Creation, Humanity, Harry Potter, and Toronto

Written by Regina Sanders. Media by Ben Isaacs.

On November 19, 2016, Greenville students received an email from Assistant Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Matt Bernico. This email contained the opportunity to write a paper, under the theme of creation, for the Institute for Christian Studies. This email would prove life changing for two students in particular, Communications and Philosophy Major, Jacob Burrell and Philosophy, Spanish, and History/Political Science Major, Summer Mengarelli. Whomever’s papers were chosen would receive a trip to Toronto, Canada, and an opportunity to present their paper and receive feedback from other professors and peers. As a result, Burrell and Mengarelli began to write.

Photo of Jacob Burell in Ruby E. Dare Library. Photo by Ben Isaacs.

Drawing inspiration from Communication Theory, a class taught by Bernico, Burrell found himself interested in the subject of mediation. The example he gave detailed how a phone mediates the conversation between two people. The philosophies of Bernard Stiegler also proved interesting to Burrell, especially the idea of “The Fall is Exteriorization.” Burrell described exteriorization as the process in which [humanity] creates tools, otherwise known as evolution outside ourselves. It is from these ideas that Burrell formed his winning paper, titled “The Creation of Humanity”.

This was an exhilarating honor for Burrell. Although initially concerned that his paper would not meet certain parameters, he nevertheless submitted his work. When he received an email back, saying his paper had been selected, Burrell called his mom. “I don’t get excited by a lot, but this was exciting.” He said, and the emotion showed.

Photo of Summer Mengarelli. Photo from Summer Mengarelli.

Mengarelli found her inspiration from a one-credit course where she read all of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series for the first time. This new love, combined with her study of Philosophy, proved a successful mix. Mengarelli worked with a loose interpretation of the creation guideline and wrote her paper on the idea of embodiment. Mengarelli defined embodiment as a branch of philosophy that examines how physical experiences in the world affect who we are as people. The focus of her paper was embodiment in Harry Potter, or how the wizards in Harry Potter understood bodies differently than we do. For Mengarelli, this was an experience unlike any other. The subject she’d chosen was unprecedented; “I got to be the original philosopher and no one could tell me that I was wrong.”

The honor Burrell accepted was awarded to Mengarelli as well. She received the celebratory email detailing her success while attending a concert in St. Louis. Not only had her paper won, but now she would be leaving the country for the first time!

Between May 16-19, Burrell and Mengarelli will be in Toronto, Canada for the intensive workshop where they will meet with other like-minded individuals and discuss their papers. On behalf of the Greenville College Papyrus, I would like to personally congratulate Jacob Burrell and Summer Mengarelli on such a well-deserved accomplishment!


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