LSU Professor Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship
BATON ROUGE – LSU Department of English Associate Professor Katherine Henninger has
been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. The National Endowment
for the Humanities, or NEH, announced funding for 290 projects in 43 states, the District
of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. A variety of humanities-based research and programs
will be supported by $16.3 million in grants.
“The humanities help us study our past, understand our present and prepare for our
future,” said NEH Chairman William D. Adams. “The National Endowment for the Humanities
is proud to support projects that will benefit all Americans and remind us of our
shared human experience.”
The fellowship will support the research and writing of Henninger’s third book titled,
“Made Strangely Beautiful: Southern Childhoods in U.S. Literature and Film.” She is
one of 86 university faculty in the country to receive the recent round of NEH fellowships
to support advanced research.
“I’m thrilled and honored for my work to receive the national recognition and support
that the NEH Fellowship confers,” Henninger said.
“This prestigious fellowship adds to the large body of work on southern culture and
further solidifies LSU as a leader in this area of research. I am pleased that Dr.
Henninger’s innovative work will continue to advance humanities research even further,”
said Dean Stacia Haynie, LSU College of Humanities & Social Sciences.
While designing an undergraduate course about the South in literature and film at
LSU several years ago, Henninger saw that representations of childhood were a recurring
theme in such classics as “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “To Kill a Mockingbird”
and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
“However, I was amazed to find that there exists almost no broader scholarship on
the long, curious but utterly canonical tradition of narrativizing southern childhood
in U.S literature and film. My book is an attempt to fill that gap, making connections
between past and contemporary representations,” she said.
Her book, “Made Strangely Beautiful,” is an interdisciplinary rhetorical analysis
of tropes of childhood in literature and film of or about the South, focusing particularly
on contemporary representations. Southern children are depicted as figures of both
natural innocence and social corruption as well as essential purity and fundamental
ambiguity. These figurative children embody the fissures of race, sexuality, gender
expression and class that threaten to undermine liberal rhetoric of U.S. national
identity, and also represent the nation’s best hope of transcending those divisions.
“Through a series of textual case studies, I demonstrate that even, and perhaps especially,
in a nation grasping toward a post-millennial, post-racial, post-southern future,
the ever-vital, endangered, often ugly, strangely beautiful southern child is made
to lead the way,” she said.
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