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Grant number like: FZ-271344-20

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Christopher M. Bellitto
Kean University (Union, NJ 07083-7133)

Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

$35,000 (approved)
$32,500 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

Humility: The Secret History of a Lost Virtue

Research and writing of a book on the idea of humility in world literature, religion, philosophy, mythology, and theater. 

My goal is to write an accessible history of humility to get a wide conversation going about how to recover a healthy sense of this virtue for our divided society. Research for this interdisciplinary project is complete due to two internal release-time grants at my institution. Primary and secondary texts included humility in ancient world literature; Jewish, Christian, and Muslim scriptures and sermons; eastern and western ethics and philosophy; mythology and theatre (Greeks through medieval morality plays); and Enlightenment and contemporary discussions on education in virtue and citizenship. I tracked how the virtue of humility came to be denigrated as the vice of humiliation. That misconception has often led to the dangers of hybris, arrogance, and narcissism, especially among decision makers in civic society, which dovetails with the NEH initiative, “A More Perfect Union.” Exploring the history of humility just might prove to be our path back to civility in public discourse.