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The American Maritime People

Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 1, 2012

“The American Maritime People” is a five-week college and university faculty institute for twenty participants on the American maritime experience over the past four centuries. This summer institute at Mystic Seaport Museum (MSM) brings interdisciplinary perspectives to 400 years of American maritime experience. In the first week scholars include James T. Carlton (Williams College) on introduced species; Roderick Mather (University of Rhode Island) on early maritime exploration and colonization; and Marcus Rediker (University of Pittsburgh) on colonial maritime labor, piracy, and the slave trade.  In the second week, co-directors Glenn S. Gordinier (MSM) and Eric Roorda (Bellarmine University) speak, respectively, on smuggling during the Embargo of 1807 and the growth of the West Indies trade; Jeffrey Bolster (University of New Hampshire) and Daniel Vickers (University of British Columbia) speak on African-American sailors and the working community of Essex County, Massachusetts. Week three features Lisa Norling (University of Minnesota) on women passengers under sail and Helen Rozwadowski (University of Connecticut, Avery Point) on human exploration of the deep sea.  In week four, John Odin Jensen (Sea Education Association) discuss maritime labor on the Great Lakes and inland waterways, and the growth and decline of fishing communities, and literature professor Mary K. Bercaw Edwards (University of Connecticut, Avery Point) talks about Herman Melville and whaling industry life. The final week focuses on containerization, the demise of the U.S. merchant marine, entertainment, and the cruise industry.  Field seminars on commercial fishing and naval culture are held at Stonington, Connecticut and Newport, Rhode Island. Readings include Bolster, Keyssar and Roland, The Way of the Ship; Labaree, Hattendorf, et al., America and the Sea; Norling, Captain Ahab Had a Wife; Rediker, The Slave Ship; and Vickers, Young Men and the Sea.  

Dates: June 25-July 27 (5 weeks)
Grantee Institutions: Mystic Seaport Museum
Location: Mystic, CT

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for College and University Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in Summer Seminars and Institutes. Each NEH Summer Seminar includes sixteen participants working in collaboration with one or two leading scholars. Participants have access to a major research collection, with time reserved to pursue individual projects.

Amount of Award

NEH Summer Scholars are awarded fixed stipends to help cover travel costs, books and other research expenses, and living expenses. Stipend amounts are based on the length of the NEH Summer Seminar or Institute: $2,100 (2 weeks), $2,700 (3 weeks), $3,300 (4 weeks), $3,900 (5 weeks), or $4,500 (6 weeks).


NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes are designed primarily for teachers of American undergraduate students. Qualified independent scholars and those employed by museums, libraries, historical societies, and other organizations may be eligible to compete provided they can effectively advance the teaching and research goals of the project.

You may request information about as many projects as you like, but you may apply to no more than two NEH Summer Programs (seminars, institutes, or Landmarks workshops) and you may attend only one.

Please note:

Adjunct faculty, community college faculty and first-time participants are encouraged to apply.

Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities.

How to Apply

For more information and application instructions, please visit the program website listed above.