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Posted: Wednesday Mar 14, 2012

March 14, 2012

J. Zachary Noble, a junior English and economics major at Saint Vincent College, received the Isabel Sparks President’s Award at the 2012 national conference of the undergraduate English Honor society, Sigma Tau Delta, in New Orleans, recently.

Mr. Noble won first place in Critical Essays on American Literature, and was presented with a $500 prize.

Mr. Noble’s paper, “The Sun Rises in the East: Herman Melville’s Prediction of the Japanese Challenge to American Hegemony in the Pacific,” was originally written for Dr. Sara Lindey’s American Renaissance course. The paper explores Melville’s critique of American imperialism in Moby-Dick.
According to Mr. Noble, “Melville sends a strong anti-imperialist message with Moby-Dick, rejecting the prevalent Manifest Destiny rhetoric of his day.” Mr. Noble argues that Melville’s novel shows that “Americans have wrestled with questions of interventionism and isolationism since our country’s founding. . . Our modern predicaments in Iraq and Afghanistan are not without precedent.”
Dr. Lindey comments, “undergraduates are often most comfortable interpreting Moby-Dick as a religious allegory of good versus evil. Zach, while staging a political allegory, reattaches the novel to its historic moment of the 1850s when whale oil was of preeminent importance in the global economy, not unlike crude oil today. Zach forges little explored territory in reminding us that it’s unlikely to be a coincidence that the crew meets their end in Japanese waters.”
The paper was selected from more than 600 accepted submissions judged by faculty members representing colleges and universities. There were 23 presidential awards given across multiple categories. This year’s annual conference was attended by 1,159 undergraduates from all parts of the United States.

Mr. Noble is active at Saint Vincent as a prefect in Saint Benedict Hall student residence, as a copy editor for The Review student newspaper and as a student assistant in the English Department. A member of Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor society, he has been a member of the Dean’s List, Shakespeare Club and The Company theatre group. He is also a member of the Mythopoeic Society, an organization devoted to the study of mythopoeic literature.

Son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph D. Noble of Burke, Virginia, he is a home school graduate.

He is a member of Holy Spirit R.C. Church in Annandale, Virginia and a former member of the Eagle Scout troop there.

Also presenting at the conference were senior English major Angela Gartner of Pittsburgh, who read from her poetry collection, “Memory Undone,” and junior English major Bethany Biesinger of Johnstown, whose critical essay “Wizarding Woes” explored the treatment of race in the Harry Potter series.

All three student attendees from Saint Vincent received A. J. Palumbo Student Research Grants.


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