Courtney Lau '17 Awarded Fulbright
The history of art major will spend next year in London, England, pursuing a master's in dance philosophy and history at the University of Roehampton.
The prestigious Fulbright U.S. Student Program awards hundreds of grants a year for study at institutions in more than 140 countries, but it has only one spot available via its partnership with the University of Roehampton in the U.K. Next year, it will be given to Courtney Lau '17.
The history of art major will use her Fulbright to pursue a one-year master's in dance philosophy and history at the southwest London university. Her course of study will culminate in a master's thesis on Allan Kaprow’s 18 Happenings in 6 Parts, a 1959 piece of performance art, and the 2010 reiteration of it by London-based choreographer Rosemary Butcher. Lau's project will focus, in particular, on Kaprow's score—a written document containing directions for his piece, which Butcher referenced 50 years later.
"I created this project because I have been drawn to the tension between permanence and ephemerality for a long time," she says. "Put another way, some objects last, such as written documents and photographs, while others, such as speech and gestures, disappear. I am most curious about when these two categories—permanence and ephemerality—come together."
Lau was chosen for the Fulbright not only for her academic excellence, but also for her leadership skills, range of extracurricular activities, and her genuine desire to learn more about the U.K. and be a cultural ambassador for the U.S. Her award includes a full tuition waver from the University of Roehampton and a grant to cover accommodation, travel, and other living expenses while in London.
"London is huge, so I am excited to spend time in different neighborhoods there," says Lau, who first lived in the British capital during her semester abroad at University College London in the fall of 2015. "I am also eager to visit some of the larger arts institutions, like the British Museum and the Tate Modern, but I am mainly looking forward to meeting people and learning about myself."
During her time at Haverford, Lau has been deeply involved in the arts. For three years she worked in the on-campus Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery, and she spent the summer between her sophomore and junior year interning at Philadelphia's FringeArts thanks to funding from the John B. Hurford '60 Center for the Arts and Humanities. Currently, she works as an intern in the Philadelphia Museum of Art's Contemporary Art department.
Lau was also part of Haverford College's Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship Program (MMUF), which seeks to remedy the shortage of faculty of color by preparing the next generation via comprehensive mentoring and financial support. So Lau, after her year in the U.K., plans to pursue a Ph.D. in performance studies in preparation for an eventual teaching career.
"MMUF has been an extremely important part of my college experience," she says. "Through Mellon, I have had the opportunity to deeply engage with my research and writing and meet many students of color who share a radical love and commitment to the things they study. … MMUF has also opened up space for me to think seriously about research opportunities and graduate school."