National Humanities Center Names New Vice President for Scholarly Programs | National Humanities Center

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National Humanities Center Names New Vice President for Scholarly Programs

May 13, 2024

Portrait of Martha M. F. Kelly

The National Humanities Center (NHC) has announced the appointment of Martha M. F. Kelly (NHC Fellow, 2022–23) as vice president for scholarly programs, effective July 16, 2024.

Dr. Kelly comes to the Center from the University of Missouri where she has been a member of the faculty since 2008. She is currently associate professor of Russian, serves as the founding director of the Interdisciplinary Migration Studies Institute, and was selected as part of the initial cohort in the university’s Faculty Institute for Inclusive Teaching.

Dr. Kelly holds a BA with honors from Cambridge University where she studied Russian and French, and a PhD from Stanford University in Slavic Languages and Literatures. As a scholar, she has focused on modern and contemporary Russian literature. Her first monograph, Unorthodox Beauty: Russian Modernism and Its New Religious Aesthetic (Northwestern UP, 2016) explored the ways that poets like Boris Pasternak and Anna Akhmatova negotiated their relationship to modernity through a reimagined relationship to Russian Orthodox Christianity. She also served as coeditor, with Sibelan Forester, of Russian Silver Age Poetry: Text and Contexts (Academic Studies Press, 2015), an anthology of modernist poets that situates their poetry alongside other writings—manifestos, correspondence, public writings, memoirs, and literary criticism. Her recent research focuses on contemporary Russian poet, scholar, essayist, and translator Olga Sedakova, and on her role in Russian public life. In addition to a planned monograph, Kelly is translating a collection of Sedakova’s poems. Her translation of Sedakova’s classic collection, Old Songs (Slant Books, 2023) was recently selected as a finalist for the PEN America Award for Poetry in Translation. With an interest in public scholarship, Kelly has also published essays and translations in venues like Los Angeles Review of Books, Poetry Daily, Michigan Quarterly, and LitHub.

Robert D. Newman, president and director of the NHC, noted that Kelly’s experience as a scholar and administrator and her thoughtful enthusiasm for the Center’s mission distinguished her to the search committee. “Martha Kelly is a gifted scholar, and she has demonstrated the ability to work effectively across disciplines as an administrator,” he said. “Martha was a Fellow at the Center in 2022–23, so we’ve had the opportunity to see the way she connects with other scholars, both intellectually and empathetically. We are delighted to have her join us and to help continue the Center’s reputation for nurturing advanced research in the humanities.”

“I am excited to be returning to the Center in a new capacity,” said Kelly. “During my fellowship year, I experienced what a special place the National Humanities Center is for scholars and appreciated the care and attention the Center staff brings to its work. I look forward to joining them and to helping continue the Center’s vitally important work on behalf of humanities scholars and educators.”

About the National Humanities Center

The National Humanities Center is the world’s only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through its residential fellowship program, the Center provides scholars with the resources necessary to generate new knowledge and to further understanding of all forms of cultural expression, social interaction, and human thought. Through its education programs, the Center strengthens teaching on the collegiate and pre-collegiate levels. Through public engagement intimately linked to its scholarly and educational programs, the Center promotes understanding of the humanities and advocates for their foundational role in a democratic society.


Don Solomon
Director of Communications