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The University of Alabama

UA Professor Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Stipend

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Dr. Albert Pionke, an associate professor of English at The University of Alabama, has received a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend Award to research “Education as a Rite of Privilege.”  

Dr. Albert Pionke

His award was one of 85 awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants.  

Pionke will receive a $6,000 stipend to work full-time for two months researching the process of pre-professionalization provided to undergraduates at Victorian Oxbridge.  

He will travel to Oxford University to study the contents of the University Archives and the John Johnson Collection of Printed Ephemera, both held in Oxford’s Bodleian Library.  

Pionke will analyze 19thcentury materials, and he will use them to provide historical context for readings of several mid-century novels, including William Makepeace Thackeray’s “Pendennis” (1849-50), Cuthbert Bede’s “The Adventures of Mr. Verdant Green” (1853-57) and Thomas Hughes’ “Tom Brown at Oxford” (1861).  

Pionke plans to use these materials to write a paper called “Education as a Rite of Privilege: University Ritual and the University Novel in Victorian England.”  

The paper will serve as a chapter in his third book, tentatively titled “Ceremonial Status: The Ritual Culture of Victorian Professionals,” which explores both Victorian professionals’ elite-public ritual culture, and how that culture was re-presented in literary works of the period. The book also proposes an explanation for these practices and a new point of entry into current debates over issues of Victorian class, gender and liberalism.  

Pionke, a Victorian specialist, joined the UA’s faculty in 2005. He received his doctorate in English literature from the University of Illinois, and taught in Washington, D.C. and Cincinnati before coming to UA.  

NEH Summer Stipends support individuals pursuing advanced research of value to scholars and general audiences in the humanities. Recipients usually produce articles, monographs, books, digital materials, archaeological site reports, translations, editions or other scholarly tools.  

UA’s department of English is part of the College of Arts and Sciences, the University’s largest division and the largest liberal arts college in the state. Students from the College have won numerous national awards including Rhodes Scholarships, Goldwater Scholarships and memberships on the USA Today Academic All American Team.

The University of Alabama, a student-centered research university, is experiencing significant growth in both enrollment and academic quality. This growth, which is positively impacting the campus and the state's economy, is in keeping with UA's vision to be the university of choice for the best and brightest students. UA, the state's flagship university, is an academic community united in its commitment to enhancing the quality of life for all Alabamians.

  • CONTACT: Angie Estes, Communications Specialist, College of Arts and Sciences, 205/348-8539,