College of Arts & Sciences English Professor Receives National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend

Frank Palmeri Funded for Project on Censorship in Narrative and Visual Culture in 19th-Century England

Frank Palmeri, professor of English in the UM College of Arts & Sciences, has been awarded a prestigious Summer Stipend from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

The fellowship will provide two months of support while Palmeri writes a book chapter on the relationship between censorship in narrative and caricature in 19th-Century England.

“The second half of the 19th Century witnesses a steep decline in instances of radical political satire, despite its flourishing in the years just before and after,” Palmeri said. He cited similar absences of satire in other periods and countries, including in the United States under President Ronald Reagan and today. 

“I am thinking about what can be said publicly, who controls the organs of publicity,” he said, adding “the media often constricts the allowable to a much narrower band of opinions than what is out there.”

Palmeri said that the issues have changed – the mid-Victorian era limited discourse involving labor organization and sexuality, while today similar limitations are imposed on speech concerning global warming and hydraulic fracturing – but in both periods there is a tendency toward a kind of inoffensive middle ground of comedy and distraction.”

His fellowship is part of NEH programming that provides $22.8 million for 232 projects in 2015.

“In the 50 years since NEH’s founding, the Endowment has supported excellence in the humanities by funding far-reaching research, preservation projects and public programs,” said NEH Chair William Adams. “The 2015 grants continue that tradition, making valuable humanities collections, exhibitions, documentaries and educational resources available to communities across the country.”

Created in 1965, the NEH is the only federal program that exclusively supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.

May 06, 2015