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Program: Public Scholar Program*
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FZ-255906-17

James S. Shapiro
Columbia University (New York, NY 10027-7922)

America's Shakespeare

Research and writing for a book on how the works of William Shakespeare have figured in America’s national conversation from the Revolution to the present day.

From the 1830s, when Alexis de Tocqueville toured the land and reported in "Democracy in America" that there was “hardly a pioneer hut in which the odd volume of Shakespeare cannot be found,” to the present day, when almost every American teenager is exposed to his plays, Shakespeare has remained the one writer shared by all in this nation, across social, geographic, and political boundaries. In ten chapters (each focusing on a key year) America’s Shakespeare examines the course of our nation’s history through the lens of our long and collective engagement with Shakespeare. I’m especially interested in exploring how and why Americans have turned to Shakespeare when struggling to find common ground or give voice to what is otherwise not easily or openly expressed, and to this end the book will explore how Shakespeare has figured in—and shaped--our national conversation from the Revolution until the present day.

Project fields:
History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256387-17

Ellen Carroll Wayland-Smith
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA 90089-0012)

Jean Wade Rindlaub (1904-1991) and the History of Advertising to American Women

Research and writing of a book-length history of American advertising to women, told through the work of Jean Wade Rindlaub (1904-1991), a prominent adwoman during World War II and the Cold War.

My book is a cultural history of American advertising from 1940-1960, as seen through the lens of real-life “madwoman” Jean Wade Rindlaub. As a copy writer and Vice President of Barton Batten Durstine and Osborne, Rindlaub targeted the average American housewife through advertising campaigns for such national icons as Chiquita Banana, Betty Crocker, Oneida Silverware, and Dwight D. Eisenhower. Rindlaub’s ads, “focus group” research, speeches, and private letters reveal how a range of social stakeholders at mid-century joined forces to manufacture an American feminine ideal that would be at once spiritually satisfying, economically profitable, and politically expedient. The book not only gives the reader a lively glimpse into this strange, vanished world of gray-flannelled men and exotic dancing Latina bananas, but offers a snapshot of American consumer society at the dawn of mass media, with lessons still to teach us today about the manufacture of political and cultural consent.

Project fields:
Cultural History; U.S. History; Women's History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$37,800 (approved)
$37,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 5/31/2018


FZ-256395-17

Camilla Townsend
Rutgers University, New Brunswick (New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8559)

A New History of the Aztecs

The writing of a book-length narrative on Aztec history from before the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

This book is a sweeping new interpretive study of the Aztecs. The last major work on the subject is now almost thirty years old. In the intervening years, scholars have made great strides in our ability to read the Nahuatl (or Aztec language) histories written by the indigenous people themselves in the sixteenth century. We no longer need to depend on the comments made by the Spanish conquerors, or on silent archaeological remains; this book will allow readers to hear what the Native Americans themselves had to say on the subject of their own history and culture. It will focus on the period beginning about a century before the conquest and ending about a century after. Prior works have always ended or begun at the moment of conquest, as if there could be no comparison between the “before” and “after.” But the people who lived through the trauma knew that their lives went on, and they had a great deal to say about surviving and learning to live with conquest.

Project fields:
Latin American History; Native American Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256398-17

Brian Hochman
Georgetown University (Washington, DC 20057-0001)

A History of Wiretapping in the United States

Research and writing of a book on the history of public and private sector wiretapping and wiretapping technology since the 19th century.

All Ears: A History of Wiretapping in the United States explores an oft-overlooked truth of modern media history: that technologies for eavesdropping on communications have proliferated as rapidly as communications technologies themselves. Third parties tapped the earliest telegraph wires during the nineteenth century, and the nation's communications networks have been bugged ever since. Drawing on a wide range of primary source materials, the project uncovers the surprising history of wiretaps, bugs, and other eavesdropping technologies in the United States. In the process, it offers valuable historical perspective on an issue that remains hotly contested among pundits and policymakers today. By tracing a series of popular flash points in the history of wiretapping, the project ultimately demonstrates how the modern myth of communications privacy has depended, even thrived, on the reality of its technological infringement.

Project fields:
American Studies; Media Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256400-17

Richard J. Bell
University of Maryland, College Park (College Park, MD 20742-5141)

Kidnapping and the Slave Trade in Post-Revolutionary America

A book on four boys kidnapped and sold into slavery in 1825 and their story's impact on debates about slavery and abolition.

I would use NEH funding to support the completion of the final chapters of my new book. The Lost Boys: A Story of Slavery and Justice on the Reverse Underground Railroad is to be published by Simon & Schuster in late fall 2018. It tells the little-known story of the miraculous escape of four free black children from the clutches of post-revolutionary America’s most fearsome gang of kidnappers and enslavers. Designed to capitalize on the interest in human trafficking spurred by the Oscar-winning film Twelve Years a Slave (2013), The Lost Boys offers a revisionist account of the role of kidnapping in the domestic slave trade in the decades immediately following the American Revolution. It situates black persons at the center of analysis, up-ends simple racial and gender dichotomies, and argues that the kidnapping of free black people into slavery in this critical period was vastly more frequent, pernicious, and politically significant than we have previously supposed.

Project fields:
African American History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256405-17

Megan Kate Nelson
Unknown institution

How the West was Won--and Lost--during the American Civil War

A book on the Civil War in the American Southwest, including its impact on settlers, Native Americans, and the environment.

Path of the Dead Man tells the little-known story of the American Civil War in the Southwest through the experiences of nine individuals: three Union soldiers, two Confederate soldiers, two Native Americans, and two Anglo civilians. It argues that the Confederate loss of the West hurt their chances to win the war in the East. Once the Union Army regained control of the region, Republicans passed a series of acts to “settle” the West, to fill it with free laborers. To achieve this vision the Union Army also had to exterminate or remove the West’s Native Americans. Thus, their campaigns against Navajos and Apaches were vital to the Republican political project. The Union succeeded in these efforts due the army’s ability to control the Southwest’s natural resources. Path of the Dead Man reconfigures three of America's epic narratives (the Civil War, the Indian wars, and westward expansion) and will appeal to general and academic readers.

Project fields:
Military History; U.S. History; U.S. Regional Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2017 – 9/30/2018


FZ-256426-17

Jennifer Homans
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

A Biography of Choreographer George Balanchine (1904-1983)

Preparation of a book-length biography of choreographer George Balanchine (1904-1983), from his earliest years in Imperial Russia to his death in New York City.

George Balanchine was perhaps the greatest choreographer of the 20th century. Born in Russia in 1904, he experienced the upheavals of World War One, the Russian Revolution, exile, World War Two and the cultural Cold War; he was part of the Russian modernist moment, a key player in Paris in the 1920s, and in New York he revolutionized ballet, pressing it to the forefront of culture and making it a serious—and popular—American art. Like his contemporaries Picasso, Stravinsky, and Auden, Balanchine’s life spanned the 20th century, and he captured something of its history and ideas in his dances. I am writing a critical biography of Balanchine. If I succeed, I will have captured something of Balanchine’s world, his inner life, and the power of his dances. I will also have written a history of 20th century modernism.

Project fields:
Arts, General; Dance History and Criticism; Theater History and Criticism

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256442-17

Janice P. Nimura
Unknown institution

How the Blackwell Sisters Brought Women to Medicine--and Medicine to Women--in 19th-Century America

Research and writing leading to publication of a dual biography of Elizabeth Blackwell (1821-1910) and her sister Emily Blackwell (1826-1910), pioneering women in American medicine.

A biography of Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman in America to receive a medical degree (1849), and her younger sister Emily, who received her degree five years later. Together they founded the New York Infirmary for Indigent Women and Children, which they expanded to include a women's medical college a decade later. Their world included eccentric siblings, iconoclastic sisters-in-law--Lucy Stone and Antoinette Brown, two of the most outspoken feminists of the era--and acquaintances like Florence Nightingale, Horace Greeley, Henry Ward Beecher, and Lady Byron. The New York Infirmary became the crucible for such medical pioneers as Marie Zakrzewska, Mary Putnam Jacobi, and Sophia Jex-Blake. The Blackwells' story is emblematic of the dawning of a new consciousness for women, both ideological and physical, including contradictions regarding the meaning of feminism as relevant in 2017 as they were in the nineteenth century.

Project fields:
History of Science; U.S. History; Women's History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256465-17

Jacob Soll
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA 90089-0012)

A History of the Free Market from the 16th to the 20th Century

Research leading to publication of a monograph on the history of the idea of the free market.

The object of my new book, Free Market: The History of Dream is to show in clear terms, to a wide audience, that the origins of free market thought are older and more complex than previously thought. Rather than products of the 18th and 19th centuries, they grew from Renaissance and Enlightenment traditions based in religious views of the self-regulating laws of nature. What is remarkable in this story is the extent to which religious tradition was at the basis of free market thought, even as it became the secular field of economics we know today.

Project fields:
Economic History; History, General; Intellectual History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256468-17

Sarah Wagner
George Washington University (Washington, DC 20052-0001)

Bringing Them Home: Identifying and Remembering Vietnam War MIAs

Researching and writing a book on forensic identification and public memorialization of U.S. service members Missing in Action (MIA) from the Vietnam War.

This book project examines the efforts to account for and memorialize U.S. service members Missing In Action (MIA) and presumed dead from the past century’s major conflicts, specifically the over 1,600 still missing from the Vietnam War. Stories from recovery missions in Southeast Asia, forensic scientific investigations, and decades-delayed homecomings help illustrate war’s destructive/generative nature and the obligations of care that arise through such a prolonged crisis of absence. Bringing Them Home also reveals important changes in how MIAs are commemorated, from everyday, small acts of remembrance to more public, monumental forms and spaces of memorializing the war and those who died waging it. In doing so, it presents a humanistic account of war and its legacy of remembrance that entwine the living with the dead in the project of national belonging.

Project fields:
Anthropology

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256478-17

Tiya Alicia Miles
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)

The Story of "Ashley's Sack": A Family Heirloom in the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture

Research and writing of a book about African American women’s experience, as revealed through an embroidered cotton bag passed down through generations of enslaved and free women.

This proposed public history book project, The Things She Carried: A Meditation on “Ashley’s Sack,” aims to present the unexpected story of a unique material artifact: an embroidered plain cotton sack from the 19th century given to an enslaved daughter from her mother and then passed down by the women of the Middleton family as a testament to their history in slavery and freedom. The item, called Ashley’s Sack, is now on display in the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The purpose of this project is to use this beautiful and wrenching artifact that has already arrested the attention of many to tell interlocking stories about black women’s history, American history, and public history that draw out the themes of love, loss, and rescue. This book will explore the many embedded historical and cultural meanings of the sack in a form that is intellectually revealing, accessible, and lyrical.

Project fields:
African American History; American Studies; Women's History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$42,000 (approved)
$35,700 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2018 – 7/31/2019


FZ-256488-17

Jeffrey Veidlinger
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)

Pogrom: The Origins of the European Genocide of the Jews, 1917-1921

Research leading to publication of a monograph on the origins of the Holocaust.

Pogrom: The Origins of the European Genocide of the Jews is a study of how the anti-Jewish pogroms of 1917-1921 created the preconditions for the Holocaust. Based on extensive archival research in five different languages, the book provides in-depth analysis of six of the two thousand pogroms that took place during the Russian Civil War, and traces the aftermath of the violence both locally and internationally. The book is under contract with Metropolitan Books/ Henry Holt and Company, which has negotiated for five international editions in addition to the US edition.

Project fields:
European History; Jewish Studies; Russian History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$25,200 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256495-17

Mark Braude
Stanford University (Stanford, CA 94305-2004)

The Invisible Emperor: Napoleon Bonaparte on Elba

Research leading to publication of a monograph on Napoleon Bonaparte’s exile on Elba and short-lived return to power in 1815.

The Invisible Emperor offers a narrative history of Napoleon’s exile on Elba as a case study through which to consider the intertwined histories of politics, celebrity, and mass media in the modern era. Spanning from Napoleon's abdication as emperor of France in April of 1814 to his escape and return to the mainland the following March, this project considers how Napoleon became the first modern political figure to fully harness the power of emerging mass media technologies, as he framed himself as the charismatic protagonist in a heroic narrative to be consumed in words and images. This project suggests that Napoleon gained widespread support for his unlikely return to power in 1815 precisely because of the mystique he fostered while seemingly out-of-sight and silenced during his ten months in exile on Elba, as Europeans delighted in this latest twist in his already storied career.

Project fields:
Cultural History; European History; Urban History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256497-17

John A. Lynn
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (Urbana, IL 61801-3620)

The Other Side of Victory: A History of Surrender from Medieval Combat to Modern Terrorism

The writing of a book-length narrative on the history and concept of military surrender, examining how wars end.

In the grim history of war, some victories have been won by the annihilation of the adversary. But surrender has always been much more common, and complicated, than unmitigated destruction. The history of surrender encompasses not only yielding by the vanquished but also the victors’ acceptance of this submission. It is ultimately a history of restraint in war, and it is inseparable from the question of conflict resolution and the development of our existing humanitarian laws of war. Speculation on how the current terrorist threat might be contained or ended permeates the popular and scholarly literature. However, such discussions rarely reference the historical record of surrender or grossly misuse the past when they do. My book describes, compares, and analyzes the experience of surrender in different historical and cultural settings. It will sharpen our understanding of contemporary issues of war and peace by providing a rich and relevant historical perspective.

Project fields:
International Relations; Military History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256501-17

Heather Lenore Clark
CUNY Research Foundation, Graduate School and University Center (New York, NY 10016-4309)

The Light of the Mind: A Biography of American Poet and Novelist Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

A biography of American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) that emphasizes her literary development and her important place in American letters.

I am writing a biography of the American poet and novelist Sylvia Plath (1932-1963). Although several biographies have been published since her death in 1963, a definitive, critical biography of America's best-known, 20th-century woman poet still does not exist. Because biographies of Plath tend to be inaccurate and sensationalist, there is a need for an in-depth, meticulously researched biography that resists caricature and helps restore Plath to the prominent place she deserves in American letters. Sylvia Plath: The Light of the Mind will recover Plath the writer.

Project fields:
American Literature; British Literature

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256516-17

Rachel Lisa Mesch
Yeshiva University (New York, NY 10033-3299)

Three Women Writers Who Lived as Men: Jane Dieulafoy (1850-1916), Marc de Montifaud (1849-1913), and Rachilde (1860-1953)

Research and writing of a biographical study of three late 19th-century French women writers who lived their lives as men—housewife-turned-archaeologist Jane Dieulafoy (1850-1916), art critic Marc de Montifaud (1849-1913), and novelist Rachilde (1860-1953).

My project is a biographical study of three late nineteenth-century French writers in which I explore how transgender identities were expressed and understood before the modern category existed. Simultaneously construed as oddities and celebrated for their accomplishments, [Jane] Dieulafoy, [Marc de] Montifaud, and Rachilde defied the available terms for women who challenged gender norms. This book uses the contemporary critical lens of transgender to understand their fascinating and very different life stories, exploring their copious efforts to make sense of their own selves through writing and photography. By recovering the gender diversity of this particular time period in France, Trans Before Trans seeks to highlight the continuing relevance of the Humanities to broader public debates, situating struggles assumed to be a product of contemporary life in a wider history.

Project fields:
French Literature; Gender Studies; Women's History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$29,400 (approved)
$29,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
2/1/2018 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256534-17

Sara A. Hendren
Franklin W. Olin College of Engineering (Needham, MA 02492-1200)

A Scissor, A Shoe, The Sidewalk’s Slant: Disability and the Unlikely Origins of Everyday Things

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the concept of disability, based on the stories behind everyday objects designed to accommodate disabled people.

This book, under contract with Riverhead in 2019, is about the unexpected places where disability is at the heart of design, borne out in everyday objects and environments. From daily kitchen tools, to the invention of the telephone, to the shape of city sidewalks and architecture, the built world is packed with unknown origin stories that are shaped by the experience of disability, an experience that tends to be understood exclusively as a medical condition and rarely seen as the resource that it is: a generative, fascinating lens to begin thinking and re-thinking about the world around us. The book’s distinctive argument is that the experience of disability has historically been a site of invention and creativity, and that its politics simultaneously carry enormous implications for human rights. Nowhere is this creativity and urgency more convivial, resonant, and provocative than in the designed material world.

Project fields:
Architecture; Cultural History; Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$37,800 (approved)
$31,500 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256564-17

Abram C. Van Engen
Washington University in St. Louis (St. Louis, MO 63130-4899)

The Meaning of America: How the United States Became the City on a Hill

Completion of a book project on the history and influence of John Winthrop’s “City Upon a Hill” sermon ("A Model of Christian Charity") from 1630 to the present.

This project is a biography of John Winthrop's "city on a hill" sermon from 1630 to the present day. Cited today by politicians and many others as the origin of American exceptionalism, this sermon has become foundational to American history and literature. Yet in its own day, it went unrecorded, unpublished, and completely unnoticed. Found in 1838, Winthrop's sermon only gradually became important, achieving status as an American classic in the mid-twentieth century. This study asks how it rose and with what effects. Ever since its rebirth, I show, competing interpretations of the text have offered contending visions of American community and purpose. Drawing on several methodologies, my biography of Winthrop's sermon becomes, finally, a history of exceptionalism and "the meaning of America" as it has emerged from--and been contested in--rediscoveries, reinventions, and reinterpretations of America's past.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$25,200 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 6/30/2018


FZ-256570-17

Ben Schwartz
Unknown institution

The Lost Laugh: American Comedy Between the World Wars

Research and writing of a book on the development of American humor between the two World Wars.

The Lost Laugh is a lively narrative history of American humor set between the two World Wars. It tells the untold story of how the Modernist movement of the 1920s and 1930s, which swept through our literature, theater, music, and art, swept through our humor, shaking it loose from its 19th Century tradition of satire about rugged, simple, rural men in morally affirming stories. As America grew more urban, immigrants, women, and African-Americans broadened and complicated that tradition. Using interweaving biographical story lines, I paint a picture of this era via the careers of satirists Dawn Powell, Jack Benny, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Bob Hope, Gracie Allen, The Marx Brothers, Louis Armstrong, George S. Kaufman, Howard Hawks, and James Thurber, among others. In a wide array of media, they created urban, self-interested, amoral characters in non-narrative (often self-reflexive) modes, to arrive at much more ambivalent conclusions about American life.

Project fields:
Film History and Criticism; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts; Theater History and Criticism

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256574-17

Ruth Elizabeth Chang
Rutgers University, New Brunswick (New Brunswick, NJ 08901-8559)

Making Hard Choices: The Power of Commitment in a World of Reasons

Research leading to publication of a monograph on the philosophical nature of hard choices.

Life is full of hard choices. Social scientists--psychologists, neuroscientists, and economists--study our reactions to such choices and model what we do in response to them. On the basis of their observations, they sometimes offer advice about how we should respond to a hard choice. But do they--or we--really understand what hard choices are? What, exactly, makes a choice hard? This is a question that humanists--and in particular, philosophers--are best suited to answer. In my book, Making Hard Choices, I undertake a distinctively philosophical investigation of the nature of hard choices. Once we understand what makes a choice hard, we are in a position to think more clearly about what we should do in the face of them. I offer novel answers to the questions, 'What are hard choices?' and 'What should we do in the face of them?' My aim is to present an investigation of these questions that is rooted in rigorous philosophical research and argument but nevertheless accessible.

Project fields:
Ethics; Philosophy, General; Philosophy, Other

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2018 – 8/31/2019


FZ-256582-17

Stephen R. Prothero
Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)

The Work of Eugene Exman (1900-1975): How an Editor and His Authors Made America More Spiritual and Less Religious

Writing of a biography of Eugene Exman (1900-1975), a book editor influential in the field of American religion.

Book-length study of Harper religion editor Eugene Exman and his authors focusing on their personal and professsional contributions to today's the "spiritual but not religious" sensibility. In this project, which is based on a massive archive recently discovered in Exman's home, I hope to shed new light on how liberal Protestants responded to the “religious depression” of the 1930s, how they contributed to the postwar revival of the 1940s and 1950s, and how they bent the counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s toward alternative spiritualities (including in Asia). Chapters focus on the back stories and the afterlives in American culture of such books as Bill Wilson's Alcoholics Anonymous, Dorothy Day's The Long Loneliness, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Stride Toward Freedom, and Huston Smith's The Religions of Man.

Project fields:
Cultural History; History of Religion; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-256604-17

Sheryl Kaskowitz
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Sidney Robertson and the Documentation of American Folk Music in the New Deal Era

Preparation of a book about Sidney Robertson (1903-1995), a folk-music collector in the 1930s for the Resettlement Administration of the U.S. government.

This book tells the story of Sidney Robertson’s folk-music collecting for the Resettlement Administration (RA), an experimental New Deal agency that resettled thousands of people hard hit by the Depression on newly created homesteads across the country. The RA’s Special Skills Division collected nearly 160 disc recordings, both to document the folk music of Depression-era America and to use the songs “as an integrating social force” on the RA’s homesteads. Nearly all of these discs were recorded by Sidney Robertson, a woman whose role in the history of public folklore is often overlooked. This book illuminates the lost history of the Special Skills Division and Sidney Robertson’s role in its folk-music collecting, uncovering a treasure trove of little-known recordings, filling in important information about the roots of the folk revival, and demonstrating New Deal leaders' belief in the power of folk music to effect change and to forge an "authentic" American identity.

Project fields:
American Studies; Ethnomusicology; Folklore and Folklife

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 5/31/2019


FZ-256625-17

Wanda Marie Corn
Stanford University (Stanford, CA 94305-2004)

From Local Folk to National Icon: The Three Lives of Grant Wood's "American Gothic"

A book on the 1930 painting American Gothic by Grant Wood and how it became an iconic image.

The oval-faced, tight-lipped man and woman, bound tightly together with a pitchfork in front of their Gothic Revival house, have become a ubiquitous and recognizable fixture in American visual culture, even to people who know nothing about art. This study offers a close reading and history of Grant Wood's painting American Gothic and its strange odyssey from the studio of an unknown Iowan artist eighty-seven years ago to its international celebrity status today.

Project fields:
American Studies; Art History and Criticism; Cultural History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256626-17

Kimberly A. Hamlin
Miami University, Oxford (Oxford, OH 45056-1602)

Woman Citizen: Helen Hamilton Gardener (1853-1925) and Women's Suffrage in America

A biography of Helen Hamilton Gardener (1853-1925), woman suffragist, lead negotiator to Congress and President Wilson on behalf of the movement for suffrage, and the first woman to occupy a high-ranking federal civil service position in the United States in the 1920s.

In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of women's suffrage in 2020, Woman Citizen increases popular understanding of and appreciation for women's rights history by telling it through the eyes of Helen Hamilton Gardener. Gardener was the suffragists’ lead negotiator to Congress and President Woodrow Wilson, as well as the highest-ranking woman in federal government. However, she was purged from suffrage history as a result of her "freethinking" (atheist) beliefs and her campaign to raise the age of sexual consent for girls. Gardener’s dramatic life experiences together with her vital contributions to the women’s movement tell us much about both how the vote was won and why women worked so hard for it, making the project a good fit for the NEH Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square initiative. Woman Citizen provides historical context for ongoing debates about women in politics, and it encourages us to rethink the place of women in our collective national narrative.

Project fields:
U.S. History; Women's History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 5/31/2019


FZ-256628-17

Michael Todd Bennett
East Carolina University (Greenville, NC 27858-5235)

Howard Hughes, the CIA, and the Untold Story Behind Their Hunt for a Sunken Soviet Submarine

A book exploring intelligence oversight and accountability though a narrative account of the covert 1974 CIA operation to use Howard Hughes's ship Glomar Explorer to raise a sunken Soviet submarine.

What led the Central Intelligence Agency to think that it could ally with one of the world’s most newsworthy figures to secretly operate a giant ship capable of doing the impossible, all without getting caught? Based on interviews as well as newly declassified files, my book, Imagination Unlimited, studies one of the biggest covert operations in CIA history—the 1974 voyage of the Hughes Glomar Explorer, a spyship ostensibly owned by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, to raise a sunken Soviet submarine—to address a small group of questions that remain almost as unresolved today as they were forty-plus years ago. What is the value of intelligence oversight? Does greater accountability harm the nation by discouraging the sort of blue-sky thinking that keeps the U.S. intelligence community one step ahead of the competition? Or, does it help by placing needed limits on that community’s overactive imagination?

Project fields:
Diplomatic History; History, Other; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2018 – 12/31/2018


FZ-256658-17

Daniel Scott Neep
Georgetown University (Washington, DC 20057-0001)

The Nation Belongs to All: The Making of Modern Syria

The writing of a book-length history of modern Syria from the 19th century to the present.

The Syrian conflict is never far from the news. Yet the image of Syria presented by the media--a society so divided by religion that it has no common identity--sits at odds with how Syrians understand their country, as well as with the historical record. This book tells Syria’s untold story: the tale of an on-going, passionate struggle for justice, equality, and a better future. Whether fighting for national independence from French colonial rule, battling super-rich landowners to give impoverished peasants a fair share of the country’s wealth, or rising up against the violence, repression, and kleptomania of the Assad regime, the Syrian people have fiercely clung to their right to live with respect and dignity. The story that now needs telling is how, over the last hundred years, the protest and perseverance of the Syrian people have shaped the political destiny of their nation. “Religion belongs to God,” as the Syrian saying goes, “but the Nation belongs to All.”

Project fields:
Economic History; Near and Middle Eastern History; Political History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 5/31/2019


FZ-256671-17

Luke A. Nichter
Texas A & M University, Central Texas (Killeen, TX 76549-5901)

A Biography of Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1902-1985)

Research and writing leading to publication of a biography of the politician, ambassador, and U.S. presidential adviser Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. (1902-1985).

Senator, bipartisan advisor to five presidents, ambassador, vice presidential running mate, and presidential candidate by popular demand, Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.'s political career stretched from the 1930s to the 1970s yet has escaped biographical treatment. Lodge’s rise and decline coincided with the end of the Eastern Establishment and its political moderation, a shift in political power to the South and West, and an embrace by the Republican Party of more conservative policies that directly enabled the rebirth of Richard Nixon and the rise of Ronald Reagan. In light of the Trump phenomenon, what can we learn from the first mass conservative movement? The book will also dramatically change the narrative of how the U.S. entered the Vietnam War, based on my recent discovery of President Diem's coup notes and a previously secret Kennedy-Lodge recording in which JFK authorizes a coup against South Vietnam. Yale University Press has agreed to a minimum first print run of 5,000 copies.

Project fields:
Diplomatic History; Political History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2017 – 9/30/2018


FZ-256672-17

Kevin Birmingham
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

The Sinner and the Saint: Russian Novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky and the Gentleman Murderer Who Inspired "Crime and Punishment"

Research and writing of a book-length history of Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky’s classic Crime and Punishment.

This project is a cultural microhistory as seen through the making of a single book: Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. It explores the significance of Dostoevsky’s novel by telling the story of its inspiration, writing and reception amidst the turbulent milieu of 1860s Saint Petersburg. We follow Dostoevsky from his 1849 arrest, mock execution and Siberian exile through his return to literary prominence and his collaboration with (and marriage to) Anna Grigoryevna Snitkina. My research creates a narrative by combining rich biographical detail with substantial historical contextualization and detailed textual analysis—of both Dostoevsky’s novel and its various drafts. One important element of Dostoevsky’s creative process was his fascination with Pierre François Lacenaire, a murderer whose crimes helped inspired Crime and Punishment and whose story helps us to reconsider the significance of Dostoevsky’s novel.

Project fields:
Cultural History; Russian History; Russian Literature

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-250036-17

Jodi Magness
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)

Masada: A New History


A book on Masada, the mountain fortress built by Herod the Great near the Dead Sea, and the Jewish mass suicide that took place there two thousand years ago.  Combining historical, literary, and archaeological research, the book will offer a new history of Jewish resistance to Roman rule.

Two thousand years ago, 967 Jewish rebels chose to take their own lives rather than suffer enslavement or death at the hands of the Roman army. This event occurred atop Masada, a mountain overlooking the Dead Sea that was fortified by Herod the Great. The story of the mass suicide is related by the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus. Josephus ended his account of The Jewish War – which describes the First Jewish Revolt against Rome and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70 C.E. – with the fall of Masada. Whereas for Jews the revolt was a national disaster, Christians viewed the temple’s destruction as a fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. The Jewish resistance at Masada became a symbol of the modern State of Israel as a result of Yigael Yadin’s 1963-1965 excavations. Masada: A New History integrates historical/literary evidence with archaeological findings, yielding a gripping narrative that follows the fate of the Jews under Roman rule through the story of Masada.

Project fields:
Classical History; Interdisciplinary Studies, Other; Jewish Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017


FZ-250278-16

Christopher Benfey
Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA 01075-1461)

Kipling's Ark: The Making and Unmaking of an American Writer

A study of the Nobel-prize-winning British writer Rudyard Kipling’s engagement with the United States, especially during four years he spent living in Vermont. By focusing on Kipling's "American decade" (1889-99), the book will provide a fresh perspective on Kipling's life and works, as well as on the American Gilded Age. 

From 1890 to 1920 and beyond, Rudyard Kipling was the most popular writer in the world, winning a Nobel Prize in 1907, but his reputation has suffered a strange eclipse. “Kipling’s Ark: The Making and Unmaking of an American Writer” seeks to address a conspicuous lacuna in efforts to make sense of Kipling’s varied career. Kipling’s intense engagement with the United States—on a personal, political, and aesthetic level—has never received the attention it deserves. The central focus of my book is Kipling’s American decade, extending from 1889 to 1899, with special attention to his four-year sojourn in Vermont. Seven individual chapters, blending narrative with essayistic elaboration, will address key moments and encounters during the decade, while also offering a fresh perspective—Kipling’s own—on the American Gilded Age, the subject of four previous trade books I have published.

Project fields:
American Studies; Literary Criticism; Literature, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250283-17

Jared Farmer
SUNY Research Foundation, Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY 11794-0001)

The Latest Oldest Tree: Survival Stories for a Time of Extinction

A meditation on the challenges that humans face in thinking about long spans of time, the book narrates the history of various searches for the oldest living tree in the world and explains the scientific developments that enable us to measure extreme biological age.

The oldest trees have lasted longer than any civilization. Determining the location and age of these biological record holders is a modern fixation. In my book, I’ll narrate the never-ending search for the oldest living tree in the world, as definitions of “oldest” and “living” and “tree” and “world” have changed over time. I’ll examine individual and clonal longevity, and the tools--including dendrochronology and radiocarbon dating--scientists have developed to measure extreme biological age. Along the way, I’ll ponder scientific-cum-philosophical questions: What does it mean to be young and old? Living and dead? Without minimizing the global environmental crisis, my project stresses persistence amid loss, devotion amid destruction. Arboreal survival stories are vital for contemplating the future of oldness in an anthropogenic epoch.

Project fields:
History of Science; History, General; Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2017 – 7/31/2018


FZ-250287-16

Charles E. King
Georgetown University (Washington, DC 20057-0001)

The Humanity Lab: A Story of Race, Culture, and the Promise of an American Idea

A book on anthropologist Franz Boas (1848-1942) and the role of his jazz-age New York circle in developing the revolutionary view of social customs in "foreign" cultures that came to be known as cultural relativism. The project addresses the resulting transformation in popular attitudes about race, sexuality, and gender over the last century.

The Humanity Lab is a work of intellectual and social history centered on a small band of contrarian social scientists working in jazz-age New York. Led by pioneering anthropologist Franz Boas and including such critical figures as Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, this group pioneered a way of seeing the world that is only now coming into broad acceptance. Together, they were puzzling through the details of the theory they would come to call “cultural relativism.” The starting point was the idea that no social customs were advanced or retrograde, higher or lower. Each was, instead, a locally specific solution to some common human problem--an insight that stands alongside many of the great scientific advances of the 20th century. The project addresses the transformation in popular attitudes about race, sexuality, gender, and "foreign" customs over the last century and will result in a single-author book published by a commercial press and aimed at the serious general reader.

Project fields:
History, General; Interdisciplinary Studies, General; Social Sciences, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$40,320 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2017 – 8/31/2018


FZ-250309-17

Michael Meyer
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA 15260-6133)

Benjamin Franklin's Last Bet: How a Founding Father's Daring Philanthropy Reshaped the American Will

A book on American philanthropy and founding father Benjamin Franklin, who bequeathed large sums to Boston and Philadelphia with the stipulation that they be paid in two installments only after compound interest had accrued for one hundred and then two hundred years. The book also addresses the implications of Franklin's legacy for contemporary charitable giving.

Before he died, Benjamin Franklin placed a bet on America. His will's final codicil ordered the deposit of funds to be cashed out, with the accrual of compound interest, by the cities of Boston and Philadelphia 100, then 200, years later - should they still stand. Franklin's wager, a response to a dare by a French writer urging him to show his citizens how to apply Poor Richard's example for posterity, did - remarkably - pay out, funding civic projects and vocational training. Leaving money to beautify cities and fund vocational training - usually credited to the likes of Carnegie and Rockefeller - was yet another of Franklin's inventions, and one all but forgotten today. This book will explain how Franklin was the Founding Father of American philanthropy (he also invented the matching grant), and how his example of small, targeted giving can inform the national conversation as the Baby Boom generation prepares to give away $30 trillion, the largest transfer of wealth in U.S. history.

Project fields:
American Studies; Journalism; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017


FZ-250334-16

Jeremy David Popkin
University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY 40506-0001)

Free and Equal: The Story of the French Revolution

A new comprehensive history of the French Revolution for general readers. It will incorporate recent scholarship on contemporaneous debates concerning the rights of women and black slavery, explaining how they were essential to the Revolution while also placing the whole era in a broad global context.

"Free and Equal" will be the first comprehensive history of the French Revolution addressed to general readers in the English-speaking world in a generation. My aim is to bring this great historical drama alive for a broad audience, and to introduce them to the new perspectives on the Revolution that have emerged from the past several decades of new scholarship on the subject. In "Free and Equal," readers will encounter the debates about the rights of women and black slavery that were essential aspects of the Revolution, and see how they change our understanding of traditional topics such as the drafting of the Declaration of the Rights of Man and Citizen and the Reign of Terror. My book will treat the French Revolution in a global perspective, emphasizing, for example, that the sweeping reform plans introduced by French ministers in 1787 coincided with the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, called to deal with the perceived weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation.

Project fields:
European History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017


FZ-250348-16

Brenda Wineapple
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

The Impeachers and America

The political circumstances of President Andrew Johnson's impeachment in 1868 are in the history books, but what was the reaction to it beyond the halls of Congress? This book explores American thought at the time about impeachment and the future of the republic, drawing on a wide range of sources including the cartoons of Thomas Nast and the writings of  Walt Whitman, Mark Twain, and reformer Lydia Maria Child.

In 1868, the House of Representatives voted to impeach the sitting president, Andrew Johnson. Never before had such an event occurred in America, and it remains an extraordinary moment about which we know far too little. My project studies the impeachment proceeding and its major participants, both for and against, in Congress and on the street, especially in the South, to determine what happened and why. To many, the outcome, acquittal by one vote, squandered the result of the recent war insofar as the war aimed to secure equal rights for all; to others it protected the executive from political chicanery. In a sense, both are true. But the country stood at a crossroads, which included a path to justice, one insufficiently argued, or that was not yet seen for what it was: fair and decent. And so impeachment's ramifications helped shape our definition of Reconstruction (itself not adequately understood) and the racial politics of the next century, and our own.

Project fields:
American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$43,050 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250361-16

Gayle Feldman
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Bennett Cerf: The Man Who Published America: A Biography

In 1927 Bennett Cerf and a colleague founded Random House, which published many of the most prominent American authors of the 20th century, from William Faulkner to Dr. Seuss. This biography will tell the story of Cerf's life, which straddled high culture and mass entertainment: not only did he profoundly shape the course of  American publishing, he was also a celebrity thanks to his slot on the popular television show "What's My Line?"

At a time when digital disruption and globalization are reshaping book culture, presenting new challenges and new opportunities, this biography-cum-history, an independent work of scholarship, focuses on the life of Bennett Cerf (1898-1971), asserting that he was the greatest American publisher of the 20th century. It examines how Cerf’s story and that of Random House, the company he co-founded, inform American culture today. How did he build the preeminent publishing house, a living force able to fight successfully to publish Ulysses, that went on to encompass Faulkner and Dr. Seuss, Capote and Ayn Rand, Portnoy’s Complaint and Rosemary’s Baby, Knopf and Pantheon and the Modern Library? There has never been a biography of Cerf, a man who straddled culture both high and mass, through books – those he published and those he wrote - magazines, TV, Hollywood and Broadway. Why is it that this most “public” of American publishers is so forgotten today? A reassessment is long overdue.

Project fields:
American Studies; Cultural History; Literature, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250371-16

Thomas Joseph Healy
Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ 07079-2697)

Soul City -- The Lost Dream of an American Utopia

Soul City, North Carolina, a community founded in 1969 by civil rights leader Floyd McKissick, was designed to serve as a model of black economic empowerment. This book tells the story of the city and its eventual demise in 1979, asking what this failed experiment tells us about the struggle to provide economic opportunity for all Americans.

This is a book about Soul City, N.C., an experimental community founded by civil rights leader Floyd McKissick in 1969. Located on a former slave plantation in one of the poorest areas of the country, Soul City was designed to ease overcrowding in the ghettos of the north and serve as a model of black economic empowerment. Although supported by the Nixon Administration, the city ran into opposition from conservatives who viewed it as a form of welfarism and from liberals who worried about its separatist implications. Caught between these two forces and hampered by a weak economy, Soul City struggled to fulfill its potential and was eventually shut down in 1979. Today it is a twentieth century ghost town. My book will tell the story of Soul City’s rise and fall, exploring the political, social, and economic factors that led to its demise. It will also consider what Soul City’s failure tells us about the continuing struggle to provide economic opportunity for all Americans.

Project fields:
African American History; Legal History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017


FZ-250372-16

Amy Sophia Greenberg
Pennsylvania State University, Main Campus (University Park, PA 16802-7000)

"Mrs. President": Sarah Childress Polk and Women's Political Power before the Vote

The first full-length biography of Sarah Childress Polk (1803-1891), wife of United States President James K. Polk. Mrs. President explains how Polk wielded a degree of political authority unprecedented at the time for a woman, and more broadly considers the workings of female political power in nineteenth-century America.

In a period when women were both disenfranchised and supposedly “unfit” for both politics and business, Sarah Childress Polk (1803-1891) exercised an unprecedented degree of political authority as “Mrs. President,” the wife, political partner, and personal secretary of the eleventh president of the United States. My narrative biography of the first political First Lady, under contract with Alfred A. Knopf Press, is the first full-length biography about a public figure whose experience harnessing the power of submission holds the potential to transform reigning historical narratives about female power before the franchise, and the role of women in American presidential politics.

Project fields:
U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250386-16

Natalia Molina
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, CA 92093-0013)

Place-Makers and Place-Making: The Story of a Los Angeles Community

A history of the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, the book will highlight the role of six largely Mexican-owned restaurants and their clientele (including movie stars, baseball players, boxers, activists, musicians, and artists) in building a community for immigrants in the 1950s and 1960s. The book will also address gentrification and the loss of historical memory it often entails. 

For decades, outsiders dismissed Echo Park, a neighborhood in the heart of Los Angeles, as just another barrio, dirty and dangerous. In the last ten years, gentrification has transformed it into a trendy, hipster zone. Neither label captures Echo Park’s unique reality as a crossroads where a variety of communities intersected with the wider cosmopolitan city. "Placemakers" examines a century of change in Echo Park’s diverse history. At the heart of the book is an in-depth look at six Echo Park restaurants during the 1950s and 60s that served to form community and preserve memory. "Placemakers" will open new dialogues focusing on the immigrant, urban, multicultural experience, social relations and political structures. These dialogues are urgently relevant for every American neighborhood struggling to maintain its history and identity in the face of the transformational and history-erasing force of gentrification and displacement.

Project fields:
Immigration History; Latino History; Urban Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018


FZ-250394-17

Bruce J. Schulman
Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)

"Are We A Nation"?: The Emergence of the Modern United States

A new treatment of what historians often call  "the Progressive Era," this book shows how the meaning of American nation-building underwent a profound shift in the years 1896 to 1929--from knitting together geographic regions to knitting together diverse peoples and cultures--just as the U.S. was emerging as a world power, international economic leader, and reservoir of displaced persons from around the globe.

A reinterpretation of the early twentieth century US, the study explores the transformation of American nationhood between 1896 and 1929 -- the era in which the United States emerged as a world power, international economic leader, and reservoir for displaced persons from across the globe. Most studies of the period have focused on the so-called Progressive Era. They overlook the larger processes of national integration and transformation that the Progressives, their rivals and their successors negotiated. At the same time, the book addresses enduring questions about nation-building: both as a process -- how can people build functioning nation-states out of diverse regions and peoples -- and as a matter of concept: what are the constituents of a nation? How do people understand nationhood and how have those conceptions changed over time? The US in this period offers a telling case because nation-building shifted from knitting together regions to integrating diverse peoples and cultures.

Project fields:
Cultural History; Political History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$42,000 (approved)
$42,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2017 – 4/30/2018


FZ-250414-16

Costica Bradatan
Texas Tech University (Lubbock, TX 79409)

In Praise of Failure

Offering a series of biographical essays on historical figures and their failures, the book explains how living with failure adds meaning to life.  The figures to be treated include Diogenes, E.M. Cioran, Gandhi, Che Guevara, and Yukio Mishima.

"In Praise of Failure" (under contract with Harvard University Press) makes the argument that, because of our culture’s obsession with success, we miss something important about what it means to be human, and deny ourselves access to a deeper, more meaningful layer of our humanity. A sense of what we are in the grand scheme of things, an openness towards the unknown and the mysterious, humility and reverence towards that which transcends and overwhelms us, the wisdom that comes from knowledge of one’s limits, the sense of personal redefining and self-fashioning that results from an encounter with a major obstacle – these are some of the rewards that a proper grasp of failure could bring about. Using a mix of phenomenology, intellectual history, biography, and cultural hermeneutics, the book proposes the notion that not only can we live with failure, we can also flourish; not only doesn’t failure kill us, but it can help us live more meaningful lives.

Project fields:
History of Philosophy; Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2017 – 5/31/2018


FZ-250420-17

Steven Horst
Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT 06459-3208)

Exorcizing Laplace's Demon

Examines the assertion made famous by French mathematical physicist Pierre-Simon Laplace (1749-1827)  that a scientific view of the universe leaves no room for God, free will, or human dignity. Starting with LaPlace but leading the reader through the work of thinkers from Galileo and Newton to contemporary philosophers of science, the book considers how theism and humanism might be reconciled with science after all.

This project will produce a book for a general audience examining the widespread assumption that the sciences threaten our humanistic self-understanding because they imply a view of the world that is deterministic and reductionistic. I frame the discussion around Laplace's assertion, when asked the place of God in his physics, that "I have no need of that hypothesis", and the idea of "Laplace's Demon."  The book examines determinism and reductionism, and the challenges they face from quantum mechanics, chaos theory, and contemporary philosophy of science, arguing that a proper understanding of science poses no threat to human dignity, free will, theism, or the possibility of miracles, drawing upon previous works by the author written for scholarly audiences but presenting them in a form geared to the educated public.

Project fields:
History of Science; Philosophy of Science

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018


FZ-250429-16

Matthew Klingle
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME 04011-8447)

Sweet Blood: Diabetes and the Nature of Health in America

Offering a new look at an illness afflicting over 29 million Americans, this book tells the environmental, cultural, political, and scientific history of diabetes in the United States from the Gilded Age to the present day.

“Sweet Blood: Diabetes and the Nature of Health in America,” under consideration by Yale University Press, is a path-breaking history of a major illness. Through incisive research and engaging storytelling, it explores how today’s crisis grows from our changing relationship with nature. It asks questions at the heart of the humanities: Who or what is to blame for the diabetes outbreak: human behavior, genetics and evolution, or an altered environment? Why has diabetes afflicted Americans unevenly, and should society address these inequities? And what connections between human nature and physical nature might promote and sustain health? The project illuminates these questions by examining the environmental, cultural, political, and scientific history of diabetes in the United States from the Gilded Age to the present day. In the process, this project argues for an expanded idea of what counts as the environment, an important contribution to address the diabetes epidemic.

Project fields:
History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine; History, Other; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018


FZ-250436-16

Paul Berman
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

American Exceptionalism and the Cult of Hawthorne

A history of the concept of American exceptionalism, including its origins in the 19th-century New York magazine Democratic Review, its relationship with European Romanticism, and its surprising connections with such figures as John Hill Wheeler (ambassador to Nicaragua in the 1850s) and American novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne.

My project: to describe the origins of the grandiose version of American nationalism that is sometimes known as American exceptionalism -- the doctrine that attributes to America a destiny to lead the world from tyranny and oppression into the zone of democracy and prosperity. The doctrine, I will argue, began in New York magazines, 1830s-50s, with backward glances at Puritans and 1776, and was quite sophisticated (my big point). Comparisons to French and European writers will reveal a literary, philosophical and spiritual Romanticism, culminating in a cult of Hawthorne. The doctrine favored the 1848 revolutions. It was uncannily prophetic. And yet, for all its depth and self-critical impulses, it lent itself to atrocities in Latin America and pro-slavery fanaticism -- to be shown with a discussion of Nicaragua filibusters and Hannah Crafts' apposite slave narrative. In sum, American grandiose nationalism, in the beginning: a Hawthornean symbol, profound and ambiguous.

Project fields:
American Studies; Comparative Literature; Intellectual History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017


FZ-250439-17

Matthew Avery Sutton
Washington State University (Pullman, WA 99164-0001)

FDR's Army of Faith: Religion and Espionage in World War II

A book on religious activists and missionaries who served as US spies in China, Germany, Italy, and North Africa during World War II.  Sutton's work tells the stories of John Birch in China; Felix Morlion, a Belgian Catholic who spied for the OSS in the Vatican; William Eddy, a missionary's son who organized intelligence in Northern Africa; and Moe Berg, a Jewish professional baseball player sent behind the lines to interrupt work by German scientists. 

FDR drafted ten million people to serve in World War II. And he drafted God. Or at least some of God’s most valuable earthly agents. During the war the US government sent a small but influential group of missionaries and religious activists around the globe to work in covert operations and espionage. Their stories have remained hidden—until now. This analysis of religion and espionage is significant for the following reasons. (1) It illustrates how religious activists’ entwining of faith and patriotic duty made them some of the nation’s best spies, willing to sacrifice everything to execute their missions. (2) It highlights the little-known role that religion played in World War II. FDR pushed Americans to see global religious freedom as fundamental to American security for the first time. (3) It reveals how the government and the work of religious activists facilitated the rise of a new religious nationalism ostensibly grounded in the championing of global freedom of religion.

Project fields:
Cultural History; History of Religion; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2017 – 7/31/2018


FZ-250440-16

Julia Flynn Siler
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Daughters of Joy: America's Other Slaves and Their Fight for Freedom

Focusing on the relationship between a white social reformer and a Chinese immigrant forced into slavery as a young girl, the book chronicles human trafficking in San Francisco's Chinatown as well as the broader history of Chinese immigration and exclusion in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Daughters of Joy is a narrative history of a struggle against sexual slavery in turn-of-the-century San Francisco. Set in the underworld of San Francisco's Chinatown, this book will reveal the grim details and the evolution of this criminal practice. The story is told through a decades-long partnership between two women, Tien Wu, a Chinese woman who was sold into domestic servitude as a child, and Dolly Cameron, who came from a prominent Scottish family. This unlikely pair ran a rescue home in San Francisco called the Occidental Mission Home for Girls where they saved thousands of young Asian women from slavery, more than anyone else in late nineteenth and early twentieth century America. Based on extensive archival research, this book will explore a little-known aspect of the American experience and is intended for general readers. It will directly connect humanities scholarship, in the form of narrative history, to a contemporary issue: the modern fight against human trafficking.

Project fields:
American Studies; U.S. History; Women's History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2016 – 9/30/2017


FZ-250455-16

Lauren Rebecca Sklaroff
University of South Carolina, Columbia (Columbia, SC 29208-0001)

Wanting to Be Wanted: Sophie Tucker and the Creation of a Show Business Legend

The first full-length biography of singer, comedian, and entertainer Sophie Tucker (1887-1966), telling the story of her life, her fifty-year career in American show business, and the challenges she posed to conventional views of race, religion, and femininity.

This project is the first in-depth biography of performer Sophie Tucker. While she was a gutsy, racy, song-belting stage performer, her influence extended far beyond the sequins, wigs, and innuendos. She would have been proud to be a reference point for modern comediennes like Bette Midler and Joan Rivers--or to have her signature song, "Some of These Days," appear in the pilot for the hit show, Boardwalk Empire--but her cultural influence goes much deeper. Known among celebrities and audiences as a “Yiddishe Mama,” Tucker worked to create unity among various faiths in her appearances and charity work. Dedicated to social justice, she advocated for African Americans in the entertainment industry and cultivated friendships with leading black activists and performers over her five decade career.

Project fields:
Arts, General; Cultural History; Media Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250480-16

William Caleb McDaniel
Rice University (Houston, TX 77005-1827)

A Case of Reparations: The Odyssey of Henrietta Wood in Slavery and Freedom

The story of Henrietta Wood, an African American woman who won reparations in federal court from her former enslavers. Emancipated twice, her life covered a century of slavery, freedom, and strained race relations from her birth in Kentucky in 1818 to her death in Chicago in 1912.

A Case of Reparations is the first book to tell the story of Henrietta Wood, a black woman who sued one of her former enslavers in federal court in the 1870s and won. Born enslaved in Kentucky in 1818 but manumitted in Cincinnati in 1848, Wood was kidnapped and sold back into slavery in 1853. Wood was sold again in 1855 to a Mississippi planter, who took her to Texas in 1863 to prevent her emancipation during the Civil War. She returned to Ohio in 1869 and filed a $20,000 suit against her kidnapper, Zebulon Ward. A decade later, in the twilight of Reconstruction, a jury awarded Wood $2,500 in damages. By narrating the stories of Wood, Ward, and Wood's son, who became a lawyer in twentieth-century Chicago, this book uses an individual case to explore what emancipated black Americans won, and did not win, from the Civil War and Reconstruction. It also demonstrates both the promise and the limits of individual slave reparations as Americans continue to debate them in the present.

Project fields:
African American History; Asian American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250483-17

Candacy Ann Taylor
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Sites of Sanctuary: The Negro Motorist Green Book

A book about race in America focused on the Negro Motorist Green Book, a fascinating artifact of the Jim Crow era published by Harlem postal worker Victor Green between 1936 and 1966 and called the bible of African American automobile travel.

I am seeking support to fund the research and write a book based on the Negro Motorist Green Book. This was a travel guide that listed restaurants, hotels, barbershops, beauty parlors, taverns and service stations that were willing to serve black people during the Jim Crow era. It not only offered safety and convenience, it was a powerful tool for African Americans to persevere and literally move forward in the face of racism. The fact that we have Green Book buildings as physical evidence of racial discrimination is a rich opportunity to re-examine America’s troubled history of integration, black migration and the rise of the black leisure class. This book will enhance our understanding of American history, African American travel and African American business owners. This will be a ground-breaking book about race in America that will inspire and educate the masses about the struggle and triumph of literally and figuratively moving forward in America.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American History; African American Studies; Cultural Anthropology

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
4/1/2017 – 3/31/2018


FZ-250484-16

John Ghazvinian
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Children of the Revolution: Iran and America since 1600

A new history of American relations with Iran from the 17th-century to the present. Treating topics ranging from Persian influences on early American colonists to 19th-century American missionary work in Iran and the experiences of American soldiers in Iran during World War II, the book is based on unprecedented access to Iranian archival sources.

Children of the Revolution, to be published by Knopf in 2017, is the first book to tell the story of America's long and complicated relationship with Iran using both Iranian and American archival sources. From 2007-2009, during the course of three research trips to Tehran, I was able to secure access to the official archives of Iran's Foreign Ministry--access never before given to a scholar from outside Iran. The information obtained during those trips has been combined with other Iranian and US archival sources, such as newspapers, oral histories, memoirs, etc. The result, when completed, will be a definitive new history of US-Iran relations, covering such topics as early colonial American impressions of Persia, 19th-century missionaries, the influence of Persian themes on Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, early American oil exploration in Iran, the experience of US GIs in Iran in WWII, the 1953 coup, the 1979-81 hostage crisis, and recent disputes over Iran's nuclear program.

Project fields:
Diplomatic History; International Relations; Near and Middle Eastern History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250489-16

Saundra Amrhein
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Cuba's Chords of Change: The Journey of a Mother, Son, and Piano through a Nation's Transformation

A one-of-a-kind portrait of contemporary Cuba, this is the true story of an Afro-Cuban mother loyal to the Cuban Revolution of her youth and her piano prodigy son, whose career suffers with the revolution’s decline.

My book project will give readers a rare look inside the everyday lives of Cubans experiencing a societal and cultural change both gradual and dramatic. At the heart of the book is a compelling life story. Violeta Aldama is an Afro-Cuban fidelista, whose son is a child prodigy on the piano in a country brimming with world-class musical talent. The book tracks Violeta’s desperate efforts to help her son into a music career as the social landscape transforms and this old believer faces her own crisis of faith in the system. Through Violeta’s story, the book focuses on Afro-Cuban families struggling to find their place, meaning and survival in Cuba’s new divide between the “haves” and “have-nots.” The project explores larger questions in the humanities about the breakdown of civic trust in a national crisis, the remaking of social, racial and personal identity, and the ways music acts as an expression and engine of social change, and also as a platform upon which people build new lives.

Project fields:
Ethnic Studies; Ethnomusicology; Latin American History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250499-16

Erik Gellman
Roosevelt University (Chicago, IL 60605-1394)

Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay

Combining analysis of the northern civil rights movement with hundreds of unpublished images by documentary photographer Art Shay, the book makes visible the complex history of black migration, urban crisis, and political activism in postwar Chicago.

Troublemakers: Chicago Freedom Struggles through the Lens of Art Shay fuses photography and historical narrative to explain how, a half-century ago, racial and economic inequalities gave rise to a pitched struggle to define the terms of democracy in the modern American city. Troublemakers will feature 190 never-before-published images of a complex and dynamic metropolis captured by one of America’s most accomplished photographers. These photographs will accompany a series of essays grounded in archival and secondary research that complicates – and even upends – the morality tales and popular memory of freedom struggles during the three decades following the Second World War. In print and online, Troublemakers will provide a synthetic textual and visual narrative of American urban history and protest politics that speaks to the dramatic efforts, past and present, to end the urban crisis for the common good.

Project fields:
Arts, Other; U.S. History; Urban History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$37,800 (approved)
$37,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 5/31/2017


FZ-250519-16

Leah Price
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

People of the Book: How Understanding the Printed Past Can Shape Our Digital Future

Drawing on historical materials as well as interviews in places ranging from libraries and homeless shelters to hospitals, this book explores  the past and future of reading in the United States. How and why have Americans developed the range of beliefs they hold about the power of books?

Do books have a future? Does reading? This book asks what Americans who worry about those two questions -- and who wonder about the relation between them -- can learn from the history of competing and often conflicting uses to which print has been put. It asks more specifically why, after centuries of expert warnings that reading is hazardous to health and morals, around the turn of the millennium many of those same Americans began to believe that reading (especially in print, of literature) would improve their civic, emotional and even medical well-being. What's lost and gained in our newfound faith that engaging with books will save a self or a society? To answer those questions, I draw on archival research in book history, bibliography and literary criticism as well as on interviews with present-day readers in a range of settings (from libraries to homeless shelters, prisons and hospitals).

Project fields:
Literature, General; Media Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
3/1/2017 – 2/28/2018


FZ-250529-16

Jack N. Rakove
Stanford University (Stanford, CA 94305-2004)

The Ticklish Experiment: A Political History of the Constitution

A history of  the Constitution and its connections to  American politics and governance from 1789 to the present. The book focuses on three main themes: changing relations between the presidency and Congress, the influence of economic and social interest groups, and the rise of rights-based claims in the courts.

The purpose of this project is to write an interpretive history of the U.S. Constitution, from its initial implementation in 1789 to the current state of the polity. This interpretation would emphasize the political dimensions of the American constitutional system, rather than the development of its many doctrines of constitutional law. It would pursue three main themes: (1) the relation between the political branches of the executive and Congress, and the working of the different "systems" of political parties; (2) the ways in which clusters of interests in society have sought to mobilize both national and state governments for their own purposes; and (3) the rights-based claims made by different individuals and interests that have often sought to mobilize the workings of the judiciary for their own ends. Each of these themes would be examined within a set of chronologically-determined segments of roughly five to six decades each: 1789-1850, 1850-1901, 1901-1965, and 1965-2016.

Project fields:
American Government; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250531-17

Susan Margaret Schulten
University of Denver (Denver, CO 80208-0001)

A History of America through 100 Maps

Using one hundred maps—some well-known, some never before seen—the book illuminates American history  from 1492 to the present, explaining how the maps were made, why they mattered, and how they help us understand the past.

Over the course of five centuries, maps have permeated every aspect of American life. Whether made to navigate terrain, to promote an idea, to win a war, or to investigate a problem, maps record an effort to make sense of the world. They invest information with meaning by translating it into visual form, and in the process reflect decisions about how the world ought to be seen. Above all, maps remind us that the past is not just a chronological story, but also a spatial one. For all these reasons maps are invaluable historical sources. This book frames American history through one hundred maps, taken from all walks of life and all reaches of the continent. It illuminates large themes of history but also recovers little-known stories of the past. By asking how these maps were made—and why they mattered—this project unearths the spatial dimension of American history in an imaginative and visually engaging way.

Project fields:
Geography; History, Other; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018


FZ-250584-17

Adam Goodheart
Washington College (Chestertown, MD 21620-1197)

1865: The Rebirth of a Nation

A history of the Civil War’s end that begins where others stop. The Confederacy surrenders and Lincoln dies on the very first page; the rest of 1865 draws on largely overlooked episodes of that year to bring to life emerging conflicts over what kind of America the victors and the vanquished would build amid the rubble.

A narrative history of the year in which the Civil War ended and a new conflict immediately began: the struggle over the war’s impact, legacy, and meaning. Many histories of the Civil War’s end exist, but this one begins where nearly all the others stop. The Confederacy surrenders and Lincoln dies on the very first page; the rest of “1865” tells the story of what followed. What kind of nation would the victors and the vanquished build amid the rubble? Would it be a reconstructed version of the one shattered in 1861, or rather – for better or worse – a new version of the American experiment? As with most civil wars, victory and defeat seemed intertwined. The ensuing struggle over redefinition engaged nearly all Americans: Northerners and Southerners; men and women; radicals and conservatives; tycoons and immigrants; African Americans, whites, and Natives. “1865,” which uses collage-like techniques to evoke the past, is a pendant to my 2011 book “1861: The Civil War Awakening.”

Project fields:
U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$43,050 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2017 – 12/31/2017


FZ-250602-16

Patrick Arden
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Stealing Home: A Tale of Two Yankee Stadiums

A narrative history of New York City as reflected in the old and new Yankee Stadiums. The book traces changes in public finance, ethnic politics, and the business of baseball.

"Stealing Home" (Macmillan) is a narrative history of New York City as reflected in the lives of the old and new Yankee Stadiums. The buildings' stories capture the evolution of New York over the last century as well as the changing business of baseball, public finance, and ethnic politics. The book unfolds as three narrative strands--the stories of the South Bronx, the Yankees, and City Hall--are braided into a saga of modern New York. The last half of the book focuses on the ways the preceding history shaped the city in the decade after 9/11, as it chronicles how the world's most expensive stadium project--built with the largest government subsidy ever for a sports arena--took public parkland from the nation's poorest Congressional district.

Project fields:
American Government; American Studies; Urban History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-250607-17

Darren Dochuk
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)

Anointed With Oil: God and Black Gold in America's Century

A history of the connections between religion and the petroleum industry in the U.S., from the “King of Crude” Patillo Higgins in the 1890s to the Rockefeller and Pew families in the energy crisis of the 1970s to the current era of globalization.

This project examines the subtle but critical relationship between petroleum and religion in the twentieth century, with focus on the United States, its oil-patch regions, and their change over time, but also on the expansion of American oil-patch interests and influences abroad. Blending cultural, political, and economic history, it details and assesses how those living in oil-rich zones have always considered petroleum their special providence, a fragile gift bestowed by God to be used industriously for the advance of “His Kingdom.” Driven by sacred notions of production, stewardship, and dominion over the earth, they have long found a natural ally in the petroleum business, which has grafted these ideals onto an ideology of high-risk, high-reward wildcat entrepreneurialism. This marriage has spawned structures of power with sweeping impact, domestically and globally, and transformed American religion, politics, and culture in profound and lasting ways.

Project fields:
History of Religion; Political History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2017 – 6/30/2018


FZ-230646-15

Jonathan M. Hansen
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

Young Castro: The Making of a Cuban Revolutionary

A study of the childhood, education, and development of Cuban leader Fidel Castro against the backdrop of reforms in Cuba and unfolding U.S.-Cuba relations.

This project provides the first-ever rigorous historical examination of the childhood, education, and development of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. It taps human, archival, and cultural resources in Havana and elsewhere to recreate Castro's youth as he actually lived it rather than as an anachronistic projection of the man we know today. The historical record reveals a subject of surprising depth and complexity, an intellectual polymath as familiar with and sympathetic to the romantic and liberal traditions as to Marxism and Communism. The project advances NEH's mission of promoting collaboration and public engagement by reexamining Castro's life against the backdrop of reforms in Cuba and unfolding U.S.-Cuban relations. By recapturing the contingency and complexity of the early Cuban Revolution, the project suggests grounds for cooperation and reciprocity today. Though first and foremost a work of scholarship, I see Young Castro as a modest contribution to U.S.-Cuban diplomacy. [Edited by staff.]

Project fields:
Intellectual History; Latin American History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$46,200 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 8/31/2016


FZ-230902-15

Wendy Lesser
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

American Architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974): A Portrait in Light and Shadow

The writing of a biography of a 20th-century American architect known for his public buildings: government centers, museums, religious centers, educational research complexes, and memorial parks.

My project will be the first full-length biography of the architect Louis Kahn, and the only book about him to be aimed at a wide general audience. Architecture is a pertinent subject for all of us --we live amidst it, whether we wish to or not-- and if the twentieth century produced a "public" American architect, Louis Kahn was it. He did not design shopping centers or fancy hotels or expensive condominium towers or corporate skyscrapers. Instead, he focused on medical and educational research complexes, government centers, art museums, libraries, memorial parks, religious buildings,and other structures that would serve the public good. At the same time, the private side of his life was so complex, so obscure, and sometimes so unconventional that it has been largely unexplored in any of the works written about him. Yet even with these personal complications, Kahn remains an exemplary figure in architecture.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Architecture

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$42,000 (approved)
$42,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 7/31/2016


FZ-230912-15

Gregg Alan Hecimovich
Winthrop University (Rock Hill, SC 29733-7001)

The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts: The True Story of The Bondwoman's Narrative

A biography of the fugitive slave who authored a 19th-century American slave narrative discovered in 2001 and published in 2002 to great fanfare, becoming an instant bestseller.

In 2001, the celebrated scholar and historian, Henry Louis Gates Jr., purchased a manuscript at auction titled "The Bondwoman's Narrative by Hannah Crafts a Fugitive Slave Recently Escaped from North Carolina." Gates authenticated it, and then published it in 2002 to great fanfare. The work became an instant New York Times Bestseller. But while Gates confirmed that the author's probable master was John Hill Wheeler, he could not locate the mixed-race, fugitive slave who called herself "Hannah Crafts." My book identifies the first, black female novelist as Hannah Bond "Crafts" and tells the story of her life and the search for her identity. At once a detective story, a literary chase, and a cultural history, The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts discovers a Dickensian tale of love, friendship, betrayal, and interracial intrigue against the backdrop of America's slide into Civil War.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
African American History; American Literature; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016


FZ-230918-15

Eric Cline
George Washington University (Washington, DC 20052-0001)

Digging up Armageddon: The Story of Biblical Megiddo from Canaanites to Christians

A book-length study of the archaeology and history of ancient Megiddo in northern Israel, the site referred to as Armageddon in the Book of Revelation.

Few people today realize that Armageddon is a real place, but it certainly is. It is the ancient site of Megiddo in northern Israel, where the remains of 20 cities lie buried one on top of another within a 70-foot-tall mound. James Michener's book "The Source," published to worldwide acclaim in 1965, featured the fictitious site of Makor, which was a compilation of the archaeological sites of Megiddo and Hazor. "Digging up Armageddon" turns fiction into fact, for it is the real story of Megiddo, told in a way that has never been done before. Written as narrative non-fiction in an unprecedented contribution to the humanities by the current co-director of the Megiddo Expedition, "Digging up Armageddon" is a compelling reconstruction of Megiddo's archaeology and history down through the ages, including both the excavations and the excavators, set within the larger context of the development of western civilization from the Neolithic Revolution through the end of classical antiquity.

Project fields:
Ancient History; Archaeology

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$25,200 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
12/1/2015 – 5/31/2016


FZ-231033-15

John Coyne McManus
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO 65409-6502)

The U.S. Army in the Pacific/Asia Theater in World War II

A two-volume study of the military, political, and social dimensions of the American army's operations in the Pacific theater. 

The United States Army did the majority of the fighting and dying in the Pacific War. Nearly 40 percent of Army soldiers who served overseas during World War II fought in the Pacific. From the first moments of the Pearl Harbor attack through the bitter final days of the battle for Okinawa, the Army fought most of the bloody campaigns that decided the outcome of the war. The Pacific/Asia War, though overshadowed in the public mind by the war in Europe, was actually a harbinger for the American future. Every major American conflict thereafter has taken place in the Pacific-Asian rim, (including two recent wars in southwest Asia), heedless of the niceties of the Geneva convention, against enemies with profound cultural differences. I am writing a two volume series on the history of the Army in the Asia/Pacific theater. NAL/Penguin, the leading publisher of scholarly World War II books for a wide audience, will publish the series in 2018 and 2020.

Project fields:
Military History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$37,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
12/1/2015 – 8/31/2016


FZ-231042-15

Philip Lester Dray
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

The Age of Fair Chase: Making A Hunter's Paradise in America

A history of hunting as a sport in America, with its deep influence on culture and society since the 19th century.

My book is a social and cultural history of sport hunting, an American passion that was immediately popular when it was introduced to the public in the mid-19th century and which continues to affect our cultural and political landscape. Promoted as a means of reconnecting an increasingly urban America with nature, sports magazines invoked the elitism of the British hunt, the independence of the American frontiersman, and the stealth of the Native American. Even clerics sermonized on the sport’s behalf, as it was said to restore spiritual health and manliness. Gun-making, clothing, and tourism industries sprang up around the pastime. Hunting’s long history has deeply influenced our American experience, including begetting the conservation movement. However, due to the sport’s abandonment by elites, as well as our changing values regarding diet, animal ethics, the use of firearms, and what constitutes recreation, it has largely been neglected as a topic of historical inquiry in America

Project fields:
U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016


FZ-231049-15

Jason C. Sokol
University of New Hampshire, Manchester (Manchester, NH 03102-8994)

Shot Rings Out: How Martin Luther King, Jr.'s Death Was Lived

A book on the immediate and long-term effects of King's assassination on culture, race relations, and politics in America.

This is a book about the broader historical impact of Martin Luther King's death. It asks how individual Americans – and others across the globe – experienced King’s assassination, in the days, weeks, and months afterward. It shows how his death unleashed a host of different emotions: devastation and despair, pain and guilt, shock and apathy, bitterness and even satisfaction. I also probe the long-term ramifications of King's death, analyzing the ways it transformed race relations and politics in America. For all of the literature on King, the civil rights movement, and the 1960s, no scholar has explored the larger meaning of his death. As a social history of that seminal event, this book offers a fresh perspective on one of the most written-about figures in American life.

Project fields:
African American History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231313-15

Judith Dupre
SUNY Research Foundation, College at Purchase (Purchase, NY 10577-1402)

One World Trade Center: The Biography of the Building

A book and accompanying website on all aspects, including history, design, financing, and construction, of America's tallest building.

One World Trade Center: The Biography of the Building responds to the public’s great curiosity about how the new skyscraper that anchors the World Trade Center, unlike any in memory, was built. The book explores the super tower’s planning, aesthetic premise, and historical origins. It examines the tower’s groundbreaking safety measures, its structural and construction challenges, and the politics of commemoration and financing. Extensive first-person accounts of those responsible—from ironworkers to architects to financiers—reveal their motivations and struggles. Lavishly illustrated with photographs and plans, the book also includes explanatory diagrams, maps, and critical timelines. An interactive website complements and expands upon the publication, allowing the public to track the WTC’s progress and access in-depth interviews and film clips. Above all, this is a profoundly human story about the heroic efforts and dogged determination that raised the tallest building in the nation.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Architecture; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$37,800 (approved)
$37,800 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 6/30/2016


FZ-231325-15

David T. Courtwright
University of North Florida (Jacksonville, FL 32224-7699)

Multinational Industries: Pleasures, Vices, and Addictions

A history of the rise of abusive consumption and addiction in modern life and of the global economic systems that have enabled them.

I have contracted to write a trade book about the history of pleasure, vice, and addiction, a subject of general interest and large consequence. Humanists, especially historians, have published studies of particular pleasures, vices, and addictions. So have social scientists and neuroscientists seeking to understand the process of pathological learning. As yet no one has brought this work together to explain the development of a socially regressive global economic system through which multinational industries, often with the help of complicit governments and criminal organizations, have encouraged, manipulated, and multiplied the forms of abusive consumption and addiction. I call that system limbic capitalism. My book will trace limbic capitalism’s historical origins; identify who gained and who lost from its growth; and explain why modern states, despite a powerful international reform movement that arose more than a century ago, ultimately failed to check its influence.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Economic History; History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine; History, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2016 – 4/30/2017


FZ-231349-15

Edward Ball
Yale University (New Haven, CT 06510-1703)

Constant LeCorgne (1832-1886): Biography of a Klansman

A biography of a klansman (the author's great-great grandfather) in the American South during Reconstruction, exploring the roots of American racial violence and ideology.

I propose in a fellowship year to work on the biography of a klansman, tracing the life of a foot soldier in the race battles that occurred during Reconstruction in the American South. The vigilante in this project was an ordinary man, a French-speaking carpenter by the name of Constant LeCorgne, who was my great-great-grandfather. LeCorgne joined and fought with the White League, a militia in Louisiana equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan. A person long dead, his life thinly documented, LeCorgne was a person who despite a marginal place in memory once ranked as a hero to his white contemporaries. The biography will follow the evolution of this white guerilla soldier as a way to explore the roots of American racial violence and ideology. Segregation and white supremacy disfigured American life for 150 years—this project zeroes in on one man to investigate how, why, and by whom they were shaped.

Project fields:
African American History; U.S. History; U.S. Regional Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016


FZ-231375-15

Christina Abbott Thompson
Harvard University (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

The Wonder Story of the World: How the Islands of Polynesia Were Settled and How We Know

A book on the colonization of the Pacific, combining research from the fields of history, mythology, anthropology, and linguistics.

"The Wonder Story of the World" is a book about the settlement of Polynesia by the ancient voyagers of the Pacific. Combining research in several different fields—from history and mythology to anthropology and linguistics—it traces attempts to solve what was long known as "The Problem of Polynesian Origins." When Europeans first reached the Pacific, they were amazed to discover people on even the remotest islands. Over the course of the next several hundred years, various scenarios were envisioned: that the islanders were the remnants of a lost civilization, that they were Aryans, or American Indians, or descendants of ocean-going migrants from Taiwan. This book tells the story of these and other theories, of the evidence for them, and of the contexts in which they arose. It is a study in historical problem-solving which takes as its starting point one of the most extraordinary chapters in human history: the Polynesian colonization of the largest ocean in the world.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Area Studies; Cultural History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$46,200 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 8/31/2016


FZ-231396-15

Nicholas Andrew Basbanes
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Cross of Snow: The Love Story and Lasting Legacy of American Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

A biographical examination of the life, times, and celebrity of the poet and his role in shaping American cultural identity.

A multi-layered biographical and critical narrative written for the general reader examining the life, times, and unprecedented celebrity of the 19th-century American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and of his role in the shaping of a cultural identity that was truly American. A project ripe in the 21st century for a fresh consideration, the book will also profile at length the influence of Longfellow's ill-fated wife, Frances Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow, heretofore never more than a curiosity on the margins of his story. It will include, too, a portrait of 19th-century literary Boston and Cambridge, and offer a fresh evaluation of Longfellow’s place in the pantheon of American literature. The project will involve primary research at the Longfellow House in Cambridge, Mass., a repository of artifacts and archival materials numbering 800,000 items, as well as at other major collections, and use the principles of materiality to offer added insight and nuance to the major characters

Project fields:
Arts, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231436-15

Linda Przybyszewski
University of Notre Dame (Notre Dame, IN 46556-4635)

The Unexpected Origins of Modern Religious Liberty

A book chronicling the 1869 Cincinnati school board vote to end Bible reading in public schools, which sparked mass protest across the nation and a lawsuit that lasted over four years.

In the fall of 1869, the Cincinnati school board took a vote to end Bible reading in the public schools, sparking mass protests, angry newspaper editorials across the nation, and a lawsuit that dragged on for four years. The Bible War has attracted attention from legal scholars, but they misidentify it as the simple triumph of secularists over religious believers, and miss its dramatic potential as a struggle over the meaning of religious liberty. The story of the Bible War sweeps us back to a time when Protestants and Catholics often saw one another as enemies and schooling as their weapon. It reminds us that arguments over the meaning of religious liberty and the value of religious pluralism are not new; they developed early in a country peopled by immigrants and spiritual seekers. The legal brief which won the case for the board reveals how religious faith could be more than an obstacle to the development of religious liberty; it was often essential to its defense.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
History, General; Religion, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231439-15

M. Lynne Murphy
University of Sussex (Sussex BN2 3RA United Kingdom)

How America Saved the English Language: The Facts and Fictions of British and American English

A historical exploration of changes in the English language over 300 years, focusing on differences between American and British national dialects, why they differ, and how the differences are perceived.

This project supports M. Lynne Murphy in writing How America Saved the English Language. Since 2006, Murphy has used her linguistic expertise to engage the public in exploring American and British English through the blog Separated by a Common Language, social media, public talks and media work. While the tongue-in-cheek title serves to draw readers in, the book provides a rigorously researched and reader-friendly examination of why national dialects differ as they do, why they don’t differ more, how they are changing with and despite each other’s influence, and how these issues are often misrepresented due to a range of social-cognitive biases and mistaken beliefs. It incorporates a range of original archival, corpus, and analytical research as well as the synthesis of existing work on the history and status of English. It is aimed to help English users examine biases in treatment of the two dialects (in teaching, editing, media) and appreciate the richness of their language.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
American Studies; English; Linguistics

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231454-15

Michael Gorra
Smith College (Northampton, MA 01063-0001)

William Faulkner's Civil War

A book-length study of how the Civil War shaped Faulkner's fiction and also how Faulkner's fiction influenced understanding of the Civil War.

What can the work of William Faulkner tell us about the Civil War? And what can that war tell us about the most important American writer of the 20th century? These questions seem obvious, and yet no book-length work has put them at its center. This one will. It will use the Civil War to help us understand the whole body of the Mississippian's fiction, making his demanding work newly available for the general reader, and at the same time uses that fiction to help us understand the war itself, from Secession through Reconstruction and on to our own continual revision and rewriting of its history. But it is also about the civil war within Faulkner himself, his own struggle to come to terms with its meaning; which is to say, with slavery. His attempt—and ours. For what we think about the Civil War at any given moment can tell us what we think about ourselves as Americans, about the nature of our polity and the shape of our history.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017


FZ-231455-16

James Henry Rubin
SUNY Research Foundation, Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY 11794-0001)

Why Monet Matters, or Meanings Among the Lily Pads

The writing of a book placing the well-known art of a popular artist in literary, cultural, historical, and philosophical context to deepen understanding and appreciation of modern art in general.

Few painters are as famous as the great French Impressionist Claude Monet. He is a staple of the museum exhibition circuit, and few masters bring higher prices. His house and gardens in France, with their placid lily ponds, are among the most visited sites in Europe. Using this popularity to attract the widest audience, the book will offer ways of thinking beyond surfaces when looking at modern art. Monet’s Water Lilies appear above all to be a call to visual experience. Their scale and aesthetic presence suspend thoughts of the outside world and its conflicts. Yet when one realizes that these works were made in a period of social and political turmoil-regime changes, the Dreyfus Affair, and WW I—questions must arise about the context—personal, cultural, and historical—in which an artist creates such sumptuous fantasies of nature. By revealing those conditions, it is possible show how Monet’s work—a harbinger of American abstraction—appeals to something deep in modern consciousness.

Project fields:
Aesthetics; Art History and Criticism; Cultural History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231476-15

Andrew S. Curran
Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT 06459-3208)

French Enlightenment Philosopher and Critic Denis Diderot (1713-1784): The Art of Thinking Freely

The writing of a biography of 18th-century thinker Denis Diderot, a peer of Voltaire and Rousseau and leading contributor to the world's first comprehensive encyclopedia.

The French Enlightenment philosopher and critic Denis Diderot (1713-84) dreamt of natural selection before Darwin, the Oedipus complex before Freud, and genetic manipulation centuries before Dolly the Sheep was born. Overshadowed by Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau during his lifetime, Diderot was nonetheless his era’s most dynamic and versatile writer, engaging with and writing on virtually all of his century’s forbidden subjects, including the (non-biblical) origin of the human species, the sexual abuse endured by nuns, as well as the race science underpinning the extremely profitable slave trade. This profoundly intriguing scientific and literary career, and the life that was its backdrop, are the subject of a “public scholar" intellectual biography that I am proposing to the NEH for funding.

Project fields:
European History; French Literature; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$46,200 (approved)
$46,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 8/31/2016


FZ-231482-15

Kembrew McLeod
University of Iowa (Iowa City, IA 52242-1320)

The Pop Underground: Downtown New York’s Converging Arts Scenes in the 1960s and 1970s

A book-length study of the social networks that connected the art, writing, film, theater, fashion, and music movements in lower Manhattan during the 1960s and 70s.

The Pop Underground is the first book to provide a thorough account of the interlocking arts scenes that thrived in Lower Manhattan (i.e., “downtown”) during the 1960s and 1970s. Even though these art, writing, film, theater, fashion, and music movements have each been well-documented, this project breaks new ground with its holistic approach. Using interview and archival research methods, it maps the social networks that developed downtown, where artists used DIY (Do It Yourself) media in innovative ways. This contributed to the development of what media scholars refer to as “participatory culture”—which enables everyday people to make and distribute their own creations. The most recent example of this mode of media production is “Web 2.0,” but the origins of that DIY approach can be traced back to those downtown arts scenes. It was a unique period when offbeat artists, gonzo musicians, and other outsiders used indie media to remake popular culture in their own image.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Communications; Music History and Criticism

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2016 – 5/31/2017


FZ-231501-15

Malinda Maynor Lowery
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)

The Lumbee Indians: An American Struggle

A book-length exploration of the importance of Native peoples in American history, and in particular how the history of the largest Indian tribe east of the Mississippi spotlights the struggle to reconcile religious and cultural differences within our own borders and in engagements all over the globe.

"The Lumbee Indians, An American Struggle" explores the integral place of Native people, specifically the Lumbees, to the narratives of American history and how Native stories change the American past that we think we know. The Lumbees are the largest Native American tribe east of the Mississippi and the ninth largest in the nation. With Lumbees at the center of U.S. and Southern history, those narratives become even more dramatic, intense, and compelling. The Lumbee story is in many ways a microcosm of the Southern United States; its moments of crisis offer constant surprises even to those who are familiar with the region's ambiguous power dynamics. The manuscript is currently under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press.

Project fields:
American Studies; Native American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2015 – 8/31/2016


FZ-231520-15

Jennifer G. Tucker
Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT 06459-3208)

Caught on Camera: A History of Photographic Detection and Evasion

A book-length study of the development of photographic detection, surveillance, and evasion from the 19th century to the present.

"Caught on Camera" will chart the historical transformation of photographic detection, surveillance, and evasion from the 19th century to today. It spans photography's early uses in the capture of facial likenesses through the rise of today's sophisticated facial recognition systems. The book explores how the threats to individual privacy and identity posed by corporate and state surveillance techniques were confronted by earlier generations. From the mugshot to Big Brother, from the family album to the selfie, photography has served both as a source of empowerment and social control. Written in an accessible style for a general reader, the book will demonstrate how study of the past can shed new light on contemporary debates over a topic of public concern. It will contribute to the humanities by integrating modes of analysis that are often disparate, combining the history of science and technology with political history, legal studies, social and cultural history, and visual studies.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Cultural History; History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine; Law and Jurisprudence

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231557-15

Christopher Hager
Trinity College, Hartford (Hartford, CT 06106-3100)

I Remain Yours: Common Lives in Civil War Letters

The research and writing of a major study of Civil War letter writing, using working-class Americans' correspondence to craft a history of emotional life during the Civil War. 

My book, the first major study of Civil War letter-writing, uses working-class Americans’ correspondence to craft a history of emotional life during the war. By training a literature scholar’s eye on documents that historians have used principally to reconstruct events, I interpret soldiers’ inward experiences of being absent from home and their families’ experiences of separation, adaptation, and loss. In addition to deepening our understanding of war and military service, this book contributes to historical knowledge of written communication. Epistolary culture’s path from signet rings and sealing wax to text messages and Twitter runs through Civil War letters, and this book makes this pivotal moment accessible to a general audience. In addition to describing and analyzing these letters as a genre, the book's chapters gravitate around the written exchanges of a select cast of characters, creating a narrative of the war through ordinary Americans' private letters.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$33,600 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 8/31/2016


FZ-231559-15

Aaron Cohen
City Colleges of Chicago, Truman College (Chicago, IL 60640-6063)

Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and the Rise of Black Cultural Power

A book on how cultural changes in Chicago during the 1960s and 1970s shaped blues music recorded in the city, and how that music culture affected developments in education and battles over integration.

“Move On Up: Chicago Soul Music and the Rise of Black Cultural Power” (University of Chicago Press, 2017) will describe how Chicago’s social and cultural changes during the 1960s and 1970s reverberated through the rhythm & blues music that was recorded in the city. This book features original interviews with singers, instrumentalists, producers, arrangers, media personalities, politicians, ministers and community representatives. The project will emphasize how developments in education and battles over integration intersected with the music, as well as describing the ascendancy of African American musical entrepreneurs in this city. "Move On Up" will also be one of the few titles to focus on the culture of African American Chicago during the transitional period between the Civil Rights movement and the emergence of Mayor Harold Washington in 1983. My project will also how recently unearthed recordings have reshaped longstanding perceptions of local music making in this era.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Music History and Criticism

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231571-16

Mark Allan Clague
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1382)

O Say Can You Hear?: A Tuneful Cultural History of "The Star-Spangled Banner"

A cultural and musical history of the national anthem composed by Francis Scott Key.

The story of "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the story of the United States of America, yet many know little about the song and what is known is usually distorted by myth and misinformation. My book project—O Say Can You Hear? A Tuneful Cultural History of "The Star-Spangled Banner"—will share the forgotten musical history of Francis Scott Key's song and reveal how the song's story presents a surprising social history of the United States. It will be the first to reveal the full story of the anthem's music: how the version we think of as traditional today, grew over the song's first century. Similarly, Key's now famous lyric was just one of hundreds of American patriotic and protest songs written to this melody. Key's artistry thus offers all U.S. citizens the chance to examine what it means to be American. This book will inspire readers to answer Key's lyrical question for themselves—to show that like the song, America's democratic experiment is always in the process of becoming.

[Media coverage]

Project fields:
American Studies; Music History and Criticism; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2016 – 5/31/2017


FZ-231572-16

Thomas George Andrews
University of Colorado, Boulder (Boulder, CO 80302-7046)

Animals in the History of the United States

The research and writing of a book-length study of the human-animal relationship within the context of changes in broader American culture and life.

An Animals’ History of the United States, under contract with Harvard University Press, presents a path-breaking view of human-animal relationships in U.S. history. Using incisive research, accessible prose, and gripping storytelling, it asks the following questions: How have animals shaped our nation? Where did our contemporary ideas about animals come from? What can we learn about the origins and evolution of the seemingly contradictory practices through which we interact with the creatures we categorize as pets, livestock, wildlife, laboratory subjects, spectacles, and so forth? This project seeks to illuminate these questions by examining the past six centuries of human-animal relationships in what is now the U.S. The resulting work of public scholarship will offer an animals’-eye view of U. S. history since 1400. In the process, this project will make an important contribution to ongoing debates over how we think about and act toward non-human beings.

Project fields:
History, Other; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231582-15

Sarah Crawford Dry
Unaffiliated Independent Scholar

Water World: How the Sciences of Water Went Global

A book-length history of global knowledge about climate and water spanning more than a century and a half and based on a wide array of scientific disciplines, including meteorology, oceanography, atmospheric sciences, and glaciology.

Water World: How the Sciences of Water Went Global describes 150 years in the history of the sciences of water. Spanning meteorology, oceanography, atmospheric sciences and glaciology, the book tells the history of our global understanding of climate and water. Few specialist books on this important subject exist, fewer still for general readers. By spanning more than a century and a half and covering a wide array of scientific disciplines, Water World aims to give readers a firm understanding of how global knowledge about climate has been made in different scientific fields. Each chapter places a unique moment, individual and place in studies of water, ice and vapor in the wider social, political and cultural context of its time. Rich archival sources, including interviews with living participants, enable me to construct a gripping and well-paced narrative history of landmark moments in the generation of a global awareness of the earth’s climate.

Project fields:
History of Science

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016


FZ-231630-15

Noah Isenberg
New School (New York, NY 10011-8871)

Everybody Comes to Rick's: How "Casablanca" Taught Us to Love Movies

A book-length exploration of Casablanca's iconic status in American cinematic history.

"Everybody Comes to Rick’s" (under contract with W.W. Norton in the U.S.and Faber & Faber in the U.K.) is fueled by a profound desire to understand what makes a single film so unusually captivating, so enduring, and such a worldwide phenomenon--what makes it, in the eyes of Umberto Eco, not simply a stand-alone production, but somehow representative of all "movies." Through extensive research and reporting, conducting a vast array of interviews with film scholars and professionals, screenwriters and directors, relatives of the cast and crew, and also with the fans themselves, I wish to answer this question. Along the way, I seek to tell a lively, intense, and engaging story whose register of meaning far transcends the mere plot-lines of the film and taps into our continued fascination with motion pictures as a means of self-understanding. The project aims to broaden and complicate received wisdom concerning the film and to provide original insights for a new generation of viewers.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Film History and Criticism; History, Criticism, and Theory of the Arts; Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$42,000 (approved)
$42,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 7/31/2016


FZ-231633-15

Bette Talvacchia
University of Oklahoma, Norman (Norman, OK 73019-3003)

The Two Michelangelos

A comparative analysis of the major protagonists of Renaissance and Baroque art, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.

I propose to complete research for and write a book entitled The Two Michelangelos. The volume will offer targeted discussions, which can be thought of as case studies, exploring works by the major protagonists of Renaissance and Baroque art, Michelangelo Buonarroti and Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. My intent is first and foremost to give access to the meaning of the art itself, getting as close as possible to the original circumstances of the making and reception of the works. A particular focus will be on how each artist employed the human body as a conveyor of meaning. I will present the information conversationally, through a narrative that shares the approach of a good detective story, outlining questions and then looking for clues to solve mysteries. The individual cases explored will be carefully chosen so that they in turn become keys for unlocking larger historical problems, whose answers have enduring meaning for our own culture.

Project fields:
Art History and Criticism; Gender Studies; Renaissance Studies

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016


FZ-231645-15

Phillips Payson O'Brien
University of Glasgow (Glasgow G12 8QQ United Kingdom)

The Second Most Powerful Man in the World: Adm. William D. Leahy (1875-1959), Statecraft and the Shaping of the Modern World

A biography of the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the only person in U.S. history to hold the job of Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy, serving both Roosevelt and Truman from 1942 to 1949.

This project will result in a much-needed biographical and political study of the second most powerful man in American strategic decision-making between 1942 and 1949, Admiral William D. Leahy. He was the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the only person in US history to hold the job of Chief of staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy. Leahy’s unique place in the American decision making structure is worthy of a new detailed study. Leahy was the only individual to serve continuously during this remarkable seven year period, advising Presidents Roosevelt and Truman on the most sensitive and important international (and at times national) policy matters while serving as the single most important conduit of information between the White House, the armed services, the State Department and the intelligence agencies. He provides an excellent example of the difference between real and perceived power.

Project fields:
History, General

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2016 – 8/31/2017


FZ-231656-15

Timothy K. Beal
Case Western Reserve University (Cleveland, OH 44106-4901)

Revelation: A Biography

A cultural history of the New Testament book of Revelation, describing how the book was created and has been reinterpreted and reinvented over the years.

A cultural history of the New Testament book of Revelation and the apocalyptic imaginations it has fueled, telling the story of the many, often wildly contradictory lives of this strangely familiar, sometimes horrifying, sometimes inspiring biblical vision. It is the story of how Revelation keeps becoming something new, reinventing itself, taking on new forms of life in the hearts and minds and imaginations of those who become its hosts. The book will be published by Princeton University Press in the trade series, "Lives of Great Religious Books," which publishes books by leading authors and scholars for general audiences.

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Project fields:
Cultural History; Religion, General; Religion, Other

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$29,400 (approved)
$29,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 7/31/2016


FZ-231666-16

Carla Kaplan
Northeastern University (Boston, MA 02115-5000)

Queen of the Muckrakers: The Life and Times of Jessica Mitford (1917-1996)

A book-length study of a social activist whose writing and organizing activities challenged the conventions of her age.

This is the first major book to examine the life, writing, and influence of Jessica Mitford, a woman who walked away from British aristocracy to eventually revitalize muckraking: one of the oldest forms of American narrative advocacy. Mitford’s three distinct life phases as a peer’s daughter, a communist, and a successful writer were all defined by dogged efforts to shed the precepts of her class and learn to empathize and identify with society’s least empowered. At the center of American civil rights struggles in Oakland, she crossed America’s intransigent color line, anticipating the “New Abolitionist” critique of race and prisons by two decades. Beginning with her 1963 blockbuster The American Way of Death, (an exposé of the funeral industry’s exploitation of the poor), Mitford’s writing re-introduced, and radicalized, Gilded Age ideas of civic responsibility in ways which continue to impact contemporary debates over social inequality, whistle blowing, and the ethics of writing.

Project fields:
American Literature; American Studies; Cultural History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 6/30/2017


FZ-231704-15

Diane McWhorter
Unknown institution

Moon of Alabama: The Space Race and Civil Rights in Post-WWII Huntsville

The research and writing of a book contextualizing the moon landing within the convergence of three major 20th-century dramas—World War II, the Cold War, and the civil rights struggle—in the unlikely military-industrial complex of Huntsville, Alabama.

After World War II, the United States “procures” the Third Reich’s rocket expert, Wernher von Braun,with 115 other Germans responsible for Hitler’s V-2 (“Vengeance”) missile. In the U.S. they design the rocket that puts the first man on the Moon. This technological marvel, the U.S. vehicle of moral superiority over the Soviets, is achieved in the segregated backwater of Alabama, where the “master race” is pursuing a fateful agenda. While von Braun is refashioning the Nazi wonder weapon into a noble Cold War artifact, the African-American freedom movement has turned the Germans’ adopted state into the prime domestic battleground for human rights—and the Russians’ best propaganda gambit. Touching on practically every conceivable moral conundrum, this will be the first book to chronicle the Moon landing through the convergence of three major 20th-century dramas—World War II, the Cold War, the civil rights struggle—in the unlikely military-industrial complex of Huntsville, Alabama.

Project fields:
African American History; History of Science; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2016 – 7/31/2017


FZ-231708-15

Kevin Boyle
Northwestern University (Evanston, IL 60208-0001)

Bartolomeo Vanzetti (1891-1927) and the Culture of Early 20th-Century Anarchism

The research and writing of a study of anarchism in early 20th-century America, the nation's first age of terror.

The Splendid Dead is an intensely intimate history of political extremism in the early twentieth-century United States, centered on Bartolomeo Vanzetti, who as a young man joined an anarchist group public officials considered the most dangerous in the nation. It is not simply another Sacco-Vanzetti book. Rather, using the remarkable documentary record the celebrated case created, it explores on the most personal level what it meant to live and die for a movement that embraced terror as a path to social change. Through Vanzetti's story it will draw general readers into a movement many of them will find abhorrent,to help them see the complexity that runs through even the most troubling of political impulses. By so doing, it will enrich public discussion of the horrific violence that has done so much to shape and warp our world.

Project fields:
Political History; U.S. History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$25,200 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231734-16

Anne Boyd Rioux
University of New Orleans (New Orleans, LA 70148-0001)

Reading Little Women: The History of an American Classic

Research and writing of a comprehensive study of Little Women, including elements of memoir, literary criticism, historical context, and literary biography, in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the novel's publication.

To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the publication of Little Women, I am writing a "biography of the book"—a variety of literary nonfiction that combines elements of (biblio)memoir, literary criticism, historical context, and literary biography—in order to illuminate for a nonspecialist audience how the novel was written and why it endures. The time is ripe to reassess the novel’s significance, as it appears on the Common Core Standards reading list for grades 6-8, a new film is in the works from Sony Pictures, and we appear to be on the verge of the first viable women's candidacy for president by Hillary Clinton, one of the many women who has declared that Jo March was her greatest influence growing up. (Others include Ruth Bader Ginsberg, J. K. Rowling, and Patti Smith.) This book will examine the novel's significance as a feminist and an American literary classic, examining how much girls may still need it today and arguing that it should be read by men and women of all ages.

Project fields:
American Literature

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231736-15

Andrew K. Sandoval-Strausz
University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001)

Latino Landscapes: A Transnational History of Urban America since 1950

A book-length examination of how Latin American migrants and U.S.-born Latinos have created distinctive forms of city life on both sides of the Rio Grande.

At a time when immigration is at the top of the nation’s agenda, public understanding of the issue is often based upon misapprehensions about human migration and its effect on everyday life in the communities of the United States. I intend to write a widely accessible history of how Latin American migrants have settled in U.S. cities and transformed their adopted neighborhoods while at the same time rebuilding the small towns from which they came. In so doing, I hope to bring five years of scholarly research and writing into the public realm in a form that helps people understand the origins and implications of the growing interdependence of people in cities and towns across the Americas. I do so by exploring the history of the biggest immigrant barrios in two of the nation’s largest cities: Chicago’s Little Village community and Dallas’s Oak Cliff neighborhood.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
Immigration History; Latino History; Urban History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
10/1/2015 – 9/30/2016


FZ-231797-15

Lien-Hang T. Nguyen
University of Kentucky (Lexington, KY 40506-0001)

Tet 1968: The Battles that Changed the Vietnam War and the Global Cold War

The writing of a book chronicling the planning, unfolding, and global repercussions of the Tet Offensive, marking the event's fiftieth anniversary.

North Vietnam’s Tet Offensive of 1968 was the single most important event of the Vietnam War, yet nearly 50 years later, its history has not been fully told. This book will chronicle the political intrigue that pervaded the warring capitals on the eve of the offensive in 1967, the bloody battles fought in South Vietnam, the civil unrest in America in 1968, and the offensive’s global ramifications by early 1969. Its central purpose is to change our understanding of the Tet Offensive and its impact on the Vietnam War and the wider Cold War. Using recently declassified archival materials from Vietnam, the United States, and Europe, this book will argue that the Tet Offensive was a defeat for all sides in the Vietnam War. Far from hastening the end of American intervention, Tet 1968 served only to prolong the fighting in Vietnam and to complicate international relations during the Cold War for the remainder of the conflict.

Project fields:
History, General; Military History; Political History

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016


FZ-231800-15

Craig Harline
Brigham Young University, Provo (Provo, UT 84602)

Wild Boar: The Monk Martin Luther and the Start of the Reformation

Research and writing of a book on Luther from 1517 to 1522, the five years during which he transformed from an obscure monk to an outlaw celebrity, to be published in 2017 as part of the commemoration of the Reformation's 500th anniversary.

To help commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017, I would use the NEH Public Scholar grant to write a book about Martin Luther between 1517 and 1522--thus from the time that he emerged as an obscure monk until the time that as an outlaw celebrity he came out of hiding and started putting into practice the religious reforms he had been promoting for the past several years. Plenty has of course been written about Luther, who is one of the most famous figures in western history, but I wish especially to focus on Luther the flesh-and-blood monk, rather than the monumental figure who changed the shape of western society. The book, to be written during all of 2016, will be in the form of a narrative intended for general readers, and will be published by Oxford University Press in 2017.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
European History; History of Religion

Program:
Public Scholar Program

Division:
Research Programs

Total amounts:
$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2016 – 12/31/2016