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Northwestern Professors Named National Humanities Fellows

Janice Radway, Peter Carroll to pursue book projects

  • Girls’ zine expert Janice Radway specializes in American and Gender Studies
  • Peter Carroll examines the social and cultural history of suicide in 20th century China
  • Both fellows to pursue book projects
  • National Humanities Center works to strengthen liberal arts, humanities in U.S. life

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University Professors Janice Radway and Peter Carroll have been named 2015-2016 Fellows at the National Humanities Center. Both will use the prestigious award to pursue book projects.

Radway, Walter Dill Scott Professor of Communication Studies in the School of Communication and director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies Program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, explores American print culture as well as underground publications by girls in the 1990s known as “zines”. While at the National Humanities Center, Radway plans to continue interviewing former zinesters and will work on a book manuscript titled, “Girls and Their Zines in Motion.”

Carroll, an associate professor in History and director of the Asian studies program in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, specializes in social and cultural history of 19th Century and 20th Century China. He will work on his book, “This Time of Suicide: Modernity, Society, and Self in China, 1900-1957.”

Radway and Carroll are among 35 other fellows selected from 32 institutions and eight foreign countries. 

Janice Radway

During the 1990s when many claimed that feminism was no longer relevant, Radway stumbled upon a collection of handmade magazines gathered together by a friend’s high school-aged daughter and through them discovered an underground feminist movement involving girls and young women.

Through research, she learned that such “zines” were part of a lively subculture developed primarily among punk rock fans. Unlike their slick magazine counterparts, zines were often handwritten and designed, packed with clip art cutouts from books and other magazines and combined in a collage format.

Some were bound with complicated fold strategies, Radway said, while others were hand-bound with yarn and duplicated at a local copy store. The zines were circulated by mail or in person at punk music venues, clubs and events. 

The content of girl zines varied from personal narratives documenting sexual assault, violence, rape and incest to political discussions on topics ranging from everyday sexist insults to anarchy, food and environmentalism. 

“My project looks into the history, meaning and overall impact of women engaging in alternative publishing,” said Radway, who has worked previously in zine collections at Smith, Duke, Barnard, New York University and DePaul. 

Radway is widely known for her scholarship on readers, reading, books and the history of middlebrow culture.

She has served as the editor of American Quarterly, the official journal of the American Studies Association. She also is the author of several books, including “Reading the Romance: Women, Patriarchy and Popular Literature,” which recently won the Fellows Book Award from the International Communication Association as a “classic” in the field.

Peter Carroll 

Carroll plans to use his fellowship to concentrate on his book project, “This Time of Suicide: Modernity, Society, and Self in China, 1900-1957.” 

His book analyzes the changing significance of suicide as a social phenomenon in China throughout time. “It begins with the politically restive last years of the Qing dynasty, through the Republican period, until the end of the initial years of stability that followed the founding of the People’s Republic (the eve of the Great Leap Forward),” Carroll said.

“During this period, China was gripped by a series of social panics regarding the prevalence of suicide in urban society,” Carroll said. “Suicide lay at the center of contemporary discourse regarding the tensions of China’s hybrid ‘feudal/modern’ culture and what many Chinese saw as the general oppressive nature of society.”

A two-time Fulbright recipient, Carroll has held several fellowships and has been a visiting scholar at the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences and the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica in Taiwan.

He is the author of “Between Heaven and Modernity: Reconstructing Suzhou, 1895-1937” (Stanford University Press, 2006), which was awarded the Best Book (Non-North American) 2007 prize by the Urban History Association, and several scholarly articles.

About The National Humanities Center:

The National Humanities Center, located in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, works to strengthen liberal arts and humanities in American life.

-- Story by Elizabeth Owens-Schiele, a writer for Northwestern University Media Relations

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