Kent State English Professor Receives NEH Grant to Host Chaucer Seminar

Photo of Susanna FeinKent State University English Professor Susanna Fein, Ph.D., in the College of Arts and Sciences, has been awarded a $114,616 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). The grant will support a summer seminar for college and university teachers on The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer to be held on the Kent Campus from July 18 to Aug. 13, 2016.

“The grant projects announced [today] represent the very best of humanities scholarship and programming,” said NEH Chairman William Adams. “NEH is proud to support programs that illuminate the great ideas and events of our past, broaden access to our nation’s many cultural resources and open up for us new ways of understanding the world in which we live.”

“Chaucer is an ideal subject for an NEH seminar because he is one of the foundational authorial voices in the English language,” Fein said. “His broad interests and varying styles established for future generations the possibilities for what English poetry could accomplish, and his writing holds distinguished and permanent status in the curriculums of college and university English programs. His subjects include comedy and tragedy, faith and science, philosophy and psychology, the private and the social, indeed the whole scope of the human condition. Selections from his works, and especially The Canterbury Tales, regularly appear in the standard anthologies of British, European and world literature.”

Fein attributes Kent State’s selection as host site for the NEH Seminar to the Kent State University Library’s “excellent collection of books and journals on Chaucer and medieval studies,” which Fein claims “will be essential to the work of the seminar.” The selection also reflects Fein’s reputation and expertise as a medieval scholar and her longstanding role as editor of The Chaucer Review, an academic journal that has been housed in Kent State’s Department of English for the past 14 years. Fein’s work has established Kent State as a central institution for Chaucer studies.  

The seminar will be co-directed by David Raybin, Distinguished Professor Emeritus at Eastern Illinois University and also editor of The Chaucer Review. In addition to editing the journal, Fein and Raybin have jointly published three books on Chaucer, the most recent one, Chaucer: Visual Approaches, forthcoming in 2016.

Distinguished guest scholars from Yale University, Ohio State University, Indiana University and the Cleveland Museum of Art will visit the seminar and speak to participants about their specialized work on Chaucer and medieval culture.

In March, Fein and Raybin will select 16 highly qualified college and university teachers from across the United States to participate as members of The Canterbury Tales Seminar. Up to two seminar spaces are reserved for current full-time graduate students in the humanities. Each participant will receive a stipend from the NEH to partially cover expenses during their residency at Kent State. The participants will attend daily meetings to discuss The Canterbury Tales, while also conducting their own advanced research projects on Chaucer and medieval English literature. The seminar has been carefully designed to facilitate outstanding scholarship, stimulate collegial conversations and strengthen the teaching of the humanities in American colleges and universities. 

“It is terrific that the seminar participants and visiting scholars will get to experience the university’s beautiful campus, modern facilities and collegial English department, along with Kent’s vibrant downtown community,” Fein said. “We have here just the right combination of ingredients to foster in splendid fashion a summertime company of scholars.”

For more information about Kent State’s Department of English, visit

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Photo Caption:
Kent State University English Professor Susanna Fein, Ph.D., has been awarded a $114,616 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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POSTED: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 11:52am
UPDATED: Friday, September 11, 2015 - 11:53am
Albert Battistelli