Associate Professor Margaret Abruzzo received a year-long fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities for her project entitled Good People and Bad Behavior: Changing Views of Sin, Evil, and Moral Responsibility in the 18th and 19th Centuries.
This fellowship will support twelve months of full-time writing on a book that will trace changes in how both Catholic and Protestant Americans thought about sin and sinners. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many traditional frameworks for explaining sin — such as blaming it on passions, self-interest, or natural depravity‹weakened, forcing people to develop new ways of explaining why good people behaved badly. Even while Americans denounced sin and evil — especially the wickedness of others — they also grew less likely to describe themselves as evildoers. This book will explore how Americans redefined both what it meant to be a good (or bad) person and who counted as a good person.
Abruzzo’s fellowship is valued at more than $50,000.