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A&S awarded multiple grants in the arts and humanities

Posted by on Tuesday, September 21, 2021 in News Story, Research.

Raheleh Filsoofi, Lynn Ramey, Angela Sutton
Raheleh Filsoofi, Lynn Ramey, Angela Sutton (Vanderbilt University)

Three faculty members from the College of Arts and Science have been selected to receive important grants to support their research in the humanities. The announcement of the awards comes in the wake of a strategic effort by A&S and the Office of the Vice Provost for Research to support faculty from the arts and humanities in securing grant proposals from federal and local government agencies.

“We are thrilled that these talented faculty have received this recognition and support for their work,” said David Wright, dean of graduate education and research. “The college has made increasing our grant portfolio in the humanities a priority over the last two years. By lowering barriers for submitting grants and providing administrative support through the College of Arts and Science Research Office, faculty are getting the help they need to get applications out the door in record numbers.”

Raheleh Filsoofi, assistant professor in ceramics, received a $8,888 grant from the Tennessee Arts Commission that will support her effort to highlight the art, music, and culture of the Middle Eastern community in Tennessee and beyond. The project will include three components: performances, a workshop, and an interactive installation.

“As a social practice artist and educator, I see a gap between the Middle Eastern population and the larger Tennessee community,” said Filsoofi. “The project ‘Listening: The Fourth String’ conceptualizes listening and examines the listening experience as a means for change in societal perceptions and cultural communication.”

Lynn Ramey, professor of French, was awarded a $239,569 Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). She will use this grant to launch the Immersive Global Middle Ages Institute for Advanced Topics, a 28-month initiative studying the use of immersive digital technologies for teaching and learning about the Global Middle Ages through in-person and virtual workshops.

“This institute is aimed at giving scholars interested in presenting a multi-cultural and diverse view of the Middle Ages the technology and training they need,” said Ramey. “We have seen a distressing appropriation of medieval themes by extremist groups around the world. Education is the best way to counter these stories, and immersing users in a virtual or augmented reality experience fosters empathy and understanding.”

Angela Sutton, research assistant professor of communications studies and assistant dean of graduate education and strategic initiatives for the College of Arts and Science, received two grants: $99,442 Digital Humanities Advancement Grant from the NEH, as well as a $99,208 grant from the National Park Service. Funding from these grants will support the creation of a database of more than 16,000 enslaved and free Black laborers and soldiers who built and defended Nashville’s fortifications during the Civil War.

“We know that most of this population remained in the area after the war, so this database has the potential to make a big impact on Tennesseans tracing their ancestry,” said Sutton. “Increased access to this underutilized information will also provide public humanists and other educators with a sizable databank from which to draw on for their interpretive programming and will enable the creation of more inclusive representations of Civil War and Reconstruction history.”

These grants reflect Vanderbilt’s growth as an arts and humanities research enterprise. This trend will only continue to grow under the leadership of faculty researchers, scholars, and artists, as well as continued partnership between the College of Arts and Science and the Research Development and Supports team within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.

“This success at grant-getting in the humanities is proof of the old adage that the only grant you can be sure you won’t get is the one you do not apply for,” said Bonnie Dow, dean of academic affairs for the College of Arts and Science. “I am so delighted to see this kind of recognition of the cutting-edge work these scholars are doing in the arts and humanities.”

Research Development and Support (RDS), within the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, offers proposal development assistance for strategic, federally funded opportunities. Services include coordination for complex proposals, content development and draft review. RDS further supports faculty by building relationships with external sponsors, hosting workshops, and providing guides and language for common proposal requirements.

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