Academic nonfiction isn't just for library-dwelling graduate students and college professors anymore. That's the message that the National Endowment for the Humanities hopes to get across.
The federal agency has awarded $1.7 million in grants to 36 authors working on scholarly nonfiction books in an effort to "bring humanities scholarship beyond academic departments and university campuses and into book clubs and best-seller lists."
The grants are the first round in the NEH's Public Scholar program, which seeks to bring academic nonfiction to a wider audience. In a news release, the agency says the program is focusing on books that "present a narrative history, tell the stories of important individuals, analyze significant texts, provide a synthesis of ideas, revive interest in a neglected subject, or examine the latest thinking on a topic."
The list of grant recipients, which is available at the Washington Post, includes one California writer: Wendy Lesser of Berkeley, an author and the founding editor of The Threepenny Review, who was awarded $42,000 for her work in progress, "American Architect Louis Kahn (1901-1974): A Portrait in Light and Shadow."
Other recipients include Mark Clague for a cultural history of "The Star-Spangled Banner"; Judith Dupre for a "biography" of the World Trade Center; Noah Isenberg for a book about the film "Casablanca"; Anne Rioux for a history of the book "Little Women"; and Edward Ball for "Constant LeCorgne (1832-1886): Biography of a Klansman."