Julie Turnock awarded National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship

TurnockJulie Turnock, professor of media and cinema studies, was awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for a book project titled Beyond King Kong: Special Effects in the Hollywood Studio Era, 1915–1965. 

She will receive $60,000 in funding to research and write a book about the technical, labor, industrial, and aesthetic history of the special effects industry during the Hollywood studio era.

Turnock’s book project is a history of the labor performed by unsung “below-the-line” effects workers of the era. Through archival historical research, oral history accounts, interviews, theoretical discourse, and formal visual analyses, this project presents a polemic for considering the “specialness” of effects work not from the point of view of the film but from the position of the specially contracted labor. As a labor history, it centers the workers of the Hollywood studio era who are rarely considered in cinema histories, training attention onto those whose skills make much of “movie magic” possible.  

Turnock served as the inaugural director of the Roger Ebert Center for Film Studies and is on sabbatical this academic year. 

The NEH awarded $33.8 million in grants for 260 humanities projects across the country, including 82 fellowships. The fellowship program supports advanced research in the humanities, and recipients produce articles, books, digital materials or other scholarly resources. NEH Fellowships are competitive awards granted to individual scholars pursuing projects that embody exceptional research, rigorous analysis, and clear writing.

The NEH has received an average of 1,120 applications per year for fellowships in the last five rounds of competition, according to its website. During that time, it awarded an average of 79 fellowships per year for a funding rate of 7%, making the fellowships among the most competitive humanities awards in the country.

The NEH is an independent federal agency and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the U.S. It supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities by funding selected peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation.

See University of Illinois News Bureau press release.