Mary Foltz and Suzanne Edwards, Recipients of NEH Collaborative Research Grant

Associate Professor Mary Foltz, Associate Professor Suzanne Edwards, and Professor Maxine Lavon Montgomery of Florida State University received a NEH Collaborative Research Grant to produce an edited collection of scholarly essays and a series of, public-facing pieces that engage with the archive of one of the most widely-read authors at the vanguard of contemporary letters: Gloria Naylor. With the notable exceptions of Zora Neale Hurston, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Toni Morrison, Black women writers’ archives have received comparatively little scholarly attention, despite authors’ literary output, commercial success, and critical acclaim. The NEH-funded edited collection, under contract for publication with University of Mississippi Press, will address this problem by re-reading Naylor's literary career in light of her collected papers. Over the last several years, the Gloria Naylor Archive Project--a collaboration between Lehigh University and Sacred Heart University--has made Naylor's archive more accessible by producing a finding aid and digitizing selected materials. The papers in the archive document Naylor's writing processes, including her painstaking research practices; her professional work in film, television, and theatre; unpublished works and teaching materials; as well as the transnational networks of writers, artists, and intellectuals with whom Naylor was in conversation throughout her career. The NEH grant builds on this foundation of engaging Black women's literary archives through multi-institution, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational collaboration aligned with Black feminist practices. With the NEH collaborative research grant, we will bring the newly accessible archive into scholarly and public conversations about Naylor's literary career, underscoring the value of archival research for understanding Black women writers’ intellectual and literary history in the late-20th and early-21st centuries.