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May 29, 2008

Experts hail ULM professor's project, calling it "exceptional," "brilliant"

As part of the Regents Awards to Louisiana Artists and Scholars (ATLAS) Program, a panel of out-of-state experts evaluated a grant proposal written by Dr. Rebecca Stephenson, ULM assistant professor of English, and deemed it "exceptionally fine." Based on the panel's recommendation, the Board of Regents funded Stephenson's project, allowing her a year-long sabbatical and a trip to England where she will consult manuscripts.

Stephenson's grant, funded for $36,975, was one of only 11 awarded in the state. Her project "The Politics of Language: Byrhtferth, AElfric, and the Multilingual Identity of the Benedictine Reform" examines Anglo-Saxon cultural multilingualism (in the languages of Latin and English) as found in the works of two Benedictine Reform monks. Stephenson makes a "persuasive argument" that her project will significantly contribute to the fields of Anglo-Saxon studies and multilingualism, according to the panel's report.

The panel's report states: "Dr. Stephenson carefully situates her project in the context of current work in her field, explains her choice of texts quite brilliantly, distinguishes her approach from those focusing on diglossia, and makes a powerful case for a particular form of multilingualism at work in Anglo-Saxon culture in this period."

ATLAS supports major scholarly and artistic productions with potential to have a broad impact on a regional and/or national level, thus strengthening the educational, artistic, and research bases of Louisiana institutions. ATLAS is a subprogram of the Board of Regents Support Fund's Research and Development Program.

ULM Provost Stephen Richters, Ph.D., noted the eminence of the award. "Dr. Rebecca Stephenson's receipt of a prestigious Board of Regents ATLAS grant identifies her as one of the elite humanities researchers in Louisiana. The university is proud to have such an outstanding teacher and scholar on our faculty."

The award will provide Stephenson with invaluable research opportunities, she said. "I'm deeply grateful that Louisiana has this incredible opportunity for me to spend a year doing research and finishing my book project. This will give me the time and financing I need to go to England and examine the manuscripts relevant to my project."

The panel of experts also noted Stephenson's earlier scholarly achievements, which include a Presidential Fellowship at Notre Dame and participation in an National Endowment of the Humanities Summer Seminar.

Noting these accomplishments, the report further stated: "Along with the excellent writing sample she submitted, these factors indicate that her future work will be of very high quality. ATLAS funding at this point in her career may assist her in cementing her already excellent reputation as a researcher and scholar. Given Dr. Stephenson's very evident mastery of her materials and her wonderfully clear and detailed project description, the panel is confident that she will complete the project in the proposed timeframe."

Stephenson, who has worked at ULM since 2004, earned her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in English and Classics with a minor in Medieval Studies at Trinity University. She earned both a Master of Medieval Studies and a Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame, where she studied Old English and Medieval Latin.

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