Steve and Barbara Mendell Graduate Fellowship in Cultural Literacy

Generously Established by Steven and Barbara Mendell

The Steve and Barbara Mendell Graduate Fellowship in Cultural Literacy was established in 2006 by a generous gift from Steven and Barbara Mendell. Mr. Mendell is a life-time member of the U.C. Santa Barbara Foundation since 1983, serving as its Chair in 2003-05. Believing that it is the responsibility of liberal arts institutions to support scholarship and teaching that advance a civil society, the endowment was established to encourage discussion and debate relating to the compelling questions of ethics and values in contemporary public life, and with attention particularly about how these questions might be informed by knowledge of history and cultural traditions.

Consistent with the goals of the Capps Center, the endowment supports one or more fellowship stipends each year for outstanding graduate students in the College of Letters and Science at UCSB (Humanities and Fine Arts, Social Sciences, Science) whose research or programs of study advance the goals of broad-based cultural literacy and high ethical standards in our participative democracy. Although the scope of possible research topics for funding is wide, all such topics must relate to some aspect of contemporary values and ethics in the “public sphere,” such as the importance of civility and tolerance, appreciation for pluralism and human rights, understanding better how public issues are framed, ways in which social conflict is resolved, improving and extending democratic practice, and the role of public humanities generally in society. Support may be provided for dissertation fellowships, supplemental fellowships, summer stipends, or for special research projects.

To apply, please download the following two documents:

Application Guidelines 2017-2018
Application Cover Sheet 2017-2018

Please note that applicants will need to download and open the PDF file in order to access the digital fillable features of the application cover sheet document.

Completed applications must be received by Kelli Coleman Moore, on or before May 8, 2017.

Applications will be reviewed by an interdisciplinary faculty committee and awards announced by June 5, 2017.

Recipients of Steve and Barbara Mendell Graduate Fellowship in Cultural Literacy:


Cheryl Frei, “Shaping and Contesting the Past: Monuments, Memory, and Identity in Buenos Aires” (History)

Elizabeth Ann Weigler, “The Lives We Tell: Sikh Identity and Collective Memories of the Great War in Britain” (Anthropology)


Haddy Kreie, “Slavery and the Emergence of Vodun” (Theater and Dance)

Chandra Russo, “Solidarity Witness: Resistance, Cultural Politics and the US National Security State” (Sociology)

Onur Kapdan, “Gezi Park Protests and 21st Century Radical Social Change” (Sociology)


Martha Smith Roberts, “Spectacular Flesh: American Religious Pluralism and the Cultural Politics of Bodily Display” (Religious Studies)

Lindsay Vogt, “New Water in New India: How Does IT Sector Philanthropy Re-Cast Water and Citizenship?” (Anthropology)


Kristy L. Slominski, “An American Religious History of Sex Education” (Religious Studies)

Samaneh Oladi Ghadikolaei, “Sacred Activism: Reformation of Islamic Family Law” (Religious Studies)

Thuy N. D. Tran, “A Defining Moment: The Avant-gardes of Saigon, 1954-1975” (History of Art & Architecture)

Zamira Yusufjonova, “The Bolshevik Emancipation of Muslim Women in Tajikistan, 1924-1982: What Went Wrong?” (History)


Quentin Gee, “The Non-Transferability of Democratic Process: Moral Patiency, Corporations, and Lobbying” (Philosophy Department)

Carly Thomsen, “‘I’m Just Me’: Challenges to the Discourses and Ideologies of Gay Rights Organizations from LGBTQ Women in the Rural Midwest” (Feminist Studies)


Maria N. Corrigan, “Eccentricism in Art and Politics: Soviet Cinema Revisited” (Film & Media Studies Department)

Michelle D. Kendall, “Staged Identity: Martinican and Guadeloupian Theatre” (French & Italian Department)


Jose Anguiano, “Re-Sounding America: Examining Affect and Community in Latino Music Practices” (Chicana/o Studies Department)

Jenna Gray-Hildenbrand, “Negotiating Authority: The Criminalization of Religious Practice and the Influence of the Law on Religion in the United States” (Religious Studies)

Neda Maghbouleh, “Dual/Duel Subjectivities in Diaspora: Cultural and Political Challenges to Neo-Assimilation by Iran-American Youth” (Sociology)

(Mimi) Thu Khúc, “Inheritance: Race, Religion, and the Vietnamese American Second Generation” (Religious Studies)


Kristen Abigail Shedd, “Religion, Communism, and the Religiously Unorthodox in Cold War America” (History)

Brooke Neely, “Contested Knowledge: Cultural Memory, Land Use, and Racial Politics in the Black Hills” (Sociology)

Colleen Windham, “Being Born and Born Again: The Horizon of Birth in Individual and Collective Experience” (Religious Studies)


Evan Berry, “Devoted to Nature: Secularization, Spirituality, and Environmentalism in America” (Religious Studies)

Stephanie Stillman, “Remembering Columbine: The Network, Labor, and Haunting of an American Memory” (Religious Studies)

Recipients of Earlier Capps Graduate Fellowships Funded by the Department of Education:


Vincent Biondo, “Democracy and Dialogue: Walter Capps and Hannah Arendt on Faith and Politics”

Drew Bourn, “Religious Responses to Prostitution in San Francisco”


Elizabeth Currans, “Women, Public Life, and Religion”

Finbar Curtis, “Speaking of the Nation: William Jennings Bryan, Al Smith, and the Idioms of American Populism”

Matthew Sutton, “Aimee Semple McPherson and the Remaking of American Evangelicalism”


J. Shawn Landres, “Intimacy, Memory, and Ideology at Generation X Seeker Services”

Mary C. Ingram, “Claiming Controversial Science: Competing Religious Discourses on Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research and Human Therapeutic Cloning”

William Robert, “The Public Dimension of Religion in the Life and Work of Simone Weil”