by Ryan Carroll
The Department of English and Comparative Literature congratulates Ariannah Kubli and Jane McGrail on being awarded the Maynard Adams Fellowship for the Public Humanities for 2021-2022! 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.
Ariannah is a second-year PhD student in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, where she specializes in late nineteenth-and early twentieth-century American literature. Before coming to UNC, she received her B.A.in English with a minor in philosophy from Georgia State University. Her current research explores the interplay between fiction, labor movements, and radical politics in the United States from 1880 to 1920.
Jane McGrail is a PhD student and teaching fellow focusing on Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy Studies. She holds a B.A.in English Literature from the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her research focuses on the relationship between community literacy and the public humanities. She aims to make the study of the humanities more widely accessible, and is a previous recipient of the Humanities for the Public Good Fellowship and the Humanities Professional Pathway award at UNC.
For Ariannah, engaging in the public humanities follows naturally from her conviction that “the humanities play a vital role in personal, social, and political growth.” “My goal as a public humanist,” she says, “is to democratize access to the transformative humanistic discussions usually sealed within university walls.”
Jane approaches the fellowship as a way of building bridges between UNC and the broader community. “I come at this work from a perspective on social justice and equity because I believe that it is through interfacing with the university, and the humanities specifically, that people can both find the skills they need to thrive in modern society,” she says. “I believe that the public humanities have the capacity to improve equity by lowering the barriers to participation in university-level thinking and learning.”
Each year, the Maynard Adams Fellowships support ten graduate students in the work of bringing humanities scholarship to the broader public. Fellows are selected from various UNC humanities departments and engage in monthly conversations about the humanities in the broader world; this culminates in the E. Maynard Adams Symposium for the Public Humanities.
Maynard Adams Fellows also plan a humanities project that brings academic research to the public. According to Carolina Public Humanities, this cohort of Maynard Adams Fellows have planned projects including high school writing workshops, social media history initiatives, public philosophical discussions, and interactive artwork.
Jane hopes to conduct outreach to local teenagers “to see what kinds of literary skills they most want to use in their everyday lives.” After interviewing teenagers in the community, she aims to plan an outreach event with an Orange County Branch Library to help nourish these skills. Ariannah plans to pilot a free rural humanities roundtable series, which, she hopes, “will offer the chance for engagement with the humanities to a community often overlooked by organizers.”
Congratulations to Jane and Ariannah!