On January 14, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) awarded English Prof. Elizabeth Duquette a $60,000 grant to support her research on Civil War era author Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. The NEH, an independent federal agency, supports various projects, including advanced research by college and university teachers and independent scholars.
“These projects will open pathways for students to engage meaningfully with the humanities and focus public attention on the history, culture, and political thought of the United States’ first 250 years as a nation,” said NEH Chairman Peede, commenting on the winning projects in a press release.
Duquette’s project draws on her expertise in 19th century American literature and the Civil War. As an NEH fellow, she plans to write a biography of Elizabeth Stuart Phelps (1844-1911), who was not only a prolific and popular 19th century author, but also a tireless advocate for the rights of women and animals. Phelps’s most famous work, The Gates Ajar (1868), sold more than 600,000 copies and offered readers devastated by the death toll of the Civil War a comforting new vision of heaven.
“There’s a lot to interest readers in Phelps’s fascinating life,” Duquette observed. “When complete, Elizabeth Stuart Phelps: The Woman Who Invented Heaven will introduce Phelps to a general audience, locating her life and works in a rich account of U.S. culture, and provide scholars with a synthetic account of this prominent figure in American literary history. I’m excited the NEH decided to fund this project.”
By Megan Miller
Photo by Miranda Harple