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WVU Libraries names two Munn Scholars

West Virginia University Libraries’ Instruction Steering Committee has selected Roxanne Rankin and Lauren Volk as 2023 Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars.

“We at WVU Libraries are pleased to recognize Roxanne and Lauren as Munn Scholars,” Dean of Libraries Karen Diaz said. “They rose to the top of numerous applicants for their thoroughly researched topics and impressive works of scholarship.”

The WVU Libraries and the Honors College established the Robert F. Munn Undergraduate Library Scholars Award in 2009 to honor Dr. Robert F. Munn, dean of Library Services from 1957-1986. The award goes to one or more students for an outstanding humanities or social sciences thesis based on research conducted in the WVU Libraries.

Along with a $1,000 award, their names will be added to a plaque in the Downtown Campus Library and their theses added to the Research Repository @ WVU. Both papers can be read at

“The research conducted by Roxanne and Lauren expands our knowledge of literature, education and their importance in our world,” Honors College Dean Kenneth Blemings said. “We’re thrilled two of our most talented students were selected for this award.”

Roxanne Rankin

Rankin won for her thesis titled “The Postmodern and the Personal in Edna St. Vincent Millay’s ‘Aria Da Capo’.”

“‘Aria Da Capo,’ Edna St. Vincent Millay’s 1919 play, has thus far been largely ignored in literary criticism,” Rankin wrote. “This essay, through a historical survey of Millay’s previous critical reception followed by a close reading of Aria Da Capo, attempts to explain and then bridge this gap in academic scholarship. A postmodernist reading of the play will then illustrate why Millay’s work still confounds scholars today and how Aria Da Capo specifically continues to be relevant more than 100 years after it was first produced.”

The Colorado Springs, Colo. native will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in December.

She is considering moving to Pittsburgh after graduation and would like to pursue a career in publishing but hasn’t decided yet what she wants to do long term.

“Although I do not yet have concrete plans, I hope to continue pursuing art and knowledge; I want to help people understand why we create and what creation enables us to do for other people and for ourselves,” Rankin said.

Lauren Volk

Volk, of Cross Lanes, W.Va., won for her thesis titled “Banned or Grand?: Why Graphic Novels ‘Maus’ and ‘Persepolis’ Belong in the Classroom.”

“My capstone essay, ‘Banned or Grand?: Why Graphic Novels ‘Maus’ and ‘Persepolis’ Belong in the Classroom,’ seeks to research both the objections to oft-banned memoir graphic novels being incorporated in the secondary school curriculum and the reasons why these graphic novels should not only be incorporated into the curriculum, but also why they assist students in developing necessary skills, such as higher-level critical thinking, a deeper understanding of complicated historical events, and the analysis of form and structure in literature, rather than just content,” Volk wrote. “To enhance my research, I connected my main points to the pedagogical theory of learning transfer. 

In May, Volk graduated summa cum laude and as an Honors Foundations Scholar with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and secondary education.

This fall, she will begin teaching 8th grade English/Language Arts at Mountaineer Middle School in Monongalia County. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in Educational Administration (after gaining several years of experience in teaching) to eventually become a school principal.

“I want to be the best teacher I can be and inspire my students to do their best and climb higher,” Volk said. “In the future, I hope to become a National Board certified teacher, obtain my master’s and do everything I can to help my students succeed.”