Director of Georgetown’s Comparative Literature Program and Italian professor Nicoletta Pireddu received a $40,000 fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in December to promote her research into what she calls “Europeanness.”
As an honoree of the 2006 Fellowships for University Teachers program, Pireddu will use the funds for a year of work toward her latest book, currently titled “The Fiction of Europe, Europe in Fiction.”
“My book aims to analyze the ambivalent uses of `fictionality’ in the building of the concept of Europe in various areas of the humanities, both as a positive founding myth and as a fantasy generating skepticism and to examine the neglected role of literature in the production of Europeanness as a cultural construction,” Pireddu said.
Pireddu said that literature’s ability to affect cultural relations gives it great significance. Her research will enable her to determine the “literary evolution of the very idea of Europe,” she said.
In 2005, Pireddu also received a fellowship from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation at Brown University and a summer research grant from Georgetown’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, according to a university press release. She also received the Georgetown College Dean’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in November.
“The 2005-2006 academic year will be unforgettable for me,” Pireddu said.
Recognized for her research and teaching skills, Pireddu said both are enjoyable and often interrelated, adding that many times her research leads to course topics.
“I consider research vital not only to my own intellectual life but also to my teaching because it gives me the enthusiasm of always having something new to communicate to my students,” Pireddu explained. “I want my students to participate in my own investigations also.”
Pireddu said that although she is currently on a research-related leave for the Howard fellowship, she is still upholding her responsibilities as the director of the Comparative Literature Program and will continue assisting students with theses. She said that she will resume teaching in the fall semester.
The NEH is an independent grant-making agency that encourages excellence in humanities and provides grants for the preservation of cultural resources, education, research and public programs. In December 2005, the NEH awarded $12 million in 346 grants.