ACLS Project Development Grants

ACLS Project Development Grants offer flexible seed funding to help advance the research agendas of faculty at teaching-intensive colleges and universities. This new program is part of ACLS’s commitment to recognize scholarly excellence from all sectors of higher education and beyond, and it is funded by our endowment, to which many individuals and institutions have contributed, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, ACLS’s Research University Consortium and college and university Associates, former fellows, and individuals and friends.

Read more about these awards on the ACLS Fellowship program page.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Philis M. Barragán Goetz
Philis M. Barragán Goetz  |  Abstract
This project offers the first book-length biography of Jovita González, a historian, folklorist, writer, and teacher from Texas. Using an interdisciplinary methodology, the project contends that González’s personal and professional history serves as a microcosm for the ways in which Mexican American women contributed to the emergence of the Mexican American middle-class, established themselves as intellectuals and leaders in their own right, and engaged with and bolstered the objectives of the Mexican American civil rights movement. This grant will support summer salary and childcare expenses, and will enable archival research.

Assistant Professor, History, Texas A&M University-San Antonio  -  The Borderlands of Inclusivity: Jovita González and the Mexican American Civil Rights Movement

Emily L. Master
Emily L. Master  |  Abstract
Understanding how Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, created an enduring monarchy after a century of violent instability requires a careful examination of his lawmaking. While Augustus’ rule is among the most studied periods in pre-modern European history, the exploitation of law to underpin autocratic power has not been understood. This project, the first comprehensive study of Augustan law, argues that lawmaking was a central aspect of the formation of imperial rule: Augustus manipulated statute law to articulate his regime’s ideology, while also transforming lawmaking as the foundation for continuing monarchical power. The ACLS grant will provide summer salary to advance this book project.

Instructor, Classics, Agnes Scott College  -  The Leges Iuliae: Augustus, the Law, and the New Order

Tara Lynn Conley
Tara Lynn Conley  |  Abstract
“Bound to Belong” is an ethnographic book project about placemaking along polarized city landscapes confronting broader societal transformation in the era of Black Lives Matter. Namely, this book aims to: 1) illustrate how “the ordinary” framework can be used to develop new understandings about modes of placemaking and race, or what is called “placescapes,” and 2) provide evidence to reconfigure policy debates around equity, justice, and inclusion that centers the experiences of young people of color and advocates in the community.

Assistant Professor, Communication and Media, Montclair State University  -  Bound to Belong: Race and Mediated Life in an American City

Colleen M. Moore
Colleen M. Moore  |  Abstract
“At War with the State” explores how the mobilization of the Russian peasant population for the First World War undermined peasants’ faith in the autocracy and transformed their understanding of state power. The autocracy’s reliance on peasant resources to sustain the war effort engendered among peasants the expectation that the state would recognize their sacrifices by safeguarding their welfare. Based on research in Russian archives, this project reconstructs the ways in which the autocracy’s failure to satisfy peasant needs rendered its authority illegitimate in the eyes of the peasantry. The grant will support the completion of the book manuscript.

Assistant Professor, History, James Madison University  -  At War with the State: Russian Peasants, Mass Mobilization, and the End of the Autocracy

Nick Dorzweiler
Nick Dorzweiler  |  Abstract
In the late 1930s, the National Broadcasting Corporation commissioned the renowned political scientist Harold Lasswell to produce “Human Nature in Action,” a radio show designed to prevent political unrest by habituating listeners to the psychological pressures of American individualism. Uncovering the heretofore unexamined archives of this show, “On Air” not only explains why Lasswell and NBC believed Americans needed such habituation. It also places Lasswell’s show within the context of political science’s larger ambitions to reform American politics, despite its unruly and even irrational nature. This grant will support archival research, conference travel, and writing during the 2021-2022 academic year.

Visiting Assistant Professor, Political Science and Women's and Gender Studies, Wheaton College (MA)  -  On Air: Harold Lasswell, NBC Radio, and the Psychotherapy Program for the American Masses

Faith I. Okpotor
Faith I. Okpotor  |  Abstract
“Electing Violence” examines the dynamics of post-election violence, or PEV, in Africa. Adopting an analyticist methodology and a postcolonial constructivist theoretical framework, it addresses sources and causes of PEV and variation in its intensity. Theoretically, it provides an ideal-type that explains PEV in Africa to be used in analysis of individual cases. Empirically, it provides in-depth case studies of three recent presidential elections in Africa. Drawing from extensive fieldwork in Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, and Nigeria, this book project enhances security studies by delineating the mechanisms and processes of PEV with broader implications for conflict management and peacebuilding. The grant will support manuscript completion in 2021-2022.

Assistant Professor, Political Science, Moravian College  -  Electing Violence: Post-Election Violence in Africa

Deshonay Dozier
Deshonay Dozier  |  Abstract
This project shows how poor and unhoused people reshape the penal organization of their lives through alternative visions and plans of Los Angeles. The project expands the concept of contested development to show the push and pull contradictions of spatial difference where poor people produce alternatives against the elite and carceral development of the city between the 1930s and 2020. Using archival and ethnographic methods, this project details a several decades long tradition of poetic, sonic, legal, and insurgent planning from Los Angeles’s Skid Row to show how another city is possible.

Assistant Professor, Geography, California State University, Long Beach  -  Another City Is Possible: Skid Row and the Struggle for a Better Los Angeles

Luis Ernesto Poza
Luis Ernesto Poza  |  Abstract
Policies and pedagogical practice to support students classified as English Learners in schools often rely on deficit frameworks about bi/multilingual students and on mechanistic language learning paradigms. The proposed study advances more humanistic approaches by combining ethnographic research within a budding Ethnic Studies program with analysis of dignity frameworks across law and philosophy to expand understandings of educational dignity. From this analysis, the work outlines characteristics of dignity-affirming pedagogies and educational policies for English Learners in US schools.

Assistant Professor, Teacher Education, San Jose State University  -  To Be Seen and Heard: Dignity, Language, and Educational Rights in the United States

Claire J.C. Eager
Claire J.C. Eager  |  Abstract
"Vertuall Paradise" traces visions of paradise from Spenser to Milton alongside the material practices of making poems, plays, books, and gardens in the period, with a particular focus on imperial, ecological, and ethical implications of these cross-media conversations. By close reading texts, objects, and landscapes, the book reveals tensions between the virtual paradisal spaces and the material conditions that both inspire flights of fancy and bring them down to earth. "Vertuall Paradise" demonstrates the profound resources the early modern period offers us as we face our own complex political, social, and environmental challenges. This grant supports writing during summer 2021. (Photography by Matt Dilyard.)

Visiting Assistant Professor, English, The College of Wooster  -  Vertuall Paradise: Vaulting Ambitions Brought to Earth in Early Modern England

Robert Rouphail
Robert Rouphail  |  Abstract
“Cyclonic Lives” is an environmental history of twentieth century Mauritius. Through an integrative analysis of colonial archival material, oral histories, newspapers, and vernacular cultural forms like poetry, music, and legend, “Cyclonic Lives” argues that tropical cyclones are generative events in the historical formation of popular notions of racial identity, gendered personhood, and national belonging on this Indian Ocean island. Whether it be how they made legible the material asymmetries produced by racial difference or how they sparked colonial anxieties over women’s bodies with respect to ecological stability and population growth, this manuscript sheds new light on the historical importance of these storms in the western Indian Ocean World.

Assistant Professor, History, Susquehanna University  -  Cyclonic Lives in an Indian Ocean World: Environment, Race, and Gender in Modern Mauritius

Leah Goldman
Leah Goldman  |  Abstract
“Creative Comrades” explores the unique form of collaborative creativity and control developed by Soviet composers during the Stalinist state’s postwar campaign against the intelligentsia. It argues that in the absence of clearly defined aesthetic standards and the presence of high-stakes consequences for transgression, Soviet composers developed a form of collective self-censorship that proved far more effective at controlling their creative production than the state could have achieved alone. Further, it demonstrates that new works were so profoundly shaped by the collaborative process of critique and revision that those who took part must be understood not merely as advisors and regulators, but as co-authors. The grant will support completion of the manuscript during the 2021-2022 year.

Assistant Professor, History, Washington and Jefferson College  -  Creative Comrades: Censorship and Collaboration in Late Stalinist Music

Evelyn Soto
Evelyn Soto  |  Abstract
“Tainted Translations” reveals creative forms of political community forged in the crucible of hemispheric geopolitics throughout the long nineteenth century. This project situates Latina/o/x political pasts within a new literary and cultural geography: of densely interconnected revolutionary movements across the Caribbean, continental South America, and US during and beyond the historical uprisings of 1808-1826. By close reading an interdisciplinary and multilingual range of literary, legal, and historical texts, the book assembles an archive of early Latinx political imaginaries that contest enduring narratives of US exceptionalism and myths of “mixed” racial democracy in Latin American nationalisms. This grant will support archival research and writing over the 2021-22 year.

Assistant Professor, English, Sam Houston State University  -  Tainted Translations: Early Latinx Political Imaginaries and Trans-American Empire

Sarah Koellner
Sarah Koellner  |  Abstract
The rise of mass surveillance in the twenty-first century has challenged traditional notions of privacy. “Participatory Privacy in Contemporary German Culture” argues that notions of privacy have not disappeared or atrophied, but rather adapted to the new cultural, political, and legal contexts of the digital age. Through the lens of artistic expressions, the project develops an understanding of privacy as both a tool of collective self-protection and a means of resistance against everyday mass surveillance. The grant will support the manuscript’s development during the fall of 2021.

Assistant Professor, German and Russian Studies, College of Charleston  -  Participatory Privacy in Contemporary German Culture

Julianna Blair Watson
Julianna Blair Watson  |  Abstract
This project examines aesthetics of self-representation across Anglophone and Francophone Africa and their diasporas in the cinema of Raoul Peck. Through a transnational, transcultural and translingual reading of Peck’s films on Haiti, the Congo, Rwanda, and the U.S., the project argues that Peck enacts a new mode of representing Blackness, enabling each iteration of the African diaspora to speak its own (hi)stories to and through one another. This cinematic dialogue performs a transnational Black consciousness that defies borders and creates a space for justice and contrapuntal responses to anti-Blackness narratives. This grant will support summer salary for research and writing.

Assistant Professor, French and Francophone Studies, Santa Clara University  -  Unheard Voices, Unknown Faces: Raoul Peck and Transnational Black Consciousness