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Two UT Professors Receive Prestigious National Humanities Fellowships

Two professors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have received National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships.

Tore OlssonTore Olsson, assistant professor of history, will study the interaction between U.S. and Mexican efforts to modernize agriculture in the 1930s and 1940s, alongside the cross-pollination of the U.S. New Deal and the Mexican Revolution. The project, which reveals rarely acknowledged similarities between the histories of the U.S. and Mexico, will culminate in a book to be published in 2017 or 2018.

Tina ShepardsonTina Shepardson, professor of religious studies, will study religious violence and persecution in the Middle East in the fifth through seventh centuries, with a focus on the development of the Syrian Orthodox Church. Her resulting book will shed new light on this historical example of Christian conflict, radicalization and schism, and should help us understand and respond to religious conflicts today.

The NEH awarded each professor $50,400. The agency awarded 80 fellowships this year, and UT faculty received two.

Olsson and Shepardson’s works are among 295 humanities projects nationwide to share $21.8 million in NEH grants.

“This year only 6 percent of applicants for the highly competitive and prestigious NEH Research Fellowships received awards across the nation. I am very proud that two of these competitive awards were received by faculty in our college,” said Theresa Lee, dean of the UT College of Arts and Sciences. “We continue to have a success rate in the top 10 of all universities in the United States, which reflects very well on the caliber of our faculty.”

The NEH is an independent federal agency that funds projects in fields such as history, literature, philosophy and archaeology. It awards grants three times a year for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent external reviewers.

To read more about other funded projects, visit http://www.neh.gov/news/press-release/2015-12-14.