Campus News

Faculty members receive grants for humanities work

Three Franklin College of Arts and Sciences faculty members have been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The awards, announced April 9, are among $18.6 million in NEH grants for 199 humanities projects across the country. 

Professor of Spanish Elizabeth Wright and associate professor of French Rachel Gabara of the Romance languages department were awarded $6,000 each for summer stipends, highly competitive grants that provide full-time support for work by a scholar on a humanities project for two months.

Richard B. Russell Professor in American History Claudio Saunt was awarded $185,176 to support completion of “Mapping the People of Early America,” a database and web platform mapping the settlement and movement of African, Native American and European populations in North America between 1500 and 1790.

Gabara’s stipend will support the last in a series of research trips to Europe and West Africa that provide the basis for her book project, Reclaiming Realism: From Documentary Film in Africa to African Documentary Film. The first book in English to focus on African documentary, Reclaiming Realism will trace and analyze the development of nonfiction film in West and Central Africa in the colonial and postcolonial eras, demonstrating the importance of African films to the understanding of global cinema.

Wright will use her stipend to conduct research for a new book, Stages of Servitude in Early Modern Iberia. 

Wright will study rare books, treatises, travel narratives and other documents that reveal how the nascent theaters of Spain and Portugal contributed to the naturalization of demeaning images of sub-Saharan Africans and the institutionalization of the Atlantic slave trade. She also will seek evidence of how black Africans and Afro-descendant Iberians navigated the nascent theater business to attain artistic validation and economic advancement. 

Saunt will finalize a project mapping the demographic revolution—the arrival of hundreds of thousands of African and European peoples and the dwindling of the indigenous population—that underlay the sea change that swept across the North American continent. The Mapping the People of Early America, or MAP, Project is dedicated to producing an online, interactive time-lapse map of the African, Native American and European populations in North America between 1500 and 1790. 

The map will be the first of its kind, showing the indigenous, European and African populations before the start of the U.S. Census in 1790.