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Loyola University New Orleans English Professor Awarded $250,000 Grant by the National Endowment for Humanities

Loyola press release - February 15, 2017

Dust, a book in the Object Lessons series, is named among Best Books of 2016

Loyola University New Orleans Associate Professor Dr. Chris Schaberg has been awarded a $250,000 Public Humanities grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities in support of his essay and book series Object Lessons, with co-editor Ian Bogost of Georgia Institute of Technology.

Bringing life to everyday items, Object Lessons is an essay and book series that explores the hidden lives of ordinary things. Published by The Atlantic and Bloomsbury, the series invites contributors to develop original insights and lessons around any particular object. Earlier this year, NPR named Dust, a book in the series, among the Best Books of 2016.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) provides funding for 290 projects in 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. With $16.3 million in grants, these funds support a variety of humanities-based research and programs, now including Object Lessons.

This esteemed national grant not only will support Schaberg and Bogost’s series, but also will help the writers to lead four writing institutes aimed at inspiring and encouraging scholars to write for wide audiences. Funds from the grant will also be allocated to support students at both Loyola and Georgia Tech who are working as editorial assistants on the series; in this way, the grant allows students from both universities to gain excellent experience in the fields of publishing and editing.

An admirer of “stuff,” Schaberg and Bogost stumbled upon the concept of Object Lessons as an opportunity to create smart and pithy writing about objects of all types. The idea emerged through a handful of fun conversations that quickly gained momentum and transformed into the series seen today, creating a fresh way to create for both working writers and academics.

With endless possibilities and a flood of pitches from eager writers, each Object Lessons piece starts with a specific inspiration, such as an historical event or personal narrative, and evolves into an original story.

“We’ve been delighted to see how authors and readers alike have embraced the basic idea of the series: to focus on something earnestly and openly and see what lessons emerge,” said Schaberg. “The series has motivated me more than ever to help my students prepare to engage the world and to make it a better place — one object at a time, one lesson at a time.”