Wyn Kelley awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Published on: August 11, 2017

Wyn Kelley, Senior Lecturer of Literature and founding member of the Melville Society Cultural Project, has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities grant to be a lead faculty member for “Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age,” a summer institute for School Teachers that will take place at the New Bedford Whaling Museum in Massachusetts from June 17-30, 2018.

Herman Melville Scholars and New Bedford Whaling Museum to Launch Teacher Institute in 2018 NEH grant to fund Institute led by the Melville Society Cultural Project

New Bedford, Mass. – The New Bedford Whaling Museum, in association with Melville Society Cultural Project, has been awarded a $136,342 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant will fund a two-week Summer Institute for Teachers in 2018, which will illuminate the art and context of Herman Melville’s famous 19th century American novel Moby-Dick, and help teachers from across the country interpret the book for 21st century students. Six nationally recognized scholars make up the Melville Society Cultural Project, aimed at sharing an understanding of Herman Melville’s writings, life, and times. They will serve as principal faculty of the Institute: Jennifer Baker, New York University; Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, University of Connecticut; Wyn Kelley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Chris Sten, George Washington University; Robert K. Wallace, Northern Kentucky University; and Timothy Marr, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, serving as the Institute Director.

Moby-Dick is one of the most frequently referenced and adapted American novels, and it is becoming more popular and relevant with time. While the book is a classic, it grapples with current-day issues like globalism, multiculturalism, political power, and environmentalism. The distinct format of the novel – with its series of 135 relatively short chapters—calls for classroom techniques well-suited to reading habits shaped by digital encounters. Institute participants will delve into the rich world of Moby-Dick, gain a better understanding of Melville’s literary power, and understand how to interpret the book’s critical concepts for their students. “The New Bedford Whaling Museum is grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for this opportunity to partner with the Melville Society Cultural Project to teach educators how to use the text of Moby-Dick to engender thoughtful classroom conversation on relevant and significant global concepts,” said Dr. Carol Taylor, Chair of the New Bedford Whaling Museum’s Board of Trustees. “Deepening educational opportunities for teachers is a strategic goal for the Museum, and this Institute will expand our educational reach beyond Southeastern Massachusetts.” The Institute will be hosted at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. New Bedford, Massachusetts is a meaningful location for intensive study of Herman Melville’s masterpiece in the context of the whaling industry. Melville arrived in New Bedford on Christmas day 1840 and shipped nine days later on the Acushnet from Fairhaven across the harbor. Since 2000, the Whaling Museum has partnered with the Melville Society Cultural Project to offer scholarly programming, and the Museum is home to the Melville Society Archive, which constitutes one of the best collections of Melville scholarship anywhere in the world.