The West Virginia University Libraries have selected Megan Bean and Madeline Vandevender as 2014 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library scholars.

“The WVU Libraries applaud Megan and Madeline for the high level of research they performed in writing their respective papers,” said Dr. Jon E. Cawthorne, dean of the WVU Libraries. “They clearly dedicated a lot of thought and time to gathering the necessary information and then composing their impressive works of scholarship.”

The WVU Libraries and the Honors College established the Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars Award in 2009 to honor Dr. Robert F. Munn, dean of Library Services from 1957-1986.

The award goes to one or more graduating Honors students for an outstanding humanities or social sciences thesis based on research conducted in the WVU Libraries. Writing a thesis is a graduation requirement for Honors students. Along with receiving a $1,000 award, the scholar’s name is added to a plaque in the Downtown Campus Library.

“Megan and Madeline both did a tremendous job researching their topics and presenting their findings,” said Keith Garbutt, dean of the Honors College. “We set a high standard for students in the Honors College, and I’m always thrilled when students exceed expectations.”

Bean, the daughter of Scott and Jennifer Bean of Shepherdstown, won the award with her paper titled “Queering Caillebotte: Subversive Portraits of Masculinity.” The basis of her thesis is the idea that art history can be analyzed through contemporary gender theory.

Bean explained that the thesis allowed her to combine her interest in 19th century art, and women and gender studies to examine the works of French painter Gustave Caillebotte.

“I love impressionism and wanted to look at in a new way without rehashing what other people had already written,” Bean said. “It’s just fascinating to me. My thesis acknowledges that Caillebotte could have been hiding in plain sight. You can take a queer theory lens to his paintings and see underlying erotic perspective.”

Bean is graduating with a degree in art history. In the fall, she will attend Simmons College in Boston to pursue a master’s of library and information science, with an emphasis on archival management.

“I want to be an archivist,” Bean said. “I want to help other people do research.”

Vandevender, the daughter of John and Ruth Ann Vandevender of Smoot in Greenbrier County, won the award with her paper titled “A Marsh Encounter: Implications of Place in Brian Jacques’ Salamandastron.” The thesis is an eco-critical analysis of marshes in the children’s novel.

Salamandastron is part of a series of fantasy novels that Vandevender read as a child. She began thinking about the books again after participating in a biological control internship in Idaho last summer and learning about how important marshes are as an ecosystem to the rest of the environment.

She recalled that all of the novels contained a scene in which characters had to traverse a marsh, and all of the accounts included a negative stereotypical portrayal of marshes.

“What sparked my interest is what I know now and what I thought then because of the children’s novels,” she said. “I thought I delve into why the author would portray the environment this way when, in fact, marshes are vital to life in general.”

Vandevender will graduate with degrees in chemistry and English. Before heading to graduate school, she plans to spend a year working in the environmental advocacy field. She hopes to settle into a career involving environmental issues.



CONTACT: Monte Maxwell, development representative, WVU Libraries

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