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W&L Professor Awarded the David and Rosalee McCullough Research Fellowship Edward Adams will use the funds to research decline narratives in West Virginia.

Edward-Adams-600x400 W&L Professor Awarded the David and Rosalee McCullough Research FellowshipEdward Adams, John Lucian Smith Jr. Professor of English

Edward Adams, John Lucian Smith Jr. Professor of English at Washington and Lee University, has been selected to receive the David and Rosalee McCullough Research Fellowship through Marietta College.

The fellowship supports research using materials from Marietta’s special collections that can only be accessed onsite at the college. It includes a $2,000 stipend, free accommodations on campus and complimentary meals in on-campus dining facilities.

Adams will serve a four-week residency at Marietta to perform research for a monograph titled “States of Decline.” This is a follow-up to his completed monograph “Narrating Decline,” which is a theoretical inquiry into the deep structure of historical and fictional decline narratives.

Adams’ research will involve utilizing the Marietta archives and the historical society of nearby Parkersburg, West Virginia. Specifically, Adams will draw upon the extensive holdings of the Dawes family papers. The Dawes family founded Pure Oil, a once-major oil company that began in West Virginia. Lexington still boasts footprints of this company whose buildings featured a distinctive cottage style. Pure Eats is housed in a former Pure Oil building and a Pure Oil sign stands in the Chessie Trail parking lot.

“Marietta College’s archives provide abundant material for my plans to tell the story of long-term decline in West Virginia, a story that closely resembles what has happened in my home state of Maine, and both (or so I will be arguing) conform to and thus help confirm the theoretical paradigm outlined in my preceding study,” said Adams. “It is encouraging that with the support of this fellowship, I’ll be able to spend a significant period with these archives, which are surprisingly rich for such a small school.”

David McCullough, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian who is well known for authoring biographies on Harry Truman and John Adams, initially referenced the Marietta College archives for research on his last book, “The Pioneers: The Heroic Story of the Settlers Who Brought the American Ideal West.” He found the archives so extensive that they became the book’s basis.

“It is particularly rewarding to have earned this fellowship since I’ve previously written on David McCullough,” said Adams.

In addition to conducting research, fellows are expected to engage with Marietta College students and faculty in the form of class visits and an informal lecture at the end of the visit. Adams will be taking a sabbatical during the 2024-25 academic year and expects to begin his fellowship in the fall.

Adams joined W&L’s faculty in 1993, and his research interests include history and fiction, novels, epics, high culture and popular culture. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Amherst College, a master’s degree in classics from the University of California, Berkeley, and master’s and doctoral degrees in English from Yale University. Adams’s 2011 book, “Liberal Epic: The Victorian Practice of History from Gibbon to Churchill,” won the International Society for the Study of Narrative 2012 Perkins Prize for the Best Work on Narrative Literature.

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