The annual grant of 1,000 euros was awarded to Ms. Susanne Setälä for her thesis work on American poet Lucille Clifton. HELSINKI – On Wednesday, February 20, Susanne Setälä, a student at the University of Turku, was awarded the 2007 American Resource Center Grant to help her with her thesis, currently titled "A Poet of Her Own Faith - Lucille Clifton and the Remaking of Christianity". The event was held in the auditorium of the National Library of Finland. Kimberly Hargan, the Acting Public Affairs Officer from the United States Embassy in Helsinki, gave a speech honoring Ms. Setälä and thanking her for her studies on American culture. He noted the appropriateness that the grant should be awarded during the American Black History Month to someone whose thesis was about such a champion of civil rights as Lucille Clifton. After Mr. Hargan, Ms. Setälä gave the guests a short summary of her thesis and how she came to write about her topic.
As the title suggests, Ms. Setälä’s thesis discusses religion and female writers. Clifton’s poetry addresses religion and race with a female voice and it fits perfectly with how Ms. Setälä wants to approach these topics. Setälä uses Clifton’s views on Christianity to address her thesis topic about how literature as a system mimics religion as an organization. Clifton remakes religion in her poetry to emphasize the women in the Bible, who are often given important roles in the stories but are very rarely given voices of their own. In Setälä's thesis, Lucille Clifton represents not only how women have been excluded from Christianity but also how women have been excluded from the literary world. The way that Clifton puts details about her life and her religion into her poems gives Setälä a perfect basis to discuss how the oppression of black female poets is connected to the oppression of black female Christians. Through this, Setälä plans to show a new way of how members of socially discriminated groups use literature to both preserve and change their surrounding culture. Clifton's works are a good example of how autobiographical narratives and religion have empowered and established the black community. Setälä's thesis will use this as a new way of reading American literature to find how Clifton uses her voice and social position to rework the traditional notions of women in the community and women in religion.
The American Resource Center Grant started in 2006 to celebrate the sixtieth anniversary of the center. According to their website, "the grant is intended for students of Finnish nationality, enrolled at a Finnish university, who are working on a Master’s thesis on a topic related to the United States ". Although the ARC received only thirteen applications last year, it hopes that more students will be interested in applying in the future. The ARC aims to help people better understand America and its institutions and culture. The grant of 1,000 euros is just one way the ARC does this, along with books, periodicals, newspapers, online databases, and videos, which are at the disposal of anyone who wants to use them. The ARC is managed by the National Library of Finland and the Public Affairs Office of the U.S. Embassy in Helsinki. Below is information for students and people interested in the American Resource Center and its grant.
The American Resource Center P.O.Box 15 (Unioninkatu 36) 00014 University of Helsinki Finland Telephone: +358-9-191 24048 Fax: +358-9-652 940 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
ARC Grant website: http://finland.usembassy.gov/arc_grant.html
Article on Susanne Setälä's Grant: http://finland.usembassy.gov/ev_022008_b.html
[tags]Susanne Setälä, American Resource Center, Lucille Clifton, U.S. Embassy Helsinki[/tags]