Program in Comparative Literature

Elizabeth Warnock Fernea Excellence Endowment.

ferneaThe Elizabeth Warnock Fernea Excellence Endowment in English was established in 2004 by friends, colleagues and admirers of the scholarship and life of Professor Fernea upon the occasion of her retirement from the University of Texas.   The purpose of the award is to support graduate students in Comparative Literature in their research, scholarship and teaching, with a preference for those working in the area of Middle Eastern, Ethnic and Third World Literatures or Third World Cultural Theory and Cultural Studies. The Program in Comparative Literature and the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin have recognized the accomplishments of students for the past five years with annual awards to promote scholarship in these areas of Professor Fernea's own research. The award has been used to assist international students in coming to the University of Texas and to assist advanced students in pursuing their research both in the United States and overeas.
Past Winners


04: Hülya Yildiz
I was the first recipient of the Elizabeth Warnock Fernea Award established to honor Professor Fernea’s work and legacy in the fields of Women’s and Middle Eastern Studies, and I have also had the privilege to have met and talked to Professor Fernea as she was so kind to attend to the first award ceremony organized in 2004.  In our conversation at the award ceremony, with a keen interest, Professor Fernea had asked me about Halide Edib Adıvar, the Turkish feminist writer whose life and works I was working on at the time.  After I received the Fernea Award in May 2004, I traveled to Turkey to start my research on the literary and journalistic work that Ottoman women produced at the end of the nineteenth century, which eventually led to my dissertation. I am humbly aware of the fact that winning the Fernea Award has contributed significantly to do research on my dissertation, “Literature as Public Sphere: Gender and Sexuality in Ottoman Turkish Novels and Journals,” which has been chosen as the Outstanding Dissertation in Humanities and Fine Arts in 2009, at the University of Texas at Austin.

05: Chris Micklethwait
The Elizabeth Fernea Award I received in 2005 afforded me a summer research trip to Paris, where I did preliminary reading at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France on avant-garde literary magazines of France and Belgium in the 1890s and 1900s. This researched evolved into my dissertation, which examines the diffusion of cosmopolitan modernisms through "native" literary magazines of the colonial world and the friction between these ideas and indigenist nationalisms. The balance of the Fernea Award covered books and photocopying I used to prepare the Arab American literature course I taught the following year.

05: Naminata Diabate
The 2006 Elizabeth Fernea Award defined the direction of my dissertation. The award allowed me to visit the microform collections of the Cooperative Africana Microform Project (CAMP) at the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago. Founded in 1963, CAMP houses a fascinating archive of journals, government publications, personal papers of historians and government leaders from and on West Africa. Browsing the political events preceding the Independence of Cote d’Ivoire in 1960, I read a report about women protesting naked against colonialists. The report inspired me to explore, in my dissertation, the ways in which Ivorian/ West African women use the naked body for self-empowerment and resistance against patriarchy and colonialism.

05: Aména Moïnfar
I gratefully received the Fernea Award in the spring of 2007, the semester when I passed my comprehensive exams. The award allowed me to spend the following summer polishing my dissertation project. I was therefore able to go to France and research the implications of colonial memories in the writings of second generation authors born of Algerian parents but raised in France. This corpus of literature struck me as bridges between two cultures sharing different but ultimately similar histories concerning colonization. I also spent the summer looking at other second generation narratives written in English and/or French by writers who looked at postcolonialities in a Western context. I found it useful to include some of these narratives, in particular Persepolis by French Iranian writer Marjane Satrapi, in the course I developed in the fall of 2007 on Postcolonial Literatures and Cultures. The award gave me not only the time and energy but also the financial securities to devote myself to my research.  It helped me later on to successfully defend my dissertation prospectus which focused on reconciliations in second generation narratives.

05: Daniel Kahozi
 It is through the generosity of the Fernea endowment that, in 2008, I was able to receive a supplement to my Fulbright Fellowship. However, the assistance for which I will always remember The Fernea Excellence Endowment is related to my research in the performance of African plays by African actors in USA. The award enabled me to undertake a winter research within the African Diaspora in Dallas where I discovered and was introduced to young talented actors and attention-deserving plays that I had no knowledge of. I returned to Austin with new interests in Third World Literatures, a clearer perspective on my research project and a deeper gratitude to Dr. Fernea’s endowment and to the Program in Comparative Literature. Indeed, I feel honored and privileged for having received this precious support that came at a moment when I needed a better orientation in my research.

05: Fatma Tarlaci
As a Comparative Literature student from Turkey, being awarded the Elizabeth Warnock Fernea Endowment Fellowship was an honor for me. The late Dr. Fernea’s devotion to the improvement of the intercultural understanding between the Middle East and the West makes the award much more meaningful in my case as I bring my individual eastern identity and knowledge together with western correspondents in my research. By entering into this dialogue, I am attempting to move beyond blind dichotomies in literary and cultural discourses and to contribute to solidifying the bridges of mutual understanding between the cultures from the East and the West. The Fernea Fellowship has provided one of the pillars of my personal bridge of education and research, allowing me to continue in this important work.