Humanities Research Scholars Program

The Humanities Research Scholars Program (HRSP) offers a select group of rising juniors at Columbia College the opportunity to pursue independent research projects and to develop analytical and investigative skills that will serve them well in any future endeavor. This program is designed to help students learn from one another as well as from leaders in the academic and professional world, and to support students in their intellectual pursuits and their future growth. It focuses on students interested in research in the humanities or humanistic social sciences.

Humanities Research Scholars will engage in two main pursuits over the course of one summer session of research: (1) the development of knowledge, skills, and approaches to the study of the humanities that will be transferable to any professional field; and (2) the development of an independent research project over six weeks of the summer that allows the exploration of a specific topic with guidance from a faculty member.

Learn more about the of Humanities Research Scholars Program here and below:

2024 HUMANITIES Research Scholars Program

Ayaan Ali CC'26
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies

A significant practice of many Sufi orders is religious ecstasy which is a state of transcendent euphoria that a practitioner enters during specific Sufi rituals. This phenomenon was studied and characterized by European Orientalists as divine "madness" among other terms. Ayaan's project seeks to reevaluate the predominantly Western psychological language applied to Sufi religious ecstasy by Orientalists like Dr. William Donkin and emphasize the limitations and required sensitivity in using this vocabulary as a descriptor for religious ecstasy specifically within the context of Islamic mysticism.

Ayaan is a Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies major in Columbia College where he is also concentrating in computer science. His academic interests are primarily focused on the history of the Middle East and the development of Muslim societies and cultures. Outside of class, Ayaan is a data journalist for Columbia Daily Spectator and is involved in the Pakistani Students Association.

Sarah Bryden CC'26
Linguistics and History

Sarah's research project will explore translation in Indigenous-language religious documents from colonial-era Mexico and Peru. She is interested in how Spanish missionaries appropriated Indigenous vocabularies to produce evangelical materials in Yucatec Maya (Mexico) and Quechua (Peru), and particularly, how they translated tangible terms like "cross" and "holy water" into these languages. By taking a comparative approach, she hopes to understand how translation worked cross-geographically as a mechanism for Christianization and colonization, and to contrast the legacies which have emerged from this process.

Sarah is a rising junior at Columbia, majoring in linguistics and history. On campus, Sarah works as a Peer Academic Skills Consultant and am involved with the Runasimi Outreach Collective at NYU. In my free time, Sarah loves learning new languages, running in Riverside, and having overly-elaborate movie nights with friends.

Sagar Castleman CC'26

Oscar Wilde and his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, each produced a small body of poetry that is considered to be highly derivative of earlier poets like Swinburne and Coleridge. Yet their poems have also been widely read and enjoyed since their publications. The goal of this project is to analyze and evaluate selections of Wilde’s and Douglas’s poetry through the lens of various theories of literary influence developed by Wilde and his contemporaries as well as by earlier and later critics. By studying their poetry through this perspective, the project will grapple with the broader question of the value of derivative art.

Sagar is a sophomore in Columbia College studying English. He likes novels, parks, and the ocean.

Yunseo Chung CC'26
English and Women's & Gender Studies

Yunseo's project will examine the Women's House of Detention, a women's prison in Greenwich Village that stood from 1932-1974. History has largely forgotten the House of Detention, along with the tens of thousands of trans and queer people incarcerated there, offering a unique insight into the policing of queerness -- and radical resistance. This project will use archival records and documents from the House of Detention to decipher the perpetual tools of subjugation present in carceral practices, as well as the dynamic queer resistance (in the forms of community, care, and connectedness) they inspire. Through her findings, Yunseo hopes to better understand possible alternative approaches to justice, healing, and safety today.

Yunseo Chung is a sophomore in Columbia College studying English and Women's & Gender Studies. She is interested in queer approaches to justice reform, soup dumplings, and writing bad poems (but reading good ones).

Remi Seamon CC'26
Comparative Literature & Society

Remi's project aims to investigate ways of imagining peoplehood through a comparative reading of the poetry of Papusza/Bronislawa Wajs, a critically understudied Polish Roma poet, and the work of Yehuda Amichai, a German-born Israeli poet. At the same time that Zionism was being proposed as a solution to the "Jewish Question", there was also talk of creating "Romanistan.” While there are myriad reasons as to why a Romani state never materialized and Israel did, including the purposeful erasure and oppression of the Porajmos and surviving Roma, one reason may be due to a different conception of nation among Romani peoples—one not connected to any specific land or state, as expressed in the poetry of Papusza.

Remi Seamon is a sophomore in Columbia College studying Comparative Literature, with a deep attachment to literature from Eastern Europe and the Levant, as well as literature of diaspora. She was born in Seattle and raised in Cambridge, UK.

Ari Yao CC'26
Classics, Comparative Literature & Society

Ari is researching how the art of drag transforms the gendered body in modern stage interpretations of classical tragedies written by the prolific Athenian playwright Euripides (c. 480-406 BCE). As an instance of drag in professional theater, they will analyze the National Theater of Korea’s production of The Trojan Women (2016-), which transforms Euripides in an Asian historical context; and, in order to explore drag at the intersection of performance art and academia, Ari will discuss the Barnard Columbia Ancient Drama Group’s annual Ancient Greek/Latin plays, such as Helenephoria (2023). Their project investigates how drag—both as a historically queer art form and as a critical lens for rethinking cultural and aesthetic sensibilities—reappropriates classical references and challenges political realities in public performance settings.

With deep enjoyment for making connections across texts, time periods, and different kinds of media, Ari is studying Classics and Comparative Literature & Society at Columbia College. On sunny days, Ari enjoys photosynthesizing outside on campus while listening to music. When not haunting the sixth floor of Hamilton Hall, they often indulge in stress-playing Ghibli soundtracks on the piano, drawing, and fantasizing about drag performance concepts.

Liz Zhang CC'26

China used its own time-keeping and time-telling system prior to the late 19th century, until a reform that aimed to synchronize China with a global, modern time swept the country. This study focuses on how the Western-style clock towers in Beijing conceptualized and visualized this new time-keeping system. Liz argues that knowledge is conducted through modifying bodily experiences, especially the ones pertaining to visual, auditory, and spatial perceptions. In this shifting progress, Beijing inhabitants were unconsciously enmeshed in a political change and gradually put into reform.

Liz is a history major who loves modern Chinese history, but her alternative personality is a Silk Road traveler in Late Antiquity, so ask Liz about Buddhist statues, Kushan numismatics and Chinese bronze mirrors. Liz is an architecture obsessor and self-proclaimed urban cartographer – her proudest work is a map of brutalist architecture in NYC. Beyond her predominate nerdy side, she enjoys rock climbing, rock music and rocks, geocaching, crocheting (featured works: plushies of wug, pretzel, mushroom, and a carrot longer than her forearm), junk-digging in antique stores (found a Prussian helmet once), and walking in graveyards.



Hannah Halberstam CC'25

Rainier Harris CC'25

Samuel Klein Roche CC'25
English and Jewish Studies

Mira Mason CC'25
Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and English

Olivia Ruble CC'25
Ancient Studies and Visual Arts

Janus Yuen CC'25