Montgomery, Ala., Huntingdon College-Mandy McMichael, visiting assistant professor of religion at Huntingdon College and adjunct religion professor at Judson for the 2011 spring semester, has been awarded the prestigious Louisville Institute Dissertation Fellowship for the 2011-2012 academic year. The award is intended to support the final year of dissertation writing. McMichael completed her doctoral studies in American religious history at Duke University and is finishing her dissertation while teaching at Huntingdon. This is the fourth fellowship awarded to McMichael in support of her doctoral work, having been awarded a Doctoral Fellowship, a Summer Research Fellowship, and a Kearns Summer Research Fellowship at Duke University.
"I am delighted that the Institute decided to fund my research," said McMichael. "Throughout my graduate school career, I have watched with interest the types of projects that the Dissertation Fellowship supported. Their consistent funding of vital research that will enrich our understanding of religion in America and bridge the gap between church and academy is unparalleled. Many of those supported in the past were among the rising stars in the field of American religious history and I count it an honor to be included among this select group of scholars."
The Louisville Institute's Dissertation Fellowship supports a small number of scholars each year whose doctoral dissertations are engaged in research with the potential of strengthening the religious life of North American Christians, at the same time advancing American religious and theological scholarship. The Louisville Institute is supported by the Lilly Endowment and states as its purpose, "As a center to support research and leadership education on American religion, the Louisville Institute seeks to nurture inquiry and conversation regarding the character, problems, contributions, and prospects of the historic institutions and commitments of American Christianity." As part of her award, McMichael will collaborate with other scholars of American religion in a winter seminar held at the Institute in Louisville, Kentucky.
McMichael's dissertation, under the working title, "Religion, Miss America, and the Construction of Southern Womanhood," examines the rich and unexpected connection between religion and beauty pageants. "The story is one of competing expectations," says McMichael, "a cultural script that dominated pageants and a Christian script that, at various times, paralleled, contradicted, and mimicked culture." McMichael graduated summa cum laude with distinction from Judson College in 2002 and subsequently earned her Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees with honors from Duke University Divinity School. Her doctoral thesis adviser is Dr. Grant Wacker, professor of Christian history and director of graduate studies in religion at Duke. She has contributed biographical entries to The Westminster Handbook of Women in American Religious History (2008), and has presented papers at several national meetings.
A native of Prattville, she and her husband, Dr. Chad Eggleston, an assistant professor of religion at Huntingdon, make their home in Montgomery with their daughter, Cady. They are members of Pintlala Baptist Church, Hope Hull. McMichael is the daughter of Larry McMichael of Wetumpka and Diane Kelly Dawson of Alexandria, Virginia. She is the granddaughter of Bobby and Frances Kelly and of the late James and Cora McMichael, all from Prattville.
*Article courtesy of Huntingdon College Office of Communications.