Sharon Kelly, a doctoral student in the Department of English at West Virginia University, has been awarded the John C. and Mildred W. Ludlum Fellowship for the 2015-16 school year.

The award is given to doctoral students who have made a commitment to British literary history.

Kelly’s research focuses on the critical and theoretical approaches to Victorian literature. Her dissertation examines the overlap between sexuality and religion and applies queer theory to the time period.

“Queer theory attempts to look at—- in the period they would call it aberrant behavior,” Kelly explained. “So, behavior that is not normal. Part of the problem, of course, is the definition of what normal is, and who gets to decide what that definition is.”

Recently, Kelly published an article in the summer edition of Goldenseal, the magazine of West Virginia traditional life. The article is about the general history of the Royce J. and Caroline B. Watts Museum that is on the ground floor of the Mineral Resource Building on West Virginia University’s Evansdale campus. Kelly is the assistant curator for the museum, where she helps with research and constructing exhibits.

She is also working on an article that is being considered for publication as part of a book. In the article, Kelly works more with pop culture, rather than her primary interests in the Victorian period and gender and sexuality. Her article examines, “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” a storybook written by well-known British author J.K. Rowling that is based off of a book by the same name mentioned in the final part of the internationally popular Harry Potter series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.”

In the article, Kelly analyzes Rowling’s use of folklore in “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” and how folklore is related to the message of the ‘Harry Potter’ series.

“The collection that the article is being considered for is about the impact that ‘Harry Potter’ has had on what they call the, ‘Harry Potter Generation,’” Kelly said. “So, the impact that ‘Harry Potter’ has had on young people and on society. It should be really neat.”

Dissertation fellowships allow candidates to complete their dissertations during the award period by freeing them from teaching responsibilities.

Kelly expects to graduate in May 2017.



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