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Reed College English Professor Awarded NEH Summer Stipend

An NEH fellowship and a grant from Reed supported Laura A. Leibman’s research this summer on the eighteenth-century Sephardic community of Newport, Rhode Island.

Portland, OR (September 17, 2007) – Laura A. Leibman, associate professor of English and humanities at Reed College, received a $5,000 Summer Stipend Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) this summer for “Converso: The Religious Life of the Sephardim of Colonial Newport.” Leibman and her research assistant, Suzanna Goldblatt ’07, were also awarded a $9,500 Ruby Grant for Faculty–Student Collaborative Research in the Humanities from Reed to begin archival research for the project.

Hoping to challenge our understanding of both the history of American Judaism and eighteenth-century religious life in New England, Leibman is undertaking the first in-depth analysis of the variety of religious literature used and written by Jews in colonial America, and placing this literature in the context of larger changes occurring in Sephardic religion during this epoch.

The NEH Summer Stipends program supports individuals pursuing advanced research that contributes to scholarly knowledge or to the public’s understanding of the humanities. Since 1965, the National Endowment for the Humanities has been promoting excellence in the humanities by providing grants for projects in four funding areas: preserving and providing access to cultural resources, education, research, and public programs.

The Ruby Grant program is designed to promote research in the humanities by Reed College faculty members and Reed students. The Ruby Grants are funded by a gift of the Ruby family to Reed College. Jane Ruby was a 1933 Reed graduate; her sister, Lucile Brown ’41, was also a graduate.

Leibman, a member of the Reed faculty since 1995, earned a B.A. from the University of California–Davis and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of California–Los Angeles. She has been the recipient of Fulbright, NEH, and Culpeper grants. Leibman teaches courses in early American literature and culture, Native American literature, Jewish American literature, and American poetry.