The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has awarded $330,000 in grants to four projects led by SASN faculty during the agency’s latest round of funding.
Associate Professors Manu Chander (English), Patricia Akhimie (English) and Rachel Mundy (Arts, Culture and Media), along with Professor Jennifer Austin and Teaching Instructor Stephanie Rodriguez (Spanish & Portuguese Studies), were recognized for work that will continue to push the boundaries of their respective fields and expand offerings for students at Rutgers University–Newark.
The awards are part of $24.7 million in grants that NEH recently doled out for 208 humanities projects across the country.
“These NEH grants will support educators and scholars in enriching our understanding of the past and enable cultural institutions from across the country to expand their offerings, resources, and public programming, both in person and online,” said NEH Acting Chair Adam Wolfson in announcing the grants. “We look forward to the many new insights and discoveries that these 208 exemplary projects will make possible.”
Chander, who specializes in Romanticism and race, will use his $60,000 award to write and revise a scholarly edition of the collected works of 19th-century Afro-Guyanese poet Egbert Martin. Chander's goal is to give Martin, who was widely admired in Guyana but relatively unknown elsewhere, more exposure and help his work find a wider audience in the 21st century.
“It’s an honor to have my work recognized,” said Chander. “I’m especially indebted to the archivists and librarians at the University of Guyana and the Walter Rodney Archives in Georgetown, where I conducted research for my project—and of course I’m endlessly grateful to my partner and fellow NEH awardee, Professor Patricia Akhimie, who is both the best possible interlocutor and biggest source of inspiration.”
Akhimie, an expert on Shakespeare, Renaissance drama and early-modern women’s travel writing, received $60,000 of her own this round to work on a new edition of Shakespeare’s Othello to be published as part of the Arden Shakespeare Fourth Series.
According to Akhimie, Othello has a great deal to teach us about the work of language in the production of racist thinking and the creation and perpetuation of damaging stereotypes, and this new edition will be one of the first to be edited by a woman of color. She’s excited to see it in print and used in classrooms soon, and is grateful for the support of NEH and her publisher.
Working on Lives in Translation with my wonderful, talented colleagues and students has been one of the highlights of my career.
“Editing a play for a major Shakespeare series is a huge honor,” said Akhimie. “For a Shakespearean like me, a Black woman and a scholar of the literary history of race, editing Othello in particular is an incredible opportunity to learn from and talk to others about the ways that literary texts can both construct racist ideas and explode them.”
She added: “I’m deeply grateful for Arden’s support of my editorial work, and for my colleagues on the Newark Faculty of Arts and Sciences, whose groundbreaking work inspires me to push the envelope in my own field and in my own research.”
Mundy, whose work shows how music has been used to navigate changing boundaries between race, species and culture in the 20th century, received $60,000 to work on a book about connections between music research and American zoology from 1950 to 2000.
“This project is the first significant study of the connections between zoology and music research in the period,” said Mundy. “it is a history that tells us about the unique ways that people treat sound when it becomes alive in the midst of changing relationships with digital coding, human rights and environmental crisis, and I’m grateful to NEH and Joe Broderick, Alex Seggerman, Andrea Bohlman and Gregory Radick for their help and support.”
Austin and Rodriguez, who lead RU-N's Lives in Translation (LiT) project, were awarded $150,000 to create a certificate program in translation and interpretation in the Spanish & Portuguese Studies department, and to develop its curricular, service-learning, and language-documentation training components.
The grant will also fund an annual conference at RU-N on translation, interpreting and multilingualism for faculty, students and interested audiences in the region. Finally, it will support ongoing work done in collaboration with Assistant Profesesor Chantal Fischzang (ACM) and her students in the Design Consortium on LiT’s new web-based platform, and fund an audiovisual exhibit organized together with the Design Consortium.
“Working on Lives in Translation with my wonderful, talented colleagues and students has been one of the highlights of my career,” said Austin. “I am very grateful for the opportunity provided by this grant to expand the program in new directions and to involve more people and community partners in the project.
Rodriguez added: "It is an honor to receive this grant. I'm excited to put into action this project and continue to work towards Lives in Translation's goal to cultivate the linguistic richness of our Rutgers-Newark campus.”