Loveless, Penney, Ryckman named McGillicuddy Humanities Center Fellows

Noah Loveless, Sarah Penney and Matthew Ryckman are the 2019–2020 Clement and Linda McGillicuddy Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellows at the University of Maine.

Fellows serve as ambassadors of humanities for their peers, the campus and beyond. They each will receive $4,000 for two consecutive semesters while they work on their respective research projects.

Loveless, from Cumberland, Maine, is a fourth-year English and philosophy double major, with a creative writing concentration. 

For his project titled “The Task of the Critic: The Philosophy and Aesthetics of Walter Benjamin,” Loveless will examine Benjamin’s innovative approach to philosophy and literary criticism. 

Using Benjamin’s “The Arcades Project” as his central text, Loveless will explore how Benjamin’s ideas influenced his contemporaries, as well as current scholarly discourse in multiple disciplines, thereby changing the way critics engage with the material.

Penney, of Thomaston, Maine, is a third-year English major with a minor in media studies and an interest in folklore and literature. 

For “The Origins of Fate: Analyzing and Reconstructing the Proto-Indo-European Fate Deities,” Penney will concentrate on the nature of folkloric adaptations and reconstructions, and trace them in Norse mythology, poetics and linguistics. 

She’ll investigate how these manifestations of faith imply how ancient peoples saw their lives, and how the survival of these views connects with modern beliefs.

Ryckman is a fourth-year mathematics and history double major, with concentrations in pure mathematics and medieval history.

His research, “Examining Euclid’s Elements from the Middle Ages to the University of Maine,” will revolve around the relationship between the advent of the printing press in the Late Middle Ages and the dissemination of Euclid’s “Elements” in Europe. 

Rykman will focus on a copy of Isaac Barrow’s 1732 printing of “Elements” that he found in UMaine’s Special Collections. He’ll create a cohesive narrative illuminating the intellectual world of 18th-century Europe, showing how printing fostered the dissemination of new knowledge, in geometry and the humanities.

Also, Connor Ferguson and Olivia Reese have returned for their second semester as McGillicuddy Humanities Center Fellows. 

Ferguson is working to reverse the erasure of queer authors in the Modernist canon. Reese is applying George Gerbner’s mid-20th-century cultivation theory about the influence of media on viewers’ perceptions of reality to the 21st-century Twittersphere.

The McGillicuddy Humanities Center’s 2019–2020 symposium, “Society, Colonization, and Decolonization,” features lectures, panels and cultural events exploring the complex influence and lasting impact of colonization worldwide. All events, the first of which is Oct. 3, are free and open to the public. 

For information on the symposium, email Karen Sieber,, or Margo Lukens,, or call 581.1848.