By Steven Krolak
(NEW ALBANY, Ind.)—Taryn Hall of Shepherdsville, Ky. (pictured) has known since the fourth grade that literature is her calling. Now the IU Southeast English major is poised to graduate with a double concentration in literature and writing, thanks in part to a scholarship honoring a professor who valued, modeled and nourished devotion to the field.
The year 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the Dr. Carol Bishop Scholarship, awarded to literature-track majors in the department of English.
It is named for the late Dr. Carol Bishop, a vivacious and influential professor of English who taught at IU Southeast for many years, concentrating on Renaissance literature, especially the works of William Shakespeare. Bishop was the first woman in her department, and her devotion to teaching and her students earned her a passionate following.
“Carol Bishop was a devoted and enthusiastic literature professor who was interested in the kind of aesthetic, creative and critical thinking about all aspects of human life as it is represented in literature,” said Christa Zorn, professor of English.
Zorn remembers Bishop as an inspiring teacher, and one who challenged students to investigate the beauty and richness of literature while thinking about writing in new and creative ways.
“Fun, debate, loud laughter—those were the hallmarks of her legacy,” said Susan Garland Mann, professor emeritus of English and a former colleague of Bishop who together with Zorn and William Rumsey, professor emeritus of philosophy, decides who will receive the award. “Students were encouraged to stake out positions and pushed to defend their arguments.”
Bishop was also revered as an initiator and facilitator of social and intellectual exchanges, driven by diverse interests that included film, theatre and good food.
“She was always generous in hosting others in social contexts which included lots of good fun,” Mann said. “Her gatherings might involve silly puns or intellectual analysis of a challenging article, film or novel.”
Before her passing in 1996, colleagues and friends approached her with the idea of a scholarship in her name dedicated for English majors. Bishop approved and the scholarship was funded with generous support from her family.
It awards up to $1,500 for undergraduate students who have taken two courses in literature (at least one at the 300 level and above) and who maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 (3.5 in their major).
The scholarship has had a great impact on the lives and careers of students who have received it.
Nicole Trobaugh Atkinson, who received the scholarship in 2010, is now an instructor in writing, rhetoric and digital media in the Department of English at the University of Kentucky.
“The scholarship was a big confidence booster for me,” Atkinson said.
At a time when she was transitioning from another degree program and career trajectory, and building skills in her new field of English literature, the scholarship gave her the latitude to explore different ways to make her degree relevant and practical. She participated in the IU Southeast Student Conference and the Undergraduate Research Journal, both of which helped her sharpen her career focus.
“It’s important that students of literature work to distinguish themselves, whether by applying for scholarships or by finding ways to present their work,” Atkinson said. “The humanities must work to justify itself and explain what good such a major—like English literature, for example—does for the world, whether ‘the world’ takes the form of mainstream society or the elementary school reading classroom.”
Taryn Hall was awarded the scholarship after the spring semester, and felt the benefit immediately.
“It has allowed me to finish my last two semesters without worrying where the money is going to come from,” Hall said. “And since it’s based on GPA and a writing sample, it’s something I can put on my CV for grad school as an honor.”
Hall, who is chiefly interested in feminist literary criticism and lists Southern Gothic authors such as Flannery O’Connor and Carson McCullers as inspirations, was strongly encouraged to apply for the scholarship by Zorn, and now plans to continue her studies at the University of Louisville after graduation.
“Students should not only be rewarded for their achievements in literary study, they should also be given an opportunity to devote the time needed for extensive and in-depth thinking about literature without having to worry about paying the bills for at least one or even two semesters,” Zorn said. “The scholarship continues Carol Bishop’s legacy to inspire students to do their best work for the love of literature.”
Applications are being received for the scholarship up until Dec. 28, 2016. For information or to apply, please contact Dr. Christa Zorn at firstname.lastname@example.org or 812-941-2685.
Homepage photo: Taryn Hall