Prestigious NEH Grants Awarded to Professors Rachel Kousser and Matthew K. Gold

Professors Rachel Kousser and Matthew K. Gold

The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded grants totaling $435,000 for two scholarly projects led by Graduate Center faculty members. Professor Rachel Kousser (Art History) received $60,000 to support her book project on the final years of Alexander the Great. The NEH also awarded a grant totaling $375,000 over two years to The Graduate Center to support “Manifold in the Classroom: Digital Publishing for Open Pedagogy,” a project spearheaded by Professor Matthew K. Gold (English, Digital Humanities, Data Analysis and Visualization) and Doug Armato, director of the University of Minnesota Press.

With their Manifold in the Classroom initiative, Gold and his colleagues will enhance their Manifold Scholarship project. Manifold is an open-access publishing platform created by the GC Digital Scholarship Lab, the University of Minnesota Press, and Cast Iron Coding. Publishers using Manifold include the University of Minnesota Press, the University of Massachusetts Press, the University of Washington Libraries and Press, Indiana University Press, The University of Arizona Press, Lapham's Quarterly, Temple University Press, Cornell University Press, and Arte P├║blico Press, among others.

Over the past year, CUNY and the University of Washington have piloted using Manifold as a teaching tool. Crucial to this work was funding provided by the CUNY Office of Library Services and New York state, which supported the initial development of features related to open educational resources. The NEH funding will allow the Manifold team to expand these new features, making the platform even more effective at engaging students with customized digital versions of open-access, openly licensed, or public domain texts. The new tools will allow instructors to create elegant, interactive, and mobile-ready texts for their students, and to collaborate with their students on digital publishing projects. Authors will also be able to create classroom versions of their open-access texts.

Manifold has received substantial funding from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The Graduate Center and the CUNY Office of Library Services have provided support for Krystyna Michael (Ph.D. ’19, Comparative Literature) and Ph.D. candidate Jojo Karlin (English), who collaborated on the grant proposal. Michael will serve as the curriculum and faculty development coordinator on the grant project. 

“Students and faculty who have used Manifold in the classroom have been excited to experiment with its beautiful interface, which produces professional-level publications and enables students to respond collaboratively to their classroom texts,” Gold said. “We’re so excited to find new ways to help students and faculty explore digital scholarship, and we are deeply grateful to the NEH Office of Digital Humanities, The Mellon Foundation, New York state, and the CUNY Office of Library Services for their strong support.”

Kousser will use her NEH grant to complete the writing and revision of her book, The Last Years of Alexander the Great (330-323 BCE), which is under contract with Custom House, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. Intended for popular as well as scholarly audiences, the book examines the final, turbulent years of Alexander’s life following his burning of Persepolis, when he faced conspiracies and outright rebellions. 

Kousser, an archeologist, focuses on the “concrete and vivid traces of Alexander’s journey, from the ashes of Persepolis to city-foundations in Central Asia and battlegrounds in Pakistan.” Her aim is to “show what ancient writers obscure, omit, or consider unimportant” and “above all to give voice to those who remain voiceless when history is written only by the victors.”

“I’m thrilled to receive an NEH Public Scholar award,” she said. “Practically speaking, it will allow me to take a sabbatical and focus on writing, an inestimable blessing. More broadly, it’s encouragement to push myself to be a true public scholar, speaking not just to others in the academy but also to a broader readership. I’m grateful to CUNY and particularly The Graduate Center, which has shown me how it’s possible to be a public scholar in the best sense of the word. I’d also like to thank my editor, Peter Hubbard, and my agent, Brettne Bloom, for having faith that I could pull this off.”

Submitted on: AUG 13, 2020

Category: Art History | Data Analysis and Visualization | Digital Humanities | English | Faculty Awards | General GC News | Grants