Two Penn State professors will take a year off from teaching in order to finish writing books, thanks to fellowships awarded to them.
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded two Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars and one challenge grant to projects at Penn State.
Edwin Earle Sparks Professor of English James L. West III was awarded an individual grant, which provides the university with $50,400 to free him of teaching for a year. The time will allow West to finish writing a book about F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book will focus on how Fitzgerald became “so successful” in the 1920s literary marketplace, West said.
West has studied Fitzgerald for over 40 years and plans to finish the book in two more years, he said.
The research for the book will include studying Fitzgerald’s letters and manuscripts, as well as his financial records at Princeton University.
Edwin Earle Sparks Professor of History and Women’s Studies Amy Greenberg was also awarded an individual grant for $50,400, which will also allow her to take a year away from teaching in order to focus on writing her book.
Greenberg is interested in the role of political dissenters in American Imperialism, she said.
The book will focus on the time period between 1780 and 1900, but she said she is especially interested in 1780-1810 and the 1870s.
“What I think is lost in that history is the role of people who opposed territorial annexation,” she said, adding that she has a somewhat political motivation in pursuing this study. “Even today people think you should go along with what the president says, but dissenters played an important role in how things turned out.”
Since she has been working on the book for six years, the year off will be a chance to focus solely on the book, she said.
While West and Greenberg both received Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars, the Center for Democratic Deliberation received a challenge grant. For the challenge grant, Penn State will match the NEH’s $334,000 at a three-to-one ratio, which means the university will have to raise $1,002,000.
The money will create a permanent endowment for the Center for Democratic Deliberation, said Professor J. Michael Hogan, co-director for the Center, who also served as the principal investigator on the grant proposal.
The Center for Democratic Deliberation was established in 2006 as a center for research, teaching and outreach on issues relating to democratic deliberation and civic engagement, he said.
Instead of continuing to rely on the College of the Liberal Arts for funding, the permanent endowment will produce an annual budget to initiate new programs, he said. Some of the goals are to work with the Penn State press to look at publishing different media and to help high school teachers replace lectures with students engaging in debates, Hogan said.
An important focus of the Center for Democratic Deliberation is to improve how society deliberates controversial issues, he said.