English Professor Receives NEH Fellowship for Thomas Wyatt Scholarship
Thursday, December 18, 2014
by Katie Smith ’15
PHILADELPHIA (December 17, 2014) — Jason Powell, D.Phil., associate professor of English at Saint Joseph’s University, has received a $50,400 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to complete the second of a two-volume project on the poetry and prose of Sir Thomas Wyatt. With this award, Powell plans to take a sabbatical during the 2015-16 academic year to focus on Wyatt’s poetry.
Powell received an NEH Fellowship of the same amount in 2008, which allowed him to complete the first volume of the two-part work. Oxford University Press will publish the first volume of The Complete Works of Sir Thomas Wyatt the Elder, which features Wyatt’s prose, late next year.
“This is a big project,” says Powell, who also co-directs SJU’s Medieval, Renaissance and Reformation Studies program. “The first volume is over 253,000 words. These big editions often will be split between different editors, but the NEH grants have allowed me the time to do the work myself. This way, one person can see the whole picture.”
Sir Thomas Wyatt (1504-1542) was an English poet, courtier and diplomat during the reign of King Henry VIII. He is generally credited with writing the first sonnet in English. He also published the first translation of Plutarch’s classical moral essay “The Quiet of Mind,” in English, and introduced a number of new verse forms into English poetry.
Powell’s research on Wyatt, continued through more than 15 years, has informed his classes at SJU. “I teach ‘Henry VIII in Life and Legend,’ an English course that includes poetry by Wyatt and his contemporaries, each with sharply differing accounts of the controversial figures at Henry's court,” says Powell. “It’s one of the most enjoyable courses I teach.”
An independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research in history, literature and philosophy and funds proposals from around the nation.