Mellon Funds Humanities Project Focused on Storytelling

The CCAS English Department will join a Mellon Foundation project to provide marginalized populations with the empowering capacities of storytelling.
February 8, 2023
Against a black background reads 'Mellon Foundation' in white text

The Mellon Foundation has awarded $487,000 in funding to the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) Department of English to support “Story for All: Disability Justice Collaboratories”—a humanities project focused on social justice and the literary imagination. Led by Professor of English and Department Chair Maria Frawley, the project aims to provide marginalized populations with the empowering capacities of storytelling.

CCAS was among 26 institutions of higher learning from across the nation to receive support totaling more than $12 million from the Mellon Foundation, the nation’s largest funder of the arts, culture and humanities. The institutions selected were all involved in mounting civic engagement and social justice-related research and projects.

“We are proud to be the recipient of this grant from the Mellon Foundation, which serves as a testament to our work in the humanities,” said CCAS Dean Paul Wahlbeck. “Through storytelling, we can foster both an intellectual and empathetic environment that supports our scholars and equips our students to make a difference in their communities. It is an example of what we call ‘the engaged liberal arts’ in its truest form.”

The grant is a result of Mellon’s Higher Learning inaugural “open call” that was announced in spring 2022 as a means of continuing to support inquiry into issues of vital social, cultural and historical import. The open call invited proposals from institutions exploring three distinct topical categories—Civic Engagement and Voting Rights; Race and Racialization in the United States; and Social Justice and the Literary Imagination—in an effort to help illuminate the significance of voting rights controversies in U.S. history from numerous humanities perspectives; demonstrate the complex import of race and racialization within U.S. culture and society; and highlight the role of the literary imagination in making and remaking worlds and societies, past and present.

“I am so grateful to the Mellon Foundation for its support of this project,” Frawley said. “Their generous funding will enable us to mount two humanities labs where undergraduate students, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and faculty will collaborate with local partners on the creation of digital platforms for storytelling, all in the service of advancing the ideals of disability justice.”