Two Professors Win NEH Grants to Research the History of Red Hair and the Philosophy of Revelation | News | Notre Dame News
Two faculty members at the University of Notre Dame College of Arts and Humanities — Sophie White and John Betz — received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities in its latest round of funding for fiscal year 2022.
A professor in the Department of American Studies, White was awarded an NEH Public Scholars Fellowship to continue work on her book project “Strangers Within: A Cultural and Genomic History of Red Hair.”
Betz, an associate professor in the Department of Theology, received an NEH Scholarly Editions and Scholarly Translations grant to create a critical edition of FWJ von Schelling’s original 1831-32 Munich Lectures on the Philosophy of Revelation.
The awards are part of $31.5 million in NEH funding given to 226 humanities projects across the country that will “foster the exchange of ideas and increase access to knowledge, resources, and experiences.” in the humanities,” NEH President Shelly C. Lowe said in a statement on Tuesday. (August 16).
White’s latest project juxtaposes cultural history with new genomic findings to analyze how redheads – who carry the MC1R genetic variant – have been alternately abused, glorified and discriminated against across a wide range of times and places, from l Egypt in Today’s United States.
“”Strangers Within” analyzes the marginalization of redheads, because while redhead hair is a rare visual marker, genetic and immutable in nature, what produces and justifies the reaction to redheads is not (for example, the trope that “Redheads don’t have a soul”),” she says. “Their red hair has sometimes marked them as members of alien groups, but because it is a recessive gene, redheads have also been targeted as outsiders on the inside. This distinction is at the heart of this book, as I explore through genomic findings – which include a set of medical oddities unique to redheads – Norse mythology, Celtic folklore, ancient Roman slavery, the Inquisition and anti-Semitism, as well as the art history, literary representations and pop culture.
White is Concurrent Professor of African Studies, History, and Gender Studies, and a faculty member at the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, the Klau Institute for Civil and Human Rights, and the Initiative on race and resilience. Her most recent book, “Voices of the Enslaved: Love, Labor, and Longing in French Louisiana,” which was supported by an NEH grant, won eight book awards and offered unique insight into slave life in 18th century through courtroom testimony.
Although her new project may seem like a departure from “Voices of the Enslaved,” White said the book fits perfectly into the arc of her research.
“This book basically offers a stealthy way to shine a light on how (red) hair and (freckle) skin could simultaneously excite and repel, inciting fear, discrimination and violence on the basis of color,” she said.
Betz, whose research focuses on German philosophy and theology from the 18th to 20th centuries, will co-lead the “Schelling’s Philosophy of Revelation” project with Marcela García-Romero, associate professor of philosophy and Schelling specialist who teaches at the University Loyola Marymount. Their project coincides with renewed international interest in Schelling and a larger project funded by the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities to produce a comprehensive historical and critical edition of Schelling’s works.
It’s a project Betz has hoped to achieve since he began his graduate studies in Tübingen, Germany, and lived in the seminary where Schelling once lodged with German philosophers Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and Friedrich Hölderlin.
“In Tübingen, Schelling is legendary,” Betz said. “You can strike up a conversation about it with just about anyone, from other students to traders. Since then, Schelling has stayed with me and is still one of my favorite philosophers.
According to Betz and his team, which includes scholars from the United States, Canada and Mexico, Schelling’s lectures in Munich in 1831-1832 represent one of the most profound attempts by any modern philosopher to grapple with nature and the significance of religion and more particularly with divine claims. revelation — or moments of divine self-revelation.
“It’s not just that he’s a great philosopher who dared to think about big questions,” Betz said. “He took the revelation very seriously and tried to understand what it means for us and for the world. Simply put, he thought the revelation was worth his whole wits.
“And that’s what connects Schelling to Notre Dame, because thinking about revelation in all sincerity is the very essence of the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Betz said. “That’s why I’m excited about this project and very grateful to NEH for agreeing to support it.”