OBU’s Motl wins Alpha Chi scholarship

By Julia Shands 
OBU News Bureau

ARKADELPHIA — Sydney Motl, a sophomore English major from Arkadelphia, won the Alpha Chi National College Honor Society Alfred H. Nolle scholarship at the 2022 National Scholarship Competition, held in March in Austin, Texas. 

Sydney Motl poses on Ouachita’s campus. | OBU photo/Levi Dade

Upon being nominated for the scholarship by Ouachita’s Alpha Chi sponsor, Dr. Myra Houser, associate professor of history, Motl submitted her winning essay titled “Women among the Ruins: Sexuality in the Female Gothic.” She chose the topic of her paper in an English literature course taught by Dr. Amy Sonheim, professor emerita of English. 

“My paper is an exploration of how, across the past three centuries of English literature, female authors used the Gothic genre to explore their sexuality and how female sexuality is perceived by an often-judgmental culture,” Motl said. “I analyzed ‘The Mysteries of Udolpho’ by Ann Radcliffe, ‘Jane Eyre’by Charlotte Brontë, ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’by Jean Rhys and ‘Fingersmith’ by Sarah Waters.” 

The Nolle scholarship is an award that recognizes high academic achievement and is given to only 10 students annually. 

“This is the first time I am receiving significant recognition for my writing outside of campus,” said Motl. “Receiving the scholarship gives me confidence in the pathway I have chosen for my life.” 

While at the conference, Motl presented a research project along with Isabella Wood, a 2022 psychology graduate from Port Orange, Fla., on the perception of biblical womanhood in the Southern Baptist church. 

“It was fun to research and explore a topic that is so relevant to us as women attending Ouachita,” said Motl. “We enjoyed presenting at the conference and had some great conversations with our fellow presenters.” 

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