By Randy Fiedler
Dr. Ryan Sharp, assistant professor of English in the Baylor University College of Arts & Sciences, has received a competitive national fellowship designed to support the work of underrepresented faculty members in the humanities and social sciences.
Sharp has been named one of 28 Career Enhancement Fellows for the 2022–2023 academic year by the Institute for Citizens & Scholars. The Fellows work in disciplines including ethnic studies, English, Chicana and Chicano studies, history and sociology, among others. They are committed to research and service that increases diversity and inclusion on campus.
Career Enhancement Fellows receive either a six-month or one-year sabbatical stipend, a research, travel or publication stipend, professional mentoring, and participation in a professional development retreat.
Sharp is one of 19 junior faculty members from across the United States receiving a six-month Fellowship, while nine junior faculty members received a one-year Fellowship. Of the 28 faculty members receiving the Fellowships, Sharp is one of only three recipients from Texas universities –– and the only recipient from a Big 12 Conference university.
Sharp is one of two young poets who joined the Baylor English faculty in 2020. His research focuses on contemporary Black American persona poetry, where an historical or dramatic character, and not the poet themself, serves as the speaker of the poem. Sharp has one published book of poetry — “my imaginary old man: poems” — and served for six years as the editor of Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review.
“The Career Enhancement Fellowship is an immense boon that will give me the time and space to complete several projects,” Sharp said. “I am completing a monograph titled “Second Throat: 21st Century Black American Persona Poetry and the Archive,” which is under an advanced contract with a highly respected university press. I am also co-editing a special issue of Women’s Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal titled “After Morrison: 21st Century African Diasporic Cultural Production in the Wake of Toni Morrison,” and working on a chapter that was solicited for the 1990s edition of the Cambridge University Press series “African American Literature in Transition.”
The time and resources provided by the Fellowship will also help Sharp in his efforts to introduce new academic studies at the University.
“I am part of a group at Baylor preparing a proposal for an ethnic studies minor,” he said. “Thus, this Fellowship, and the support and mentorship it provides, will give me the guidance and breathing room to focus on making sure these projects reach their fullest, and most impactful, potential.”
Dr. Kevin Gardner, chair and professor of English, is pleased that the Fellowship will allow Sharp to make even a greater impact at Baylor.
“The English department appreciates the new perspectives that Dr. Sharp’s teaching and research bring to the study of African American literature and his contributions to the development of an undergraduate minor in ethnic studies,” Gardner said. “He has been an exciting addition to our faculty.”
The Career Enhancement Fellowship, funded by the Mellon Foundation and administered by Citizens & Scholars, has supported more than 400 junior faculty members since its debut in 2001. Formerly the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, the Institute for Citizens & Scholars is a 75-year-old organization that prepares leaders and engages networks of people and organizations to meet urgent education challenges.