Announcements, Fellowships

ALS Assistant Professor Receives Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship

Sarah Hernandez, Assistant Professor of American Literary Studies, is one of 24 professors across the United States to be awarded a 2020-21 Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship. The fellowship, administered by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on behalf of the Ford Foundation, supports outstanding scholars with evidence of superior academic achievement, extraordinary promise of future achievement as scholars and teachers, and a commitment to use diversity as a resource for enriching the education of all students.

A newly-appointed member of the English department, Hernandez received her Ph.D. from the University of Colorado at Boulder and currently teaches courses on Native American literature and film. She is also the director of the Oak Lake Writers’ Society, a first-of-its-kind tribal organization for Dakota, Lakota and Nakota writers. In 2020, Hernandez spearheaded #NativeReads: Great Books from Indigenous Communities, a nationwide reading campaign that seeks to increase knowledge and appreciation of indigenous writers. The inaugural campaign focuses upon the Stories of the Oceti Sakowin, and provides a literary history of the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota literary tradition. A 12-page booklet featuring a literary timeline and bibliography for teachers and students is currently available online.

As part of #NativeReads, Hernandez designed several educational materials that are key sources for understanding and engaging with Oceti Sakowin literature. She is currently working with Dr. Nick Estes in UNM’s American Studies department to produce a 12-epsisode podcast series interviewing contemporary Oceti Sakowin writers and scholars. This series, which is featured on Estes’s The Red Nation Podcast, is a supplemental learning tool that can be paired with lesson plans and curricula on Oceti Sakowin literary traditions.

Hernandez will use the Ford Postdoctoral Fellowship to continue building upon this work and will spend her fellowship year writing and researching her manuscript, Colonizing and Decolonizing the Oceti Sakowin Oyate: Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota Literature, 1836 to Present. Using archival documents–Oceti Sakowin orthographies, mythologies, and personal and professional correspondences–Hernandez book of literary criticism re-frames the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota literary tradition as a distinctive creative/intellectual tradition that has been used by both European American and Native American writers to colonize and decolonize the Oceti Sakowin Oyate (People). Hernandez will also use the fellowship period to edit the first-ever anthology of Oceti Sakowin literature for college instructors and students.

Please congratulate Dr. Sarah Hernandez for her outstanding achievements! Her fellowship promises to bring prestige to our department and advance its program in American Literary Studies through a leading example for current and future faculty members and students.