Meet 2021-2022 Woodruff Fellow – Stephanie Bryan

This is the sixth post in a series of interviews conducted by the Woodruff Library with the 2021-2022 Woodruff Library and Emory Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS) Fellows. Funded by the Laney Graduate School, the library and ECDS award fellowships to advanced graduate students expecting to complete their dissertations by the end of the fellowship period. Fellows are placed within the Woodruff Library and ECDS to work in an area related to their subject specialization or interest, culminating in a formal presentation in the spring.


Stephanie Bryan

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Where are you from?

I was born and grew up in Atlanta, Georgia. Before entering Emory’s PhD program in History, I earned a Master’s in Landscape Architecture at the University of Georgia. I also worked in Athens for several years at a firm where I researched historic sites, documented their existing conditions, and produced management plans to guide their historical interpretation. I have a strong interest in native plants and enjoy going on hikes with the Georgia Botanical Society.

What’s your favorite book? 

It’s hard to choose a favorite—probably either Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Braiding Sweetgrass or Janisse Ray’s Ecology of a Cracker Childhood.

What’s your favorite thing about Emory/Atlanta? 

I really enjoy the many resources the university offers, from the Carlos Museum to Lullwater Preserve. I also appreciate Emory’s academic environment and feel fortunate that I’ve been able to work with so many amazing people from different departments.

What are you researching for your dissertation? 

In its broadest sense, my dissertation studies the intersection of the environment, food, and racial politics. While many authors have written histories of mass-produced foods that became part of the global capitalist economy, my research instead examines a constellation of plants and animals indigenous to the southeastern United States that never developed or sustained any major national or international trades after colonization. This includes marginalized species such as pokeweed, muscadines, persimmons, and opossums, often labeled as “weeds” or “pests.” Much of my dissertation focuses on how these select local foodways entered the diets, cultures, economies, and politics of Euro-Americans and people of African descent, from slavery through Jim Crow.

What interested you about the Woodruff Library Fellowship? 

The fellowship offers the extra time I need to complete my dissertation while providing an opportunity for me to gain invaluable experience in digital publishing. I also like that through the fellowship I can develop a dissertation-related digital project, which I hope will lead to a publication. I believe the experiences and skills I gain through the fellowship will broaden my possibilities for a job after I graduate.

What will you be working on this year for your Woodruff Library Fellowship? 

As the 2021-2022, ECDS Fellow in Digital Humanities, I will be working an associate editor for the open-access, peer-reviewed journal Atlanta Studies. I will be assisting with the various aspects of digital publishing, from soliciting submissions to providing internal reviews, copy editing, and updating the website. I have a strong interest in digital mapping and hope to be able to apply my skills in ArcGIS, Adobe Illustrator, and other programs to help produce maps and other visual graphics for the journal’s publications.


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