Justin Allard ’15 explores Kentucky and Mexican cultures through John C. Young research
Centre students are often eager for intellectual challenges beyond the classroom, choosing to stretch their imaginations and skills in collaborative research with talented faculty. A life-long Kentucky native who has had an interest in Spanish since high school, Justin Allard saw such an opportunity to examine both Kentucky and Mexican cultures through narrative during his senior year.
He conducted independent research titled “Deconstructing Borders: Merging Mexican and Kentuckian Culture through Fabulism,” supported through Centre College’s selective John C. Young (JCY) Scholars Program.
The program is designed to serve highly motivated senior students, allowing them to engage in independent study, research or artistic work in their major discipline or in an interdisciplinary area of their choosing. They work closely with a faculty mentor and receive financial support for research and travel.
“For my project, I wrote six stories which combined narratives, languages and cultural elements from Kentucky and Mexico,” Allard said. “As an English and Spanish major and a creative writing minor, I am interested in languages and how languages and cultures interact with one another, especially with their potential for transmitting identity and culture through stories.”
Allard utilized the contemporary fiction genre “fabulism,” in which authors can deconstruct the typical genre stereotypes and create something new. Combining a love for writing and Spanish enabled him to explore the cultures of his home state and Mexico side-by-side.
“I also thought it might speak to the growing Mexican community in Kentucky and what possible futures can come out of this cultural collision,” he said.
The inspiration for the project came when Allard studied abroad through the College his junior year.
“Having studied abroad in Merida, Mexico, where I had one professor challenge me to use Spanish in creative ways, and having taken several creative writing classes with Centre’s talented faculty, I felt confident enough to attempt this project,” he continued.
Allard credits Centre with enabling him to explore out of his comfort zone while still supporting his interests.
“I gained confidence in my abilities in both English and Spanish through my classes at Centre and my experiences abroad,” he explained. “And I received funding and credited time to really explore this topic from the College, which were two invaluable elements in the realization of this project.”
Allard worked on the project with Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing Christian Moody.
“From the first class I took with Professor Moody, he has always encouraged me to write about not only what interests me but what makes me uncomfortable,” he said.
Moody’s advice to continue to explore through writing is something that Allard has taken to heart. The work on this project has interested him in pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing so that he can teach.
“It has become such an important part of my life, a drive that pushes me to be my best and do my best,” Allard said, “and I want to open up that avenue for others who have the same interests.”
Learn more about the John C. Young Program.
by Elise L. Murrell
June 10, 2015