Professor Julia Lupton recommends humanities research as a way for undergraduates to grow as thinkers and writers, as well as to gain a more complete understanding of the humanities. She looks to mentor students who are smart, ambitious, disciplined, and who have a true passion for their topic. Through her students’ research, Professor Lupton has been able to expand her own breadth of knowledge and experience; she also credits her mentoring with keeping her in touch with what current interests students have. UROP is proud to recognize Professor Lupton for her continuing support of undergraduate research at UC Irvine.

1. How did you develop an interest in mentoring undergraduate research or creative projects, and what type of projects have you directed?

Undergraduate research in the humanities always begins with the students. The smart, ambitious ones want to take the ideas and texts they've been exposed to in a class and look more deeply into the issues. Female knights, animals in literature, Shakespeare and hospitality, Renaissance science writing, the freeway in Hollywood films: these are just a few of the projects that students have brought to me in the last few years. With each one, I learn anew.

2. What do you look for and what are your expectations of undergraduates you select to conduct research under your guidance?

They need to be disciplined and self-determined; I can't be running after them asking them to turn in work. They have to be able to use the library and know what sources are. They need to have a clear project in mind, and be willing and able to change that project as they do the work of discovery. They have to have done some coursework in the area they are working on. Most students have been in a class with me; this really helps develop the trust and rapport required for successful mentoring.

3. Describe your level of engagement and style in mentoring undergraduates.

The Humanities Honors Program provides a lot of guidance and structure, and that really helps. Their internal deadlines keep me and the students on track. Otherwise, I have to create a semblance of that structure with students, and that's a little harder for both of us.

4. In your experience, how have your students improved or benefited as a result of their undergraduate research experience?

They grow as writers and thinkers. They also grow as project managers. They understand much better at the end of a project exactly what research in the humanities is, and what it isn't.

5. What have you learned or benefited from guiding undergraduate research or creative projects?

The students come with fresh materials and new questions. I learn from their enthusiasm and their efforts. I get a better sense of what younger people care about right now.

6. What recommendations and advice would you give students embarking on undergraduate research or creative projects?

Choose a topic that you love. Find a mentor who can support you. Form a community of peers that can share work and keep each other on track.

Research Interests: Shakespeare, Renaissance Studies, Religion and Literature, Design and Design Theory

Faculty Profile:


Past Faculty Mentors of the Month

Dec. '13 Jean Gehricke
Nov. '13 Sergey Nizkorodov
Oct. '13 David S. Meyer
Sep. '13 Kieron Burke
Aug. '13 Mahtab Jafari
Jul. '13 André van der Hoek
Jun. '13 Abraham P. Lee
May. '13 Sheryl Tsai
Apr. '13 Julia Reinhard Lupton
Mar. '13 Richard Matthew
Feb. '13 Jogeshwar Mukherjee
Jan. '13 Diane K. O’Dowd