Union College Faculty Member Receives National Recognition

Published on
April 22, 2014
Dr. Jimmy Dean Smith, English Professor and Department Chair

Jimmy Dean Smith, Professor and Chair of the Department of English at Union College, has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of 30 seminars and institutes supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.  The Endowment is a federal agency that, each summer, supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities, and cultural institutions, so that faculty can work in collaboration and study with experts in humanities disciplines. 

Dr. Smith, whose areas of interest include Appalachian literature and religion and literature, will participate in an institute entitled "Reconsidering Flannery O’Connor."  The four-week program will be held in Milledgeville, Georgia, at Georgia College & State University and co-directed by Prof. Marshall Bruce Gentry of Georgia College & State University and by Prof. Robert Donahoo of Sam Houston State University. Summer Scholars will attend ten lectures, participate in seminars conducted by four leading O’Connor scholars, and spend a week working with materials available to scholars only through the Georgia College library. 


“O’Connor’s profound, troubling, and still hilarious stories strike at the very heart of what it means to be a sinner struggling toward grace in our world,” said Smith. “Her fiction and essays wrestle with the same ideas that are at the foundation of a church-related liberal arts college like Union.”


The twenty-five teachers selected to participate in the program each receive a stipend of $3,300 to cover their travel, study, and living expenses.  


Topics for the 30 seminars and institutes offered for college and university teachers this summer include Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia: literature, the arts, and cinema since independence; American Maritime People; America's East Central Europeans: migration and memory; arts, architecture, and devotional interaction in England, 1200–1600; black aesthetics and African diasporic culture; bridging national borders in North America; Dante’s Divine Comedy: poetry, philosophy, and the city of Florence; Daoist literature and history; George Herbert and Emily Dickinson; Jewish Buenos Aires; the Late Ottoman and Russian Empires: citizenship, belonging and difference; mapping nature across the Americas; the meanings of property; medieval political philosophy: Islamic, Jewish, and Christian; Mississippi in the national civil rights narrative; the Mongols, Eurasia, and global history; mortality: facing death in ancient Greece; performing Dickens: Oliver Twist and Great Expectations on page, stage, and screen; pictorial histories and myths: “graphic novels” of the Mixtecs and Aztecs; problems in the study of religion; reconsidering Flannery O'Connor; reform and renewal in medieval Rome; representations of the “other”: Jews in medieval England; Socrates; Tudor books and readers: 1485–1603; the federal government and the American West; the visual culture of the American Civil War; westward expansion and the Constitution in the early American republic; World War I and the arts; World War I in the Middle East.


The approximately 437 NEH Summer Scholars who participate in these programs of study will teach over 113,925 American students the following year.