Skip to main content

Westminster College and English Professor Receive $105,400 Grant for Summer Seminar Series

Share on:

Posted on Monday, August 8, 2016

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced today that Westminster College and Dr. Bethany Hicok, professor of English and director of the honors program, received a $105,400 grant to lead a three-week summer seminar for college and university professors on “Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive.”

Hicok’s grant was one of 290 humanities projects and programs funded by the NEH in a highly competitive process that selects top-rated proposals that have been examined and ranked by panels of independent reviewers. Hicok’s proposal was one of only seven selected of its type.

The summer seminars are designed to bring together 16 college and university professors from institutions across the country to share ideas, explore new teaching methods, and advance scholarship and teaching in the humanities.

“I am very excited about the prospect of working collaboratively with other scholars who are teaching this period of North American literature and are interested in how libraries and archives shape what we know about writers and their careers,” said Hicok. “Bishop and her archive provide an excellent case study for exploring larger questions that concern us in the humanities, such as how cultural and social forces shape artistic expression.”

Hicok’s seminar will focus on the Pulitzer prize-winning North American poet Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), her archive, and her extended literary and artistic circle. Hicok will be one of three experts to select participants for the seminar, and she will lead the seminar at Vassar College, where Bishop’s papers are housed, in June 2017.

“It seemed like a perfect time to propose such a seminar,” said Hicok. “What we know about Bishop continues to change and expand with Vassar’s recent acquisition of significant new materials, such as the revelatory series of letters Bishop wrote to her psychoanalyst in 1947. And current developments in literary studies and the digital humanities suggest a strong interest in literature and the archives.”

Hicok’s research has centered on poets and their archives. This grant will provide the opportunity to work with the next generation of college professors.

“Archival research allows us to place a writer’s career and work in context and in dialogue and enriches both what we know about poets and their cultural moment but also how we teach them,” said Hicok. “Developments in the digital humanities allow us to make these materials more widely available and to work more collaboratively. But archival research takes time and money. This grant provides an amazing opportunity for research, collaboration and the percolating of new ideas in humanities teaching and research.”

Hicok is the author of two critical books on American poets, Degrees of Freedom: American Women Poets and the Women’s College, 1905-1955 (Bucknell University, 2008), and Elizabeth Bishop’s Brazil (University of Virginia, 2016). She is the co-editor of Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century: Reading the New Editions (Virginia 2012).

For more information, contact Hicok at