Tag: National Endowment For The Humanities

Robert Reid-Pharr, African-American and African Diasporic Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholar, Joins Harvard as Gender Studies Senior Professor

Robert Reid-Pharr (Photo Courtesy of Robert Reid-Pharr via Harvard Magazine)

by Brandon J. Dixon via harvardmagazine.com

Robert Reid-Pharr, renowned scholar of African-American and African diasporic gender and sexuality studies, on July 1st joined the Harvard University faculty as its first senior professor hired solely in women, gender, and sexuality studies (WGS).

His appointment follows that of assistant professor Durba Mitra, who was hired last year as the first faculty member ever solely in WGS; both hires come at a “historic” time for WGS, according to the program’s director, Robin Bernstein, Dillon professor of African and African American Studies and of WGS. The field has seen increased undergraduate interest in its courses in the last few years.

“The number one reason that we were able to make hires is because we have an incredible student base. Our classes are typically over-enrolled, our courses are very well evaluated, and our Q scores”—students’ ratings of Harvard classes—“are through the roof,” Bernstein said. “So I think we’re at a historical moment where a lot of people understand that gender and sexuality really matter.”

The hires may also reflect the need for appointing young tenure-track faculty across Harvard’s schools whose scholarship is in line with evolving student interest, as noted in the report of the University’s Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging earlier this year.

Reid-Pharr previously served as the Matthiessen Visiting Professor of Gender and Sexuality studies in 2016, a short-term endowed professorship that invites leading scholars of “issues related to sexual minorities—that is, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people” to teach at Harvard.

“We hired him because he’s brilliant, because his scholarship is brilliant, because his scholarship is extraordinary in its impact on multiple fields, but notably on the field of African-American gender and sexuality studies,” Bernstein said. “He is a scholar who has published four extremely important, high-impact books, all of which are deeply original, astonishingly erudite, and all of which have had very high impact on multiple fields.”

Reid-Pharr’s books include Once You Go Black: Choice, Desire, and the Black American Intellectual; Black Gay Man; Conjugal Union: The Body, The House and the Black American; and Archives of Flesh: African America, Spain, and Post-Humanist Critique.

Once You Go Black was a Lambda Literary Award finalist for LGBT studies in 2007. In it, Reid-Pharr posits that a black American identity was not “inevitable,” and that twentieth-century black American intellectuals like James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison, and Richard Wright have “actively chosen the identity schemes”—of race, gender, and sexuality—that form the basis of a contemporary understanding of black American identity.

Black Gay Man—a collection of nonfiction essays critiquing the construction of black gay identity through an interdisciplinary approach—was the recipient of the 2002 Randy Shilts Award for best gay non-fiction.

Reid-Pharr was recently a distinguished professor at the City University of New York (CUNY)’s Graduate Center, specializing in African-American, postcolonial, transnational, and global literary theory. He has received research awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for literary criticism in 2016.

At Harvard, he will complete research for a book-length project on James Baldwin which he hopes will be informed by discussions with students in his classroom. He also intends to help Harvard with “institution building,” or the development of institutional networks for interdisciplinary discussion and international academic collaboration.

Continue reading “Robert Reid-Pharr, African-American and African Diasporic Gender and Sexuality Studies Scholar, Joins Harvard as Gender Studies Senior Professor”

Architect Everett L. Fly and Historian Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham to Receive National Humanities Medals

photo of Everett L. Fly
Everett L. Fly (Photo by Rosalinda Fly)

Architect and preservationist Everett L. Fly, who in 1977 became the first African American to earn a master of landscape architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), and Thomas Professor of history and of African and African American studies at Harvard Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham are among the 10 recipients of the 2014 National Humanities Medal announced yesterday.

The National Humanities Medal honors an individual or organization whose work has deepened the nation’s understanding of the human experience, broadened citizens’ engagement with history and literature or helped preserve and expand Americans’ access to cultural resources. Fly’s medal citation praises him:

for preserving the integrity of African-American places and landmarks. A landscape architect, Mr. Fly has worked tirelessly to win historical recognition for Eatonville, Florida, Nicodemus, Kansas, and other sites central to African-American history, preserving an important part of our broader American heritage.

Higginbotham’s citation honors her:

for illuminating the African-American journey. In her writings and edited volumes, Dr. Higginbotham has traced the course of African-American progress, and deepened our understanding of the American story.

According to the biography of Fly provided by the NEH, when he noticed that his GSD classes rarely mentioned buildings and places significant to African-American culture and heritage, he began a career-long study of the origin and evolution of historic black settlements in America. Ever since, he has been unearthing and saving historically significant but forgotten or unrecognized Native- and African-American settlements, more than 1,200 to date. “If we want our American cities to be healthy and sustain them in the future,” he says, “we have to find ways to value not just new office buildings and developers that have the most money and political clout. You find collective history in places where everyday people worked and made contributions that are just as valuable as a big businessperson or landowner. If you can find those connections to their history, people can have a closer relationship to their community.”

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Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham (Photo via of Harvard University)

Higginbotham “knew from childhood” that she “wanted to teach, research, and write about the history of African Americans,” according to her biographical sketch. She moved from learning the stories of her family’s history to uncovering and sharing the stories of “individuals, groups, and institutions left out of the traditional American narrative” through her own works and as editor in chief of The Harvard Guide to African-American History and as co-editor of the 12-volume African American National Biography.

At Harvard, she has also fostered social engagement among students in the department of African and African American studies, seeking “a curriculum that said you could be socially responsible and engaged, and yet still be intellectually rigorous—that those two things could be wed together.”

Higginbotham and Fly will receive their medals from President Obama in a White House ceremony on September 10, as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) enters its golden anniversary year.

article by Jean Martin via harvardmagazine.com

Institute For Teaching African-American Poetry Awarded National Grant

LAWRENCE – A grant awarded to a University of Kansas researcher from the National Endowment for the Humanities will spur the creation of an institute on reading and teaching African-American poetry.

The project is led by Maryemma Graham (pictured), a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of English in the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. The institute, “Don’t Deny My Voice: Reading and Teaching African-American Poetry,” will be open to college and university teachers from across the country. NEH awarded $189,000 to support the program.

The institute will be guided by experts in the field and supported by the archival resources of KU’s Project on the History of Black Writing and the Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University.

Graham founded and continues to direct the Project on the History of Black Writing, located within KU’s Department of English, which is the only archive of its kind and has been in the forefront of black literary studies and inclusion efforts in higher education for 29 years. This grant marks HBW’s seventh from NEH and the fifth national institute in its 14-year history at KU. The institute will be coordinated by Sarah Arbuthnot Lendt, Project on the History of Black Writing grant specialist and KU English instructor. Continue reading “Institute For Teaching African-American Poetry Awarded National Grant”