History Professors Chosen for National Competition
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Contact David Tisdale - 601.266.4499   

Two members of the Department of History faculty at The University of Southern Mississippi have been chosen to compete for a prestigious National Endowment for Humanities Summer Stipend.

Dr. Andrew Wiest and Dr. Susannah Ural have been selected to represent the university in the competition for the award, which supports humanities research contributing to scholarly knowledge or to the public’s understanding of the humanities.

The stipends provide $6,000 for two consecutive, uninterrupted months of full-time independent study and research, with the university supplementing the stipend based on the recipient’s summer teaching salary by academic rank. Up to two faculty members are chosen by an evaluation committee appointed by their university’s chief academic office using criteria set forth by the NEH.

"Dr. Wiest and Dr. Ural bring strong credentials to this competition, and we're excited about their chances of securing this prestigious NEH grant,” said Southern Miss Provost Bob Lyman. “They’re exceptional scholars and teachers, and a credit to their department and the university."

The professors’ projects include Wiest’s monograph “Charlie Company: Fighting War, Living with Peace” and Ural’s book “This Murderous Storm:  A Confederate Family at War.” 

“That both applicants come from the same department is very gratifying and speaks to the caliber of work being done in the field of history at Southern Miss,” Wiest said. “I believe both proposed research plans are very strong, and hopefully will result in Southern Miss receiving its first NEH Summer Stipend.”
Wiest’s research project investigates the human element of war and its lasting impact on its combatants. Through extensive interviews and use of primary sources, he follows the men of Charlie Company, 4/47th Infantry through and after their Vietnam War experience. 

Drafted in 1966, the men of Charlie Company trained together as a unit for nearly a year, making them nearly unique in the Vietnam War, Wiest said. They then fought together in one of the most brutal years of the war, suffering a high casualty rate. The book also details the lives of the survivors after the war, describing the difficulty of reintegrating veterans back into civilian society.

Wiest said his last two major projects took seven years to complete and involved multiple research trips, including to Vietnam and Washington D.C. Such trips are expensive and time-consuming, he said. 

“The NEH funding would allow me to devote two solid months to the research for my next project. That compressed period of research time is invaluable and might speed up the publication process by a couple of years,” he said.

Ural's book project is grounded in the Loughridge family papers held at the Pearce Museum in Corsicana, Texas. It includes the correspondence of a Confederate slave-owning officer, his wife, and their notes to and on behalf of their young daughters.

"It’s a great honor to be chosen to compete for this stipend,” Ural said. “These are highly competitive research grants that support the cutting-edge scholarship for which our university is known.” 

Her proposal for the NEH funding includes editing and then publishing a letter collection of a Confederate officer, his wife and their daughters that make up her book, “A Confederate Family at War.” Her work will be supplemented with photos, poetry and other material.

She plans to develop a Web site focusing on five sample letters from the collection and lesson plans that would allow K-12 classes, university students and scholars to use the Loughridge letters to interpret the American Civil War through the experiences of a Confederate family at war.

“It will be a blend of gender, Southern, and military history. It’s just one example of the great projects coming out of our department and its Centers for the Study of War and Society and the Study of the Gulf South,” Ural said.

For more information about the National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend, online visit www.neh.gov/grants/guidelines/stipends.html; to learn more about the Southern Miss Department of History, online visit www.usm.edu/history

Southern Miss history professors Dr. Andrew Wiest and Dr. Susannah Ural have been chosen to compete for a National Endowment for Humanities Summer Stipend. (Southern Miss University Communications photo by David Tisdale)

About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities.  In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world.  Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.