Four professors selected as Conrad Humanities Scholars

Award provides support for research and scholarship
English Building
English Building

Four professors from the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences have been named 2024 Conrad Humanities Scholars. John Levi Barnard, John Gallagher, Maryam Kashani, and Natalie Lira have each been honored with the appointment.

The Conrad Humanities Scholars Award recognizes promising mid-career scholars and provides financial support for continued achievement, research, and scholarship in humanities. The designation is for five years. The awards are funded by a gift from the late Arlys Conrad (AB, ’44, education).

Descriptions of the recipients’ work follow:

John Levi Barnard, comparative and world literature and English

Since joining the University of Illinois in 2019, John Levi Barnard has become a leading scholar in the interdisciplinary field of environmental humanities. According to his nomination, he writes about the historical emergence of the global animal economy from fisheries and slaughterhouses to fast food restaurants and their importance to American culture. His honors include a Donnelley Family Fellowship from the National Humanities Center; he also was named a Helen Corley Petit Scholar by the College of LAS in 2021. In 2023, his essay “Colonization to Climate Change: American Literature and a Planet on Fire,” was awarded the annual Research Prize for Faculty from the Humanities Research Institute.  

John Gallagher, English

John Gallagher is at the forefront of studying how digital technologies and artificial intelligence are reshaping the field of writing studies. According to his nomination, Gallagher has emerged as a leading scholar in his department working on generative AI. His first book, “Update Culture and the Afterlife of Digital Writing” (2020), and his upcoming second book, “Case Study Research in the Digital Age,” address writing pedagogy in rapidly changing digital environments. He was named a Helen Corley Petit Scholar in 2022 and has since published eight articles in leading journals in his field. Gallagher’s scholarship expands the study of literature, cultural theory, and writing.

Maryam Kashani, gender and women’s studies and Asian American studies

Maryam Kashani is a feminist scholar of Muslim studies who uses ethnographic methods to examine spatial, visual, and class politics of Muslim communities and institutions in the United States. Her first book, “Medina by the Bay: Scenes of Muslim Study and Survival” (2023), brings the local conditions of Bay Area Muslim communities to larger questions about urban and suburban experiences, the expansion of multiracial Islam, Muslims in the mediascape, and class tensions within Muslim communities. Kashani received the National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2019-2021 and the Scholars of Color First Book Award from Duke University Press in 2023.

Natalie Lira, Latina/Latino studies

Natalie Lira’s research addresses complex questions in reproductive politics, the history of medicine, race and racism, disability studies, and eugenics. According to her nomination, Lira’s book, “Laboratory of Deficiency: Sterilization and Confinement in California, 1900s-1950s” (2021), analyzes the medicalization, institutionalization, and eugenic sterilization of Mexican-origin population in Southern California. Lira has written other publications, making key contributions to histories of medicine, public health, and the politics of reproduction. She was named a Helen Corley Petit Scholar and is co-principal investigator on a National Institute of Health Award based on her work to create and analyze comprehensive datasets on eugenic sterilization in the United States.

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Dave Evensen