Sophomore to Junior, Senior: A Pop Fanfiction Odyssey in Three Acts

Dear Sophomores,

When we last left off, you were still reeling from your out-of-body-transcendental-info-session experience, during which you learned about the cosmic wonder that is the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities Student Seminars Program. One semester later, one semester wiser, you now find your yourself having declared a major, secured some kind of skill-building summer internship, and contemplating…Junior and Senior years.



Checking Faceb—er, finishing a serious multimedia visual studies presentation in the Instructional Technology Center, you notice the lights begin to dim. The faces of the helpful Digital Media Specialists working with you begin to fade, until all that remains visible is the glowing screen of your computer terminal. You reach out to touch the screen, but your hand pulls back—no, it’s not one of those fancy touchscreen things, they don’t have those yet. But your gaze returns to the monitor as a strange film begins to play out, an Aesop’s Fable gone terribly wrong, starring a rabid, pixelated squirrel, the seemingly benign mascot of your institution:


Yet what initially appears to be an early ‘oughts pop video from much-missed Danish duo Junior Senior instead reveals itself to be a YouTubular “message in a bottle,” a time-out-of-joint communique from Haverford’s Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities about research grants commonly awarded to juniors and seniors. Played backwards, the protagonist squirrel speaks out directly to you in a grave baritone, its three-pixel eyes boring into your very soul. Time and space slip away as the past collapses into the present, but one thing is clear: To foster vigorous and independent humanistic scholarship by Haverford students, the Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities offers modest Research Stipends supporting:

  • Travel to professional conferences
  • Travel to cultural events integral to a research or creative project
  • Travel to libraries, collections, or museums for research
  • Obtaining materials needed for a research project unavailable in Tri-Co collections

These grants can range up to $400. A faculty letter of recommendation is not required; however, the Hurford Center asks that you discuss your proposal with a faculty member with whom it may be in touch if there are additional questions.


The video pauses on a horrific image of two sentient pieces of sandwich bread, seemingly being toasted an infinite number of times in endless lock groove:


Telepathically transfixed by this starchy mise-en-abyme, you come to understand that the Hurford Center offers three Research Fellowships each summer, competitive grants designed to support thesis-related or otherwise substantive research projects, thereby enabling students to spend the summer visiting archives, learning a language necessary to scholarship, or dedicating their time to a focused program of reading.

Students proposing a research project work closely with a faculty member and Library staff to articulate a focused question, problem, or area of study to be explored; if proposing travel, students must verify in consultation with Library staff or faculty member that the suggested location of research is necessary to the project. Students must also demonstrate prior interest and background in the proposed area of study, having ideally taken at least one course at an advanced level in that field.

Summer Research Fellowships may last up to 10 weeks in length. Fellows must propose a research budget that includes food, lodging, travel, commuting costs, and any related research expenses particular to the project (admission to libraries, archives, museums, galleries, or relevant performances; the purchase of books, films, or other texts). Students receiving financial aid who have a summer earnings contribution may apply to the Hurford Center for supplemental support.


Suddenly, before you can say “what is visual culture,” the lights of the ITC snap back on, and everything seems back to normal. As if nothing has happened, your Digital Media Specialist continues to explain that you didn’t render your file correctly or something and have to do it all over again. Was it all a hallucination? A lifelike daydream brought on by too much pesto in your most recent panini at “The Coop”? Sinking back into reality, you think you see a tiny pixelated squirrel dash across your Final Cut Pro window. This is only the beginning…


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