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Two Professors Named National Humanities Center Fellows

brick building next to trees

Two Humanities and Social Sciences professors will work on individual research projects during yearlong fellowships at the National Humanities Center.

The center named professors Blair Kelley and Jason Miller two of 33 scholars who will serve as resident fellows during the 2022-23 academic year. During their stay, Kelley and Miller will each work on their respective book projects. 

Kelley, a professor of history and the college’s assistant dean for interdisciplinary studies and international programs, will work on her project, Black Folk: The Promise of the Black Working Class

Kelley’s book traces the story of the Black working class from first emancipations to the essential workers of our COVID-19 present through family stories and traditional sources. It also describes the connection between the everyday lived experience of working Black people and their labor and politics.

Black Folk explores what difference it makes to look at the world from the perspective of the Black working class. It’s a tremendous labor of love that has given me the chance to incorporate the stories of my family into the larger narrative of Black history, the way I’ve always thought about it,” Kelley said of the book for which she received a grant from the Whiting Foundation

Blair Kelley

Miller, a professor of English, will work on his book, Backlash Blues: Nina Simone and Langston Hughes. Miller said he will continue his research on 20thcentury American poet Langston Hughes and Hughes’ friendship with blues and soul legend Nina Simone and incorporate it into Backlash Blues.

“The project shows how Hughes established Simone’s reputation and forever shaped her image as the High Priestess of Soul. Beyond his friendship and public support, the poet is responsible for four Simone songs recorded during the most pivotal years of her career (1964-67).

“This relationship is essential for truly understanding these two iconic American artists. The depths of this influence are finely documented in the book. Hughes and Simone remain undefinable, and each of them can be heard anew through this rare audio,” Miller added.

Headshot of Jason Miller
Jason Miller

The National Humanities Center, located in the Research Triangle Park, offers nearly 40 residential fellowships each year for advanced study in the humanities. Kelley and Miller were selected from a pool of 592 applicants. They join a group of 31 NC State humanities scholars who have also served as fellows since 1978.

Kelley, a recipient of the alumni distinguished graduate professor award in 2022, has been a faculty member in NC State’s Department of History since 2002 and assistant dean for interdisciplinary studies and international programs since 2014. Her scholarship centers on the history of African American resistance to segregation. For more information on her work, visit Kelley’s faculty page.

Miller, an alumni outstanding research award winner in 2022, has been a faculty member in NC State’s Department of English since 2005. His research interests include 20th century American poetry, American literature, literary theory and pedagogy. For more information on his work, visit Miller’s faculty page.