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Funded Projects Query Form
87 matches

Grant programs:Public Scholars*
Date range: 2018-2021
Sort order: Award year, descending

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Samuel M. Lebovic
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA 22030-4444)

FZ-279701-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022

A History of the Espionage Act

Research and writing of a book on the history of the Espionage Act (1917-present).

This book will provide the first history of the Espionage Act over the course of its life, using the century-long evolution of this controversial law to explore the challenges that state secrecy poses to democratic life. Based on new research, it argues that the institutional and legal apparatus for securing national security secrets emerged in a piecemeal, improvised fashion over the course of many decades. In a narrative that unfolds through infamous espionage trials, paranoia about foreign infiltration, scandalous abuses by the national security state, and controversial leaks and whistleblowers, the book shows that history has bequeathed to us a broken secrecy regime, one that classifies too much information, with serious consequences for democratic accountability, public discourse, and the freedom of the press.

Lance Richardson
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-279952-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

A Biography of the American Writer and Naturalist Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)

A biography of American writer and naturalist Peter Matthiessen (1927–2014).

True Nature will be the first comprehensive biography of the American writer, naturalist, and Zen roshi, Peter Matthiessen. A member of what William Styron once called “the silent generation”—a cohort that also included Truman Capote and Norman Mailer—Matthiessen has not received the same critical attention as many of his peers despite the scope of his achievements. In an extraordinarily diverse career, he wrangled with many of the most critical issues of the last century, from environmental degradation to civil rights. Though a novelist at heart, he wrote one of the earliest works of the modern environmental movement and major examples of advocacy journalism concerning Cesar Chavez and Native Americans. He was also co-founder of The Paris Review while undercover for the CIA. True Nature documents his lifelong journey (his “pilgrimage”) to illustrate the evolution of a sensibility—a kind of ecological consciousness that combined science and spirituality, empiricism and intuition.

Robin Bernstein
President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

FZ-279968-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

The Trials of William Freeman (1824-1847): A Story of Murder, Race, and America's First Industrial Prison

A history of incarceration in Auburn, New York through the story of William Freeman, convicted of a quadruple murder in 1846.

My book is a narrative history, based in archival research and intended for general readers, of a quadruple murder that occurred in 1846 in New York State. I use this event to revise the stories we tell about the origins of prison for profit—and subsequently the roots of anti-Black racism. Well-known scholars argue that the American prison industry developed as a Southern effort to re-install slavery after the Civil War. In contrast, I show how the antebellum North originated for-profit convict labor (a fact that previous scholars acknowledge but have not communicated effectively to the public). This fact matters because the Northern mode of convict labor led to distinctive forms of racism: ones based in liberal reform, modern manufacturing, and even abolitionism. By narrating the life of one Black man, his family, and his city, my book restores the antebellum North to the stories we tell about profit-driven incarceration and racism—thus changing what we know about each.

Audrey Truschke
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, Newark (Newark, NJ 07104-3010)

FZ-280011-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2022 – 8/31/2023

Indian Pasts (A History of India)

Research and writing of a book on the history of South Asia from 2600 BCE to the early 2020s, highlighting India's dynamic religious and cultural changes.

I propose to write a single volume history of India that spans 4,600 years of known human history on the subcontinent. The book will proceed roughly chronologically, covering some of the major social, political, religious, intellectual, and cultural developments in ancient, early modern, colonial, and independent South Asia. Several threads will tie the book together, including religious and political innovations, ecological change, an astonishing diversity of peoples and experiences, and connections between South Asia and other parts of the world. My goal is to change how people view India. I want them to see, not an inert place that stands out of time, but rather a dynamic, vibrant part of the history of human advancement, achievement, and change.

David M. Lubin
Wake Forest University (Winston-Salem, NC 27109-6000)

FZ-280013-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022

Ready for My Closeup: A Biography of "Sunset Boulevard"

Research and writing of a book on the background, making, and legacy of the movie Sunset Boulevard (1950).

Influential films, like influential people, deserve their own biographies, and few films have been as influential as Sunset Boulevard (1950). Charting the movie's origins, making, and legacy, this will be the first book to examine in depth the cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance of a remarkable motion picture about human vanity and fear of aging. Director Billy Wilder, an Austrian-Jewish émigré to Hollywood, brought his cynical, Old World sensibility to the project, but its greatness can’t be laid exclusively at his feet, for his artistic collaborators were also at the peak of their creative powers. Relying on letters, diaries, published and unpublished papers, interviews with surviving family members, and extensive viewing of the films these Hollywood professionals made both before and after Sunset Boulevard, this book will show how a dark and bitter self-examination of the American film industry became one of that industry's crowning achievements.

Henry D. Fetter
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-280015-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

The Nomination of Louis D. Brandeis to the Supreme Court in 1916: The First " Modern" Confirmation Battle

Research and writing of a book on the 1916 nomination of Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) to the United States Supreme Court.

My subject is the nomination (by President Woodrow Wilson) and confirmation in 1916 – after a four month long battle against some of the most powerful forces in American politics, business and law – of Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941), the celebrated “People’s Attorney” and first Jewish Justice, to the Supreme Court. This is not only a dramatic story worth telling in its own right but, with hindsight, we can see that it was the first “modern’ Supreme Court confirmation battle, featuring protracted Senate hearings, a concerted attack on Brandeis’s character and ethics, and a heated public debate about the nominee’s political beliefs and fitness for a Court seat, with much of the opposition, Brandeis believed, due to antisemitism. Nominations to the Supreme Court have recently been, and will surely remain, a source of partisan controversy. My book can provide timely perspective on recent and future confirmation battles, as well as on the changing role of the Court over the past century.

Karl Jacoby
Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York (New York, NY 10027-7922)

FZ-280020-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$45,000 (approved)
$45,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 5/31/2022

The War with Mexico and the Birth of the U.S.-Mexico Border, 1846-1924

Research and writing of a history of the Mexican-American War and its aftermath, 1846-1924.

My project reassesses the War with Mexico, with particular attention to the conflict's legacies for Indigenous peoples, ethnic Mexicans, and the creation of the U.S.-Mexico border. It is designed to be published in 2023, to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Miriam Udel
Emory University (Atlanta, GA 30322-1018)

FZ-280031-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Children's Literature and Modern Jewish Culture

Writing a book examining Jewish identity as constructed in Yiddish-language children’s literature. 

“Umbrella Sky: Children’s Literature and Modern Jewish Worldmaking” takes the aesthetically rich and historically indispensable corpus of nearly a thousand extant Yiddish children's books as a novel vantage point from which to observe key movements—political and geospatial—of Eastern European Jewry during the tumultuous early decades of the twentieth century. I extend theoretical reframings of childhood into the Yiddish-speaking sphere, foregrounding the role of children’s literature in the intertwined cultural renaissance and quest for social justice that animated secularist, interwar Jewish life. This project integrates a range of concerns, including a changing understanding of gender norms, child psychology, class consciousness and struggle, and the pursuit of racial justice. Focusing on broadly resonant motifs, themes, and nodes, this accessible book probes how writers and cultural leaders negotiated the tensions between traditional and emerging forms of Jewish identity.

Carolyn Eileen Eastman
Virginia Commonwealth University (Richmond, VA 23284-9005)

FZ-280044-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2022 – 6/30/2023

A Plague in New York City: How the City Confronted--and Survived--the Yellow Fever Epidemic in the Founding Era

Research and writing of a book on the yellow fever epidemics of 1795 and 1798 in New York City, emphasizing the experience of doctors and other caregivers, including African Americans. 

This book scrutinizes the yellow fever epidemics that devastated New York during 1795 and 1798 by placing at its center the frontline medical and care workers who sought to help the sick. Building my research outward from the extraordinary diary of a young doctor who worked at Bellevue Hospital during both epidemics, I have reconstructed the lives of Black nurses both at Bellevue and in private practice, doctors and other medical workers who flooded in to the city from neighboring regions to help, and how all of these individuals rebuilt their lives and the city after each epidemic passed. Above all, I seek to make sense of this disease by focusing on the people who experienced it, particularly by tracing how it altered a political, urban, and medical environment, and how it changed a city and a generation.

Cassandra Alexis Good
Marymount University (Arlington, VA 22207-4299)

FZ-280052-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 6/30/2022

First Family: George Washington’s Heirs and the Making of America

Research and writing of a history of the heirs of George and Martha Washington between the American Revolution and the Civil War.

George Washington was more than the nation’s father; he was a surrogate father for Martha’s four grandchildren via her first marriage. The Custis grandchildren led remarkable lives that paralleled America’s story in its first century: military triumph and tragedy; democracy and old aristocratic ties; visions of liberty alongside the horrors of slavery. With lives stretching from the American Revolution to the eve of the Civil War, the Custises were celebrated figures that used George Washington’s legacy to weigh in on the nation’s political struggles. They deployed their ties to Washington as a source of power, both socially and politically. The Custises also put in conscious efforts to shape themselves as George Washington’s heirs, despite their lack of blood ties to him, revealing the ways family was constructed rather than natural. Their remarkable story offers new perspectives on the meaning of family and its role in American political life.

Julia Kohler Gaffield
Georgia State University (Atlanta, GA 30303-2538)

FZ-280056-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806) and the Haitian Revolution

Research and writing a history of Jean-Jacques Dessalines and the Haitian Revolution.

Jean-Jacques Dessalines was the abolitionist founding father of the most radical nation-state in the Age of Revolution. This biography neither venerates Dessalines nor condemns him. Instead, it offers a true account of his life and rule while emphasizing his global impact. Dessalines’s country prioritized freedom, equal citizenship, and Blackness—this directly exposed the fallacies of Enlightenment universalism and positioned race explicitly at the center of the world hierarchy that emerged in the nineteenth century and that remains relevant today. The man who proclaimed the Haitian Declaration of Independence does not currently fit comfortably in the popular US conception of a founding father. This book challenges that assumption by reevaluating the criteria by which a person qualifies as a “founding father” and I situate him amongst his contemporaries in the hemisphere to reveal his pragmatic strategy and his profound vision.

Seth Moglen
Lehigh University (Bethlehem, PA 18015-3027)

FZ-280069-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Bethlehem: American Utopia, American Tragedy

Research and writing of a book on Bethlehem, Pennsylvania since its founding in 1741 to the present.

My book explores the enduring contradiction between egalitarianism and domination in American life through a poetic, accessible and carefully researched exploration of one city: Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. The book traces the 280-year arc of the city’s history, revisiting iconic episodes and motifs in U.S. history and in the American popular imagination: the spiritual city on a hill built into the wilderness; the immigrant industrial metropolis, engine of American global power; the postindustrial crisis and its possible redemption by the glamor of casino capitalism. I demonstrate that aspirations for equality have been more vibrant, more varied in their origins, and more successfully implemented than most readers may imagine. At the same time, I trace the evolving structures of racial and gender hierarchy and economic exploitation that have constrained those aspirations. This book seeks to reinvigorate discussion about what equality has meant – and might yet mean – in the United States.

Rebecca Louise Davis
University of Delaware (Newark, DE 19716-0099)

FZ-280071-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022

Sex in America: A History

Research and writing a narrative history on the social meanings attached to sexual behaviors in the U.S. from the colonial period to the present.   

If most people have some knowledge of sex, very few know its history. Sex in America will be the first single-volume history of sex in America published in over thirty years, a narrative history of sexuality for general readers. Sex in America spans five centuries in the region that became the United States. It introduces readers to a sexual past that is both familiar and strange by illuminating how the meanings people gave to sexual desires and behaviors changed over time. This project emphasizes the desires and experiences of diverse people of color, the history of gender fluidity, and the importance of sexuality to nation building. The book’s capacious scope permits readers to identify connections across topics, such as queer desires, sexual violence, reproductive labor, and erotic enticement. This book provides a history of sex whose importance transcends isolated experiences or identities, one that reveals contexts and conflicts at the heart of the American past.

Maya Jasanoff
President and Fellows of Harvard College (Cambridge, MA 02138-3800)

FZ-280126-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Ancestors: Where Do We Come From and Why Do We Care?

Research and writing of a book on the social, cultural, and political meanings of ancestry in human history.

My project offers the first account of the social, cultural, and political meanings of ancestry in human history. Since antiquity, lineage has shaped power relations, material inheritance, legal rights, and that amorphous but meaningful thing we call “identity.” Ancestry itself, I argue, has an ancestry. Different ways of recording where we come from are layered onto one another. Genealogies capture the priorities of various kinship systems; laws codify privileges and exclusions based on lineage; and today’s sleek DNA kits deliver a record of ancestry anchored in biology, even as their results are interpreted in ways that rest on deep, if not always acknowledged, assumptions about status, race, ethnicity, and nationhood. Ranging from pre-history to the present, my book will describe how ancestry has operated in specific historical contexts, with the goal of explaining why, for whom, and in what ways lineage has been invested with power.

Rebecca L. Prime
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-280128-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Uptight!: Race, Revolution, and the Most Dangerous Film of 1968

Completion of a book on the background, making, legacy, and historical significance of Uptight! (1968), a landmark movie directed by Jules Dassin that reflected racial tensions in America during the 1960s.

My book project, Uptight!: Race, Revolution, and the Most Dangerous Film of 1968, combines biography with the history of mid-twentieth century America to tell a compelling and still palpably resonant story about the struggle to make Uptight! (dir. Jules Dassin, 1968), the first feature film to address the Black Power movement and whose troubled production serves as a microcosm for the racial and political tensions of the time. The story of Uptight! unfolds against the backdrop of 1968, a watershed year for the civil rights movement, the Hollywood film industry, and American democracy. Drawing on original archival research, the book has a dramatic narrative arc, fascinating but historically neglected key characters, and presents a clear through line from 1968 to contemporary struggles over race and representation in the film and media industries.

Sheila Curran Bernard
University at Albany (Albany, NY 12222-0100)

FZ-280132-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

"Bring Judgment Day": Reclaiming Lead Belly's Truths from Jim Crow's Lies

Research and writing of a book about blues performer Huddie Ledbetter (1889-1949), his interactions with music collectors John A. and Alan Lomax, and the racial and labor politics of the post-Reconstruction era.

A book intended for both trade and academic audiences, “Bring Judgment Day” challenges the accepted mythology surrounding legendary blues performer Huddie Ledbetter, aka Lead Belly (1889 -1949), much of it focused on his violent nature and criminal record. This narrative was shaped in the 1930s by white music collector John A. Lomax and his young son, Alan, and, as my research shows, masks a much deeper story. For the first time, "Bring Judgment Day" explores the Ledbetter legend in the context of post-Reconstruction southern racial and labor politics and a corrupt system of criminal justice and explores the ways in which the Lomaxes, aided by the northern press and emerging forms of mass media, built on prevailing stereotypes to market the performer in a way that falsified his past while obscuring the nation's own culpability.

Daniel Frick
Franklin and Marshall College (Lancaster, PA 17603-2827)

FZ-280152-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2022 – 12/31/2022

America's Contrarian Sage: Richard Nixon and the Invention of the Modern Post-Presidency

A history of President Richard Nixon’s post-presidency years (1974 to 1994).

Most observers view the period from Richard Nixon’s August 1974 resignation to his death in April 1994 as a mere postscript, of interest only for the question of whether the former president rehabilitated his legacy. America’s Contrarian Sage corrects this misperception. In fact, in the final two decades of his life, Richard Nixon invented the modern post-presidency. Having been forced to abandon his presidential designs for what he liked to call a “structure of [world] peace” solid enough to last for generations, Nixon dedicated himself to this unfinished work post-resignation. In the process, he fashioned a new, active public role for ex-presidents, a roadmap adapted with great success by those who followed him. Written not just for scholars, but for a general audience as well, America’s Contrarian Sage moves beyond the entrenched positions of Nixon critics and defenders to be the definitive history of Richard Nixon’s post-presidency.

Liesl Marie Olson
Newberry Library (Chicago, IL 60610-3380)

FZ-280168-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2022 – 8/31/2023

Eye to Eye: Friendship, Art, and Collaboration in Mid-Century America

Research and writing of a book about artistic collaboration between writers, dancers, artists, and art collectors in Chicago from the 1930s through the 1950s, including Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), Katherine Dunham (1909-2006), and Carlos Mérida (1891-1985).

"Eye to Eye" tells stories of artistic collaboration between writers Richard Wright and Gertrude Stein; dancer Ruth Page and sculptor Isamu Noguchi; curator Katharine Kuh and artist Carlos Mérida; and dancer Katherine Dunham and art collector Bernard Berenson. The idea behind the book is that the creation of new, often hybrid artistic forms requires a risk that is not just aesthetic but often very personal. By illuminating conversations, disagreements, impasses, and revisions, my aim is to tell the story of artistic process, the historical as well as intimate contingencies that shape the production of art, the physical and intellectual "work behind the work." The book focuses on the early 1930s through the 1950s, before the transformations of the women’s movement or the major social changes of the 1960s. During the economic strains of the Great Depression, the repressions of McCarthyism, and the violence of Jim Crow, what kinds of relationships could be equalitarian, reciprocal, equal?

Rhaina Cohen
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-280194-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$45,000 (approved)
$45,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
12/1/2021 – 10/31/2022

More Than Friends: What Platonic Partnerships Reveal About Family, Care, and Intimacy

Research and writing of a book on the changing role of platonic relationships and non-traditional family structures in the modern world.

This book will uncover the stories of people who have made an unconventional choice: to center their lives around friendship instead of marriage. Though friendships like these were condoned for centuries, today they defy standard categories and hierarchies for relationships. Despite the intensity and prevalence of this type of relationship, it has no widely agreed-upon name, nor social or legal recognition. Through vivid stories of platonic partnerships past and present, the book will demonstrate that these overlooked relationships can help us fundamentally reframe and expand our concepts of intimacy, partnership, caregiving, and family. This is an especially relevant endeavor at a time when marriage and the nuclear family are losing their force as the organizing frameworks for Americans’ lives. These friendships bring to the surface unquestioned assumptions that most people have—and that are enshrined in the law—about what types of relationships matter most.

David Phillip Cline
San Diego State University (San Diego, CA 92182-0001)

FZ-280211-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2022 – 7/31/2023

The Last Great Trip to Nowhere: A True Story of the Brazilian Jungle and the Final Gasps of the Victorian Age of Exploration

Research and writing of a book on the Matto Grosso anthropological expedition to Brazil (1930-1931).

"The Last Great Trip" engagingly tells the previously unknown story of the 1930-31 Matto Grosso Expedition up the Paraguay River in Brazil. Following in the footsteps of Roosevelt, Fawcett, and other "explorers" of the region, a group of wealthy businessmen, odd-ball expatriates (including a Cossack captain and a Latvian jaguar hunter), inexperienced filmmakers, and bumbling academics attempt to film a "first contact" movie with the Bororo. Virtually everything goes wrong -- from the research canoe capsizing with a year's worth of specimens, to Portuguese-speaking "natives," to jaguars refusing to be caught, to a shipload of jungle animals that no zoo in America could afford during the Depression. Yet despite characters straight of a jungle pulp novel, the group manages to create the first ever film using sound synced in the field, and the story is ultimately a profound meditation on developing -- and conflicting -- ideas about otherness, indigeneity, colonialism, and modernity.

Rachel Lucille Swarns
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

FZ-280212-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 4/30/2022

The 272: The Story of the Enslaved Families who Fueled the Growth of Georgetown University and the Catholic Church

Writing an account of enslaved people sold by Maryland Jesuits in 1838 to support their college, now known as Georgetown University.

In 1838, the nation’s most prominent Jesuit priests sold 272 enslaved men, women and children in a desperate bid to raise money to ensure the survival of the only Catholic institution of higher learning of the time, the college we now know as Georgetown University. The priests were successful. The profits from the sale helped to save the college from financial ruin, allowing it to flourish and to develop into one of the nation’s elite universities. But that success came at a terrible cost. My book, which will be published by Random House in 2023, will tell the story of the people who were sold, and their descendants, and examine how slavery helped to fuel the growth of the university and the Catholic Church in the United States.

Laura J. Snyder
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-280219-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Biography of Writer and Neurologist Oliver Sacks (1933-2015)

Research and writing of a biography of neurologist and author Oliver Sacks (1933-2015).

I am writing the first biography of Oliver Sacks (1933-2015), “the poet laureate of contemporary medicine,” whose bestselling works showed that the humanities—especially literature and philosophy—play a crucial role in medicine. His view that there is healing value in understanding and giving voice to a patient’s illness narrative revitalized the “case study” tradition and transformed medical practice. He revealed how philosophical explorations into the nature of consciousness inform neuroscience. And by highlighting his patients’ creativity, unique talents, and incredible valor in the face of their many challenges, Sacks sparked a cultural revolution, the “neurodiversity movement.” Sacks spent most of his career communicating literary methods, philosophical ideas, and medical research to a broad audience. Drawing on exclusive access to his vast personal archive, my biography of Sacks (under contract with Knopf) will be a work of public scholarship about the making of a public scholar.

Catherine Venable Moore
West Virginia Mine Wars Museum (Matewan, WV 25678-0764)

FZ-280223-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Disunion: West Virginia Coal Miners and America's Other Civil War

Research and writing of a history of labor activism in a West Virginia coal mining region between 1902 and 1921.

"Disunion" is a work of deeply-researched narrative nonfiction exploring the West Virginia Mine Wars, a twenty-year period of violent conflict when unionizing coal miners fought wealthy industrialists for their constitutional rights and the right to join a union. Culminating in the Battle of Blair Mountain in 1921, this conflict was one of the most dramatic struggles for civil rights that this country has known, but it is also one of the nation’s most obscure. "Disunion" traces the events that led to the Battle of Blair Mountain and briefly discusses how that history echoes forward into the present day. Along the way, it emphasizes the experiences of men and women of color, immigrants, and non-immigrant white women, arguing that these populations frequently fought on the front lines of these struggles, though they’ve so far received scant attention from historians. "Disunion" is currently under contract with Random House.

Micki McElya
University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT 06269-9000)

FZ-280263-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2022 – 5/31/2023

No More Miss America! How Protesting the 1968 Pageant Changed a Nation

Writing a narrative history of the 1968 Miss America pageant, a turning point in the women's movement. 

No More Miss America! How Protesting the 1968 Pageant Changed a Nation is a character-driven work of narrative history examining beauty, feminism, race, women’s rights, and politics in the twentieth-century U.S. through the events of the 1968 Miss America Pageant. Famously protested by women’s liberation activists, Miss America was also challenged that year by the first-ever Miss Black America Pageant, held on the same day and just a few blocks away in Atlantic City. No More Miss America! spotlights people and events often relegated to the margins of political history and popular accounts of the period and demonstrates the transformative effect of putting diverse women’s voices at the center of inquiry. It is under contract with Avid Reader Press, an imprint of Simon & Schuster.

Beth Bailey
University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS 66045-7505)

FZ-280282-21
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

The U.S. Army and "The Problem of Race" during the Vietnam Era

Research and writing of a history of race relations in the U.S. Army during the 1960s and 1970s. 

Today, institutions throughout the United States face renewed calls for racial justice. “The U.S. Army and ‘the Problem of Race’” looks to a previous era of racial conflict, arguing that we need to understand not only the demands of those who fought for change, but also the ways that major institutions incorporated, rejected, or struggled with those demands. Here, I examine the army’s attempts to manage “race” during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, exploring the struggles that yielded military justice reform, limited acceptance of cultural symbols (Afros; the dap), race relations education, and affirmative action programs. I show that, despite systemic racism, individuals made a difference, and argue that the army’s “institutional logic”-- the collective force of the army’s culture, history, and tradition, its structure and organization, its avowed mission—determined, to a great extent, how those attempted solutions played out: what would most easily succeed; what would more likely fail.

Sara Bergen Franklin, PhD
New York University (New York, NY 10012-1019)

FZ-271119-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

The Taste Maker: The Life and Work of Judith Jones, the 20th-Century Editor Who Changed the Way America Cooked, Ate, and Read

Research and writing leading to a biography of American cookbook and literary editor Judith Jones (1924–2017).

Judith Jones (1924 – 2017) is best known for “rescuing” Anne Frank’s diary from the Doubleday slush pile in postwar Paris, and her “discovery” of Julia Child in the late 1950s. But little else is known about Jones, who spend more than 50 years as senior editor at Knopf. The first woman editor hired to the firm, she spent decades nurturing such luminaries as novelists Anne Tyler and John Updike, and poets including Sharon Olds. She is also the progenitor of modern American food culture and media, responsible for redefining and elevating the cookbook form. In my book, Taste Maker (under contract with Signal Press), I present a narrative biography—the first on Jones (based, in part, on extensive oral history interviews I conducted with Jones in 2013, as well as on exclusive access to her personal archive)—examining her extraordinary life, and in so doing, parsing the role of women in American publishing, the under-documented role of editors in literature, and the “quiet power of cookbooks.”

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

FZ-271344-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

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

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

Humility: A 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.

Martha A. Sandweiss
Princeton University (Princeton, NJ 08540-5228)

FZ-271363-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$50,000 (approved)
$50,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 5/31/2022

One 1868 Photograph and a Sprawling History of the American West

Research and writing of a book exploring the lives of the government officials and young Lakota child who appear in Alexander Gardner’s famous photo of the treaty signing at Ft. Laramie in 1868.

Focusing on a single photograph by Alexander Gardner, made during the peace treaty negotiations at Ft. Laramie in 1868, this book follows 8 figures into and out of the picture frame where, for a brief moment, their stories collide. The personal lives of a slave-holding Union general, an immigrant photographer, and a Lakota child, lead us to a newly complicated story about the U. S. West in the 19th century, as people across the continent faced similar challenges shaped by violence, slavery, and shifting ideas about American citizenship.

Matthew Delmont
Trustees of Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH 03755-1808)

FZ-271902-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$54,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

Half American: The Epic Story of African Americans Fighting World War II at Home and Abroad

Writing a history of the African American experience during the World War II era (1935-1948).

This book, under contract with Viking, aims to tell the definitive history of World War II from the African American perspective. For black Americans, the war was about not only America’s standing in the world but also about how much actual freedom would exist in the United States. Black troops were at Normandy, Iwo Jima, and the Battle of the Bulge. They fought bravely in combat, and they formed the backbone of the United States military’s supply effort, enabling the Allies to fight and win a global war. They did all of this while fighting in a segregated military. Black veterans returned from the war and kept fighting white supremacy at home, fueling the civil rights movement. This history is important because more than seventy years later the questions the war raised regarding race and democracy remain unanswered. This book tells this inspiring and troubling story of bravery and patriotism in the face of unfathomable racism.

Gary Krist
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-271916-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

The 1871 Murder Trial of Laura D. Fair and the End of Frontier-Era San Francisco

Research and writing leading to a book on the sensational murder trial of Laura D. Fair (1837-1919) and its impact on the city of San Francisco.   

The 1871 trial of Laura D. Fair for the murder of her longtime adulterous lover, A.P. Crittenden, was one of the most notorious and controversial court cases in American history. Centering on all-important social issues like the sanctity of the family, the significance of reputation, and the range of acceptable expressions of gender, the trial challenged long-held beliefs of an American populace still searching for moral consensus after the shattering divisiveness of civil war. And although the spectacle of the trial dominated front pages nationwide, its outcome was of critical importance to the city in which the drama played out—San Francisco, a still-adolescent metropolis in the 1870s, eager to shed its Gold Rush-era reputation as a raucous and untamed frontier town. My book will recount this story of surprisingly modern cultural conflicts and explore what it meant—both for a nation still scarred by war and for the rapidly growing city that hoped to take its rightful place in it.

Randall J. Fuller, PhD
University of Kansas, Lawrence (Lawrence, KS 66045-7505)

FZ-271922-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

Bright Circle: Five Remarkable Women in the Age of Transcendentalism

A group biography of five female members of the American transcendentalist movement: Mary Moody Emerson (1774-1863), Elizabeth Palmer Peabody (1804-94), Sophia Hawthorne (1809-71), Lidian Jackson Emerson (1802-92), and Margaret Fuller (1810-50).

This will be the first full-length group biography of women transcendentalists. Recounting the lives and intellectual work of five compelling personalities--Mary Moody Emerson, Elizabeth Palmer Peabody, Sophia Hawthorne, Lidian Jackson Emerson, and Margaret Fuller--"Bright Circle" will be written for a broad audience of American literature and history buffs as well as for those interested in women who played a vital role in shaping our national culture. By tracing the biography of each woman, the book shows their connections to one another and how each explored the possibilities of feminine intellectual life. Unpublished letters and journals are used to reveal how these five women contributed to the first important literary and philosophical movement in the nation and, in the process, inaugurated a distinctively American form of feminism.

Adam Plunkett
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-272046-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

Love and Need: A Biographical Essay on the Life and Work of American Poet Robert Frost (1874-1963)

Writing resulting in a critical biography of American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963).  

'Love and Need: A Biographical Essay on the Life and Work of Robert Frost' will be a book of biography and criticism, a story and an essay. My goal is at once to introduce Frost to readers unfamiliar with him and to contribute original ideas and research to our collective understanding of him. Specialist readers of the book will be able to note its divergences from prior biography and criticism, and readers approaching Frost for the first time will encounter a different poet and person from the one they would otherwise find. 'Love and Need' will be half biography and half criticism, with the revisionist biographical sections of the book setting the scene for a novel interpretation of Frost's achievement as a poet--one that shows it to be at once subtler and more accessible, more original and more indebted to tradition, more intimate and more revealing than scholars and critics have shown.

Michael Satlow
Brown University in Providence in the State of Rhode Island (Providence, RI 02912-9100)

FZ-272052-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

Seeking the Gods: The Spiritual Landscape of Late Antiquity

Writing a history of popular religious practice among Jews, Christians, and pagans in the eastern Mediterranean during Late Antiquity (c. 300-700 CE).

This book will bring to life the “spiritual landscape” of Late Antiquity shared by Jews, Christians, and "pagans" alike. While the elites of these emerging traditions were fighting about boundaries (and excoriating those who dared to cross them), most people in the eastern Mediterranean between the third and seventh centuries CE largely lived in the same conceptual world. This was a world, or landscape, with shared assumptions about the role that divine beings played in their lives and the practices and techniques that could be used to get these beings to help, even if these practices often had distinctive, superficial, markings of religious or ethnic identity. I will focus on the lived religion, the quotidian interactions between ordinary beings and supernatural agents, that was a pervasive and embedded part of everyone's life. Written in an accessible style, the argument is deeply relevant to our own modern attempt to see how religion can play an important and constructive role.

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

FZ-272055-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022

Kay Boyle's War: An American Witness to Europe’s Darkest Hours, 1933-1953

Writing of a biography of Kay Boyle (1902-1992), American intellectual and novelist.

The American writer Kay Boyle was one of the twentieth century’s most important observers of European fascism. Unfortunately, her life and work have been nearly lost to us. Her novels and short stories written for the New Yorker, Harper's, and others, two of which won the O. Henry Award for the best story of the year, take us beyond objective history and into the experiences of those who were its victims. Only two book-length studies of her life and work have been published, in 1986 and 1994. Both are out of print and neither had the benefit of important archives now available, nor the sense of urgency that demands a reevaluation of Boyle’s crusade against fascism. The book I plan to write for a general audience will tell the story of fascism’s impact on her life and recognize her considerable contributions to anti-fascist literature, international modernism, and conversations about the role of literature in social and political life.

Renata Nicole Keller
University of Nevada, Reno (Reno, NV 89557-0001)

FZ-272061-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2021 – 8/31/2022

Nuclear Reactions: The Cuban Missile Crisis and Cold War in Latin America

Writing of a history of the Cuban Missile Crisis from Latin American perspectives.

Nuclear Reactions is a hemispheric history of the Cuban Missile Crisis. It argues that this event was critical to shaping Latin American history and that, in turn, Latin America was critical to the global history of the crisis. Faced with the threat of nuclear war, Latin American politicians, military officers, and citizens seized active roles in the crisis, and their reactions had important results. Few histories of the missile crisis look beyond the United States, the Soviet Union, and Cuba, and no histories of Latin America analyze the wider impact of the crisis. This project draws on archival sources from across the Americas, the records of international organizations like the United Nations and the Organization of American States, and the cultural productions of diverse Latin Americans to determine the impact of the Cuban Missile Crisis on Latin America and uncover the ways that Latin American governments and individuals shaped the outcome of the crisis.

Michelle Tien King
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC 27599-1350)

FZ-272064-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$57,500 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

Chop Fry Watch Learn: How Taiwanese Chef Fu Pei-mei (1931-2004) Reinvented Chinese Cooking for a Television Generation

Research and writing for a cultural and social history of postwar Taiwan, told through the life of the cookbook author and television personality Fu Pei-mei (1931-2004).

Chop Fry Watch Learn is a cultural and social history of postwar Taiwan, told through the life and career of Fu Pei-mei (1931-2004), cookbook author and television personality, often called the “Julia Child of Chinese Cooking.” Fu authored dozens of cookbooks and appeared as an instructor on television for four decades, beginning in 1962. Women in her generation, which included both housewives and career women, turned to Fu because she taught them how to cook an astounding range of unfamiliar Chinese regional dishes on their television sets, in ways their own mothers and grandmothers never could. As her fame grew, Fu and her cookbooks traveled beyond the borders of Taiwan, teaching the rest of the world how to cook Chinese food. Fu’s story offers a way to examine a much more personal and intimate set of concerns about food, family, gender roles, and cultural identity. This is not a story of timeless tradition, but of modern transformation—of self and family, of cuisine and society.

Bruce Jay Weber
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-272068-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

American Novelist E.L. Doctorow (1931-2015): A Writing Life

Research and writing leading to a biography of American author E. L. Doctorow (1931-2015).

The first definitive biography of the celebrated American novelist E.L. Doctorow, author of "The Book of Daniel," "Ragtime," "Loon Lake," "World's Fair," "Billy Bathgate," "The March," "Homer & Langley" and a dozen other books.

Maria Hsiuya Loh
CUNY Research Foundation, Hunter College (New York, NY 10065-5024)

FZ-272105-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
8/1/2021 – 7/31/2022

Liquid Sky: Representations of the Early Modern Sky

Preparation of a book on the renderings and multiple meanings of the sky in European painting from the 14th to 16th centuries.

What did curious individuals see when they turned their eyes to the skies in a distant age before aeronautics and atmospheric physics, before the nine planets and their numerous moons were named, before the discovery of electricity and the invention of photography, and before heliocentrism and the spots on the moon were accepted as givens? How did early modern poets, theologians, and--above all--visual artists articulate their sense of wonder, hope, and anxiety before the ineffable spectacle of the celestial dome? Rather than focusing on the scientific sky of astronomers and physicists to come, Liquid Sky will explore the abstract, puzzling, and volatile sky--at once beautiful and devastating--in the period between Dante’s imagining of paradise and Galileo’s portrait of starry messengers. The project will consider the sky: as chaos and dialectic; as an extension of the artist’s palette; as a cause for wonder and for anxiety; as chromatic instability; and as a marker of time.

Samantha Barbas
SUNY Research Foundation, University at Buffalo (Amherst, NY 14228-2577)

FZ-272129-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 8/31/2021

New York Times v. Sullivan: The Landmark Case that Shaped Politics and the Press As We Know It

Writing a book presenting a comprehensive history of the Supreme Court case New York Times v. Sullivan (1964), which established the current legal standard of libel against public officials.

In 1964 the Supreme Court decided New York Times v. Sullivan, holding that public officials cannot recover for libel unless they show “reckless disregard of the truth.” This requirement makes it near-impossible to win a libel suit. As a result, American libel law is the most protective of speech and least protective of reputation in the world. Sullivan is considered one of the great constitutional law opinions and the cornerstone of modern First Amendment law. Despite this, there has been little in-depth writing on it. This work presents the first comprehensive history of Sullivan. It takes the unorthodox position that the decision was not a clear civil liberties triumph but the product of institutional missteps–by the Times, the press, and the Supreme Court – that led to mixed consequences in the long term. Through a history of the case and its consequences, the work invites readers to consider whether revisions to the law may be necessary to protect free speech and civility.

Avis Ann Berman
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-272133-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

A Biography of American Artist Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997)

Preparation of a biography of American painter Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997).

My project is the first biography of Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), one of the originators of Pop Art. Inspired by comic strips and advertisements, Lichtenstein’s punchy graphic style celebrated yet debunked the glorious dumbness of American things. He altered the course of modern art and how we see the world around us. No existing publication looks deeply into Lichtenstein's life and then consistently connects it with his work. An intelligently researched and elucidated biography, written in language accessible to the general reader, is needed to introduce new facts that will reveal the artist's early years of protracted struggle that lie below the myth of his supposedly facile fame. I will also portray Lichtenstein as a figure firmly in his time, experiencing situations common to other Americans by documenting his ancestors’ immigration and assimilation, his combat experience in World War II, his career as a teacher, and his role as a husband, father, and public man.

Brooke Lindy Blower
Boston University (Boston, MA 02215-1300)

FZ-272140-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022

American World Wars: Intimate Histories from the Crash of the Yankee Clipper

Completion of a book on the cultural, social, and political dimensions of World War II as seen through the lives of seven passengers aboard the Pan American Airways? Yankee Clipper when it crashed in 1943.

Combat GIs dominate studies of Americans abroad during World War II. But they constituted only a fraction of the millions of Americans stationed on six continents, in and out of uniform, during the global crisis. "American World Wars" tells a panoramic story of seven worldly noncombatants, their personal histories, their politics, and the paths that led them to all board the same Pan Am boat plane bound for Lisbon in February 1943. When the Yankee Clipper crashed in the Tagus River, it took five of their lives but left a paper trail that leads to a richer, deeper understanding of the cross-cutting political and ideological dimensions of Americans' war efforts.

Heghnar Watenpaugh, PhD
Regents of the University of California, Davis (Davis, CA 95618-6153)

FZ-272163-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022

City of 1001 Churches: Architecture, Destruction, and Preservation at a World Heritage Site

Research and writing of a book on Ani, a medieval Armenian ghost city and UNESCO World Heritage Site.

My book project tells the global history of a place: the medieval ghost city of Ani, a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the border between Armenia and Turkey. Its ruins, celebrated as masterpieces of world architecture, have long been endangered. Over the last 150 years, Ani has been excavated and preserved by imperial powers, looted and destroyed by a nation-state during genocide, and recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Ani’s past of violence and destruction as well as its present as a focus of global cultural heritage raise critical questions about human rights and culture, the cultural rights of persecuted groups, and contemporary global heritage. The book aims at weaving these questions into a readable narrative of the ghost city that features the captivating personalities of the creators of its astonishing architecture, archaeologists, pilgrims, vandals, cultural heritage professionals and activists, as well as poets and artists – all drawn to this crossroads of history.

Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-272181-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$45,000 (approved)
$45,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 5/31/2021

A Biography of American Fashion Designer Chester Weinberg (1930-1985)

Research and writing leading to a biography of American fashion designer Chester Weinberg (1930 – 1985).

This research constitutes the first scholarly study of the life and work of American fashion designer Chester Weinberg. A household name in the 1960s and 70s, Weinberg worked with seminal models, illustrators, photographers, and editors. He dressed socialites and celebrities in daring yet elegant clothes that remain collectible today. His radically minimalist homes and studios showcased his bold taste in contemporary art and interior design. Weinberg successfully overcame anti-Semitism and navigated changing social mores as well as changing hemlines, evolving from closeted homosexual to gay liberation activist. He embraced feminism, and he was among the first New York designers to employ African-American models. He established American sportswear as a serious rival to Parisian couture and trained many of today's leading designers. Personally and professionally, Weinberg embodied the evolution of Seventh Avenue. However, the stigma of his AIDS-related death has overshadowed his legacy.

Mary Lynne Murphy
University of Sussex (Brighton BN1 9QN England)

FZ-272198-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$30,000 (approved)
$30,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 5/31/2021

Small Words: What Words Such as "Be," "The," "Not," and "If" Reveal About Human Minds and Cultures

Completion of a book on the historical function and development of the English language's small words and what such words reveal about their speakers. 

Books about words often concentrate on the dialectal gems, the lost lexicons, the rare and peculiar species of the linguistic world. Our most common words are given scant attention, mumbled in speech and glossed over in reading. We notice the weighty nouns, verbs and adjectives, but miss the slippery mortar holding them together: 'be', 'the', 'not', 'if', 'and', ‘of’, ‘it’. But poke those small words, and each opens up a world of discovery into human minds and cultures. Take ‘the’, as just one example. How can it be the most frequent word in written English, when many of the world’s languages have no need of an equivalent? Why does it cause trouble for Bible translators? Why does it feel different when an American speaks of ‘the Mexicans’ rather than ‘Mexicans’? Why do English writers use it less each year? This book synthesizes research from across the humanities and social sciences, allowing the small words to tell stories about what it is to speak English and what it is to be human.

Rachel Kousser
RFCUNY - Brooklyn College (New York, NY 10016-4309)

FZ-272211-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2021 – 5/31/2022

The Last Years of Alexander the Great (330-323 BCE)

Research and writing of a book on the final years of Alexander the Great (356-323 BCE).

The Last Years of Alexander the Great (330-323 BCE) uses the story of the Macedonian king's neglected late career to convey a new, accessible narrative about the conquest of the Persian Empire as experienced by the conquered. It departs from previous biographies, more focused on Alexander's early successes and on the Greco-Roman literary sources, and examines instead his years of struggle in Afghanistan, Central Asia, Pakistan, and Iran, as he faced external rebellions and internal conspiracies in a brutal, unforgiving landscape. It also uses archaeological evidence—the concrete and vivid material traces of Alexander's journey—to complement and counter the elite ancient writers who give us only a classical perspective on his achievements, never a Persian one. In doing so, the book reframes the history of the first European empire in the Middle East.

Vincent Cannato, PhD
University of Massachusetts, Boston (Boston, MA 02125-3300)

FZ-272244-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

Powerhouse: Francis Cardinal Spellman (1889-1967) and America's Catholic Cold War

Research and writing leading to a biography of Archbishop Francis Cardinal Spellman (1889–1967) and his influence on religion, politics, and American life.

This book project is a political biography of Francis Cardinal Spellman, who served as New York's Catholic Archbishop from 1939 to 1967. Spellman was the most powerful American Catholic figure in the nation’s history and a leading international figure during World War Two and the Cold War. His life was filled with controversy and intrigue, and his influence was felt from Rome to Washington, Wall Street to Hollywood and across American military bases and wartime battlegrounds around the world.

David Pettegrew
Messiah College (Mechanicsburg, PA 17055-6706)

FZ-272289-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021

The Archaeology of the Early Christian World: History, Methods, Evidence

Research and writing for a book on the archaeological history of Early Christianity.

This project explains how archaeological approaches, practices, and evidence shape historical interpretations of the early Christian world. Scholars have often viewed archaeology as a tool for generating extraordinary discoveries to authenticate, challenge, or illustrate the histories and theologies of the early church. This work considers how the more common but less spectacular findings of archaeological field research, including ceramic assemblages, stratified deposits, and surface remains, are gradually changing our picture of the social and economic life of Christian communities of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East between the first and seventh centuries CE. In its emphasis on processes and practices, the book fills a gap in Anglophone scholarship for a critical explanation of the archaeology of this world religion and an accessible introduction to a subject often sensationalized in popular media.

Guy Placido Raffa
University of Texas, Austin (Austin, TX 78712-0100)

FZ-272292-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products][Media coverage]

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

Dante's American Afterlife

Research and writing of a book on the influence of Italian poet Dante Alighieri (d. 1321) on American culture. 

This is the first public-oriented book entirely committed to the story of Dante’s American afterlife. It shows the deep and broad impact of the poet’s most famous afterworld on American culture as we approach the 700th anniversary of his death (2021). The consummate crossover work, Dante’s Inferno has sparked creative minds across the cultural spectrum, from Longfellow’s Civil War writings and Harry Lachman’s depression-era Inferno film to Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men TV series and popular fiction by Sylvain Reynard and Dan Brown. The book’s four parts examine the history and meaning of these and other works through the lens of Dante’s main American roles: citizen, showman, lover, and judge. The book’s brightest threads are the dangerous allure and ethical teaching of the Inferno that, often entwined, encourage and characterize responses to the poem. I enliven the prose with insights drawn from archival research and my involvement with the video game that featured my Inferno commentary.

Gregory E. O'Malley, PhD
Regents of the University of California, Santa Cruz (Santa Cruz, CA 95064-1077)

FZ-272316-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
7/1/2021 – 6/30/2022

The Escapes of David George (1743-1810): An Odyssey of Slavery and Freedom in the Revolutionary Era

Research and writing of a biography of David George (1743-1810), who was born a slave and whose pursuit of freedom intersects with major events of the Revolutionary Era.

The Escapes of David George offers a biography of a man born enslaved in Virginia, who ran away repeatedly—to backcountry settlements, to Native American communities, and finally to the British Army during the Revolutionary War. As a refugee, he then moved to Nova Scotia and finally to the British colony of Sierra Leone for emancipated slaves. Since George’s life spanned the revolutionary era, his story offers a counterpoint to the many biographies of America’s white founders. Instead of typical narratives about political freedom from British monarchy, George’s life presents a parallel quest for freedom from American slavery. To achieve his own independence, George fled the U.S. at its creation. As the NEH looks toward the 250th anniversary of American independence, David George offers a vantage point on the lines of exclusion that limited liberty in the new nation, while also providing an inspiring story of an enslaved man’s quest for the ideal that “all men are created equal.”

Ian Denis Johnson
Unaffiliated independent scholar

FZ-272347-20
Public Scholars
Research Programs

[Grant products]

Totals:
$60,000 (approved)
$60,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2020 – 8/31/2021

Sparks: Writing China's Unofficial History

Research and writing leading to a book on how dissident writers, filmmakers, academics, and others in China work to document events suppressed in the official national history promoted by the Chinese Communist Party.

In China, few issues are as sensitive as history, which the Communist Party sees as the basis of its legitimacy--history, in its telling, chose it to lead China, resulting in today's rising superpower. But a group of persistent skeptics--professors, writers, and filmmakers--challenge this, much as groups like Memorial in the Soviet Union helped dig up the past and undermine one-party rule. In China, they document massacres, famines, and labor camps, using digital technologies to make documentary films, books, and samizdat magazines. Over the past decade, the Party has ushered in tight political control. And yet a core group inside China keeps at it, convinced it is their duty to document their country's history, and that one day—even if far off in the future--they will spark an awakening. Using carefully documented interviews and observations drawn from years of field work, I will use techniques of narrative non-fiction to show them evade police and censors to keep the past alive.