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Humanities Center announces 2019 grant recipients

The Humanities Center has announced the recipients of its 2019 round of grants this week, supporting scholarly projects in history, culture and the arts in multiple disciplines across the university. Funded b y a WVU endowment from the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation , grants were awarded in four categories:  Fellowship Grants, Collaborative Grants, Pedagogy Innovation Grants and Research Travel Grants.

While several of the grants went to support traditional projects in history, literature, musicology and other humanities fields, applicants were given preference for projects that speak to the Center’s commitment to interdisciplinary, collaborative and public-facing projects.

“In our second year of supporting projects on campus, we are seeing real creativity in the ways that humanities scholars might work with one another and with the public,” said  Ryan Claycomb , the Humanities Center’s director.  “Given the humanities’ traditional focus on individual scholarship, this energy reflects an understanding of the emerging ways that scholars might show how their work makes an impact and how it traverses conventional boundaries.”

The Center’s Collaborative Grants program focused particularly on teams of researchers, which might include scholars from multiple disciplines, community organizations, and student researchers. Ellen Belchior Rodrigues leads a team in conjunction with the LGBTQ+ Center to create the “Morgantown Queer History and Walking Tour;” a team led by art historian Kristina Olson , in conjunction with WVU’s Art in the Libraries program was awarded a grant for their exhibit, “Appalachian Futures: a Traveling Exhibit & Programming;” Lisa Di Bartolomeo, of World Languages, Literature and Linguistics, received a grant to develop “Culture Kits” for local k-12 educational contexts; and a Public History team led by Melissa Bingmann , in conjunction with the Pocohontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau, was awarded funding for “Hardwood and Harmony,” an exploration of the relationship between that county’s timber industry and its music traditions.

In addition, a Pedagogy Innovation grant was awarded to Jennifer Thornton for the development of a team-taught course, “Oral History/Multimedia Storytelling,” in partnership with Reed College of Media’s Mary Kay McFarland.

The Center’s grants will also fund more traditional projects of outstanding Humanities Scholarship at various stages.  The Center named three Fellows for its 2019-2020 year: English faculty member Rose Casey’s project, “Make Change! How Books Act Upon the World,” will combine her ongoing research into literature and property law in the Global South with public programming on the real-world impacts of literature on daily life;

Liesel Sharabi (communications studies), will exploring interconnections between online dating, technology use and marriage; and Tamba M’bayo (history), will continue work on his project “From White Man's Grave to Ebola: Sierra Leone's History of Epidemics, 1787-2015.”

Humanities Center Fellows represent some of the most invigorating work in the humanities—at its core and at its boundaries—that our university has to offer,” said Claycomb. “We are eager to work with our Fellows in the coming year as part of the energetic life of our growing Center.”

The Center was also able to award eight travel grants for research projects across several disciplines:  Grant recipients in this category include:

·         Cari Carpenter , English, for “Little Writer: Selected Texts of Ora Eddleman Reed;”

·         Daniel Renfrew , anthropology, for “Preserving Conservation and Uruguay's New           Environmentalism;”

·         Elisabeth C. Orr, landscape architecture, for research at the U.S. National Archives in College           Park, MD.

·         Janet Snyder, art history, for “Links Across the Channel: Architectural Sculpture and Painting,           c. 1070 -1170;”

·         Joseph Hodge , history, for “In the Aftermath of Empire;”

·         Kate Staples , history, for “Gendered Labor in the Medieval Secondhand Trade;”

·         Manal AlNatour , world languages, literatures, and linguistics, for “The Impact of the Language           Barrier on the Integration of Syrian Refugees into a Connecticut Community;”

·         Maria Perez, geography, for “Forging a Regional Speleology: The Role of Cuba in the Creation            of the FEALC.”


The Humanities Center was established in August 2017 with a mission to cultivate critical humanistic inquiry, fostering collaborative, interdisciplinary and publicly accessible scholarship and teaching 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.