Over the past few years, students in Professor Liam Corley’s literature classes have read novels and stories related to his research on depictions of veterans in 18th- and 19th-century American literature. Now, thanks to a $50,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Corley will have the opportunity to develop his research into a book-length study.
Corley first began to take note of the many veteran characters in American literature after he returned from a year-long military deployment to Afghanistan in 2009. He didn’t have to look far since veteran characters play important roles in works by Herman Melville, William Dean Howells, Walt Whitman, James Fenimore Cooper, Catherine Maria Sedgwick, and Susanna Rowson, authors who were already part of the reading assignments in his classes.
In recent years, Corley began presenting his research at national conferences sponsored by organizations like the Modern Language Association, the American Literature Association, and the Conference on College Composition and Communication. Frequently, he would share drafts of these presentations with his classes so that they could get a glimpse into the early stages of scholarly work.
“I think it’s important for students to know what we do outside of the classroom since it so often affects what we do inside of it,” Corley said. “I’ve always had positive feedback from students when they see that new insights are still being found in works read by generations of students and scholars.”
Acting NEH Chairman Jon Parrish Peede announced the awards on Dec. 13, as part of a larger $12.8 million initiative to support 253 humanities projects across the nation. For more than fifty years, the NEH has underwritten hundreds of the nation’s most significant humanities projects through its fellowship programs.
In the highly competitive funding cycle for 2018 awards, the NEH funded 10 percent of the proposals received. Corley’s application was selected for support after completing a three-step review process. First, knowledgeable persons outside NEH read each application and advised the agency about its merits.
The NEH staff commented on matters of fact or on significant issues that otherwise would be missing from these reviews, and then made recommendations to the National Council on the Humanities. The National Council meets at various times during the year to advise the chairman on grants. As the final step, the chairman reviewed the guidance of the outside panelists, staff experts, and council members and decided on the funding of each eligible application.
More information on the NEH grants can be found at https://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2017-12-13.