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PROFESSOR PSYCHE WILLIAMS-FORSON NAMED SMITHSONIAN SENIOR FELLOW

Psyche Williams-Forson

American Studies professor Psyche Williams-Forson awarded Smithsonian Senior Scholar Fellowship and the American History Museum.

Congratulations to professor Psyche Williams-Forson who will spend the spring 2013 semester as a Smithsonian National Museum of American History Senior Scholar Fellow.  During her fellowship, she will research and write her current book projects, tentatively titled "Grandma was a Bootlegger:  Exploring Food Culture in a Rural Virginia Town" and “Home, Sweet, Home: African American Performances of Class and Citizenship Using Domestic Material Culture.”

"Grandma was a Bootlegger:  Exploring Food Culture in a Rural Virginia Town" focuses on black women who worked when few paying jobs other than domestic work were available to them. This study employs newspaper accounts, court records, among other primary sources to determine how underground economies impacted the lives of black women in the days of segregation.

“Home, Sweet, Home: African American Performances of Class and Citizenship Using Domestic Material Culture,” analyzes African American domestic interiors during the late nineteenth-century to the early twentieth-century. The book argues that shopping or acquiring material for the home became related to the realization of citizenship.

The Smithsonian Senior Fellowships range from three to 12 months and are open to scholars who have held a doctoral degree or equivalent for more than seven years as of the application deadline. Fellows earn a stipend which can be used in conjunction with other sources of funding.

The fellowships have supported a wide variety of research including work on radio nonfiction, Martian meteorites, and American visual culture. In 2010, the Smithsonian funded a project on the theory and method of studying food culture.

“The area of food studies is vast and relatively untapped, especially African American foodways. Thus, anyone tackling this subject matter knows that the experience can be daunting,” Williams-Forson said in the introduction to her award-winning book “Building Houses Out of Chicken Legs: Black Women, Food, & Power.”

Williams-Forson will also spend her fall semester working on the project with funding from the UMD Graduate School Research and Scholarship Award (RASA). The RASA supports research and scholarship by full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members with the rank of assistant, associate, or full professor.