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WVU Humanities Center announces 2020-2021 grant and fellowship recipients

The WVU Humanities Center announces the recipients of its third annual grants and fellowships competition funded by a WVU endowment from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation. The purpose of this competition is to fund humanities-related projects that speak to the Center’s commitment to interdisciplinarity and public humanities.  

“We are pleased with the quality and diversity of research projects proposed for this coming year,” said interim director, Rhonda Reymond. “There are exciting collaborations between humanities scholars, work across disciplines, and partnerships with groups from around the state. All of these scholars bring their humanities training to projects that engage the public or are asking questions in historical contexts that have implications that resonate today.”  

The Humanities Center awarded two Fellowships, three Collaborative Grants, one Special Project Grant and three Research Travel Grants for 2020-2021.   

Karen Culcasi (Department of Geology and Geography) and Sarah Morris (Department of English) are this year’s Fellows. Culcasi will be working on her book, “Displacing Territory: Palestinian and Syrian Refugees in Jordan,” which draws from over 100 in-depth interviews from Palestinian and Syrian refugees in Jordan to understand their geographical imaginings and their senses of place in the world. During her Fellowship, Morris will continue her book project, “Transformation, Translation, and Complication: Take Me Home Country Roads,” examining the iconic song through multiple lenses and various audiences to understand what it means as a cultural artifact, symbol of identity and emblem of human experience.   

“Our two Fellows’ research projects intersect in some really interesting ways,” said Reymond. “Culcasi and Morris’s work investigates both local and global perspectives and provides an opportunity for campus conversations about lived experience, place and identity.”

Collaborative Grants were awarded to  Melissa Bingmann (Department of History),  Erin Brock Carlson (English), Karen Kunz (Department of Public Administration) and their internal members and community partners that comprise interdisciplinary teams. Bingmann and public historians will work with the Reed College of Media and its Media Innovation Center alongside the Pocahontas Chamber of Commerce in developing a “Pocahontas County Audio Documentary” in celebration of the county’s bicentennial. 

Another team, led by Brock Carlson with Martina Caretta (Department of Geology and Geography), will collaborate with West Virginia residents using place-based, ethnographic methods, including photovoice and walk-along interviews to highlight the experiences of people living near fossil fuel extraction and infrastructure buildout.

Working with the WVU Libraries and a panel of collaborators, Kunz’s team will design and produce a scholarly exhibit on the role of humanities in recognizing voter suppression tactics visually with “Undefeated: Canvas(s)ing the Politic of Voter Suppression Since Women’s Suffrage.”

Christine Hoffmann (Department of English) was awarded a Special Project Grant for “An Anatomy of Boldness: The Dis-ease of Female Curiosity.” Her multimodal project  combines a visual essay and interactive exhibit that is transhistorical and will introduce participants to pre-modern and 21st  century examples of the feminization and medicalization of women’s curiosity and boldness.  

Tania de Miguel Magro (Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics) and Michele Stephens (Department of History) were each awarded Research Travel Grants to examine the Inquisition files at the Museo Canario in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain for their project, “Sex, Confession, and the Inquisition.” They will investigate the language used by male Inquisitors describing female charges brought against priests who demanded sexual favors to understand women’s roles in the religious and legal constructs of the Inquisition courts.

James Siekmeier (Department of History) will use his Research Travel Grant to view recently declassified and released documents at the Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan Presidential Libraries for his book, “Before the Opioid Crisis: an Interdisciplinary History of the War on Drugs in South America, 1973 to 1995.”  

The Humanities Center was established in August 2017 with a mission to cultivate critical humanistic inquiry, foster collaborative, interdisciplinary and publicly accessible scholarship and teach to benefit the common good of the university, the state and the world. 

For more information on these award recipients and their research, head to the Humanities Center Affiliate’s page.