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KNOXVILLE — A University of Tennessee English professor has earned a fellowship that will allow an in-depth study of the role of character in Greek rhetorical training.

Janet M. Atwill has received a $40,000 National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. Her work will re-examine traditional theories on the relationship between rhetoric and ethics in ancient Greek society.

Atwill is the second UT English professor in as many years to receive an NEH fellowship. Dr. Thomas Heffernan was awarded a grant last year for his work in hagiography, or biographical works of saints or venerated persons.

NEH fellowships are highly competitive and awarded to individuals pursuing advanced research in the humanities that contributes to scholarly knowledge or to the general public-s understanding of the humanities.

NEH officials said that only one out of nine proposals were funded this year placing Atwill in a -unique winners- circle.-

John Zomchick, head of UT-s English department, said Atwill has made substantial scholarly contributions toward understanding the relationship between rhetoric in ancient Greece and in the contemporary world.

-Dr. Atwill-s already significant national reputation in the field of classical rhetoric will be further enhanced by this prestigious and very competitive award,- said Zomchick.

Atwill is the author of -Rhetoric Reclaimed: Aristotle and the Liberal Arts Tradition- and numerous articles on ancient and contemporary rhetoric. She is co-editor of the book -Viability of the Rhetorical Tradition and Perspectives on Rhetorical Invention.- She serves on the board of directors of the Rhetoric Society of America and the executive committee on history and theory of rhetoric of the Modern Languages Association. She has served as president of the American Society for the History of Rhetoric. Atwill received her Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1990.

Research about Greek rhetoric promotes a further understanding of language and its relationship to poetry, politics, religion, law and other cultural influences.

The NEH is an independent grant agency of the U.S. government committed to furthering the humanities. Grants are awarded to support efforts in research, education, preservation and public programming.

Contact: Beth Gladden (865-974-9008) or beth.gladden@tennessee.edu.