Three Win National Endowment
For Humanities Fellowships
By Sherry Fisher
Three faculty members have been awarded prestigious research fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Susan Porter Benson, associate professor of history; Margaret Gilbert, professor of philosophy; and Brenda Murphy, professor of English, were among 167 scholars nationwide to receive fellowships to support their research.
"This is the largest national contest for humanists and is highly competitive," says Richard Brown, director of the University's Humanities Institute. "To win three fellowships in a single year is a mark of distinction."
The NEH fellowship will support Porter Benson's work on a book about women's work ethics in the 1920s and 1930s.
Porter Benson was raised in Western Pennsylvania's steel-mill district and became interested in labor and working-class history. She earned a master's degree in American Civilization at Brown University and a doctorate in history from Boston University. Her first book was Counter Cultures: Saleswomen, Managers and Customers in American Department Stores, 1890-1945 (University of Illinois Press, 1986).
While completing her dissertation, she worked for several years for Threads, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers' Union Humanities project for union members funded by NEH. Her second book, Money Matters: Working-Class Family Economies in Interwar USA (Cornell University Press) will be published in 2003.
Porter Benson, who came to the University in 1993 as associate professor of history and director of women's studies, headed the Women's Studies Program from 1993 to 1998.
Gilbert will work on a new book provisionally titled Rights Reconsidered. Over the years, her work has focused on philosophical social theory, which concerns the nature of central social phenomena such as social groups, social conventions, group beliefs and emotions, and shared or collective intention and action. In her book On Social Facts (1989), she started to expound upon her 'plural subject theory'. Her books Living Together (1996) and Sociality and Responsibility (2000) elaborate on and further develop plural subject theory.
Gilbert earned a bachelor's degree in classics and philosophy from Cambridge University and a B.Phil. and a D.Phil. in philosophy from Oxford. She has been at UConn since 1983.
Porter Benson and Gilbert are currently fellows of the Humanities Institute.
Murphy, whose work focuses on American drama and theater, will conduct research for a book on "The Provincetown Movement and American Modernism." The Provincetown Players were the "most significant and most influential American theater group of the 20th century," Murphy says. She will study the role they played in the invention and development of American Modernism, and their impact on 20th-century culture. Central Provincetown figures, including Eugene O'Neill, Susan Glaspell, John Reed, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and e.e. cummings, will be discussed.
Murphy's recent books include O'Neill: Long Day's Journey Into Night (2002), Congressional Theatre: Dramatizing McCarthyism on Stage, Film, and Television (1999); Miller: Death of a Salesman (1995); and Tennessee Williams and Elia Kazan: A Collaboration in the Theatre (1992), all published by Cambridge University Press. She has also edited books and has written many critical and historical articles on American drama and theater.
Murphy, who joined the UConn faculty in 1989, earned a Ph.D. from Brown University.