A few years ago, the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) created a Three-Month Research Fellowship for leading scholars from outside Baylor. Professor Dino Felluga was the inaugural fellow in fall 2017, followed by Professor Clare Simmons in fall 2018. After a rigorous review process, the ABL has selected Dr. Lesa Scholl as the newest fellowship recipient, and she will begin her residency in fall 2019. Dr. Scholl is currently Head of Kathleen Lumley College (affiliated with the University of Adelaide and located in North Adelaide, South Australia).
Dr. Scholl is an outstanding and widely published scholar of Victorian literature. A scrupulous researcher, her interdisciplinary work unites diverse fields, including literary studies, economic history, religious studies, food studies, and medical humanities. She has published two excellent monographs, Hunger Movements in Early Victorian Literature: Want, Riots, Migration (Routledge, 2016) and Translation, Authorship and the Victorian Professional Woman: Charlotte Brontë, Harriet Martineau and George Eliot (Ashgate, 2011), as well as two edited collections, Medicine, Health and Being Human (Routledge, 2018) and Place and Progress in the Works of Elizabeth Gaskell (Ashgate, 2015). She has recently completed another book project, Hunger, Poetry, and the Doctrine of Reserve: Tractarian Influences on the Nineteenth-Century Social Vision. This newest monograph promises to make vital contributions to Victorian poetry studies, shedding light on the ways in which Tractarian ideals of reserved expression strengthened and sustained responses to crises of poverty and hunger. Dr. Scholl’s interdisciplinary research often challenges the way scholars view both nineteenth-century Britain and the contemporary world. This vision has informed Recovering Disaster (July 2019), the international environmental humanities conference that Dr. Scholl is organizing at the University of Adelaide to create a conversation between academic research and social action around environmental disasters. Dr. Scholl is also poised to influence a generation of scholarship on Victorian women writers through her editorship of the first encyclopedia dedicated to the field, Palgrave's Encyclopedia of Victorian Women Writers. This online and print publication will include over 400 contributors from across the globe. Through her numerous published and forthcoming book chapters and articles, and her recent invitation to give the Keynote for the 30th Anniversary meeting of the Gaskell Society of Japan, Dr. Scholl’s influence on Victorian Studies is truly exemplary in both quality and scope.
The research project Dr. Scholl will pursue during this fellowship was inspired by a tract she discovered as a one-month visiting scholar at the Armstrong Browning Library (ABL) in April 2017. During her return to the ABL this fall as recipient of the Three-Month Research Fellowship, she will plumb the archives for her current book project: Fasting and Wasting: Religion, Nutrition and Social Responsibility in Victorian Britain. The book will employ a cultural history framework to examine literary texts, religious tracts, diaries, letters and medical documents to excavate representations of fasting in the nineteenth century in which the purpose for the fast is not purely for spiritual edification. Dr. Scholl is interested in representations where there is an underlying desire to empathize with those who are starving and a revisioning of the fast as a fasted life: a means by which to maintain personal economic austerity. The ABL’s nineteenth-century archives provide crucial documents for this project, including Catholic and Anglican tracts on fasting, as well as letters and diaries of key literary and historical figures, such as those who fast in order to understand the experiences of the poor or out of guilt over their own position of privilege. Dr. Scholl also plans to search the ABL’s extensive collection of periodicals for articles on fasting from the perspective of health and on alimentary moderation as a means to maintain a psychologically healthy social consciousness.
Baylor and its surrounding community will benefit from Dr. Scholl’s public presentation of her research. Dr. Scholl will furthermore draw on her experience organizing scholarly and community engagement by creating workshops for both undergraduate and graduate students. These workshops will seek to connect the humanities to present-day social activism by equipping students to articulate the ways in which their studies can impact their communities for social change. In keeping with her commitment to interdisciplinarity, she plans to build on relationships she has formed with the Campus Hunger BAY-SIC Initiative Working Group, the Texas Hunger Initiative, and the Medical Humanities department. Dr. Scholl’s meticulous archival research, profound interdisciplinary work, and commitment to uniting scholarly and community engagement all speak to her superior qualification for this fellowship, and the Armstrong Browning Library looks forward to hosting her this fall.