Student Spotlight: Oonagh Devitt Tremblay

Oonagh Devitt Tremblay is a fourth-year English Specialist at Victoria College. Her academic interests surround links between Britain and Canada during the nineteenth century, and the literature that arose from transmigration. Through her participation in the 2016 Scholars-in-Residence (in the "Editing the Fiction of John Galt" project) she was further exposed to the landscape of nineteenth-century publishing in Britain and Canada. She intends to pursue postgraduate work in English. 

Tell us a bit about your undergraduate research experience – has there been a highlight?

One highlight was working on the “Editing the Fiction of John Galt” project in Scholars-in-Residence last year. We looked at different editions of the works of the nineteenth-century Scottish-Canadian writer John Galt and typed up the first editions in their entirety. We also annotated the differences between the editions to enable a scholarly editing process.

What do you find most exciting about undergraduate research?

I liked working in our Scholars-in-Residence research team, which allowed for a nice mix of independent and team-based work. It was like a research lab in the sense that we did our individual parts in conjunction with other researchers. That was a very unique experience to have as an English student.

I’ve also done an independent study on the nineteenth-century Canadian writer Susanna Moodie. My project considered Moodie and how her sketches operate generically in relation to descriptions of time and landscape. The research for that project took me to the national archive in Ottawa. I looked at everything they had in relation to Moodie: her letters, short stories, paintings, strands of her hair…everything.

Would you recommend an undergraduate research experience to other students? 

I certainly would. It’s a pretty rare opportunity to conduct your own research as an undergraduate, unless you’re exceptionally self-motivated. Undergraduates in general would benefit form exposure to research, specially if they intend to go on to graduate school. The Scholars-in-Residence program makes it easy: there is a template, an outline, and set goals. You don’t have to invent everything for yourself.

Have you had any teachers or mentors who were / are particularly helpful or inspiring?

I’ve definitely had wonderful professors and mentors who have been influential throughout my academic career. [English Professor] Elizabeth Harvey has influenced my studies quite heavily; Professor [and Victoria College Principal] Angela Esterhammer is very inspiring: she’s insanely brilliant and driven and her work ethic is an inspiration. It was an honour to work with her in Scholars-in-Residence last year.

Do you have any words of advice for other students who may be interested in pursuing this sort of research?

Take advantage of these opportunities! Just go for it and don’t let your own initial lack of experience stop you.

What are your goals / plans for the future?

I’m taking a year off to do a publishing certificate, and try to get some experience in  publishing and editing. Then I’m going to apply to grad school in English. We’ll see where it goes from there!