Two professors named scholarship holders of the National Center for Human Sciences


Two humanities and social sciences professors will work on individual research projects during one-year fellowships at the National Humanities Center.

The center has named professors Blair Kelley and Jason Miller two of 33 scholars who will serve as resident fellows in the 2022-2023 academic year. While there, Kelley and Miller will each work on their respective book projects.

Kelley, a history professor and the college’s assistant dean for interdisciplinary studies and international programs, will work on her project, Black Folk: The Promise of the Black Working Class.

Kelley’s book traces the history of the black working class from early emancipations to the essential workers of our present COVID-19 through family histories and traditional sources. It also describes the connection between the daily experience of black workers and their work and politics.

black people explores the difference it makes to look at the world from the perspective of the black working class. It’s been a tremendous labor of love that has given me the chance to incorporate my family’s stories into the larger narrative of black history, as I’ve always thought of,” Kelley said of of the book for which she received a grant from the Whiting Foundation.

Blair Kelley

Miller, an English teacher, will be working on his book, Backlash Blues: Nina Simone and Langston Hughes. Miller said he would continue his research the 20andcentury American poet Langston Hughes and Hughes’ friendship with blues and soul legend Nina Simone and incorporate him into Backlash blues.

“The project shows how Hughes established Simone’s reputation and forever shaped her image as the High Priestess of the Soul. Beyond his friendship and public support, the poet was responsible for four Simone songs recorded during the most pivotal years of his career (1964-67).

“This relationship is key to truly understanding these two iconic American artists. The depths of this influence are finely documented in the book. Hughes and Simone remain indefinable, and each of them can be heard again through this rare sound“added Miller.

Portrait of Jason Miller
Jason Miller

The National Humanities Center, located in Research Triangle Park, offers nearly 40 residential fellowships each year for advanced study in the humanities. Kelley and Miller were selected from a pool of 592 applicants. They join a group of 31 North Carolina State humanities scholars who have also been fellows since 1978.

Kelley, the recipient of the 2022 Alumni Distinguished Graduate Teacher Award, has been a faculty member of the NC State History Department since 2002 and Assistant Dean for Interdisciplinary Studies and International Programs since 2014. Her scholarship focuses on the history of African-American resistance to segregation. For more information on his work, visit Kelley’s faculty page.

Miller, a former recipient of a 2022 Outstanding Research Award, has been a faculty member of NC State’s Department of English since 2005. His research interests include 20and American poetry of the century, American literature, literary theory and pedagogy. For more information on his work, visit Miller’s faculty page.

This post was originally published at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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