English professor becomes National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow

Yvette R. Piggush, an assistant professor in Department of English at FIU, was recently named a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow.

Through the grant, Piggush will study at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) in Worcester, Mass., an independent research library that collects, preserves and provides access to all printed records of the United States from the colonial era through the Reconstruction.

“The resources available at the AAS are not only countless but valuable as well,” she said. “More than that, the librarians, faculty and students involved with the organization are a genuine asset. The strong sense of community we have here is indescribable and very encouraging.”

Piggush is currently working on her book project, We Have No Ruins: Historical Fiction and Museums in the Early United States, 1790-1850. The book examines how museums, relic collections and waxworks transformed the development of American literature, particularly the American historical novel.

“With this project, I want to further our understanding of the prominent role museums have had in shaping American history, literature and culture. In modern times, we depend on the History Channel for information. But before television and targeted broadcast networks, society depended on museums for that same information,” she said.

As part of her fellowship, Piggush will give a public lecture on her book. She also will begin research for her second book project, Ambition and the Napoleonic Era.

“Within the next year at the American Antiquarian Society, I hope to build connections with other researchers, institutions and scholars,” she said. “But I would really like to broaden awareness on FIU and what the institution can provide to faculty and students.”

The NEH is a federal agency that supports research, education, preservation and public programs in the humanities. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the country by providing grants for projects. The Department of English is part of the School of Environment, Arts & Society at FIU, which combines natural sciences with the humanities to help solve issues of global importance.