Three professors named Senior Faculty Research Fellows

A fellowship created by Elon University in 2008 will help support excellence in ongoing research and creative work by Casey DiRienzo, Clyde Ellis and Ashley Hairston.

Elon University professors Casey DiRienzo, Clyde Ellis, and Ashley Hairston have been selected as Senior Faculty Research Fellows for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 academic years.

To support excellence in ongoing scholarly work, the university created in 2008 the Senior Faculty Research Fellowship award, a highly competitive program for faculty with a minimum of seven years in rank at Elon. The award comprises a two-course reassignment for two consecutive years, plus $2,000 per year in research funding, in support of a significant project or set of projects that advance an already well-established and promising research agenda.

DiRienzo, a professor of economics, will use the award to empirically test two hypotheses. First, does the prevalence of human trafficking in a country spill over and affect the incidence of human trafficking in its bordering neighbor countries? In other words, can this extreme disregard for human life spread through the cross-border interactions of customs officers, government officials, among other parties? Second, if such a contagion effect exists, if we control for other factors known to make a country more likely to harbor human traffickers, how resilient is the contagion effect? In other words, how does the state of a country’s economic, financial, and political systems and the degree of civil liberties and political rights either hinder or exacerbate the contagion effect?

This project builds on DiRienzo’s research in human trafficking and merges it with her work in spatial modeling. There is a growing body of research exploring regional contagion effects of corruption, conflict, and unemployment; however, the contagious nature of human trafficking has not been empirically tested, and both the research questions and methodology will be new contributions to the literature.

Ellis, a professor of history, will use the award to write the first book-length account of the hostage crisis that occurred on February 1, 1988, when two heavily armed Native American activists, Eddie Hatcher and Timothy Jacobs, entered the offices of The Robesonian newspaper in Lumberton, North Carolina, and held 17 hostages at gunpoint for 10 hours. Hatcher and Jacobs hoped to expose the political and legal corruption that many people believed plagued the region’s minority communities, and especially its Indians. But The Robesonian hostage crisis ultimately failed to produce the reform for which many Native people fervently hoped. The crisis remains poorly understood, yet there is no doubt that it reflected a political, cultural, and legal morass that the majority of the region’s minority population took very seriously indeed.

This award will further advance Ellis’ expertise in 20th century American Indian history with an emphasis on understanding how Native communities maintain their social, ritual, political, and cultural institutions in the face of constant pressure to do otherwise.

Hairston, an associate professor of English, will use the award to complete two significant projects. The first is completing “The Shadow of Olympus”, the companion volume to his 2013 book, “The Ebony Column.” This project explores how ancient literature influenced African-American authors beyond the nineteenth century. Examining W.E.B DuBois, Zora Neale Hurston, Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison, and Percival Everett, Hairston will demonstrate that later writers continued the nuanced engagement with the classics seen in early literature. The second project will be crafting a critical edition of Zora Neale Hurston’s unpublished “Herod the Great.” Hairston aims to demonstrate through annotations and draft comparisons that the work, deeply researched in Jewish cultural and religious traditions, as well as the classical Roman and Greek civilizations, appears to be Hurston’s most ambitious project: an attempt to create a historically accurate revision of ancient history, set in the genre of the historical novel.

This award will further advance the thoroughgoing re-evaluation of scholarly treatments of African-American literary history and cultural production that has become Hairston’s scholarly hallmark, and will further push in new directions the conversations on classicism in his discipline.

DiRienzo, Ellis, and Hairston will join the three current Senior Faculty Research Fellows – Janna Anderson, Heidi Frontani and Tom Henricks (2015-17) – and they follow previous Fellowship recipients: Janet MacFall, Andrew Perry and Anthony Weston (2014-16), Steve DeLoach, Cynthia Fair and Jeffrey Pugh (2013-15); Kevin Boyle, David Crowe, and Megan Squire (2012-14); Laura Roselle and Joel Karty (2011-13); Clyde Ellis and Yoram Lubling (2010-12); and Anne Bolin and Mary Jo Festle (2009-11).

A call for applications for Senior Faculty Research Fellowships is announced early each fall. All faculty with a minimum of seven years in rank at Elon, established records of scholarship, and robust project proposals with the potential to significantly advance their research agendas are encouraged to apply.