Olivia Hollman

Headshot of Olivia Hollman

Student Spotlight | Winter 2018

Major: Creative Writing and History

Describe your research/creative work in just two sentences that we can all understand. I am researching the “curse of King Tutankhamen” in British news media in the 1920s. Specifically, I am examining how the British perceptions of death and remembrance, the imperial fear of the Orient, and the thirst for a dramatic news story culminated in this cultural phenomenon.

Q: Who mentors your project?

A: Dr. Andrew Denning and Dr. Erik Scott


Q: What surprised you about doing research?

A: I am most surprised how my research questions continually adapt and evolve, taking me down avenues of research I never would have expected.  I am enjoying how nuanced my perspective is becoming the more information I find, and how I am beginning to question both the opinions of fellow historians as well as the credibility of the historical figures involved.


Q: What did you find most challenging about getting involved in or doing your project? What advice would you offer to students facing similar challenges?

A: The most challenging part of my research project was settling on my topic and naïvely believing it would always remain the same.  I have switched countless times between project ideas that I found fascinating, but I had to change because either the information surrounding the topic was not proficient or there was little to no existing historiography to discuss.


Q: What do you like most about your project?

A: The best part about my projects is that it is, as I like to say, “delicious.”  It is a topic I can sink my teeth into and remain passionate and excited enough to push through the more mundane aspects of research.  It pushes the boundaries of historical interpretation and what is socially acceptable to study as history itself.  A “curse” is not intuitively a historical study, but in this case it is a rich study of imperial tensions and international dialogue about whose voice matters in the act of discovery and what recourse the colonized had for the pilfering and appropriation of their cultural heritage.


Q: What advice would you give to a friend wanting to get involved in research?

A: My advice for a friend interested in researching is that research itself should not be intimidating.  Even if your topic changes and you feel overwhelmed, you are good enough and worth enough to succeed.  When you are digging deeper into a topic, not only are you gaining valuable critical reading and analysis skills, but you are also discovering more about yourself.  Researching unlocks a higher level of learning capacity and intellectual independence that can be challenging yet so freeing.  You will never know if you are capable of something unless you try.


Q: How do you spend your time when you're not working on your research?

A: When I am not working on my research project, I am studying to finish my double major, working as a Resident Assistant in Ellsworth Hall, playing trumpet in the Marching Jayhawks, studying to take the LSAT to get into KU Law, and planning my wedding this summer.