Three faculty members in the College of Arts & Letters have won National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, extending the University of Notre Dame’s record success with the federal agency committed to supporting original research and scholarship.
Sara Bernstein, an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy; Tarryn Chun, an assistant professor in the Department of Film, Television, and Theatre; and Katie Jarvis, the Carl E. Koch Associate Professor in the Department of History, are among the class of fellows announced by the NEH this week.
Since 2000, Arts & Letters faculty have received more NEH fellowships than any other private university in the country. NEH fellowships are competitive awards granted to scholars pursuing projects that embody exceptional research, rigorous analysis, and clear writing.
“We are thrilled and proud that these members of our faculty are continuing Notre Dame’s unprecedented success in earning NEH fellowships and grants,” said Sarah A. Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts & Letters. “These awards recognize the outstanding research that is happening here across a range of disciplines, the creativity and originality of our scholars, as well as the excellent support provided by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts throughout the application process.”
Notre Dame also received a significant grant for a digital scholarship project led by Robert Goulding, director of the Reilly Center for Science, Technology, and Values, in partnership with the Navari Family Center for Digital Scholarship and director Scott Weingart as well as collaborators at the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library.
“These awards recognize the outstanding research that is happening here across a range of disciplines, the creativity and originality of our scholars, as well as the excellent support provided by the Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts throughout the application process.”
Bernstein will examine how different forms of inequality interact in ways that exacerbate one another in her project, titled “The Metaphysics of Intersectionality.”
Metaphysics is the study of fundamental reality, and metaphysicians examine the nature of things like space, time, causation, and possibility. In recent years, Bernstein said, metaphysicians also have turned their philosophical attention to the social world to explore the nature of social entities, including corporations, social groups, gender, and race.
Bernstein will explore the metaphysics of intersectionality — the idea that various forms of social oppression interact and intersect in ways that are greater than the sum of their components. The metaphysics of social categories is key to helping anyone understand how various factors or circumstances have shaped their identity, she said.
“For instance: How would you have been a different person if you had been a different biological sex than you are? That is, in many ways, a metaphysical question about what you hold fixed and what you vary in the worlds where you are different,” Bernstein said.
“Would you have had exactly the same personality and preferences, or have those things been shaped by social forces related to the social categories to which you belong? In this way, metaphysics can help us understand who we are through who we might have been.”
Bernstein, who is also a Gender Studies Program affiliate, will complete four papers during her fellowship. She plans to present her research at a meeting of the 2023 American Philosophical Association, the California Metaphysics Conference at the University of Southern California, and at other universities.
Originally published by al.nd.edu on January 13, 2022.at