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Marquis Scholar Jesslyn Roebuck ’06 (Montgomery, N.Y.) will present her work on two research projects at the 20th Annual National Conference on Undergraduate Research.

Roebuck, a double major in English and international affairs, is one of 37 Lafayette students who have been invited to make presentations at the conference April 6-8 at University of North Carolina at Asheville.

Both of her projects are based on research papers she wrote in the course Modern and Contemporary Poetry taught by Lee Upton, professor of English and writer-in-residence.

“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to give presentations, to view other presentations, and to get feedback on my work,” Roebuck says. “It’s an introduction to higher academics.”

Upton says having two projects accepted for presentation is an honor, and the fact that Roebuck wrote both papers in one semester is especially admirable.

“For Jesslyn to be able to be involved in that depth of research and present it in a solid, carefully constructed paper says a lot about her motivation and dedication and how well-prepared she is to pursue challenging subjects,” Upton says.

“The opportunity to present one’s work is invaluable to students,” she adds. “It allows them to see how much undergraduate research can be valued and that it can contribute freshly and in vivid ways to our studies of various disciplines.”

In one paper Roebuck examines the language and wordplay of Gertrude Stein’s poem “Sacred Emily.”

“Stein rejected a lot of discussion about the historical; she wrote in the present. But there are ways you can fracture her language to show that in writing Sacred Emily, she wrote about the sinking of the Titanic,” Roebuck explains.

The second paper deals with the work of contemporary Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy, who reworks myths, often from a feminist perspective.

“Duffy’s giving a voice to people who have been denied a voice historically,” Roebuck says.

In her paper, Roebuck reinvestigates the way women may view themselves based on how they are viewed within a culture.

Presenting at the conference also may afford Roebuck the opportunity to publish her papers. Both projects have helped her explore and develop her knowledge of poetry, something she hopes to use once she graduates, first to pursue a career with a literary magazine and eventually to go to graduate school.

Roebuck credits Upton for inspiring her to further her interests in poetry.

“She’s a very energized, enthusiastic professor. She’s also a well-known fiction writer and poet, so she’s living the life of a writer,” says Roebuck.

Roebuck formerly served as editor of The Marquis, Lafayette’s literary magazine, and continues to participate actively in creating that publication. In that capacity, she works closely with Upton, adviser for the magazine.

“Jesslyn brings originality into all of her projects,” Upton says. “She’s highly intelligent and has never been afraid to take a risk with her work.”

A McKelvy Scholar, Roebuck is a member of Students for Social Justice and Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection. Through the College’s Landis Community Outreach Center, she volunteers as an instructor of English as a Second Language in Easton. She also is social justice editor for the literary web site

As a national leader in undergraduate research, Lafayette sends one of the largest contingents to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research each year. Forty students have been accepted to present their research at this year’s conference.

Chosen from among Lafayette’s most promising applicants, Marquis Scholars like Roebuck receive a special academic scholarship and distinctive educational experiences and benefits, including a three-week, Lafayette-funded course abroad or in the United States during January’s interim session between semesters or the summer break. Marquis Scholars also participate in mentoring programs with Lafayette faculty and cultural activities in major cities and on campus.

Categorized in: Academic News