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NEH Funds Seminar for K-12 Teachers

Andrew Newman

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) recently announced $30 million in grants for 238 humanities projects across the country, including the SUNY Research Foundation on behalf of a proposal submitted by Professor Andrew Newman, Department of English, and Jonna Perrillo, University of Texas, El Paso. Their project, funded by a nearly $100,000 grant from the NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators program, will be a 2021 summer seminar on “Making the Good Reader and Citizen: The History of Literature Instruction in American Schools.” 

Andrew Newman
Andrew Newman

Through the two-week seminar, tentatively scheduled to be held at Stony Brook on June 28 through July 9, 2021, Newman and Perillo, along with K-12 Education Leaders Deirdre Faughey, Oyster Bay High School, and Brian McAuliffe, former English Chair of Ward Melville High School, will guide 16 high school teachers through an exploration of the history of high school literature instruction in the 20th century.

“The goal of our project is to put the present-day teaching of English in conversation with its past by exploring the history of literature instruction in the United States, especially its role in preparing students for citizenship,” Newman said. A call for applicants will begin later this year, and a committee will select 16 secondary school educators from around the country; at least three spots will be reserved for new or preservice teachers. 

“I am looking forward to this collaboration encouraging modifications of curricula to align with 21st century citizenship education,” said Nicole Sampson, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and distinguished professor of chemistry. 

This round of funding, NEH’s last for fiscal year 2020, will support vital research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. These peer-reviewed grants were awarded in addition to $50 million in annual operating support provided to the national network of state and jurisdictional humanities councils. This year, the NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for K-12 Educators program received 73 proposals, of which 24 were funded. 

Andrew Newman is a professor and chair of the Department of English and an affiliate with the Department of History. He is the author of On Records: Delaware Indians, Colonists, and the Media of History and Memory (2012) and Allegories of Encounter: Colonial Literacy and Indian Captivities (2019). His current book project is a cultural history of “the high school canon” — the books that have been studied by generations of American students. Andrew is the recipient of a 2019-20 fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 

Jonna Perrillo is associate professor of English Education at the University of Texas at El Paso. She directed the West Texas Writing Project, a branch of the National Writing Project for six years. Jonna’s forthcoming book, Educating the Enemy: Teaching Mexicans and Nazis in the Cold War Borderlands, will be published with Chicago in 2021. Her work has been published in the History of Education Quarterly, American Quarterly, Research in the Teaching of English, and English Education.

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at

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