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Professor Receives Prestigious Grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Posted in: CHSS News, Faculty Spotlight, History Department, Homepage News and Events

Image from the Norman Sicily Project website

Prof. Dawn Marie Hayes of the Department of History is the recipient of a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The three-year award in the amount of $349,971 is in support of The Norman Sicily Project (NSP), a prototype web app that documents the history of Sicily under the Normans. The funded application, “Documenting the Past, Triaging the Present and Conserving a Legacy for the Future: A Web App for Sicily’s Norman Heritage,” was one of the 33 funded as part of the NEH’s most recent Humanities Collections and Reference Resources Program (174 applications had been received). She is now able to direct a team that will build on the Level I NEH HCRR award the project received in 2019.

The NSP digitally registers, maps and analyzes the monuments erected during Sicily’s Norman period (ca. 1061-1194), arguably the most auspicious years in its long history. In so doing, the project provides new interpretations of the complex society that produced them, understandings made possible by a collaboration between history and STEM and made broadly accessible by digital technologies. With this grant, the team, which includes Dr. Casey Allen, Lecturer in Environmental/Earth Science at The University of The West Indies, Barbados, and Cultural Stone Stability Index Specialist for the Stone Heritage Research Alliance, Dr. Craig MacDonald, Associate Professor and Director of Pratt Institute’s Center for Digital Experiences, Mr. Joseph Hayes, Senior Software Engineer in the private sector, and Dr. Deepak Bal, Associate Professor in MSU’s Department of Mathematics, will be able to produce a fully functioning web app optimized for user experience and the public engagement of multiple audiences that clearly guides visitors while offering additional classes of monuments beyond the monasteries it currently contains (including stability triage for a subset of each), an integrated kinship network of associated people, and interpretation of the site’s data. Flexible and adaptable, the NSP presents a new model for digital conservation of cultural heritage.