UND English prof hosts former First Lady and literary admirer during research trip in Massachusetts


David L. Dodds

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UND English prof hosts former First Lady and literary admirer during research trip in Massachusetts

University of North Dakota Assistant Professor of English Sheila Liming recently had the opportunity to show off her research on an American literary legend to a former librarian.

But this wasn’t any ordinary librarian; Liming presented her research on Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, poet and short story writer Edith Wharton to former First Lady of the United States Laura Bush.

Liming is currently wrapping up a six-week research trip to The Mount, the one-time home of Wharton, in the Berkshires near Lenox, Mass.

“Mrs. Bush has been a long-standing contributor to The Mount estate and, as a former librarian, was interested in meeting with me and hearing more about my digitization work,” Liming said. “I gave a 20-minute overview of my research to an audience that included Mrs. Bush and a few of her visiting friends, and then also gave them a quick tour of Wharton’s library at the estate.”

At The Mount, Liming has been spearheading a digitation project involving nearly 2,400 works by Wharton, including notes, annotations and marginalia, in the late writer’s personal library. As part of the project, Liming also will transfer digitized images of the works to a searchable Web database. The initial version of the website, tentatively scheduled to launch in the spring of 2016, will exhibit these materials.

Liming received a New Faculty Scholar Award from the UND Senate Scholarly Activities committee, allowing her to spend this summer researching in Massachusetts.

More about Sheila Liming:

“I grew up in Seattle, Wash., but by educational career has since led me all across the United State. At the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio, I exchanged a bagpiping scholarship for bachelors of arts in English and Women’s Studies, a learned appreciation for liberal arts curricula as well. I subsequently completed by graduate education at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, where I taught in both composition and literature, and kept up with bagpiping on the side. I strive to communicate standards of active engagement in my courses, and I see the literary scholarship as a gradual mastering of the art of inquiry. I encourage my students to be responsibly inquisitive, and to ask questions, speak up and be curious. 2014 marked the start of my teaching at UND, and I am excited to be here.”

In addition to her teaching and research, Liming, 31, is musically talented on a number of instruments, including voice, piano, accordion and bagpipes. She has played bagpipes since she was 13, taking them up at the suggestion of her Scottish grandmother and has since played in a variety of bagpiping bands and traditional Celtic ensembles.

David DoddsUniversity & Public Affairs writer

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