MORGANTOWN , W.Va.This summer, three recently hired assistant professors at West Virginia University will have the resources to research in their specialized fields of creative writing, world literature and philosophy. Each recipient plans to transfer their work back to the classroom and offer students and faculty unique and inventive perspectives.


The Eberly College of Arts and Sciences announces Emily Mitchell, Kayode Ogunfolabi and Joseph Baltimore as the recipients of the 2009 Riggle Fellowship in the Humanities.


The fellowship supports exceptional junior faculty members who are seeking tenure through innovative research, effective teaching and other creative endeavors. It offers a $5,000 summer salary award, and selection is made by the Eberly College of Arts and SciencesResearch and Graduate Studies Committee.


Emily Mitchell, assistant professor of creative writing, will work on her first collection of short stories, entitledStates,which will form a historical atlas linking characters in different times and places through the common experience of travelers, strangers and foreigners away from familiar surroundings. Stories from this collection have previously been published inAGNI,New England Review,RaritanandIndiana Review.


I want to investigate, through fiction, the process by which human beings learn the rules of a new place or culture,Mitchell said.Ive experienced this several times in my own life, and in a world where people migrate and travel with increasing frequency, it is more common.


The Riggle Fellowship will provide Mitchell with uninterrupted time to writesomething that is always in short supply for fiction writers and poets. She is looking forward to having the summer months to focus exclusively on her creative work.


Mitchell earned a bachelors degree in English literature from Middlebury College, Vermont, in 1997, and a masters of fine arts degree in creative writing and fiction from Brooklyn College in 2005. She joined WVU in 2008, and teaches undergraduate and graduate creative writing and English literature courses.


Kayode Ogunfolabi, assistant professor of world literature, centers his research on literature from Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Southern India. Specifically Ogunfolabi focuses on the genre of magical realism, which uses elements of fantasy and myth alongside the mundane and normal events of everyday life. He plans to write three articles that will begin as conference papers and be further developed over the summer.


His first,Fictionalizing the Crisis of the Environment in Ben Okri’s The Famished Road and Songs of Enchantment,was previously presented at the Africa Conference at University of Texas at Austin. The second paper,Of Congos, Solibos and Makaks: Africa in Caribbean Imagination,was inspired by his post-colonial literature course taught last fall at WVU . It will be presented at the African Literatures Association Conference at the University of Vermont, Burlington. His third article,Nigerian Video Films and the Dialectic of Political Engagement,will be presented at the Anthropological Institute at Mainz, Germany in May.


Completing this research will enable me to bring my findings to the classroom where the ideas were first generated,said Ogunfolabi, who plans to include the articles as teaching components.The work constitutes a new cultural phenomenon that can expose students to these alternative artistic media, as well as political and cultural concerns that they raise.


Ogunfolabi received his bachelors degree in English studies, and his masters degree in literature in English from Obafemi Awolowo University in Ile-Ile, Nigeria, in 1992 and 1998, respectively. He received a second masters degree in comparative literature in 2003, and earned a doctoral degree from Michigan State University in 2008.


Joseph Baltimore, assistant professor of philosophy, focuses on physicalism, or the view that the world is fundamentally physical, and theories of the mind and ability to accommodate mental causation. He will use the fellowship to further defend hispiggyback principle,that says a supervenient property must, in order to be a genuine cause, make a causal contribution over and above, or in addition to, what is made by its base property.


His work follows a forthcoming paper,Defending the Piggyback Principle against Shapiro and Sobers Empirical Approach,and seeks to produce a paper to be submitted for publication and outlines for future scholarship. He hopes his work will benefit students in his metaphysics course, which currently lacks a section on causation, by exploring different theories and gaining resources to fill the gap.


This is a wonderful opportunity to take my career to another level,said Baltimore, who recently finished his doctoral degree and is trying to establish himself academically.With the Riggle Fellowship, I can devote my entire summer to this project and gain serious momentum in growing as a professor of philosophy.


Baltimore earned an associates degree from Germanna Community College in 1998 and a bachelors degree from the College of William and Mary in 2000. He went on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to earn masters and doctoral degrees in 2004 and 2007, respectively. He has taught courses in mental causation, moral issues, ethics and logic at WVU , the University of Wisconsin and the John Hopkins Universitys Center for Talented Youth.


For more information, contact Fred King, associate dean of research and graduate studies in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at (304) 293-4611 or Fred.King@mail.wvu.edu .