Wednesday, March 7, 2007

WC's Professor Knight Awarded Wilson Fellowship

One of only 20 nationwide to receive prestigious award

Chestertown, MD, March 7, 2007 — Washington College is pleased to announce that Dr. Alisha Knight, Assistant Professor of English and American Studies and Director of the Black Studies Program, has been awarded a Woodrow Wilson Career Enhancement Fellowship.

The Wilson Fellowship, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, assists junior faculty in their pursuit of scholarly research and writing in order to support their chances for success as tenured academics.

An interdisciplinary committee of noted scholars reviewed the credentials of applicants nationwide from a range of fields in the humanities, social sciences and physical sciences. Dr. Knight is one of only 20 to receive this prestigious award.

"Dr. Knight's fellowship is an honor for Washington College as well as for her," said Provost and Dean Christopher Ames. "She is pursuing an important and original line of research, and this fellowship will allow her to bring that significant work to fruition earlier."

Under the auspices of the fellowship program, Dr. Knight intends to further her research into a unique aspect in the development of African-American literary history: the role of 19th-century subscription publishing.

Subscription books geared toward African-American readers were sold door-to-door by traveling agents. On the one hand, subscription publishing arguably was an optimal method for disseminating books to a primarily rural African-American readership that had limited access to bookstores. On the other hand, by the 1870s subscription publishing was suffering from a diminished reputation.

Dr. Knight's project raises (and attempts to answer) important questions about why African-American authors would choose subscription publishing and thereby risk their literary reputations. Studying book-dissemination methods can shed light on the roles these authors assumed as agents for social change.

The Wilson Fellowship award period runs from June 2007 to June 2008. It includes a stipend, a travel or publication grant, and a fall retreat. During the grant period, Dr. Knight will be paired with a scholar in her academic field who will advise and mentor her.

"The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation has supported intellectual leaders for over six decades," said Dr. Knight. "Not only am I honored and humbled to receive this award, but I also feel uplifted by this acknowledgement of my work and recognition of my potential."

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