Skip to content

While You Were Away: Awards and Honors from the Summer


By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Sept. 5, 2013

Associate Professor of History Martin A. Summers has been named as a Fellow at the National Humanities Center for the 2013-14 academic year, joining 35 other distinguished scholars from institutions across the United States, Canada, France and Russia.

Chosen from more than 400 applicants, NHC fellows — who represent humanistic scholarship in history, literature, philosophy, anthropology, art history, classics, musicology, and religion — work on individual research projects and have the opportunity to share ideas in seminars, lectures, and conferences at the center, located in the Research Triangle Park of North Carolina. 

Summers, who has a joint appointment in the African and African Diaspora Studies Program, is the first recipient of the center's newly established Ruth W. and A. Morris Williams Jr. Fellowship for his research project, “Race, Madness, and the State: A History of Saint Elizabeths Hospital and Washington, DC’s African American Community, 1855-1987.”

He is the third Boston College faculty member to be selected as an NHC Fellow, along with English Professor Kevin J. Ohi (2004-05) and Professor of Theology Rev. James Weiss (1986-87).

Sullivan Artist-in-Residence Seamus Connolly, director of Boston College’s Irish music programs, was chosen as a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts — the nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts.

NEA National Heritage Fellowships recognize folk and traditional artists for their artistic excellence and efforts to conserve America's culture for future generations. The fellowships include an award of $25,000.

A Boston College faculty member since 1990, Connolly — who immigrated to the US from Ireland in 1976 — has cultivated a decades-long list of accomplishments that include a record 10 All-Ireland fiddle championships, selection by Irish America magazine as one of the top 100 Irish Americans, and “Traditional Musician of the Year” honors from the Irish Echo. He founded and directed BC's highly acclaimed Gaelic Roots Summer School and Festival and now coordinates a Gaelic Roots series of free concerts and lectures by visiting artists throughout the academic year.

Connolly and the other fellowship winners will be honored in Washington, DC, Sept. 25 and 27.

Thomas Epstein, an adjunct associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, has been awarded a Council for International Exchange of Scholars Fulbright fellowship. He will spend next semester in Saint Petersburg, teaching English at Smolny College and continuing his research on the city’s legendary Soviet-era “Underground” arts movement.

A member of the A&S Honors faculty since 1998 — he also has an appointment in Slavic and Eastern Languages — Epstein focuses his research on Russian poetry of the late 20th century through the present, with particular interest in Saint Petersburg’s Underground. Epstein describes this artistic and literary movement — exemplified by such figures as Joseph Brodsky, Yelena Shvarts, Viktor Krivulin, and Arkady Dragomoshchenko — as a fascinating universe of personalities and styles that was a key facet in Russia’s transition from late- to post-Soviet society.

Among Epstein’s publications are the essay “My Petersburg” for a magazine commemorating the city’s 300th anniversary, and articles for The Literary Review, New Arcadia Review, Slavic Review and Slavic and Eastern European Journal. His honors include a grant from Artslink/NEA for editorial contributions to the volume Closing the Millennium: Russian Poetry at the End of the Century.