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Three humanities faculty members awarded American Council of Learned Societies fellowships

Friday, May 02, 2014

LAWRENCE – The American Council of Learned Societies has awarded three University of Kansas faculty members fellowships for humanities research to be undertaken in academic year 2014-15. The council, one of the premier humanities-focused granting agencies, is a private, nonprofit federation of 71 national scholarly organizations that supports scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences.

“These fellowships are significant,” said Danny Anderson, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “They are prestigious and support innovative research. I commend these professors for undertaking challenging projects. Their work will help us better understand the complexities of identity in politics and culture.”

ACLS fellowships are highly prestigious and competitive awards. This year, ACLS will award more than $15 million to nearly 400 scholars across a variety of humanistic disciplines.

"This is an amazing annual haul from one of the nation's most competitive granting bodies," said Victor Bailey, director of the Hall Center for the Humanities. "The fellowships testify to the rich scholarship of faculty in the humanities and social sciences at KU and to the support work of the humanities grant development office. Kudos to the three principal investigators."

Jay T. Johnson, associate professor of geography, received an ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship. The fellowship offers small teams of two or more scholars the opportunity to collaborate intensively on a single, substantive project.

Jacob Dorman, assistant professor of history and American studies, received an ACLS Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship. The Ryskamp Fellowships recognize those whose scholarly contributions have advanced their fields and who have well-designed and carefully developed plans for new research. The fellowship is open to junior faculty who have passed their third year review but not yet gone up for tenure.

Stephanie Fitzgerald, assistant professor of English, received an ACLS Fellowship, which recognizes outstanding scholarship in the humanities and allows awardees to undertake full-time research and writing.

Johnson and his colleague, Soren Larsen (geography, University of Missouri-Columbia), will use the Collaborative Research Fellowship funding to complete fieldwork and write collaboratively for their book project, “being-together-in-place.”

They will compare and contrast three sites of place-based political and ecological struggle that has brought Native and non-Native peoples together in coalition: the Cheslatta Carrier Nation in northern British Columbia, the Waitangi Treaty Grounds in New Zealand and the Wakarusa wetlands in Lawrence.

“Indigenous leaders and activists are re-engaging place-based politics in order to strengthen their communities, restore or protect land and resources, and secure the right to manage these valued resources,” Johnson said.

By understanding the politics at work in these contested geographic areas, the researchers hope to understand how the meaning and value of "place" transforms postcolonial relations, interaction with and stewardship of the landscape and the social relationships invested in these places.

Dorman’s Ryskamp Fellowship will allow him to focus on his book project “Black Orientalism: Representing Islam in American Popular Culture and African American Religion.”

Since “Orientalism” is a term most often used to describe referring to Middle Eastern, Asian, and North African societies in a patronizing way, “Black Orientalism” may seem disconcerting. Yet Dorman argues that the conversation could be claimed “from below” to reshape ideas of black identity and to create new religious, political, and historical ideas. By examining 19th century depictions of Black Orientalism in sheet music, circus performances, minstrelsy and magic, Dorman seeks to prove that African-Americans not only consumed these images but helped to create them, and that Orientalist scholarship and performance informed their critique of white supremacy and led to the Black Nationalist and Black Muslim movements.

Fitzgerald’s ACLS Fellowship will support her book project “Red Letters: Print Culture, Alternative Presses, and the Rise of Contemporary Native American Poetry, 1968-1984.”

Her book project will be the first interdisciplinary study to explore the formation and rise of contemporary Native American poetry during its most crucial early moments, from 1968 to 1984, using the material form of the poetry chapbook as its site of interrogation. She will trace the creation, production and dissemination of these chapbooks, many of them published by Native-run small alternative presses during the Red Power era, to determine how they led to new opportunities for Native poets and became a way of asserting Native identity at a time when non-Native editors and compilers were attempting to define and control “Native-ness.” She contends that these publications led directly to the rise of contemporary Native American poetry movement, which carved out a space for Native poets and contributed to the rise of a new genre of literature.

Fitzgerald states her project brings together the fields of contemporary Native American poetry and book history, which are not usually considered together by scholars, thus advancing both fields.


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