Ravi Howard receives 2020-21 McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship for current research project
Florida State University English Assistant Professor Ravi Howard has received a McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship award, which grants him a one-year sabbatical to engage in his current research project.
“The McKnight Fellowship shows an investment in the important pre-tenure research that shapes advancement,” says Howard, who joined the English department in the fall of 2016 as a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program, specializing in fiction and creative nonfiction. “Funding is the action that shows a commitment to the growth of scholars and creative faculty.”
The McKnight Foundation funds the Florida Education Fund (FEF), which was established in 1984. The FEF has awarded more than 190 McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowships to support faculty diversity, tenure, and promotion within Florida colleges and universities, according to the organization’s website.
Howard will use his fellowship to further research the role of African-American U.S. Army soldiers in the Battle of Blakeley, the last engagement of the Civil War. He will use site visits and archival research in Alabama to create historical characters and modern-day descendants for his novel.
The focused time gives me the opportunity to create the link between the historical voices and the contemporary voices. The research is important to make the stories feel told from the perspective of those who lived it.
— Ravi Howard
“The focused time gives me the opportunity to create the link between the historical voices and the contemporary voices,” he says. “The research is important to make the stories feel told from the perspective of those who lived it. We teach and discuss the use of backstory in fiction. It’s especially important for me to consider the multigenerational backstories that shape the lives of black communities and families in the American South.”
Howard was one of six FSU assistant professors who received the McKnight Junior Faculty Fellowship, which is the largest cohort of FSU McKnight Fellows to date. Other fellows who have participated in the program have collectively submitted more than 135 manuscripts for publication and published at least 10 books to summarize their research collected during the program.
“My first two novels showed me the challenges and the benefits of the research process for fiction,” Howard says, referring to Driving the King (2015) and Like Trees, Walking (2008).
Howard appreciates the encouragement of recent fellowship recipients Alisha Gaines and John Ribó, faculty colleagues in the English department who received fellowships in 2014 and 2018, respectively. “Knowing that students seek out faculty of color for study and community, it’s vital to have the funding support that help us to expand that reach,” Howard says.