Department of English

Graduate student Kirby Brown wins Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Wed, April 6, 2011
Graduate student Kirby Brown wins Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship

The Department of English congratulates graduate student Kirby Brown on winning a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. The $25,000 stipend will allow Brown to spend the next year completing his dissertation, Stoking the Fire: Nationhood in Early Twentieth Century Cherokee Writing, before assuming a position as assistant professor of Native American literatures at the University of Oregon in 2012.

Stoking the Fire critically examines a body of Cherokee literature which challenges understandings of the period between tribal dissolution in 1907 and reorganization in 1975 as an intellectually inactive and politically insignificant “dark age” in Cherokee history. In writing by Rachel Caroline Eaton, John Milton Oskison, Rollie Lynn Riggs, and Ruth Muskrat Bronson, Kirby explores how tribal citizenship remained paradigmatic in their work despite the absence of a functioning Cherokee state. Where Eaton invokes Cherokee nationhood as a counterhistorical trope in her intervention into Cherokee historiography, Oskison deploys it as a sovereign imaginative space through which to rewrite the Western as a narrative of Cherokee sovereignty. Similarly, Riggs's dramatic critique of blood discourse mobilizes nationhood as a vehicle for internal critique, while Bronson's coalitional writings and scathing editorials suggest a Cherokee model of tribal-international diplomacy. Attending to the multiple, complex, and often contradictory ways these writers remembered and (re)imagined Cherokee nationhood, Stoking the Fire recovers this neglected and often misunderstood period for Cherokee people as a vibrant and richly creative period of Cherokee intellectual and political thought capable of informing critical issues facing the Cherokee Nation and Native Studies today.

The American Council of Learned Societies offered seventy competitive fellowships for the 2011–2012 academic year. The ACLS committee judged proposals based on "the quality of the proposal with regard to its methodology, scope, theoretical framework, and grounding in the relevant scholarly literature" and "the potential of the project to advance the field of study in which it is proposed and make an original and significant contribution to knowledge," among other criteria.

A citizen of the Cherokee Nation, Kirby Brown is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and the Indigenous Studies Initiative at the University of Texas at Austin, and a recent hire in the English Department at the University of Oregon. Essays engaging contemporary Indigenous critical theory, constitutional criticism in Native literatures, and Native interventions in the Western have appeared in Sovereignty Separatism and Survivance: Ideological Encounters in Native North America (2009) and Nakum Journal (2010), or are forthcoming in Studies in American Indian Literatures (Winter 2011) and The Oxford Companion to Indigenous American Literatures (2012). His book reviews have appeared in SAIL, Great Plains Quarterly, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, and e3w Review of Books.

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