Two HFA Faculty Receive Fellowships from National Endowment for the Humanities
By Sarah Gibbons | Sunday, December 27, 2020
Sunday, December 27, 2020
On December 16, 2020, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $32.8 million in grants to support 213 humanities projects in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. Two UMass Amherst faculty members, Melissa Mueller and Traci Parker, are among the new cohort of NEH fellowship recipients. They each received $60,000 to work on projects in their fields.
According to NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede, “These new NEH grants will foster intellectual inquiry, promote broad engagement with history, literature, and other humanities fields, and expand access to cultural collections and resources for all Americans.”
Melissa Mueller, associate professor in the Department of Classics, will work toward completing her book entitled Sappho and Homer: A Reparative Reading Project, which will explore the reception of Homeric epics in the work of the ancient Greek poet Sappho (c. 630–570 BCE). The book will offer “a new way of reading the literary kinship between Sappho and Homer … [devoting] particular attention to the material aesthetics, temporalities, and queer affect of Sappho’s lyrics,” explains Mueller. She is “Inspired by the work of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, whose turn in the mid-1990s toward ‘reparative reading’ sparked a new wave of queer feminist criticism.” Mueller’s book “seeks to disentangle Sappho’s reception of Homer from the combative moves and politics of current practices of literary criticism” by providing “in-depth discussions of the major fragments, including those only recently published, while also initiating a conversation between philological scholarship on Sappho and Homer and more recent trends in the humanities.”
Traci Parker, associate professor in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies, will focus on her book in progress, entitled Beyond Loving: Love, Sex, and Marriage in the Black Freedom Movement. The fellowship will support research that sheds light on questions related to “Black love, marriage and family as integral expressions of Black freedom movement ideology.” Ahead of writing the book manuscript, Parker plans “to conduct necessary archival research in Georgia, California, Wisconsin, and Mississippi” and “interview veterans of the Black Freedom Movement….” She says, “The interviews, in particular, promise to unearth details about dating, marriage, divorce, and parenthood on the movement’s battlegrounds—topics seldom documented in extant oral histories.”
Melissa Mueller researches and writes about archaic and classical Greek poetry and has particular research interests in the areas of new materialisms, reparative reading, and gender and sexuality studies. Much of her work has focused on how poetic texts engage the whole reader (i.e. the mind, body and senses), creating meaning in performance or through the parameters of reading and reception they envision for themselves. She has received support from the Center for Hellenic Studies and the National Humanities Center.
Traci Parker is the author of Department Stores and the Black Freedom Movement: Workers, Consumers, and Civil Rights (University of North Carolina Press, 2019). She teaches courses on African American women’s history, nineteenth and twentieth century U.S. history, race and racism, class, labor, capitalism, and consumer culture. Parker’s research has received support from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among others.