Name: Ben Fancy '10
Major: English, French (combined major)
Academics: J. Gray Wright Scholarship
RC Class of 1933 Scholarship
Activities: French Teaching Assistant
Student Technolog Fellow for Multimedia Language Lab

Describe your research project.

My project is titled “Knowledge and Virtue in Marguerie de Navarre’s Heptameron.” Through an examination of Heptameron and other related works of the 16th century, I am exploring the connection between knowledge and virtue, and the misuse of knowledge that occurs in the absence of virtue. Basically, I’m looking for the ways that knowledge is used and misused in the Heptameron and identifying the influence of that knowledge in the way that De Navarre’s characters make decisions. Then, considering the humanist influences on De Navarre as a writer as well as the theological and philosophical traditions that precede her work, I can put together a clearer picture of the different kinds of moral “truths” that she expresses in her writing and what those truths say on a larger scale about what virtue means in terms of knowledge.

How’d you get involved in the project?  

I was introduced to the idea of the research project through my French professor, Lidia Radi, in French literature class. We read a few tales from the Heptameron that focused on this kind of a knowledge-virtue connection, and Dr. Radi and I discussed further study on this topic through a summer research project.

What prepared you for this opportunity?

This past year, I took two more courses that focused on Renaissance literature, one English and one French. The more Renaissance texts that I read, the more the prevalence of this knowledge-virtue connection in 16th century literature became evident to me. This strong background in 16th century texts helped prepare me to write my proposal and begin my project this summer.

How do you see this project contributing to your collegiate success during the rest of your time at Richmond?

This project has been a phenomenal introduction to how research is done in the humanities. It’s been an amazing opportunity to delve much deeper into a subject of interest than any busy semester schedule could ever allow. The research that I’m doing now will be of great help to me when it comes time to prepare for and write my senior thesis in the spring, and the skills that I’ve acquired and refined — time management, close reading, detailed note-taking — as well the resulting written project, will be invaluable to me when it comes to continuing my research next year and writing my senior thesis.

You’ve got a crystal ball.  What’s in store for you after graduation?  

Ideally, I’d like to enter into a Ph.D. program in either English or French in Medieval or Renaissance studies. Really, I just want to teach; I hope to find myself someday teaching literature at the high school or college level.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Three good friends of mine are teaching English in Uganda this summer. If I could go anywhere right now, I’d want to visit them and see the school where they’re teaching.

What has a liberal arts education at the University of Richmond meant to you?

Renaissance authors are always talking about the importance of the liberal arts, and the more I study here at the University of Richmond, the more I understand why. If it hadn’t been for that language requirement, I may never have continued studying French — and look where it got me. I found a love for literature that I would never have known otherwise and a desire to share it with others.