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Meet the Fellows: 2017 Newcombe Fellow Ean High

The Charlotte W. Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship is the nation’s largest and most prestigious award for Ph.D. candidates in the humanities and social sciences addressing questions of ethical and religious values. The 2017 class of Fellows includes Ean High, a doctoral candidate in English at Northwestern University. Mr. High’s work has been influenced by numerous historical works and voices:

I began graduate school determined that my project would be about some aspect of Cold War-era American fiction. A class on 19th-century American literature in the first quarter of my first year brushed me from this path. Without intention, almost half of the course’s readings contained references to Quaker people or followed Quaker characters, from the poems of Walt Whitman, to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick. I was fascinated by these representations of Quakers, the various roles they performed, how they were rendered, and the various codes and repertories they carried into texts. More examples accumulated as my year progressed. As I dug deeper and read more widely, I was increasingly drawn backward to ever-earlier moments in American history. It was clear by the end of my first year that I would not be writing about the Cold War, nor would I be writing about the 21st century. Since then my work on American and Atlantic Quakerism has deepened\. While in residency at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA, I read the voluminous fan mail received by the Quaker poet John Greenleaf Whittier. In the depths of the libraries at Haverford College, I combed through the writings of 17th-century Quaker women and the manuscripts of 19th-century visionaries like Sarah Mapps Douglass. I am grateful to the Newcombe Foundation for allowing me to continue my archival pursuit of religious voices.

Mr. High’s dissertation title is Quakerism, Silence, and the Religious Body in American  Literature, 1650–1865. For more information on the 2017 Newcombe Fellows and to see a list of their dissertation titles, click here.


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