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

Published on: September 19, 2023

Wyn Kelley is co-director for the NEH grant award-winning “Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age.”  The Summer Institute that will take place from June 23-28 and July 7-19, 2024 and will build on the respective strengths and successes of the in-person 2018 and online 2021 Institutes, each of which hosted 25 K-12 teachers from all around the United States. Participants will be empowered for bold and immersive journeys with their students into Moby-Dick that dramatize the imperative value of the humanities as an essential force of social revitalization.

Herman Melville Scholars and New Bedford Whaling Museum Announces 2024 NEH Teacher Institute NEH grant to fund Institute led by the Melville Society Cultural Project

MIT SHASS: Soundings, Fall 2009 - Profile - Wyn Kelley— The New Bedford Whaling Museum, in association with the Melville Society Cultural Project, has been awarded a $196,290 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for its project “Moby-Dick and the World of Whaling in the Digital Age.” It was one of 19 K-12 Institute awards selected from 54 applications. The grant will fund a three-week Summer Institute for Teachers in 2024, to facilitate teaching Herman Melville’s famous 19th-century American novel Moby-Dick in today’s classroom. The Museum and Cultural Project will host twenty-five K-12 teachers for an in-person and virtual seminar in Summer 2024. Applications will open in the fall with a deadline in early March.

Seven 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; Chris Sten, George Washington University; Robert K. Wallace, Northern Kentucky University; Tony McGowan, U.S. Military Academy West Point. Timothy Marr, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Wyn Kelley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, University of Connecticut will also serve as Co-Directors.

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 better understand and appreciate Herman Melville’s literary power and interpret its wonders for their students; ground this inquiry in the vital material culture of the major whaling port in the United States; and draw on digital archives, tools, methods, and pedagogies to respond to the challenges of diverse classrooms. The Institute will empower teachers from around the nation to journey boldly and immersively with their students into Moby-Dick and to dramatize the imperative value of the humanities as an essential force of social revitalization.

“The New Bedford Whaling Museum is grateful to the National Endowment for the Humanities for this chance to partner with the Melville Society Cultural Project once again to gather educators to analyze the lessons of Moby-Dick and inspire thoughtful classroom conversation on global concepts within the text,” said Amanda McMullen, New Bedford Whaling Museum’s President and CEO. “The Museum is a uniquely inspirational and authentic place to immerse oneself in Melville’s literature, and we’re looking forward to providing another Institute and expanding our reach to teachers beyond Southeastern Massachusetts.”

The interdisciplinary Institute is particularly appropriate for teachers of secondary school literature, but teachers of history, social studies, science, and other disciplines—as well as teachers at other grade levels and school administrators—are encouraged to apply. Twenty-five teachers will be selected to attend the Institute, while thousands of educators will be able to access the curriculum online.

“We are delighted to set sail once again with a crew of dedicated teachers in search of the meanings of Melville’s Moby-Dick,” says co-director Timothy Marr (UNC at Chapel Hill.) “The prior two Institutes have been enormously powerful intellectual experiences for all involved.”

The Institute will be hosted at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. New Bedford, Massachusetts, is a dynamic 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, including its annual Moby-Dick Marathon — a live in-person full reading of the classic novel that happens in January. The Museum is also home to the Melville Society Archive, which constitutes one of the best collections of Melville.

Application Information
Institutes are designed for a national audience of full- or part-time K-12 educators who teach in public, charter, independent, and religiously affiliated schools, or as homeschooling educators. Project directors may admit a limited number of educators who work outside the K-12 classroom and who can demonstrate that their participation will advance project goals and enhance their professional work. At least five spaces must be reserved for teachers who are new to the profession (those who have been teaching for five years or fewer). There is no limit on the number of applications that will be considered. Applications will open in the fall of 2023 and are due by March 1, 2024. Please see teachingmelville.org for updated information.

About the New Bedford Whaling Museum
The New Bedford Whaling Museum ignites learning through explorations of art, history, science, and culture rooted in the stories of people, the region and an international seaport. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city’s historic downtown and is open daily 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. For more information, visit whalingmuseum.org

About the Melville Society Cultural Project
The Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP) is a research-oriented group of scholars within the Melville Society dedicated to fostering a critical understanding of Herman Melville’s writings, life, and times. The Project, in affiliation with the New Bedford Whaling Museum, collects scholarly and artistic texts related to Melville, oversees the Melville Society’s Archive, and contributes to a wide variety of programming at the Whaling Museum and elsewhere. The MSCP seeks to promote public awareness of and appreciation for Melville and his writings and assist other scholars and teachers, as well as educational and cultural institutions, in becoming well-informed about the author and his work. In these roles we take seriously the importance of building partnerships across communities to ensure that the humanities survive and thrive outside the academy.

For more information go to melvillesociety.org/melville-society-cultural-project

About the National Endowment for the Humanities
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. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this news release do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

For more information go to neh.gov