Allison Meyer chosen as a National Endowment for the Humanities scholar

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Kristina Wyman's picture
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Dr. Allison Meyer, assistant professor of English, recently received national recognition by being chosen as a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Scholar. She was selected from a group of scholars nationwide to participate in this seminar.

Meyer will be participating in one of 30 different seminars aimed for educators at the college and university level. The seminar is called “Tudor Books and Readers: 1485-1603” and will run from June 23 until July 26 for a total of five weeks. Its project directors are Dr. John N. King from Ohio State University and Dr. Mark Rankin from James Madison University.

Applicants from this program include distinguished college and university teachers specializing in art history, women’s studies, religious studies, communication studies and literacy studies. Ph.D. candidates recommended by their dissertation advisor are also able to participate in the seminar.

The program will focus on the study of books and reading during the Tudor Era. The participants will study the origins of English printing, particularly William Caxton’s press at Westminster in 1476. They will also study two of the most influential writers at the end of the Tudor dynasty, which include William Shakespeare and Edmund Spenser. The topics that will be discussed include medieval manuscript traditions, the nature of the construction of hand-printed books, book illustration, the marketing and dissemination of books, reading habits and censorship. The NEH is a federal agency that provides grant money to programs in the humanities. It was created in 1965 to promote “excellence in the humanities and conveys the lessons of history to all Americans.”

Because of the agency’s wide esteem, the selection process is highly competitive, and the proposals submitted are considered to be “top-rated.” The agency’s goals are to “strengthen teaching and learning in schools and colleges,” “facilitate research and original scholarship,” “preserve and provide access to cultural and educational resources” and “strengthen the institutional base of the humanities.”

The review process goes through multiple levels of evaluation. The first level is the panel review where outside experts look through the applicants, rate them and submit their recommendations to the NEH staff. The second is the NEH staff review where seven different divisions and offices of the agency evaluate the applications. The third is the review by the National Council on the Humanities where 26 distinguished scholars in the humanities go over the NEH recommendations and then submit their recommendations to the NEH chairman. The last level is the review from the chairman, who makes the final decision about which applicant will receive this grant.

“It is a great honor to be chosen to participate,” Meyer said. “The opportunity to use some of the world’s best research libraries and to see and read rare books that I would never otherwise encounter is also exciting. And the reading rooms or Renaissance gardens of the Plantin-Moretus Museum, the only existing 16th century printing house, sound like pretty nice places to read.”

A former student of Meyer’s and current undergraduate student at Cornell University, Kaitlyn Madden, says Meyer’s achievement will further expand Meyer’s teaching.

“I was really excited to hear about Professor Meyer’s grant. Her Shakespeare class was one of the most rewarding and stimulating courses I have taken, and I know that this opportunity will only strengthen her teaching skills,” Madden said.

Junior Brianna Abbott is happy about Meyer’s achievement.

“She was one of my favorite professors, and she’s great at what she does. I’m happy to hear about her grant because she definitely deserves it,” she said.

Meyer is currently working on a book project titled Tell-tale Women: Chronicling Gender, Politics, and Intertextuality in Early Modern Historiography, which gives a new analysis of the relationship between historical narratives and history plays by looking at women’s political agency in both genres.

Meyer holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a master’s of arts in English from the University of Idaho and a bachelor’s degree from Lewis and Clark College.

Starting the Fall of 2014, Meyer will be teaching English at Seattle University.

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