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African-American Literature and Social History

Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Postmark Deadline: March 4, 2013

A three-week institute for twenty-five school teachers on African-American literature and social history.

This institute provides an opportunity for twenty-five secondary school teachers to study both well-known and less-widely-taught works in African-American literature, coupled with key readings in social history. Each week of the institute corresponds to a theme: "Slavery, the Civil War, and Reconstruction," "The Jim Crow Era," and "The Civil Rights Era and Beyond." During the course of the project, participants read and discuss five novels: Octavia Butler's Wild Seed, Richard Wright's Native Son, Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, Gloria Naylor's Linden Hills, and Black Artemis's (Sofia Quintero) Picture Me Rollin', as well as six short stories by Zora Neale Hurston and Charles Chesnutt and one graphic novel, Kyle Barker's Nat Turner. The five novels are paired with readings in social history and social science theory and films. For instance, Richard Wright's Native Son is coupled with excerpts from Drake and Cayton's Black Metropolis; Charles Burnett's film To Sleep with Anger and Toni Morrison’s novel The Bluest Eye are coupled with Margaret Hunter's Race, Gender and the Politics of Skin Tone and the film Imitation of Life. Participants view portions of several other films, such as D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation; Charles Burnett's Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property; and John Sayles' The Brother from Another Planet; they listen to music connected to the period of the works in question. Each participant produces a lesson plan based on one of five additional novels that are shared with the institute community at the close of the third week. Academic staff for the institute consists of institute director Wahneema Lubiano, William Darity, Jr., and Thavolia Glymph (all Duke University), Tess Chakkalakal (Bowdoin College), and Harryette Mullen (UCLA).

Faculty: William A. Darity, Tess Chakkalakal, Thavolia Glymph, Harryette Mullen, Daniella Ann Cook

Dates: July 8—26 (3 weeks)
Director(s): Wahneema Lubiano, Duke University
Grantee Institutions: Duke University
Location: Durham, NC

About NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes for School Teachers

Each year the NEH’s Division of Education Programs offers teachers opportunities to study a variety of humanities topics in NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. An NEH Summer Seminar for school teachers enables sixteen participants to explore a topic or set of readings with an expert scholar. The core material of the seminar need not relate directly to the school curriculum; the principal goal of the seminar is to engage teachers in the scholarly enterprise and to expand and deepen their understanding of the humanities through reading, discussion, writing, and reflection.

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).


Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible.

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. Eligibility criteria differ significantly between NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes and NEH Landmarks Workshops.

Please note: Up to two seminar spaces and three institute spaces are available for current graduate students, who intend to pursue careers in K-12 teaching.

How to Apply

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