Professor Selected for NEH Summer Institute

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Dr. Brian Matz

Dr. Brian Matz, Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Chair in Catholic Thought

Dr. Brian Matz, Fontbonne University’s Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet Endowed Chair in Catholic Thought, was selected as a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Scholar.

Matz, one of only 537 faculty selected nationwide, will attend a summer institute titled “Beyond East and West: The Early Modern World, 1400-1800.” The three-week program will be held at Indiana University.

“This opportunity allows me to study a subject that expands my research and teaching profile beyond ancient and medieval history,” Matz said. “Studying the history of the exchange of ideas between eastern and western cultures during the Renaissance and Early Modern eras will allow me to develop new courses at Fontbonne as well as enhance current courses we offer.”

The institute will also allow the professor to become a student again.

“This opportunity will help me improve as a learner and that’s important for faculty,” Matz said. “I’ll also develop relationships with scholars around the country in fields related to and different from my own. The institute will open doors for Fontbonne in terms of future collaboration on research and writing projects.”

Institute participants had to propose a research project as part of their application for the grant. Matz seeks to research the reception of a Syriac text from the sixth century, titled “Hymn of the Pearl,” that was translated into Latin in the Middle Ages and then, during the Early Modern era, picked up by Shakespeare and used as part of the storyline of his play “Merchant of Venice.”

“We are delighted that the NEH has recognized the outstanding scholarly work of Dr. Matz,” said Dr. Adam Weyhaupt, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Fontbonne.  “Our students and our society benefit from active scholars that bring their expertise into the classroom.”

This is the third NEH project to benefit Fontbonne within a year. Previously, the NEH awarded Fontbonne a $100,000 Humanities Connection grant for a study titled “Primary Source: Memory and the Construction of Identity across Time and Place.” Additionally, Fontbonne’s Bosnia Memory Project received a $100,000 matching Humanities Access grant through the NEH.