Duke University | Baldwin Scholars Program

Bailey Sincox

Bailey Sincox

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." -Joan Didion, The White Album 

Hey y'all, I'm Bailey, and I was born and raised in Houston, Texas. Contrary to popular belief, this does not make me a cowgirl; I don't have an accent or a pair of cowboy boots, but I have been to the rodeo every year since I was old enough to walk.

Through my academic program at Duke, I have explored disparate ways of knowing and sharing stories. I believe the process of shaping the sometimes random and confusing events of our lives and the world around us into narrative is essential to the human experience. My driving question is: how can I tell better stories? Truer stories? How can I connect people across the borders of experience, language, and culture through the sharing of narratives? I will continue answering these questions in my eventual career, both as an educator and as an advocate for the humanities.

My story began with the FOCUS program in the fall of my freshman year. I elected the little-known “Medieval and Renaissance Worlds” cluster and was placed into classes of four and six students working closely with some Duke’s top faculty. Our group met on Wednesday nights to fence, dance Renaissance jigs, and talk about what we were learning. It was then that I fell in love with Shakespeare, one of the world’s greatest storytellers. The Battle of Agincourt in Henry V arrested my attention, especially Hal’s line: “This story shall the good man teach his son;/ and Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,/ From this day to the ending of the world,/ But we in it shall be remembered”([IV.ii.232-5]). The playwright immortalized a moment in history with his pen, with his ability to bring the monarchs and moments of the past to life on the stage. Each time the Welshmen rush the stage, leeks in their hats and victorious smiles on their faces, the battle and the soldiers live again. I resolved to write stories like that, stories that live.

The subsequent summer brought me to Duke in London: six weeks in the West End, experiencing everything from the visceral choreography of a Pina Bausch production to an opulent rendition of Verdi’s Otello at the Royal Opera. In conjunction with the Olympics taking place in London at the time, the World Shakespeare festival brought theatre troupes from around the world to my doorstep. A genuinely Elizabethan Richard III at the Globe, a Twelfth Night set in back-alley Miami, and a Winter’s Tale that turned the sheep-shearing scene into Woodstock—these iterations transformed plays written in England four centuries ago into instruments of national identity in the great cultural pageant of the Games. So then, as now. In fact, the Woodstock effect of the London Winter's Tale inspired the Tempest that I directed, six months later, in the Sarah B. Duke Gardens.

My story took a slight detour in the summer of 2013 when I participated in DukeEngage in Medellín, Colombia. The city that was once labeled “the most dangerous city in the world” in the age of Pablo Escobar and drug cartels, now boasts innovative public transport, a sophisticated library park system, and progressive government welfare programs. In this evolving, unpredictable landscape, I interviewed displaced families who, during the violent era of Medellín, resettled in self-constructed neighborhoods on the outskirts of the city. Videos of the interviews helped voice their tales of survival and rebirth, tales which were largely silenced in government efforts to ameliorate Medellín’s international reputation. It was here in Colombia that my passion for storytelling acquired a conscience. Aware of my talents and my privileges, I sought a means to leverage what I had learned at Duke for the people I came to love in Medellín.

The next fall, I secured funding for seven undergraduate Colombian artists to exhibit at Duke through an organization called The Duke Colloquium. Over the course of the week we opened a gallery of their work to an audience of over one hundred, hosted a panel discussion, and received favorable press coverage.The connections formed in the week of events (and their general success) convinced me that this was the kind of work to which I could dedicate the rest of my life.

My love of Shakespeare propelled me to Oxford University in Spring 2014, where I began research for my senior thesis, "Every Dram of Woman's Flesh: Paulina's Role and Remedy in The Winter's Tale." 

I will pursue a Master of Studies in English 1550-1700 at Oxford in 2015-2016.