2023-2024 faculty and student achievements in the humanities and arts

Mariah Cady
Mariah Cady became UGA’s latest Rhodes Scholar.

Humanities and arts faculty and students at UGA continued to showcase the world-class quality of their research, teaching, and public engagement during the 2023-24 academic year, collecting nationally competitive fellowships and awards, publishing books ranging from academic monographs to fiction and poetry, mounting acclaimed exhibitions and performances, and distinguishing themselves in innumerable other ways. Below is a sampling of their accomplishments.

If you have received a major grant, fellowship, or prize in the humanities and arts, or had a significant publication, exhibition, or performance of your work, and are not listed here, please let us know. We would love to share the news of your success.

• Attila Gyucha, assistant professor of archaeology in the department of anthropology, co-curated The First Kings of Europe, an exhibition at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History. Gyucha is also the leading editor of two books that accompanied the exhibition, which showcased more than 700 artifacts from the Neolithic to the Iron Age in the Balkans and neighboring regions with the object of examining the emergence of cultural hierarchies in European societies.

• Stephen Berry, Gregory Professor of the Civil War Era in the department of history, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Public Scholars grant for his book project The Original Black Panther: Prince Rivers and the Lost City of Hamburg, a biography of Rivers (1824–1887) who was by turns a slave, color sergeant of the First South Carolina Volunteer Division of the Union Army, a South Carolina state legislator, and mayor of Hamburg, SC.

Kalyani Ramnath, assistant professor of history, was awarded a 2024 ACLS fellowship for “Adrift in the Indian Ocean,” a research project exploring how and why empires and nation-states looked beyond land-based territorial conquests and claimed maritime spaces. Ramnath also published her book Boats in a Storm: Law, Migration, and Decolonization in South and Southeast Asia, 1942–1962 with Stanford University Press in 2023.

• UGA Creative Writing Program Ph.D. candidate Christina Wood received a Writer of Note grant from the deGroot Foundation in support of her novel-in-progress, Escapes.

• Barbara McCaskill, professor of English, associate academic director of the Willson Center, and affiliate faculty of the Institute for Women’s Studies and the Institute for African American Studies, was this year’s recipient of the Institute for Women’s Studies Faculty Award at the Institute’s annual Women Faculty Reception. The award was given in appreciation for Dr. McCaskill’s internationally recognized scholarship, her decades of leadership in African American studies, literature and public humanities, her mentorship of students and junior colleagues, and her abiding interest in finding new ways to educate, research, explore, and advocate.

• Joseph Peragine, director of the Lamar Dodd School of Art, had a solo exhibition titled Low Anchored Cloud at Atlanta’s Marcia Wood Gallery.

• The November announcement that Mariah Cady had been selected as a 2024 Rhodes Scholar was followed in December by the news that her fellow senior Ashni Patel had earned a 2025 Schwartzman Scholarship. Cady will begin her course of study at the University of Oxford in fall 2024 as Patel enters a one-year master’s degree program in global affairs at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

Éric Morales-Franceschini, associate professor of English and Latin American and Caribbean studies, was awarded the Modern Language Association’s annual Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize for an outstanding book published in English or Spanish in the field of Latin American and Spanish literatures and cultures, for The Epic of Cuba Libre: The Mambí, Mythopoetics, and Liberation, published by the University of Virginia Press. Morales-Franceschini also published the poetry collection Syndrome in January.

Ed Pavlić, Distinguished Research Professor of English, African American Studies, and Creative Writing, published the essay “James Baldwin’s Day of Mourning” in the Boston Review and “Anita Baker Introduced Us and Patrice Rushen Did the Rest” in the Winter 2023 Southern Music issue of Oxford American. The latter was chosen for inclusion in The Best American Essays 2024.

• English PhD candidate Hannah V Warren’s first full poetry collection Slaughterhouse for Old Wives’ Tales was published by Sundress Publications.

• UGA faculty including Cindy Hahamovich (History) and Jane McPherson (Sociology) are working with community members and the Athens Historical Society to produce a series of very documentary films about Athens history that are designed to align with teaching standards for 11th grade U.S. history classes. The first two films are complete and available here, and several more are in the works. The project has been supported in part by the department of history, and the videos are produced in consultation with local teachers and students.

• The UGA Libraries have named the inaugural recipients of the Fairchild-Holcomb Awards for Innovation in the Humanities, which are administered in partnership with the Willson Center. The seed grants are for projects aimed at creating educational materials and a podcast or documentary drawing upon archival materials from UGA’s Special Collections Libraries. Congratulations to Michelle Ritchie (Public Health) and Jane McPherson (Social Work), who will work with Mazie Bowen (Hargrett Library) on a project exploring environmental and human histories along the North Oconee River, and to Steven Soper (History) and Sarah Shannon (Sociology), whose project is on prison reform in the 1960s and 1970s.

• UGA has been named a top producer of Fulbright U.S. students for the second year in a row and the sixth time in 12 years. Eleven students and recent alumni, the majority of whom include the arts and/or humanities in their scholarship, were offered Fulbright awards for 2023-2024.

• Youjin Kong, assistant professor in the department of philosophy, is the principal investigator of one of ten university-wide projects awarded 2023 Presidential Interdisciplinary Seed Grants. The project, “Developing Applied Institutional Ethics for the Age of AI: Interdisciplinary Approaches,” also includes faculty from the School of Public and International Affairs, the School of Computing, the School of Law, and the Terry College of Business.

• Keith Langston, professor and head of the department of linguistics and professor of Germanic and Slavic studies in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences, is one of two UGA faculty members to be named 2023-2024 University Professors.

• Franklin College of Arts and Sciences humanities faculty members Dainess Maganda, senior lecturer in the department of comparative literature and intercultural studies, and Montgomery Wolf, principal lecturer in the department of history, received the University of Georgia Award for Excellence in Teaching for their dedication and creativity in the classroom. The award recognizes teaching faculty who strengthen the university’s mission by offering exemplary instruction, promoting innovation and providing an engaging environment for student learning.

Rachel Gabara and Jonathan Haddad of the department of Romance languages were awarded a $15,000 French in Higher Education Grant from the Albertine Foundation and the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. to support recruitment, programming, and student research and internships from 2024-2026. Additionally, Gabara was named the first Nancy Gillespie Brinning Professor in French.

Scott Reynolds Nelson, Georgia Athletic Association Professor of history and a former Guggenheim Fellow, has been awarded a Warren Center Fellowship at Harvard University for a new project on environmental justice in the Deep South.

Kalyani Ramnath, assistant professor of history, was awarded a 2024 ACLS fellowship for “Adrift in the Indian Ocean,” a research project exploring how and why empires and nation-states looked beyond land-based territorial conquests and claimed maritime spaces. Ramnath also published her book Boats in a Storm: Law, Migration, and Decolonization in South and Southeast Asia, 1942–1962 with Stanford University Press in 2023.

Victor Thompson, Distinguished Research Professor of anthropology, affiliated faculty in the Institute of Native American Studies, and director of the Laboratory of Archaeology, is one of three UGA faculty members who were named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Saurabh Anand, a PhD candidate in the department of English and assistant director of the Jill and Marvin Willis Center for Writing, has won multiple awards for his scholarship this academic year, including a Future Leader Award from the International Writing Center Association and a Short-term Research Grant from the German Academic Exchange Service. Read more about his accomplishments here.

Timothy Cleaveland, associate professor of history, received the Lioba Moshi Award for Service in African Studies. The award is presented by the UGA African Studies Institute in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences for continued service to the field of African Studies at the University of Georgia.

Susan Rosenbaum, associate professor in the department of English, was awarded the Creative Research Medal for Mina Loy: Navigating the Avant-Garde, a field-changing digital humanities project produced in collaboration with colleagues at Davidson College and Duquesne University.

Jamie Kreiner, professor in the department of History, was named Distinguished Research Professor 2024. Kreiner is a historian of Europe and the Mediterranean world in the early Middle Ages (400 to 800 CE). Her prizewinning research asks how and why cultures changed in societies that remade themselves as the Roman Empire fractured.

Derrick Lemons, associate professor in the department of Religion, won the Albert Christ-Janer Creative Research Award. Lemons has played a central role in establishing, advancing, and naming a new interdisciplinary sub-field of research: theologically engaged anthropology.

Charlsie Wemple, a Class of 2024 history major, received the University of Georgia Presidential Award of Excellence, which recognizes undergraduate students in their final year of study who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement, heavy extracurricular involvement, and participated in service/involvement with their respective school or college.

• The Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Multidisciplinary Seed Grants Program supported six projects, including those with participation from humanities and arts faculty members Kelly Happe (Institute for Women’s Studies and department of communication studies), Pablo Lapegna (department of sociology and Latin American and Caribbean Studies Institute), and Martijn van Wagtendonk (Lamar Dodd School of Art).

• The UGA Arts Collaborative is among the supporters of an interdisciplinary team project that develops prototypes and arts-integrative methods to create three-dimensional cellular structures called organoids, which are of interest to researchers in a variety of biological and medical fields. One of the Organoids team leaders, Nadja Zeltner (above), assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology and cellular biology, received a National Science Foundation Career Grant for multi-year support of the project, while graduate assistant Christina James received an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. The Organoids project is also supported by a Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Multidisciplinary Seed Grant.