Kylie Smith

Reimagining the humanities

By training and interest, Kylie Smith identifies as an historian, or in her words as "one who is driven to knowledge through primary sources." This fall, Smith brought that orientation to Emory, but through an unusual avenue: nursing. She is one of four new Mellon Fellows in Humanistic Inquiry (HIP) hired in 2015 to forge future directions in the humanities across the disciplines and schools at the university.

"For nursing, history matters because of nursing's history," Smith wrote in a 2014 blog post. "More than most other health professions, nursing theory and practice have been forged at the intersection of social and political forces such as gender, work, and race." Smith feels that in adopting a scientific, biomedical model, "nursing may have lost something central to the profession in that approach."

In the spirit of the Mellon grant, Smith sees "so many opportunities to work across so many different spaces in an environment that's committed to making that work." She will bring nursing history into the Emory curriculum for not only students in nursing but also those in medicine, public health, and the humanities. She looks forward to engaging with the Center for the Study of Human Health, the Emory Center for Ethics, and the arts at Emory as well.

The other Mellon HIP fellows hired this fall have equally wide-ranging expertise and interests that promise to connect the schools at Emory in surprising new ways. For example, Mellon Fellow Sari Altschuler -- appointed in English in Emory College with expertise in health, humanities, and early American and antebellum literature -- researches medical professionalization in the 19th century, which complements Smith's focus on the professionalization of nursing. In turn, Altschuler's teaching and research adds historical resonance to Mellon Fellow Kate Winskell's work on health education and communication around social and behavioral change related to HIV/AIDS, gender, sexuality, and stigma in sub-Saharan Africa. Falguni Sheth -- appointed as a Mellon Fellow in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies -- likewise hones in on race and gender with the additional juxtaposition of migration through a political theory and practice lens. Her work ranges from contemporary concerns such as the domestic prison system and Guantanamo Bay to marginalized Native American subjects in 17th-century New England.