17, director of public relations, at lgillard@lawrenceville.org.