National Humanities Center Announces 2020–21 Fellows | National Humanities Center

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National Humanities Center Announces 2020–21 Fellows

March 25, 2020

The National Humanities Center is pleased to announce the appointment of 32 Fellows for the academic year 2020–21. These leading scholars will come to the Center from universities and colleges in 15 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, as well as from Canada, China, and Uganda. Chosen from 673 applicants, they represent humanistic scholarship in African American studies; Asian studies; classics; comparative literature; East Asian languages and literature; English language and literature; environmental studies; film and media studies; history; history of art and architecture; Latin American studies; legal history; medieval studies; philosophy; postcolonial studies; rhetoric; and theater, dance, and performance studies. Each Fellow will work on an individual research project and will have the opportunity to share ideas in seminars, lectures, and conferences at the Center.

Apply for 2021–22

The Center will begin accepting applications for the 2021–22 academic year on July 1, 2020 with a deadline of October 8, 2020. Details about NHC fellowships, including application instructions, are available here.

These newly appointed Fellows will constitute the forty-third class of resident scholars to be admitted since the Center opened in 1978. Robert D. Newman, president and director of the National Humanities Center, said, “We look forward to welcoming these Fellows to the Center in September. They were selected from a truly exceptional group of applicants, and it is exciting to support the work they are doing that promises to advance our understanding of a wide array of important topics.”

The National Humanities Center will award over $1,300,000 in fellowship grants to enable scholars to take leave from their normal academic duties and pursue research at the Center. This funding is provided from the Center’s endowment and by grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Henry Luce Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as by contributions from alumni and friends of the Center.

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

NHC Fellows and Their Projects, 2020–21

Project disciplines and home institutions are parenthetically noted for each Fellow.

  • Marcus Anthony Allen (African American Studies, North Carolina A&T State University) Is Poverty Always Poverty?: Understanding Black Capitalism in 19th Century Baltimore (Mellon-HBCU Fellowship)
  • Melissa Bailes (English Language and Literature, Tulane University) Romantic Botany: Time, Empire, and Ineffability in British Literature, 1750-1830 (Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams, Jr. Fellowship)
  • Emily Baragwanath (Classics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Xenophon’s Women (Delta Delta Delta Fellowship; Frank H. Kenan Fellowship)
  • Brandi C. Brimmer (African American Studies, Spelman College) The Other Douglass: Frederick C. Douglass, A Black Freedom Fighter in the Post-Reconstruction South (Mellon-HBCU Fellowship)
  • Ryan E. Emanuel (Environmental Studies, North Carolina State University) Water in the Lumbee World: Environmental Justice, Indigenous Rights, and the Transformation of Home (Benjamin N. Duke Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation; Donnelley Family Fellowship)
  • Fernando Esquivel-Suárez (Latin American Studies, Spelman College) The Pablo Escobar Mixtape (Mellon-HBCU Fellowship)
  • Bryna Goodman (History, University of Oregon) Finance and Fortune: Economics, Calculation, and the Fate of the Chinese Republic (NEH Fellowship; Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship)
  • Alexis Pauline Gumbs (African American Studies, Independent Scholar) The Eternal Life of Audre Lorde: Biography as Ceremony (Founders’ Fellowship; Research Triangle Foundation Fellowship)
  • Rivi Handler-Spitz (Asian Studies, Macalester College) Contentious Conversations: Masters, Disciples, and the Culture of Yulu Literature in Late Ming China (Henry Luce Fellowship; Hurford Family Fellowship)
  • Jordynn Jack (Rhetoric, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Training the Brain: Rhetoric, Neuropolicy, and Education (Birkelund Fellowship)
  • Michael Johnston (Medieval Studies, Purdue University) The Reading Nation in the Age of Chaucer: English Books, 1350–1500 (Kent R. Mullikin Fellowship)
  • Tong King Lee (East Asian Languages and Literature, The University of Hong Kong) Creative Writing and the Semiotics of Crisis in Contemporary Hong Kong (Luce East Asia Fellowship)
  • Adriane Lentz-Smith (History, Duke University) The Slow Death of Sagon Penn: State Violence and the Twilight of Civil Rights (NEH Fellowship; Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship)
  • Janny HC Leung (Film and Media Studies, The University of Hong Kong) Language Crimes in the Digital Age (Luce East Asia Fellowship)
  • Keith D. Miller (African American Studies, Arizona State University) Who Wrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X? (John Hope Franklin Fellowship; William C. and Ida Friday Fellowship)
  • Gregg Mitman (Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin–Madison) Bloodborne: Invasion and the Politics of Disease (Trustees’ Fellowship)
  • Christopher Moore (Philosophy, The Pennsylvania State University) The Virtue of Agency: Sôphrosunê and Selfhood in Ancient Greece (Robert F. and Margaret S. Goheen Fellowship)
  • Georgia Mouroutsou (Philosophy, King’s University College at Western University Canada) Plato’s Twofold Dialectic of Pleasure: Critical Dialogue with Hedonists and Critical Analysis of Pleasure (Philip L. Quinn Fellowship)
  • Martin Munro (Postcolonial Studies, Florida State University) Listening to the Caribbean: Sounds of Slavery, Resistance, and Freedom (GlaxoSmithKline Fellowship; Walter Hines Page Fellowship of the Research Triangle Foundation)
  • Joan Neuberger (History, University of Texas at Austin) Global Eisenstein: Immersion in Nature, Art, and the World (Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Fellowship)
  • James Ocita (English Language and Literature, Makerere University, Uganda) Spaces, Subjectivities and Textualities: Towards a Postcolonial Spatial Theory (STIAS Iso Lomso Fellowship)
  • Helmut Puff (History, University of Michigan) The Time of the Antechamber: A History of Waiting (1500–1800) (Archie K. Davis Fellowship; John E. Sawyer Fellowship)
  • Mrinalini Rajagopalan (History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh) Marks She Made: The Art and Architecture of Begum Samru, 1803–1836 (Allen W. Clowes Fellowship)
  • Gabriel N. Rosenberg (History, Duke University) Purebred: Making Meat and Eugenics in the Modern United States (Duke Endowment Fellowship)
  • Crystal R. Sanders (History, The Pennsylvania State University) America’s Forgotten Migration: Black Southerners’ Quest for Graduate Education in the Age of Jim Crow (Anthony E. Kaye Fellowship)
  • Mitra Sharafi (Legal History, University of Wisconsin–Madison) Fear of the False: Forensic Science in Colonial India (ACLS Burkhardt Fellowship)
  • Eli Park Sorensen (Comparative Literature, The Chinese University of Hong Kong) The Genre of Korean Adoption Autobiographies (Luce East Asia Fellowship)
  • Lester Tomé (Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Smith College) The Avant-garde Imagination: Transatlantic Visions of Ballet (William J. Bouwsma Fellowship; Fellows’ Fellowship)
  • Aarthi Vadde (English Language and Literature, Duke University) We the Platform: Contemporary Literature after Web 2.0 (M. H. Abrams Fellowship)
  • Rachel Watson (English Language and Literature, Howard University) Material as Evidence: Crime and Identity in American Literature, 1894–1968 (Mellon-HBCU Fellowship)
  • Saundra Weddle (History of Art and Architecture, Drury University) Architecture, Mobility, Segregation: The Everyday Spatial Practices of Women in Early Modern Venice (John G. Medlin, Jr. Fellowship)
  • Molly Worthen (History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) Spellbound Nation: Charisma in American History (Delta Delta Delta Fellowship; NEH Fellowship)