Interview with Lauren King, 2018 recipient of Larrie and Bobbi Weil Undergraduate Research Award

Congratulations go to Meadows art history student, Lauren King, who is the 2018 recipient of the Larrie and Bobbi Weil Undergraduate Research Award for her paper, An Alternative View on the Roll-Brimmed Hat. The Weil Award is given annually for excellence in undergraduate research, and the recipient is an SMU student nominated by their faculty for outstanding research and writing of a term paper. This year, Dr. Stephanie Langin-Hooper, Assistant Professor and Karl Kilinski II Endowed Chair of Hellenic Visual Culture, nominated Lauren for her paper.

Lauren, could you please briefly tell blog readers about the topic of your paper?

The goal of my paper is to re-examine how we think about the roll-brimmed hat worn by Gudea in his diorite statues. If you’ve taken any ancient Near East art history class, or even an introductory survey of western Art History, you’ve probably heard of the diorite statues of Gudea. The hat he wears, called a roll-brimmed hat, is usually taught as a symbol of humility. My paper questions this interpretation, and proposes that the hat is actually a symbol of power and masculinity.

 What did you find most surprising or intriguing in your research?

 I was most intrigued by how widespread the use of the roll-brimmed hat was in artwork throughout Mesopotamia. With limited time in class, students usually only see it depicted on Gudea, but it was used by a lot of rulers during the early periods in ancient Mesopotamia.

Was there or were there key resource(s) that helped you in your research?

It’s a simple answer, but most of my research was done through the SMU libraries. Either with books owned by SMU or through the interlibrary loan system. My professor, Dr. Stephanie Langin-Hooper, was also a wonderful resource. She gave me advice on my research whenever I needed it.  

 If you had more than one semester to research this topic, is there something else you would have also discussed in your paper?

I would have liked to talk more about how the Gudea statues were used in the temples, who was the intended audience, and how often they were seen. If the roll-brimmed hat was a symbol for masculine power rather than humility, how does that change what we think about how ancient viewers interpreted these statues?

Featured image: Larrie Weil, Lauren King, and Elizabeth Killingsworth, Interim Dean, Central University Libraries, SMU

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