The National Endowment for the Humanities has granted University of Richmond associate professor of English Elizabeth Outka a fellowship to complete her book, “Raising the Dead: War, Plague, Magic, Modernism.” The prestigious NEH program is highly competitive, funding only about 7 percent of the more than 1,000 applications they receive each year.
Outka’s research focuses on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century literature and culture. Her current book project investigates two mysteries: Why does the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, which killed between 50-100 million people worldwide, seem to make so few appearances in British and American literature? And how was the grief and loss from the pandemic expressed?
“The twin tragedies of WWI and the flu fueled an obsession with the resurrection of the body,” said Outka. “In the 1920s, writers, filmmakers, religions leaders, spiritualists and magicians were all exploring new ways that the body might return, whole and healthy once more.” The project explores works by writers such as Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and James Joyce, alongside magic shows, séances, and investigations of death and the afterlife.
Outka has taught at the university since 2008. She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia and completed her undergraduate work at Yale.
The fellowship grants Outka a $25,200 stipend. NEH stipends provide support for individuals pursuing advanced research in the humanities that is of value to scholars and general audiences.
“I’m extremely grateful to the NEH for this opportunity,” Outka said.
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