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By Rose Steptoe, Graduate Writer

The Department of English and Comparative Literature congratulates Katherine Stein on being awarded the Maynard Adams Fellowship for the Public Humanities for 2020-2021! The Carolina Public Humanities awards the fellowship to students whose research is in the humanities, fine arts, or social studies and encourages public engagement in its graduate experience and future careers. 

Katherine Stein is a second-year ECL Ph.D. student who specializes in Victorian literature. Her research “extends forward from the nineteenth century into the present day, where [she studies] British identity, the historical novel, and contemporary historical fiction.” Stein’s work may be centered in the nineteenth century, but it addresses questions that are exigent for today’s society: “Not only do I study the Victorians’ relationship to the past and their visions of an imperial future, but I also consider how these notions of history, identity, and time are refracted and revised for the purposes of our contemporary present.”

“Public humanities work is incredibly important to me and is central to how I conceptualize myself as a young scholar,” says Stein. The Adams Fellowships emphasizes the value of public-facing scholarship, and Stein’s work as both a scholar and educator strives to maintain relevance and value for communities outside of academia.

Stein sees the Adams Fellowship as an opportunity to further how her research plays a public role: “I endeavor to integrate…public values across all facets of my scholarly identity—across my teaching, my research, and my community involvement more broadly. I’m really looking forward to being a part of the Maynard Adams Fellows program, where I will have the chance to deepen my academic work, expand its relevance to the broader communities around us, and continue to define myself as a public humanist.”

With this fellowship, Stein plans to interrogate how literature can play a larger role in history museums. She believes if more space is made for literature in museums and other public-facing venues, then texts like the historical novel will have the ability to “broaden peoples’ historical sensibilities.” Ultimately, Stein says, “Literature has the power to inspire historical empathy.”

Portrait of Katherine Stein
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