Religion Professor Julie Byrne has won a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) award for a book project using oral history, ethnography, and archives to examine tristate suburban Catholicism of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Byrne, the Monsignor Thomas J. Hartman Endowed Chair in Catholic Studies, will focus in part on the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in 2021, and how the tragedy has impacted Catholic families and communities in the New York metropolitan area. Among those who perished, those of Catholic faith were an overrepresented segment. Byrne will give an account of five men killed in World Trade Center and examine their shared cultural and religious background.
Dr. Byrne’s grant is part of the NEH’s Public Scholars Program, which supports well-researched books in the humanities intended to reach a broad readership. Her grant is the only one awarded to a scholar at a Long Island institution. A total of $43.1 million was awarded for 218 humanities projects across the country.
By establishing the Public Scholar Program, NEH has entered a long-term commitment to encourage scholarship in the humanities for general audiences. The program is open to both individuals affiliated with scholarly institutions and to independent scholars, researchers, and writers. Projects may be at any stage of development.
In its first three competitions the Public Scholar Program received an average of 358 applications per year. The program made an average of 31 awards per year, for a funding ratio of 9 percent.
“I am honored and excited to be part of the NEH’s Public Scholars group this year,” Dr. Byrne said. “It’s a fantastic initiative trying to make sure that the scholarship we do gets out to the widest readership possible.”
Last year Dr. Byrne’s book, The Other Catholics: Remaking America’s Largest Religion, published in 2016 by Columbia University Press, was honored in the book category at the Religion News Association (RNA) Awards for Religion Reporting Excellence. RNA is considered the premier journalism association for people who write about religion in the news media. The Other Catholics shares the remarkable history and current activity of independent Catholics, who number at least two hundred communities and a million members across the United States.