Faculty Achievement: Ellwood Wiggins Awarded Two Research Fellowships

Submitted by Stephanie N. Welch on

Ellwood Wiggins feels very fortunate to have received two research fellowships for the upcoming academic year. The two awards will allow him to finish one project and begin another. The Royalty Research Fund (RRF) is a competitive fellowship open to all UW disciplines. He won this fellowship for the fall quarter (2015) in order to complete his first book, “Performing Recognition: Ethical Knowledge in Homer, Shakespeare, and the German Romantics.” This book argues that the medium and content of interpersonal recognition is performance, and it explores this claim through representations of Odysseus figures from Homer to the 19th Century.

Ellwood will also participate in the Society of Scholars, “an intellectual community in which humanists of diverse generations, academic ranks, and departmental affiliations contribute to and learn from one another’s work.” For this, he will attend bi-weekly sessions throughout the academic year, and will be able to spend the spring quarter (2016) researching the rhetoric and mechanics of compassion. The title of this project is “Strange Pity: Philoctetes and the Structure of Sympathy from the Trojan to the Iraq Wars.” This book undertakes a literary and philosophical analysis of compassion by investigating the reception of the Philoctetes myth, which should be read as a primal scene of pity, in texts and performances from antiquity to the present day. The myth, even in its variations, provides a kind of constant against which cultural, linguistic, and conceptual differences reveal themselves so that the complex history of the functions of sympathy comes into sharper relief in five important junctions: Attic tragedy; the European Enlightenment; the Cold War of the 1960s; the AIDS Epidemic of the 1990s; and PTSD therapy in the wake of the Iraq War in the new millennium.


Ellwood is very grateful to the University and to the Department of Germanics for their ongoing support of his research.