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Two WKU faculty among inaugural recipients of $5,000 ACLS Project Development Grants

Western Kentucky University faculty members Audra Jennings and Alexander Olson are among the inaugural recipients of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) Project Development Grants.

Audra Jennings

Dr. Jennings, an associate professor of History and director of WKU’s Office of Scholar Development, received a grant for her project, Insecurity: Disability, the Great Depression, and the New Deal State. (Project abstract: As a transformative moment in the history of US welfare policy, the New Deal propelled momentous state growth. “Insecurity” analyzes how disability informed that era, by helping to define notions of insecurity and delineate divides between work and relief, while also serving as an object of state growth. This grant will support conference and research travel and provide a stipend for archival research.)

Dr. Alexander Olson, an assistant professor of History, received a grant for his project, Before Creativity, 1860-1940. (Project abstract: The concept of creativity is a product of history that was largely absent from US vernacular prior to the 1930s. More democratic than “genius” and more inclusive of the sciences than “culture,” creativity offered a heuristic for explaining a host of active verbs: discover, create, learn, imagine, invent, and sell. Yet it also foreclosed an earlier, more complicated conceptual landscape. This book investigates the vocabularies, practices, and identity scripts through which Americans understood the nature of learning and discovery before the emergence of creativity discourse. The grant will support research and writing during the summers of 2018 and 2019.)

Alexander Olson

The $5,000 seed grants are a new component of the longstanding ACLS Fellowship program and are designed to provide support to humanities faculty at teaching-intensive institutions.

This year’s 15 grantees were selected from the pool of applicants who had advanced to the final stage of the ACLS Fellowship competition. Though not among the few awarded the yearlong fellowships, the grantees distinguished themselves as especially promising scholars who were likely to advance their research projects with the grants.

“Recognizing academic excellence in all sectors of higher education is essential for the future of the humanities,” said ACLS Program Officer Valerie Popp. “These new grants extend the reach of our longest-running fellowship program and enrich the humanities landscape on campuses where scholars typically have fewer institutional resources to carry out their scholarship. We hope that these grants not only allow faculty at teaching-intensive institutions to advance their research but also encourage them to apply for further funding in the future.”

The American Council of Learned Societies is a private, nonprofit federation of 75 national scholarly organizations and the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and related social sciences.

From Western Kentucky University

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