Hugo Méndez in religious studies and Nina Martin in geography in the College of Arts and Sciences were recently selected for summer residencies at the National Humanities Center — a four-week program to give humanities scholars an opportunity to make progress on a current research project or jump-start a new one.
Méndez, an assistant professor in ancient Mediterranean religions, is working on Gospel Truth: The Biblical Books of John as a Chain of Pseudo-Historical Texts, a manuscript under contract with Oxford University Press. His book project re-evaluates the origin of four biblical books—the Gospel of John and the letters of 1, 2, and 3 John.
He argues that these books are best understood as a chain of pseudo-historical works — that is, works that misrepresent the historical circumstances under which they were written. However, they shed considerable light on the ways Christians were imagining and debating the significance of Jesus in the second century.
“My work calls attention to the messy historical reality from which we received some of the most inspiring artifacts of global culture — books that have shaped how billions pray, paint, think and live,” he said.
During her residency, Martin, an associate professor of geography, will be working on Pretentious Urbanism: How Progressive Cities Recreate Racial and Economic Inequities. Her book explores a seeming paradox: Why do the most progressive and tolerant cities in the United States also have some of the highest rates of racial and economic inequality?
Drawing on case studies from across the country, she has created a theoretical and empirical framework for interpreting how the racialization and polarization of urban space is woven into the well-intentioned work of city planning and policy officials.
“Both long-standing and novel approaches to urban development in cities fail to reckon with historical injustices and therefore recreate many of the inequalities they seek to dismantle,” she said.
Méndez and Martin join approximately 40 humanities scholars from universities across the country who will work together this summer in the National Humanities Center’s facilities in Research Triangle Park. They will be assisted in their work by the center’s team of librarians, who draw on resources from the extensive holdings of surrounding universities as well as collections housed in libraries and archives around the world.
The National Humanities Center is the world’s only independent institute dedicated exclusively to advanced study in all areas of the humanities. Through the summer residencies program, scholars have the opportunity to experience a concentrated period of supported research and participate in an intellectual community.