Six Graduate Center Alumni Have Been Awarded Prestigious 2021 ACLS Fellowships

April 16, 2021

Fellows receive $30,000 to $60,000 to support outstanding scholarship in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.

Top (left to right): Allannah K. Karas, Omar Ramadan-Santiago, Erin A. Spampinato, Talia Shalev
Bottom: Conor Tomás Reed, Danica Savonick 
Top (left to right): Allannah K. Karas, Omar Ramadan-Santiago, Erin A. Spampinato, Talia Shalev Bottom: Conor Tomás Reed, Danica Savonick 

Six Alumni of The Graduate Center are recipients of 2021 ACLS Fellowships, awarded by the American Council of Learned Societies. They are among the 60 fellows selected out of nearly 1300 applicants for these prestigious fellowships that support “outstanding scholarship in the humanities and humanistic social sciences with the potential to make significant contributions to knowledge within and across fields.”

The awards range from $30,000 to $60,000 to support scholars for six to 12 months of leave devoted to full-time research and/or writing. Because of the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the obstacles many researchers have faced, especially those in the earlier stage of their careers, this year’s awards focused exclusively on early-career, non-tenured scholars.  For the first time in the history of the program, half of the 2021 awardees do not hold tenure track positions.

Joy Connolly, president of the ACLS and former interim president of The Graduate Center highlighted the originality of the scholarship represented by this year’s recipients. “ACLS is deeply proud to support emerging scholars of special promise,” she said, “and to advance important research representing perspectives on the human experience that have traditionally been marginalized.” She noted that more than 40% of this year’s ACLS fellows identify as scholars of color and a third as first-generation college students and added, “we are excited to continue our work in forging paths of opportunity and models of inclusive excellence in humanistic scholarship.”

The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), which was established in 1919, is a nonprofit federation of 75 scholarly organizations. These fellowships are their longest-running program.

Graduate Center Alumni awarded 2021 ACLS Fellowships

Allannah Karas headshot photo

Allannah K. Karas (Ph.D. '17, Classics)

Assistant Professor, World Languages and Cultures, Valparaiso University

Not Quite Persuasion: Violence, Bondage, and the Ancient Roots of Rhetoric

Current crises of failed dialogue, polarization, and civil unrest demand a re-examination of the emotionally manipulative dynamics of rhetorical speech.

Omar Ramadan_Santiago headshot photo

Omar Ramadan-Santiago (Ph.D. '19, Anthropology)

Independent Scholar 

“Espiritualmente Negro”: The Construction and Performance of Spiritual Blackness Among the Puerto Rican Rastafari

This project examines how the Rasta community constructs, imagines and embodies blackness as a personal, political, and spiritual identity. 



Conor-Tomas-Reed headshot

Conor Tomás Reed  (Ph.D. '19, English)

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Africana Studies and American Studies, Brooklyn College  

Radiating Black Feminist Studies in the Americas and the Caribbean

With this project, we assemble a solidaristic textual space—the first of its kind—for Black feminists to listen to and more strategically collaborate with each other across the Americas and the Caribbean.


Danica Savonick headshot

Danica Savonick (Ph.D. '18, English)

Assistant Professor, English, State University of New York at Cortland 

Insurgent Knowledge: The Poetics and Pedagogy of Toni Cade Bambara, June Jordan, Audre Lorde, and Adrienne Rich in the Era of Open Admissions

reveals how these renowned authors were also transformative teachers and educational activists, whose experiences in public universities fundamentally altered the course of American literature.

Talia ShalevTalia Shalev (Ph.D. '19, English)

Lecturer, Arts and Letters, Stevens Institute of Technology 

Some Inarticulate Major Premise: Poetry, the Will of the People, and the U.S. Supreme Court

analyzes references to poems, poets, and the genre of poetry in 20th-and 21st-century American legal scholarship and Supreme Court opinions.


Erin A Spampinato headshot

Erin A. Spampinato (Ph.D. '20, English)

Adjunct Professor, English, Colby College 

Awful Nearness: A Literary and Cultural History of Rape, 1740-1900

Studies the intersection of two preoccupations of the early English novel: rape and otherness.

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