The American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) has awarded Professor of English Wendy Moffat a fellowship for her book project The Most Terrible Years: Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant, Thomas Salmon and the Trauma of the Great War. The ACLS Fellowship program funds scholars in the humanities and related social sciences so they can devote themselves full time to their research and scholarship, selecting those who have the potential to create significant new knowledge from their investigations.
The Most Terrible Years recounts the psychic cost of World War I through the experience of two prophetic but largely forgotten Americans who came together through the shared trauma of their experience in France. Both were idealists and pioneers in their fields. Dr. Thomas Salmon (1876-1927) was the first psychiatrist in any American army, and the journalist Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant (1881-1965), was badly injured covering the Marne battles for the newly founded New Republic magazine. After the war, Sergeant became Salmon’s patient, his editorial assistant and (briefly) his lover. Both Salmon and Sergeant returned to an America determined to help veterans suffering from what is now called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Moffat’s last book, A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E.M. Forster, was published to critical acclaim in 2010. It made Janet Maslin’s Top Ten Books of 2010 in the New York Times, received the Biographer's Club Prize for Best First Biography in the United Kingdom and was a runner-up for the PEN Biography Prize.
This year only 70 fellowships were granted to faculty and independent scholars to support research in the humanities and related social sciences. More than 1,000 applications were received, making the program once again the most competitive in ACLS’s portfolio. The program employs a rigorous multistage peer-review process to ensure that humanities scholars themselves select those fellows who exemplify the very best in their fields. The 2014-15 fellows represent more than 50 colleges and universities and an array of humanities disciplines, including linguistics, religious studies, architectural history and geography.
The program is funded by ACLS’s endowment, which receives contributions from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Council’s college and university associates, past fellows and individual friends of ACLS.
Published April 16, 2015