Three CAL Faculty Receive NEH Grant Awards for Their Innovative Projects

By Leslie L.J. Reilly

Elizabeth Pollard, History; Consuelo Carr Salas, Rhetoric and Writing Studies; Salas, Ranin Kazemi, International Business

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $24.7 million in new grants for 208 humanities projects across the country. These awards strengthen the teaching and study of the humanities in higher education through the development or enhancement of humanities programs, courses, and resources. 

At the College of Arts and Letters, two scholars received grants for NEH Humanities Initiatives at Hispanic-Serving Institutions to focus on curricular innovations and to enhance educational resources. They were among a group of 33 awardees receiving a total of $4.7 million from the NEH. One CAL scholar received one of 25 NEH Awards for Faculty totaling $1.3 million to support humanities scholars in noteworthy research and writing projects. 

"I am thrilled and proud that three of our faculty members were awarded NEH grants in this cycle,” College of Arts and Letters Dean Monica Casper said. “Each funded project embodies CAL's overall excellence in the humanities, while also making vital contributions to our understanding of Iranian history, comics and social justice, and the teaching of writing."

Consuelo Carr Salas, rhetoric and writing studies assistant professor, was awarded a grant of $145,832 for the project, “Creating Expansive Approaches to the Teaching of Writing in a Southern California Border Region.” Carr Salas and her team, including Cali Linfor, Karen Koss, and Kathryn Valentine, will develop faculty enrichment opportunities with teaching resources to build curriculum for writing courses that center on a global rhetorics approach.

The grant is a three-year initiative that will bring together diverse faculty dedicated to inclusion, equity, and expanding the rhetorical tradition. “We will design first-year and upper division writing course curricula that prioritizes equitable rhetoric and writing teaching practices, linguistic diversity, and asset-based assessment practices,” Carr Salas said. 

“We are extremely excited to have funding to engage in this work,” Carr Salas added. “We look forward to gathering materials, speaking with various scholars, and working together to adjust our curriculum to continue supporting students with their rhetoric and writing skills in their courses at SDSU, their community, and eventual professions.

Elizabeth Pollard, professor of history, received an award of $149,998 to support “Building a Comics and Social Justice Curriculum.” Pollard co-directs, with Pamela Jackson, popular culture librarian and comic arts curator in Special Collections and University Archives, the [email protected] collaborative team who will develop ten new courses, a certificate program in comic studies, and workshops that bring scholars to campus to energize comic studies during the next two years.

Since fall 2019, the [email protected] collaborative has built a strong foundation of innovative coursework and deep scholarship. This NEH grant will expand SDSU’s course offerings and curriculum focused on the unique power of comics and graphic novels to engage with social justice issues. 

“Through engagement with social justice issues like racial discrimination, gender inequality, sexual identity, and immigration, the ever-changing medium of comics is a changemaker,” Pollard wrote in the grant application.“Humanists are well-positioned to trace that change and, through scholarship and teaching, make meaning of its power.” 

“The humanistic approach to the study of comics that we’ll cultivate through workshops, courses, and a certificate program will empower thousands of students to visualize and manifest a more just future,” Pollard added.

Ranin Kazemi, international business director and associate professor in history, was awarded a $60,000 NEH Award for Faculty. 

Kazemi’s grant allows him to continue research and writing culminating in a book on popular uprisings in Iran, in the early 19th-century, titled “The Making of the First Revolutionary Movement in Modern Iran, 1850-1892.”

The book is the first systematic study of the origins of the Tobacco Protest. It is based on unpublished diaries, travelogues, personal letters, legal documents, foreign consular reports, government intelligence communications, and a range of other archival and published sources in Persian, Ottoman, Arabic, French, and English. 

Kazemi has been researching the subject since 2009. “Looking at this long-term history helps us understand Iran and the Middle East in the 21st-century,” Kazemi said. 

The award supports Kazemi in finalizing his manuscript beginning in fall 2022 and ending in summer 2023. “I was pleasantly surprised to receive the award, and feel honored to have the opportunity to work on it full-time,” he said. 

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