Skip to content Skip to main navigation Skip to footer

Leah Milne selected for NEH Summer Institute

Virtual institute connects scholars to explore, celebrate work of Zora Neale Hurston

This summer Leah Milne, assistant professor of English, was one of 25 scholars selected for an NEH Summer Institute for an educational research collaboration hosted by The Project on the History of Black Writing at the University of Kansas. Normally held in Lawrence, Kansas, the educators will connect virtually from across the country. This year’s institute drew nearly 100 applicants, the largest in HBW’s history.

Leah Milne
Leah Milne

The 25 selected scholars will work with top Zora Neale Hurston literary scholars from the U.S. and abroad, engaging with Hurston’s work by participating in synchronous discussions, observing asynchronous presentations, and collaborating on research and teaching projects. Leading Hurston scholars who have confirmed participation include Deborah Plant, Carla Kaplan, John Lowe, Claudine Raynaud and Carmaletta Williams. Additional experts in African American literature and culture include Kevin Quashie, Deborah McDowell and Glenda Carpio as well as KU faculty members Giselle Anatol, Nicole Hodges Persley, Darren Canady and Paul Outka.

The institute is organized by project director Ayesha Hardison, KU professor of English and women, gender & sexuality studies, and by Maryemma Graham, University Distinguished Professor and founder of the Project on the History of Black Writing.

“We are excited to collaborate with the scholars and faculty of the NEH Summer Institute for an intensive study of Hurston, from her most celebrated fiction and ethnographies to her lesser-known work in film and journalism,” Hardison said. “We hope the institute’s return to Hurston, who proves more complex and innovative whenever someone rereads or rediscovers her, will spark new conversations in teaching and research within Hurston studies. I look forward to not only the insights about Hurston we will gain together this summer but also engaging in what she valued most: community and culture.”

In addition to the virtual summer institute, there will be a series of webinars in the fall providing an opportunity to connect with contemporary writers. The group will also be invited to reconvene on-site at the 2022 Zora! Festival in Eatonville, Florida. The festival is a major event for the author’s hometown and sponsored by P.E.C., Preservation for the Eatonville Community, which serves as the institute’s partner organization. 

“Hurston on the Horizon: Past, Present and Future” will take place July 11-30.

For more details about the institute and events open to the public, visit