College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

UM Visiting Professor Receives Summer Scholar Award to Vassar

Jaime Cantrell will spend three weeks studying poet Elizabeth Bishop

JUNE 15, 2017 BY EDWIN SMITH

Jaime Cantrell, visiting assistant professor of English and faculty affiliate to the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, is studying American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Vassar University this summer. Submitted photo

Jaime Cantrell, visiting assistant professor of English and faculty affiliate to the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, is studying American poet Elizabeth Bishop and Vassar University this summer. Submitted photo

A University of Mississippi English professor is the recipient of a prestigious scholarship award from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Jaime Cantrell, visiting assistant professor of English and faculty affiliate at the university’s Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, has been selected as an NEH Summer Scholar from a national applicant pool to attend one of 24 seminars and institutes.

Cantrell will participate in “Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive,” a three-week program directed by Bethany Hicok at Vassar College. Each of the 16 educators selected to participate receive a stipend of $2,700 to cover their travel, study and living expenses.

“My reasons for participating in the ‘Elizabeth Bishop and the Literary Archive’ NEH summer institute are interwoven,” Cantrell said. “Archival research encompasses both bodies of knowledge and embodied experiences, and I am interested in how framing ‘Bishop As Archival Theorist’ begs affective inquiries about our relationship as scholars to the literary archival past – even as it reveals reinvigorated attenuations to space, emotions and material method.”

Bishop was an American poet and author who served as a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress in 1949-50 and won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1956 and a National Book Award in 1970.

Although Cantrell herself is not a Bishop expert, she’s a 20th century Americanist.

“In my American lit large lecture courses, students close read Bishop’s ‘One Art’ and ‘In the Waiting Room’ alongside other post-1945 female poets and their works, including Adrienne Rich’s ‘Diving Into the Wreck’ and Sylvia Plath’s ‘Daddy’ and ‘Morning Song,’” Cantrell said.

In her literary criticism courses, Cantrell stresses to students that developing the analytical skills for reading theory deeply and considering how texts continue to resonate can be difficult.

“I think, perhaps, admitting or even confessing our inner amateurs is critically germane to the evolution of our profession and to the excellence of our pedagogy,” she said. “Like our students, we don’t come to the classroom – or in this case, seminar – to learn what we already know.”

Each summer, the NEH supports these enrichment opportunities at colleges, universities and cultural institutions to allow faculty to work in collaboration and study with experts in humanities disciplines.

Cantrell said her strong desire to participate in this NEH summer seminar extends beyond pedagogical practices and into her own scholarly interests.

“As an interpreter of the humanities, I believe the slippages, overlaps and ambiguities between those (unstable) identities – teacher and researcher – are where radical potentialities lie,” she said.

Cantrell’s recognition speaks to her own achievement and those of the Ole Miss English department, said Ivo Kamps, UM chair and professor of English.

“Selection to NEH seminars is highly competitive, and it is to Dr. Cantrell’s credit that she has been chosen,” he said. “The National Endowment for the Humanities is perhaps the most important national agency to support the scholarship of English professors, and we are proud that the NEH has selected visiting professor Jaime Cantrell for one of its prestigious summer seminars.”

Cantrell also teaches specialized cross-listed courses in English and women’s, gender and sexuality studies, including Queer Theory, LGBTQ Literatures, Introduction to Gender Studies, Gender and Culture and Women in Literature.

She earned her master’s degree in women’s studies from the University of Alabama and her doctorate in English literature with a graduate concentration in women’s and gender studies from Louisiana State University. She has been awarded library and research grants from Cornell University, Duke University and the NEH.

Cantrell is the author of essays and reviews appearing in Feminist Formations, The Journal of Lesbian Studies, Study the South, Notches: (re)marks on the history of sexuality, “This Book is An Action: Feminist Print Culture and Activist Aesthetics” (UIP Press, 2015), “The Bohemian South: Creating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk” (UNC Press, 2017) and the Journal of Homosexuality.

She co-edited “Out of the Closet, Into the Archive: Researching Sexual Histories” (SUNY Press, Queer Politics and Cultures series, 2015). “Out of the Closet, Into the Archives” is a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist for Best LGBT Anthology.

The approximately 537 NEH Summer Scholars who participate in these programs of study will teach more than 93,975 American students the following year.

For more information about the UM Department of English, visit http://english.olemiss.edu/.

For more information about the Sarah Isom Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, go to http://sarahisomcenter.org/.

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