Fairfield Faculty Receive National Awards for Innovative Teaching and Research
Two esteemed faculty members from Fairfield University’s College of Arts and Science recently received substantial grant awards from the National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) in recognition of their innovative teaching and academic research.
Assistant History Professor Dr. Silvia Marsans-Sakly was one of only 85 university professors nationwide to receive a prestigious NEH fellowship to pursue her advanced research in Middle Eastern history. The $50,400 grant will support her latest project - Power, Protest and Memory in Tunisia, 1864-2011: From Ben Ghadhaham to Bouazizi - a book-length study of the Tunisian revolt of 1864, and the impact that the memory of the revolt has had on subsequent Tunisian history. The book will offer new evidence and insights unearthed by Marsans-Sakly’s research that challenge historical accounts of the uprising and reveal hidden facts that allude to a sense of historical revisionism that has occurred over the decades.
After serving three years in Tunisia as a member of the U.S. Peace Corps, Dr. Marsans-Sakly’s experience ignited a lifelong passion for the people, cultures, and history of North Africa and the Islamic world. Fluent in French and Arabic, she has been continuously engaged with the country for over a decade, living and traveling to Tunisia in official employment and in research capacities funded by various international grant agencies. Her current book project will be the first English publication written on the politics of historical memory in Tunisia, marking a significant contribution to the emerging field of North African Studies that will appeal to multiple audiences including anthropologists and scholars of cultural studies. She has submitted book proposals to Routledge, Stanford, and Cambridge University Presses and has already received publication offers.
Professor of Music Dr. Laura Nash was awarded a $175,323 NEH grant to support an intensive, three-week academic institute at Fairfield that will engage 30 teachers from across the U.S. in an experiential study of African-American culture. The summer institute, From Harlem to Hip-hop: African-American History, Literature, and Song, will provide a fascinating study of the cultural and historical contexts that helped shape, and continue to impact, social and racial dynamics in the U.S. Through a series of scholarly lectures, seminar discussions, and experiential visits to artistic and cultural sites in New York City, participants will examine the significant impact that the black community’s cultural achievements and musical heritage have had on American life, from the Great Migration in 1910 to the creative explosion of today’s hip-hop generation.
“Because of its popular appeal and call for civil rights, hip-hop is a significant factor in our current cultural climate,” Dr. Nash said. “Any serious inquiry of American culture cannot ignore this powerful form of expression, and given the current racial tensions in our county, this topic is both underrepresented and needed.”
This is the second grant award Dr. Nash has received from the NEH in recognition of her innovations in teaching music. In 2009, she was awarded a NEH Teaching Fellowship to further develop her creative advances in music education, in addition to being named “Connecticut Professor of the Year” by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.