ACLS Project Development Grants

ACLS Project Development Grants offer flexible seed funding to help advance the research agendas of faculty at teaching-intensive colleges and universities. This new program is part of ACLS’s commitment to recognize scholarly excellence from all sectors of higher education and beyond, and it is funded by our endowment, to which many individuals and institutions have contributed, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, ACLS’s Research University Consortium and college and university Associates, former fellows, and individuals and friends.

Read more about these awards on the ACLS Fellowship program page.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Stephanie Hyeri Kim Ahn
Stephanie Hyeri Kim Ahn  |  Abstract
In conversation with others, we often encounter trouble in hearing or understanding but have ways of indicating the trouble to the other speaker and of resolving it. This project examines the various methods by which conversational repair is initiated when such trouble occurs and the basis for selection among those methods in Korean conversation. It also explores the language- and culture-specific ways that some repairs are initiated and resolved. The project contributes to an understanding of how intersubjectivity (shared understanding) is maintained and restored in human social interaction. This grant will support field research in South Korea.

Assistant Professor, Linguistics/Teaching English as a Second Language, California State University, Northridge  -  Conversational Repair in Korean Social Interaction

Karen Henson
Karen Henson  |  Abstract
It has long been known that opera singers played a role in the early recording industry. "Singing Machines: Opera and Early Sound Recording" shows that opera was in fact a repeated point of reference for those involved with the technology of sound recording, from the invention of the phonograph in 1877 to the large-scale adoption of recording as a medium of entertainment around 1907. The grant will support research and writing during the summer of 2020.

Associate Professor, Music, City University of New York, Queens College  -  Singing Machines: Opera and Early Sound Recording

Kimberly Quiogue Andrews
Kimberly Quiogue Andrews  |  Abstract
“The Academic Avant-Garde” is a study of the effects that developments in the history of literary criticism and academic work more broadly have had on the aesthetics and methodologies of experimental American poetry. Its primary argument is that the labor and discursive stylings of textual and historical analysis, often seen as incompatible with the creation of literary writing, are in fact fundamental to the work of a range of highly influential and innovative poets. This grant will facilitate the completion of the book over the course of the Fall 2020 semester.

Assistant Professor, English, Washington College  -  The Academic Avant-Garde: Poetry and the American University

John Koegel
John Koegel  |  Abstract
Over a century’s time American immigrant composers, playwrights, and performers used parody, sentimentality, humor, and political satire in non-English-language musicals to explore the human condition, highlight local immigrant community engagement with and distinction from larger American life, and address themes of social class, inequality, gender, and ethnicity, as well as American and original homeland ideals. Immigrant impresarios imported musical stage works from the “old country” and presented them alongside new American immigrant-themed musicals. This project documents these musical stages throughout the United States, establishes common trends in US immigrant performance, and interprets the importance of musical theater for immigrant audiences. The ACLS grant will support summer salary to work on this book project.

Professor, Music, California State University, Fullerton  -  Immigrant Musical Theater in America, 1840-1940

Emily Clark
Emily Clark  |  Abstract
“Spiritual Matters” examines the material culture of American Spiritualism to reveal remarkable and major shifts in American religion. Spiritualism emphasized the spirit, the ephemeral, and the intangible, and it depended on material culture. “Spiritual Matters” interrogates this dynamic and argues that American Spiritualists saw themselves in an interconnected world that included the ethereal and the material. In the process, I narrate an important period in American religious history—one in which the world was an increasingly modern place and still a magical one. This grant will support important archival research and writing during the 2020–2021 year.

Associate Professor, Religious Studies, Gonzaga University  -  Spiritual Matters: American Spiritualism and Material Culture

Diana Noreen Rivera
Diana Noreen Rivera  |  Abstract
This critical edition recovers foundational Chicano scholar Américo Paredes' unpublished Far East journals and examines archival materials from university and declassified intelligence repositories to reveal the centrality of the Cold War on Paredes' life, scholarship and legacy. Paredes' autobiographical narrations of his tenure in Asia and stateside return during the second Red Scare are positioned as an artifact of the US literary resistance. The work establishes Paredes as an internationalist and leftist as he navigated the global and domestic cultural trenches of the high Cold War. This grant supports the manuscript’s development in the summer of 2020 and archival research.

Assistant Professor, Literatures and Cultural Studies, The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley  -  The Far East Journals and Other Cold War Era Writings of Américo Paredes

Jennifer M. Denbow
Jennifer M. Denbow  |  Abstract
Spearheaded by the biotechnology industry, non-invasive prenatal tests (NIPTs) hit the market in the United States in 2011. NIPTs have been rolled out with little public deliberation, yet they raise a number of complex political and ethical questions concerning disability, human welfare, and who should control the future of reproduction. This project examines how a preoccupation with innovation across financial, legal, and medical domains has contributed to the shrinking of public space for deliberation about this and other biotechnologies in the United States. This grant will support the manuscript’s development during the summer.

Assistant Professor, Political Science, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo  -  In the Name of Innovation: Law and the Political Economy of Reproductive Futures

Jaclyn A. Sumner
Jaclyn A. Sumner  |  Abstract
“Indigenous Autocracy” is an examination of how go-betweens and ethnic minorities managed local politics during the dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz (1876-1911) in Mexico. Using the central state of Tlaxcala as a case study, the project investigates regional spaces where negotiation took place between officials and citizens during this crucial period of modernization and oppression in Mexican history. The book utilizes materials from twelve different national, state, and local Mexican archives. The grant will support a course buyout to complete the manuscript in the spring of 2021.

Assistant Professor, History, Presbyterian College  -  Indigenous Autocracy: Race, Power, and Resources in Porfirian Tlaxcala, Mexico

John Eicher
John Eicher  |  Abstract
This project compares the 1918 “Spanish” flu pandemic’s cultural effects on rural communities in the British Isles and central Europe in order to understand popular perceptions of science, religion, and folk cures at the beginning of western medicine’s “golden age.” The grant will support research in German and Swiss archives during the 2020-21 academic year.

Assistant Professor, History, Pennsylvania State University, Altoona  -  The Sword Outside, the Plague Within: Influenza, War, and Religion, 1918-1920

Louie Dean Valencia
Louie Dean Valencia  |  Abstract
This project offers the first comparative comprehensive historical study of the research, treatment, policy, activism, and public education undertaken during the first twenty years of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Western Europe. Using archives, public libraries, and oral histories, the project will show the value of international research collaboration, attention to marginalized communities, and a strong social safety net. It further shows the role of the rising European Union in the crisis. This grant will support archival research in Europe and the collection of oral histories.

Assistant Professor, History, Texas State University, San Marcos  -  Creating European Communities against HIV/AIDS: Activism, Socialized Health Care, Scientific Research, and Education

Nahyan Fancy
Nahyan Fancy  |  Abstract
This project analyzes, for the first time, physiological issues that attracted the interests of eight Islamic commentators on the “Canon of Medicine” and its abridgment, “The Epitome,” between 1200 and 1520 CE. It helps define the main contours of medical thought during a period often mischaracterized as one of “scientific decline.” It situates the Arabic medical discussions within the intellectual, institutional, and social contexts of post-1200 Islamic societies by analyzing both the text and paratext—i.e. manuscript marginalia, ownership notes, and colophons. The grant will support a writing period in the summer of 2020.

Professor, History, DePauw University  -  In Ibn al-Nafis's Shadow: Arabic Medical Commentaries in the Post-Classical Period, 1200-1520

Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan
Ivette Vargas-O'Bryan  |  Abstract
The Gelongma Palmo Buddhist biographies and rituals based on the experiences of a medieval Indian Buddhist leper-nun have provided a model for female empowerment, an inspiration for the sick across cultural boundaries in Asia, and a new interpretation of the Avalokiteśvara cult in Tibetan Buddhism. This book project offers an interdisciplinary history of the popular Buddhist legacy, as well as an exploration of the use of tantric texts in resisting socio-cultural normativity in religious and medical traditions. The grant will be used to further work on the book project, which will make this neglected legacy available to a wider audience.

Professor, Religious Studies, Austin College  -  Resisting Normativity: Overcoming Suffering and Building Traditions in the Gelongma Palmo-Avalokiteśvara Buddhist Legacy

Abby L. Goode
Abby L. Goode  |  Abstract
"Agrotopias" examines the American literary roots of sustainability and the enduring partnership between environmentalist, eugenic, and racist discourses in the United States. It shows how, throughout the long nineteenth century, writers combined these discourses as they fantasized about reproductively controlled “agrotopias” beyond US borders—new “New Worlds” unaffected by population crises. Analyzing these "agrotopias," in texts ranging from Herman Melville’s ghost-written farming report to Walt Whitman’s poems of crop renewal, this project reveals an early, eugenic notion of sustainability: the ability to “feed and breed” a racially homogeneous American small farming population, even in extra-national spaces. The grant will support writing during summer 2020.

Assistant Professor, English, Plymouth State University  -  Agrotopias: An American Literary History of Sustainability

Sarah Jane Warren
Sarah Jane Warren  |  Abstract
This project examines several American intentional communities founded in the 1960s. Tied to both alternative religion and the counterculture, these communities conceived of craft as central to their spiritual, aesthetic, and therapeutic aspirations. Like their contemporaries in the art world, they embraced repetition and rejected the heroic model of individual expression. Such parallels have remained invisible, however, because practices construed as spiritual and therapeutic have been written out of canonical histories of modernism. Following the example of the early twentieth-century avant-gardes, these communities broke down the separation between art and life, transforming life practice through aesthetic experimentation. The grant will support archival research and writing in spring 2021.

Associate Professor, Art History, State University of New York, College at Purchase  -  Between Rival Utopias: Craft and the Remains of Modernism at Countercultural Intentional Communities

Steven C. Hahn
Steven C. Hahn  |  Abstract
This project investigates the lives of 209 mariners accused of piracy who accepted a pardon from the British crown in the Bahamas in 1718. In assessing pirate motives, this study reveals that class, age, and regional divisions beset the pirate community and that the pardon was most attractive to mariners possessing greater social and economic capital. By focusing holistically on their maritime careers, it reclaims the humanity of pirates, connects the story of piracy at sea with the land-based communities that sometimes supported it, and illuminates the entangled histories of far-flung places in the Atlantic world. I intend to use the grant as summer salary, devoting my time exclusively to writing.

Professor, History, Saint Olaf College  -  Young, Resolute, and Wicked Fellows: The Pirates of Providence, 1700-1735