MACON – Dr. Sarah E. Gardner, Distinguished University Professor of History in Mercer University’s College of Liberal Arts, was recently awarded a Summer Stipends award by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
Summer Stipends support continuous full-time work on a humanities project for a period of two consecutive months for individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences or both.
“The NEH recognizes the vital importance of the humanities to critical engagement with our past and our present,” said Dr. Gardner. “I am honored to be among this year’s awardees.”
Dr. Gardner was awarded support for her project, titled “Reading During the American Civil War,” an examination of reading practices and literary interpretation during this period in American history.
Her project asks not just what Confederates and Unionists, soldiers and civilians read, but how and why they read. Drawing on various kinds of archival and print sources, it examines the reading habits and practices of distinct interpretive communities during the Civil War.
“Wartime readers did not merely respond to the circumstances of the war, occupation and Confederate defeat. Rather, reading – how and what they read, the meanings that they ascribed to what they read and the conditions that influenced their reading – shaped their understanding of the world around them,” she said.
Dr. Gardner studies the intellectual and cultural history of the American South, specializing in the 19th and early-20th centuries. She teaches courses in Africana studies, women’s and gender studies and in the Great Books Program.
Her first book, Blood and Irony: Southern White Women’s Narratives of the Civil War, 1861-1937 (University of North Carolina Press, 2004), shows how Southern white women’s narratives of the war demonstrate the dynamic nature of Lost Cause ideology. She also co-edited Voices of the American South (Pearson Longman, 2004), a comprehensive survey of pivotal works in the Southern literary tradition.
Dr. Gardner’s second book, Reviewing the South: The Literary Marketplace and the Making of the Southern Renaissance, was published last April by Cambridge University Press.
She has signed on to co-edit a forthcoming series from the University of Georgia Press, titled “Print Culture in the South,” and to author another book from the University of North Carolina Press, which will explore intellectual life in the Civil War-era South.
Dr. Gardner has received Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowships from the Virginia Historical Society and from the Huntington Library, an Earhart Foundation Fellowship from the William L. Clements Library at the University of Michigan and a Harrison Institute Fellowship in American Literature from the University of Virginia.
She was selected as a Brown Foundation Scholar at The University of the South, and has received fellowships and research grants from the New York Public Library, the Gilder-Lehrman Institute for American History, the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, the William R. Perkins Library at Duke University, the Institute for Southern Studies at the University of South Carolina, the Newberry Library and the Harry Ransom Center for the Humanities at the University of Texas at Austin.
Projects eligible for the Summer Stipends program typically result in articles, monographs, books, digital materials and publications, archaeological site reports, translations or editions. They must not result solely in the collection of data; instead, they must also incorporate analysis and interpretation.
In the last five competitions, the Summer Stipends program received an average of 860 applications per year. The program made an average of 78 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 9 percent.
About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at: www.neh.gov.