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Hester Blum and Debbie Hawhee have been awarded NEH Fellowships for 2014

Hester Blum and Debbie Hawhee have been awarded NEH Fellowships for 2014

Three Penn State Liberal Arts faculty members recently were awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships to continue their research projects. The National Endowment for the Humanities promotes excellence in humanities teaching and research, and supports new avenues of learning for the American public.

“NEH Fellowships awards reflect the exceptional scholarship that distinguishes the College of the Liberal Arts and the University as a world-class university,” said Susan Welch, the Susan Welch Dean of the College of the Liberal Arts. ”Penn State undergraduates also benefit from this pursuit of new knowledge, which enriches the outstanding teaching being done by our faculty and their graduate students, and has the potential to provide undergraduate research opportunities.”

Hester Blum, associate professor of English, is working on a book on the newspapers produced during Arctic and Antarctic winters by members of polar expeditions. ”Polar Exploration and Anglo-American Print Culture, 1818-1914″ examines the unexpected role played in polar ventures by what we might call “extreme printing” in order to think more broadly about the emerging field of oceanic studies.

Her previous book, “The View from the Masthead: Maritime Imagination and Antebellum American Sea Narratives,” won the John Gardner Maritime Research Award. Blum is a co-founder of C19: The Society of Nineteenth-Century Americanists. She is a Resident Scholar of the Institute of the Arts and Humanities (IAH) at Penn State.

Debra Hawhee, professor of English and communication arts and sciences, is studying the curious and contradictory role animals played in pre-modern language theories and language training. Her fellowship will allow her to complete her book on animals in the history of rhetoric from Aesop to Erasmus. Her most recent book, about Kenneth Burke’s interwoven theories of bodies and language, won the Diamond Anniversary Book Award from the National Communication Association in 2010. She was an IAH Resident Scholar during 2011-12.

Janina Safran, associate professor of history, will conduct early research for an upcoming book titled, “The Symbols and Politics of Almoravid Rule.” The study of a late 11th century-early 12th century regime will develop an analysis of three inter-related subjects relevant to understanding Islamic rule in northwest Africa: how rulers defined and expressed their legitimacy in the Islamic west in ways that integrated or failed to integrate diverse Arab and Berber societies and cultures; how politics between the ruler and leading religious authorities defined regime and community; how individuals and events challenged regime legitimacy and the structure of rule; and how the regime met those challenges.

Safran is the author of two books: “Defining Boundaries in al-Andalus: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Islamic Iberia” and “The Second Umayyad Caliphate.” She also is an IAH Resident Scholar.


Vicki Fong
Tel: 814-863-1223