From Richard Godbeer, Director of the Humanities Research Center:
Please join me in congratulating the recipients of the Humanities Research Center’s Residential Fellowships for Spring Semester 2016. Each year this program gives four faculty who are working on related issues or topics release from teaching responsibilities for one semester so that they can focus on their individual research projects and at the same time engage regularly with each other. Professors Claire Bourne, Carolyn Eastman, Katherine Nash, and Gregory Smithers will be working together on “Cultures in Transition: Orality, Performance, and Print.” I would also like to thank and congratulate the other applicants, whose projects testify eloquently to the quality and vitality of research in the humanities here at VCU.
Professors Bourne, Eastman, Nash, and Smithers are each working on individual projects that explore the significance of orality, performance, and print, and their dynamic relationship to each other, for societies in transition. Spanning a wide range of subjects, sites, and chronological eras—the early modern English theater and book trade, early American oratory, Native American environmental practices, and the British women’s rights movement—their projects overlap with one another in productive ways. All four are interested in crucial methodological issues, including how to illuminate the ephemeral practices at the heart of social, cultural, political, and aesthetic experience, as well as how to explain why these practices matter. They are all addressing the challenge of how to recapture that which is, by its nature, difficult to record—theatrical performance, oratory, political tactics, and the features and uses of the natural landscape.
This is the second group of faculty to benefit from this program and I look forward to many more colleagues doing so in future years. A call for a third round of applications will go out in the late fall. Meanwhile, the Humanities Research Center has already awarded over two dozen individual research grants and looks forward to continuing that program as well.
With all best wishes,
Professor of History and
Director, Humanities Research Center,
Virginia Commonwealth University,
920 W. Franklin Street,
Richmond, VA 23284-3025.