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Clemons Receives 2022 ACLS Fellowship

Aris Clemons, assistant professor in the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Modern Foreign Languages and Literatures, has been named a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS). ACLS is a nonprofit federation of 75 scholarly organizations, dedicated to the advancement of all fields of learning in the humanities and the social sciences.

ACLS fellowships provide salary replacement for scholars who are embarking on six to twelve months of full-time research and writing. With this fellowship, Clemons plans to examine language production and identity performance among Dominican(-American) male students to compare how educational biases might differ between Black Dominican students and African American students.

Clemons seek to better understand the role that Dominican students’ linguistic ideologies and practices play in the expression of ethno-racial identity, and how that may affect teacher perception of these students. Her project describes the language practices of linguistically and racially marginalized students in academic spaces, so that educators can better serve them.

“In recent years, teachers were confronted with shocking data revealing strong implicit biases that often result in the negative evaluations of Black boys in schools,” Clemons explained.

“My project focuses on the unique experiences of Afro-Latinx boys in classroom spaces, troubling several racial and linguistic binaries and revealing language as a key aspect of racialization projects. I am particularly interested in disrupting the language policies and politics that impact educational cultures the ultimately affirm or discredit how Black boys self-identify and achieve in these spaces.”

Alan Rutenberg, research development manager in the Office of Research and Engagement, assisted Clemons with her application.

“Faculty awards, including memberships and fellowships in scholarly societies, serve as important marks of the distinction of an institution’s faculty,” Rutenberg noted.

“An ACLS Fellowship demonstrates UT’s commitment to scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. It is one of the most prestigious awards that a researcher can receive and serves as recognition for the outstanding accomplishments of UT faculty.”

The longest running program in the organization’s portfolio, the ACLS Fellowship program supports outstanding scholarship with the potential to make significant contributions to knowledge within and across fields. In 2022, the program will award more than $3.7 million to 60 scholars selected from nearly 1,000 applicants through a rigorous, multi-stage peer review process.

For more information about ACLS and other major fellowship programs, contact Alan Rutenberg (