VFH Announces 2015-2016 Residential Fellowships and Upcoming Fellows Talks


Charlottesville, VA—Virginia Foundation for the Humanities (VFH) announces eight new humanities scholars in residence during the 2015-2016 year. The Fellows, their affiliations, and projects are as follows:

  • Carolyn Eastman, History, Virginia Commonwealth University  — The Strange Genius of Mr. O: Oratory and Transatlantic Fame in Early America, on the eccentric nineteenth-century oratorical celebrity James Ogilvie and his cultural legacy; Fall 2015
  • Jennifer Greeson, English, University of Virginia  — American Enlightenment: The New World and Modern Western Thought, on how settler colonialism and the Atlantic slave system underwrote our basic modern concepts of individualism, self-governance, and popular sovereignty; Spring 2016
  • Martien Halvorson-Taylor, Religious Studies, University of Virginia  — Questioning Job: An Entry into the Biblical Book of Job, an introduction to this complex and fascinating book of the Hebrew Bible, which reflects on the human condition, the role of human community, and humanity’s relationship to the natural world; Spring 2016
  • Paul Dafydd Jones, Religious Studies, University of Virginia  — Patience: A Theological Exploration, a new account of how two relatively neglected terms, “patience” and “impatience,” might nourish novel thinking about the open-ended quality of human life, the imperative to work for social justice, and other issues; Spring 2016
  • Wm. Preston Lauterbach, Independent Scholar, Nellysford, VA —  Valley of the Kings, a narrative history set in Memphis, TN in the 1950s and 1960s about African-American photojournalist Ernest Withers, who witnessed and recorded a series of history-making events while serving as an undercover informant for the FBI; Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
  • Gregory O’Malley, University of Santa Cruz  — The Escapes of David George: One Man’s Struggle with Slavery and Freedom in the Revolutionary Era, the first biography of a Virginia-born slave who ran away repeatedly and finally secured freedom in Britain, paradoxically at the moment of the creation of the United States; Fall 2015
  • Whit Sheppard, Independent Scholar, Richmond, VA  — Slow Train to Eminence: The Life of Arthur Ashe, a comprehensive biography of Arthur Ashe, world-class athlete, author, activist, humanitarian and businessman from Virginia, who is not yet represented in the literary canon of notable twentieth-century African-American lives; Fall 2015 and Spring 2016
  • Charles Thompson Jr., Cultural Anthropology, Center for Documentary Studies, Duke University  — Broken Ground: The Fractured Story of American Farm Work, a retelling of the story of American farm work that restores farm laborers to a central and just place in our agricultural narrative; Fall 2015

These scholars join three other Fellows whose residencies will continue in the 2015-2016 year:

  • George Carras, Classical Studies and Religion, Washington & Lee University —  Two Diaspora Jews – Flavius Josephus and Paul of Tarsus, a comparative study of the Judaism of the two central figures of the first-century Roman world
  • Don DeBats, American Studies, Flinders University (Australia)  — Unlocking the Social Logic of Past Politics: Individual Voting Records, Social Networks, and Neighborhoods in Two Nineteenth Century Cities, a study of two very different nineteenth-century cities (Alexandria, VA and Newport, KY) that shared a common voting arrangement: votes in all elections were cast in public by voice
  • Earl Swift – Independent Scholar, Charlottesville, VA  — Various areas of research, including the story of former Georgia Governor Hugh M. Dorsey, remembered as the prosecutor in the 1913 Leo Frank case, who became one of the most racially progressive Southern governors of his day

Fellows Talks in Charlottesville

Each semester, VFH invites the public to learn more about the diverse and fascinating areas of the humanities explored by our Fellows through lunchtime talks featuring each Fellow in informal conversation about his or her research. The following Fellows Talks at the VFH Conference Center, 145 Ednam Drive in Charlottesville, are free and open to the public; a light lunch will be provided:

  • Tuesday, October 20 at 12 PM, when Carolyn Eastman will present “The Strange Genius of Mr. O: Oratory and Transatlantic Fame in Early America”
  • Tuesday, November 3 at 12 PM when Don DeBats will present “The Alexandria Chronicles: When PBS Meets Poll Books, An Election Day Story in Advance of Mercy Street Debut”
  • Tuesday, November 17 at 12 PM when Greg O’Malley will present “The Escapes of David George: One Man’s Struggle with Slavery and Freedom in the Revolutionary Era”
  • Tuesday, December 1 at 12 PM when Preston Lauterbach will present “Eight Days on Beale Street: The FBI and MLK, Spring ‘68”

About the VFH Residential Fellowship Program

Created in 1986, the VFH Residential Fellowship Program supports humanities scholars and writers whose work is intellectually stimulating, imaginative, and accessible to the public, promoting greater understanding of and access to the humanities. To date it is the only residential fellowship program among all fifty-five state humanities councils. Fellowship projects explore the humanities broadly, including history, literature, folklife, and historical and contemporary cultures. Fellows receive private office space in the VFH offices, located on a scenic property in Charlottesville, access to University of Virginia libraries and amenities, and the camaraderie and collective expertise of a cohort of other humanities scholars.

“For nearly twenty years, our Residential Fellowship Program has been a source of connection and discovery for humanities scholars and their audiences,” says Rob Vaughan, VFH president. “VFH has helped more than 300 Fellows from Virginia and around the world complete research, publish books, and create exhibits and films.”

Former Fellow Deborah A. Lee writes, “VFH is an invaluable hub for connecting scholars, encouraging and facilitating quality work, and even nourishing the hearts and souls of those engaged in it. What a marvelous and productive summer I had, thanks to the office space and support you provided to me and other Fellows.”

VFH Residential Fellowships are open to faculty members in the humanities, independent scholars, and others working on projects in the humanities. The annual proposal deadline is December 1. For more information, please visit VirginiaHumanities.org/fellowships/.

About VFH

The mission of Virginia Foundation for the Humanities is to connect people and ideas to explore the human experience and inspire cultural engagement. Our work reaches an estimated annual audience of 23 million through the Center for the Book, Community Programs, Scholarship, and Digital Initiatives. For more information, visit VirginiaHumanities.org.