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KNOXVILLE — Two University of Tennessee, Knoxville, professors have been named National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) fellows for 2009.

Heather Hirschfeld, an associate professor of English, and David Reidy, an associate professor of philosophy, have received the fellowships, which are among the highest honors awarded to faculty in the humanities nationwide.

“These fellowships reflect not only the scholarly achievement and potential of our faculty, but also a continued national recognition of UT Knoxville as a top research institution in a broad array of fields,” said UT Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek. “We congratulate these faculty members for their contributions to their fields and to our campus.”

Fellowships from NEH are highly competitive. Only 76 winners were chosen from all colleges and universities nationwide this year, with only 6 percent of applicants receiving the award. UT Knoxville was one of just nine universities in the nation to receive two or more of the fellowships this year.

Leadership in the number of NEH fellowships is the result of a concerted effort at UT Knoxville; the campus is tied with the University of Virginia with the sixth most NEH fellows in the U.S. over the past five years. The fellowships are used by a number of outside parties as a measure of the success of a university’s programs in the humanities.

The fellowships fund researchers’ work for a specific project over the course of a year, and in that time they have the opportunity to focus on it exclusively.

Hirschfeld’s project is called “Tragedies of Satisfaction: Drama, Reform and Repentance in the Age of Shakespeare.” It examines English Renaissance tragedy in the context of Reformation debates about sin and atonement. The project charts the ways in which tragic Renaissance dramas address these questions. Hirschfeld also received an NEH summer stipend award in 2007 and a fellowship from the Folger Shakespeare Library in 2005 to pursue this work.

Reidy’s fellowship will support his work on an intellectual biography of John Rawls, perhaps the pre-eminent political philosopher of the 20th century. His project is the first to gain access to the Rawls archives, located at Harvard University. Reidy also has received the 2009 Berger Prize from the American Philosophical Association for the best article in the philosophy of law in the prior two years, his second time winning the award.

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. More information on the fellowships is available at http://www.neh.gov.


Jay Mayfield (865-974-9409, jay.mayfield@tennessee.edu)