La Salle University senior Molly Fay won an award for presenting the best undergraduate research paper at the Eastern American Studies Conference held at the University on March 28 and 29.
Her paper, “City Country: The Paradox of Country Music in Urban America,” won the Francis Ryan Award, named after the founder and current director of the American Studies program at the University.
“I was very surprised to win, especially after hearing from other students about their various research projects and papers,” Fay said. “I am very honored to represent La Salle and the American Studies and History departments.”
She said a tragedy is the reason behind the growth in country music’s popularity in cities.
“There was an great revival of patriotism and pride in the American way of life after Sept. 11 that caused a spike for country musicians, as the genre draws on those very topics,” said Fay, an American studies major from Denver, Colo. “Since then, country musicians have blurred the lines between what is traditionally ‘country’ and other genres, like pop and rock, to maintain the appeal to major markets. Examples of this transcendence between genres began mainly with Garth Brooks in the 1990s and have continued with artists such as Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift, and the newly popular duo Florida Georgia Line.”
“I have been a fan of country music since I was 10 or 11,” said Fay. “Growing up out West made the genre very accessible.”
Fay said the idea for her paper’s topic came in La Salle history professor Lisa Jarvinen’s “American Cities” class. “We were given free rein for the final research paper. As American studies is a multidisciplinary field, I decided to focus on a topic I enjoyed learning about but had never had the opportunity to study,” Fay said.
Each year, the American Studies program at La Salle selects the best paper from the spring and fall capstone classes to be presented at the annual Eastern American Studies Conference. “When I learned my paper had been selected, I was very excited and honored to be representing La Salle, especially since the conference this year is being held here,” said Fay, who plans to earn an MBA at La Salle.
Fay said she came to La Salle because of the Christian Brothers, the order that operates the University. “I went to a Lasallian high school and enjoyed it immensely, for the excellent scholarship opportunities, and I also wanted to live in a completely new place,” she said.
La Salle University was established in 1863 through the legacy of St. John Baptist de La Salle and the Christian Brothers teaching order, which St. La Salle founded in 1680. La Salle is an educational community shaped by traditional Catholic and Lasallian values. The University is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 30 schools in the North Region and among the top 10 Catholic schools in the region.