Pitts Theology Library Inaugural Student Research Award Winner: Brianna Alexis Heath

Pitts Theology Library congratulates Candler MTS student Brianna Alexis Heath as the recipient of the inaugural Pitts Theology Library Student Research Award! This award acknowledges her submitted essay, “Frenzied H(e)avens: African American Post Exilic Realities in J’Sun Howard’s ‘aMoratorium.’” The award committee judged this essay to be the best demonstration of creativity in research, maturity in theological thought, and excellence in using library resources to mount an argument amongst the many submissions. In the essay, Brianna asks the question, “How does the reclamation of the body through dance and movement create space for African Americans’ post exilic realities?” Following scholars who have suggested that there is no post exilic narrative to be found in written historical accounts or cultural artifacts such as Negro spirituals, Brianna looks to dance, particularly J’Sun Howard’s aMoratorium, to explore the African American exilic and post-exilic reality. 

To celebrate the recipient each year, Pitts selects one of its rare books to name in the winner’s honor. To match the research interests reflected in Brianna’s essay, Pitts has selected the first edition of James Weldon Johnson’s The Book of American Negro Spirituals (New York: Viking Press, 1925). The book, part of Pitts’ world-renowned hymnody collection, contains many of the songs that Brianna uses in her analysis, such as “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.” The book, which is kept in Pitts’ Special Collections stacks, will be accessible to scholars with a note marking Brianna’s achievement.

Pitts is pleased to offer this award in recognition of the creative scholarship that happens in classes each semester at Candler. We offer our congratulations to Brianna for her hard work. To read more about the award and the selection criteria, visit pitts.emory.edu/researchaward. To read Brianna’s essay, visit this link!