Spark of Creativity

Approval Advising Session


  1. What influences and interests drew you to your chosen major?


As an Arts and Letters student, my decision to pursue my passions and interests above other, more “practical” fields of study is already apparent.  However, I believe the majors I have chosen are truly the subjects I am meant to pursue in my life.  I have always had a love of reading, writing, and art, but I feared there would be no way for me to unite those passions in my college career and throughout the remainder of my life.  I began as an English major, sacrificing art as an academic focus and resigning myself to maintaining art as a hobby in my life.  However, soon after arriving at Notre Dame, I learned of the Program of Liberal Studies from a number of students in the Program; each student seemed so passionate about the major, and after hearing their descriptions of the small class sizes, discussion-based environments, Great Books courses, and the focus on writing, I was immediately captivated.  Graphic design was the more unexpected of my two majors, because before my arrival at Notre Dame I had no graphic design experience—all my artistic ventures were in a studio setting.  However, I joined the staff of the student-produced magazine Scholastic, originally to work as a writer, and quickly became involved in the design portion of production.  I learned the basics of the design programs, improving my skills and also developing a passion for the work I was doing.  I decided to delve further into design and took 2D Foundations last semester, and after thoroughly enjoying the class I added graphic design as a second major.

b. Have you identified a sub-discipline within your major in which you are especially interested?


Within the PLS and design departments, I have already begun to identify a few areas that I find exceptionally interesting.  Within the Program of Liberal Studies, there is not necessarily a sub-discipline, but I am fascinated by the epic poems of Greek and Roman mythology, including Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Virgil’s Aeneid, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Within the design department, I focus on graphic design, but in my personal appreciation of art I love the classical paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance.

c. If you were to write a Senior Thesis, what topic would you like to explore in greater depth?


As a PLS major, I will definitely be writing a Senior Thesis, and I have already begun to ponder what topic I will explore.  I would love to unite my two majors, exploring the relationship between the written word and art.  The topic I am currently most interested in exploring is how the works of Homer, Virgil, and Ovid influenced the artworks produced during the Italian Renaissance.  I may also explore the role of Dante’s Divine Comedy in relation to these two areas, as well.  I feel that I have a very strong direction in how I plan to proceed concerning my Senior Thesis, and I definitely believe that studying abroad in Rome—where I could personally observe many of the works I would be researching for my thesis—would be extremely beneficial to my research.

d. What additional competencies or complementary coursework will facilitate your thesis research? (i.e.: methodologies, e.g., literary criticism, historical critical, etc.; foreign languages; computational and/or statistical analysis; historical periods; philosophical movements; etc.)


Both of my majors include several courses that will be beneficial to my thesis research—in the PLS department, my Great Books seminars have introduced and will continue to familiarize me with the classic literature that I will be exploring during my research, and in the design department I will be taking art history courses (particularly one about the Italian Renaissance) which will help me learn more about art throughout history.  Additionally, my senior year I will have a course entirely devoted to developing my thesis.

e. Are you aware of the internal and external programs that might fund your research?


I am aware that the Nanovic Institute here at Notre Dame offers some funding opportunities for research, but I do not have much additional information on this topic.  My plan is to continue researching the available opportunities.

f. Are you aware of the ways in which you might publish and present your original research?


Sadly, I am completely unaware of ways in which I might publish and present my original research.


a. What foreign language are you studying for the Arts and Letters college requirement?


By the end of this semester I will have completed my language requirement through the Intermediate level of Spanish.  Next semester I plan to take Intensive Beginning Italian, in order to fulfill the language requirement in Italian required for studying in Rome.

b. Do you plan to continue studying beyond the minimum requirement?


I would be interested in continuing my language studies beyond the minimum requirement, but I may not have enough flexibility in my schedule to do so.


  1. Would you be interested in special funding to subsidize language study abroad?


 I am not entirely sure what “language study abroad” entails, but I would definitely like to receive more information so that I can consider all of my options.

 2. In what ways might your foreign language study compliment your major?


The Spanish I have studied and the Italian I plan to study both help facilitate cultural sensitivity.  The Italian may give me a better understanding of some of the artworks I am interested in studying, as well as allow me to possibly utilize some sources written in Italian during research.


a. Are you planning to study abroad?


Yes, in Rome, Italy, during the Spring 2014 semester.


b. How will the study abroad experience contribute to your intellectual formation?


Study abroad will broaden my mind and expand my cultural appreciation.  I believe I will be able to grow exponentially while studying abroad and experiencing a new culture.  Studying abroad will be a life-changing period in my intellectual formation, allowing me to become immersed in the culture and language of another culture.


1. In what ways might you integrate study abroad into your major research interests? (i.e.: access to foreign libraries, opportunities for onsite research, foreign internships, etc.)


As stated above, I would most definitely be able to integrate study abroad into my major research—in fact, study abroad could easily become a key factor in my research for my senior thesis.  I would be able to visit foreign art galleries and historical attractions to do onsite research, as well as gain access to libraries in Italy that would contain helpful information for thesis research.


Application Essay:


My academic journey through the Program of Liberal Studies has exposed me to reoccurring figures and tropes throughout literature; some of the most iconic figures that continue to impact western culture are characters from Roman mythology. These stories and characters are permanent icons within the creative world, expanding beyond literature and oral tradition into the realm of visual expression. Inherent to my second major, graphic design, is the ultimate goal of communicating ideas and information artistically. Classical figures found in works such as the Metamorphoses and the Aeneid have served as the inspiration for artworks ranging from ancient sculptures and paintings to contemporary designs. Rome is the city where art and classical figures unite. Characters such as Aeneas, the legendary founder of Rome, trace their origins to the historic city but remain essential to contemporary western culture. As a PLS major, I will research and write a Senior Thesis; my vision is to combine my personal passions—reading, writing, and art—while developing my thesis.  Rome, as the persistent historical and cultural link to the mythological figures of Roman literature, is the only location where this vision can achieve actualization. In my research, I will explore how mythological figures in classic works of Roman literature have influenced art throughout the centuries and persist in contemporary Italian design. In Rome, I would visit the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, the MAXXI Museum, the Galleria Borghese, the Biblioteca dell'Istituto Nazionale Archeologia e Storia Arte, and the Instituto Storico Italiano, among other locations, to fully develop my research for my thesis. In addition to the research I would perform while in Rome, I intend to make the journey a comprehensive fine arts experience; I will take an art history class, figure drawing, painting, a theology course, and an Italian conversation and composition course.  Rome, Italy, is the perfect location to sketch, paint, and observe artwork celebrating the beauty of the human form, learn about the Italian Renaissance, and study the Catholic Church. All of these classes would allow me to gain a better understanding of the city, the culture, the art, and the history of this fantastic civilization.  By studying in Rome, especially since I plan to pursue a Summer Language Abroad experience following my semester abroad, I will attain fluency in Italian; since I will do research in Italian libraries and interview native Italians for my thesis, an immersive experience of the language and culture will be necessary to help me achieve the fluency that is vital to my research plans. Finally, studying in Rome, the center of the Catholic Church and the location of many significant shrines and holy sites, I would be able to truly deepen my faith and experience it in a new way, elevating this journey beyond the fantastic educational, artistic, and linguistic experience it already is.  Studying abroad in Rome, Italy, would enhance my academic, personal, cultural, and religious development, and is vital to my educational experience.



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