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OU Pilot Program Advances Research in Arts and Humanities

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OU Pilot Program Advances Research in Arts and Humanities



Contact: Jana Smith, Director of Strategic Communication for R&D, (405) 325-1322,

NORMAN -- A University of Oklahoma pilot program created by the Office of the Vice President for Research on the Norman campus supports dynamic and innovative research and creative activity projects proposed by faculty to advance scholarship focused on the arts, fine arts and humanities. Each year, two or three faculty are selected to receive a fellowship that significantly transforms a research program and makes notable contributions to the field.

“The arts, fine arts and humanities are vitally important components of the OU scholarly enterprise, and the pilot program reflects this fact by providing financial support for faculty to pursue their most innovative ideas,” says Kelvin Droegemeier, OU vice president for research.

The three award winners this year are Erik Braun, assistant professor of Religious Studies; Jennifer Davis Cline, associate professor of History; and W. Jackson Rushing III, professor of Art and Art History. These fellowships will allow each of the recipients to focus on a specific project during the course of a semester. At the end of the semester, they will conduct a public performance, lecture or presentation related to their project.

Braun’s book, A Great Awakening: Buddhist Meditation and the Secular Enchantment of the Modern World, will be the first to analyze meditation’s recent development into an influential force in American culture. The study is a blend of historical and ethnographic research in the fields of Asian and American Buddhist movements, psychology and neurology. He argues that meditation in the United States shapes and supports an unprecedented focus on human flourishing in this life, justified by a perception of meditation as a tool to change the brain and so improve the self. The phenomenal growth of such meditation comprises a “great awakening” that is secular and scientific, yet spiritual. Braun will present his research in a lecture when completed.

Davis Cline is writing a book on legal and literary representations of libertines in France and its American empire, 1623-1804. She will spend the fall 2014 semester conducting research in the French colonial judicial and police archives conserved in Montreal, Quebec City, New Orleans, Guadeloupe and Martinique. These archives abound in the stories of ordinary people whose personal behavior challenged social structure and political order, revealing how debates over individual liberties shaped the law, families and empires in the modern world. Davis Cline will present her research project in a lecture when completed.

Rushing will engage in research leading to an exhibition and book tentatively titled Generations: Modern Pueblo Painting. The focus of the exhibition will be 20th century Pueblo Indian watercolors made by three generations of modern artists. In this context “modern” signifies paintings produced in secular contexts that nonetheless embody indigenous cultural and spiritual values. Although partly the result of interaction with White patrons, these modern Pueblo paintings reveal indigenous ways of knowing the world and they reify Pueblo resistance to assimilation. Rushing will give a lecture on his research project when it is complete. An exhibition is scheduled at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in 2017.

The competition requires faculty from any college across the University to submit a proposal focused on the arts, fine arts and humanities. The Arts and Humanities Faculty Fellowship program was developed and is managed by arts and humanities faculty with guidance from the Center for Research Program Development and Enrichment. For information about the faculty fellowship program visit  

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