Fourth Formers Vincent Huang, Natalia Ibarra, Shreya Kumar, Cate Levy, Stephanie Owusu, Liana Raguso, Robert Smith, and Nick Zhou have made Lawrenceville history - they’ve been selected as the School’s first cohort of James Merrilll ’43 Scholars. The Scholars Program is led by Jeffrey Blevins (who formulated the program) and Maggie Ray, both English Masters.
Merrill Scholars allow rising Fifth Formers to undertake literary research and creative writing during the summer. Scholars plan and conduct intensive research projects on authors represented in Princeton University's Special Collections, using letters, journals, manuscript drafts, and other literary materials to explore particular periods, movements, and texts.
To complement their research into literary history, Scholars complete their own longform, creative project like a book of poems, a set of short stories, or a play. Studying with an experienced bookbinder and publisher, Scholars design their own book, make their own paper, and bind it all together into a vessel to fit their creative writing, in the process learning to appreciate the history and craft of bookmaking. Finally, Scholars take a series of trips to meet and work with book artists, antiquarians, conservationists, and printers—anyone who preserves, creates, or otherwise loves books.
Students will begin meeting with Blevins and Ray after spring break to brainstorm ideas for a summer research project. Work will begin in earnest in June, when Scholars return to campus for two weeks, dividing their time between archival research, writing original works, and creating their books. In the fall of Fifth Form, Scholars enroll in the course "Advanced Literary Research" to continue their research and extend it into substantial essays on their chosen topics. The term ends with Scholars presenting their essays at an academic conference, followed by readings from their creative writing and a showcase of their books.