"Fund the work; pursue the dream."

Cocoa Williams - Photo 1.png

Cocoa Williams
Philanthropic Educational Organization Scholar Award


My decision to pursue a doctoral degree in English literary studies in general and African American Literary and Cultural Studies in particular was fueled by a desire to immerse myself in an environment where interdisciplinary inquiry and creativity are at the cornerstone of intellectual thought. The rewards of being intellectually challenged by a community of writers and academics who are engaged in critical reasoning and thought continues to sharpen my skills as a thinker and writer of cultural criticism. This type of interdisciplinary thinking contributes to more dynamic scholarship and positions our work at the forefront of academic discourse. The faculty I have had the pleasure of working with in the Florida State University English Department have been integral in the development of these lines of inquiry and have helped shape my dissertation topic, which investigates the intersections between art, literature, and museum culture within the African American literary tradition.

As a recipient of the PEO Scholar Award, I will now be able to engage in sustained archival research across the country at various libraries and research institutions whose collections of African American art and literature are unparalleled. Conducting archival research is imperative for investigating historical movements because it is this work that makes scholarship in the humanities dynamic, engaging, and generative for future scholars.  I have benefited from the work of scholars who have painstakingly combed the archives and hope that my research will contribute to the expanding catalogue of knowledge that archival research illuminates.  Archival research also strengthens the cultural value of the writing because it presents new and important information to the public and deepens our understanding of the American experience.