December 7, 2017

Call for applications - Summer Institute to help teachers interpret and teach Moby-Dick

Melville Society Cultural Project to lead institute at New Bedford Whaling Museum

Application deadline March 1, 2018


New Bedford, Mass. –Teachers from across the country will gain insight into the art and context of Herman Melville’s famous 19th century American novel Moby-Dick, while learning how to interpret the book for 21st century students, during a summer institute next summer at the New Bedford Whaling Museum (NBWM) in New Bedford, Massachusetts. The application period for teachers interested in participating is now open. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2018. Information on the application process can be found at Led by scholars from the Melville Society Cultural Project (MSCP), Teaching Melville will run from June 17 through June 30, 2018. The 25 teachers who are selected to attend will each receive a $2,100 stipend. Participants will earn Continuing Education Credits or Professional Development Points from Bristol Community College for the hours they are dedicating to the Institute. The Teaching Melville Summer Institute for Teachers is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Moby-Dick is one of the most frequently referenced and adapted American novels, and it is becoming more popular and relevant with time. While the book is a classic, it grapples with current-day issues including globalism, multiculturalism, political power, and environmentalism. Institute participants will delve into the rich world of Moby-Dick, gain a better understanding of Melville’s literary power, and understand how to interpret the book’s critical concepts for their students.

The interdisciplinary institute is particularly appropriate for teachers of secondary school literature, but teachers of history, social studies, science and other disciplines, as well as teachers at other grade levels and school administrators, are encouraged to apply. Twenty-five teachers will be selected to attend from a national pool of applicants, while thousands of educators will be able to access the curriculum online.

The Melville Society Cultural Project is aimed at sharing an understanding of Herman Melville’s writings, life, and times. Six nationally recognized Melville scholars who comprise the MSCP will serve as principal faculty of the Teaching Melville Summer Institute: Timothy Marr, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Institute director; Jennifer Baker, New York University; Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, University of Connecticut; Wyn Kelley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Christopher  Sten, George Washington University; Robert K. Wallace, Northern Kentucky University. Visiting faculty will include John Bryant, Hofstra University, and artist Matt Kish.

Since 2000 the NBWM has partnered with the MSCP in such ventures as scholarly programming at the Museum’s annual Moby-Dick Marathon and the establishment of the Melville Society Archive in the Museum’s library, one of the best collections of Melville scholarship anywhere in the world.

“Last summer, the Whaling Museum and the Melville Society offered a workshop on Moby-Dick to local teachers. The event was such a success that we wanted to expand the scope and include teachers from across the country,” said Sarah Rose, Vice President of Education and Programs at NBWM. 

“The Melville Society Cultural Project is delighted to partner with the Whaling Museum to bring teachers from around the country to New Bedford, the historical center of American whaling,” said Tim Marr, Director of the Summer Institute for Teachers. “From there we will journey forth together on Melville’s Pequod in quest of Moby-Dick, a text that swims on and is crucially relevant for understanding our human dilemmas in the 21st century.”

National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institutes allow K-12 teachers an opportunity to enrich and revitalize their teaching through the study of humanities topics that bear upon K-12 education. Participants will receive a certificate upon completion of the program, but the programs are not intended to duplicate graduate-level courses. Each institute allows twenty-five to thirty-six participants (NEH Summer Scholars) to pursue an intensive program of study under a team of scholarly experts, who present a range of perspectives on a humanities topic. Participants and scholars mutually explore connections between scholarship and teaching of the topic.

Media Contact:
Tina Malott
Director of Marketing and Public Relations
New Bedford Whaling Museum

Melville Society Cultural Project Board Member Jennifer Baker (far right) led a 2016 workshop at the Whaling Museum. Participants are seen through the jaws of a sperm whale. The Melville Society is dedicated to the study and appreciation of the 19th century American author Herman Melville. The Whaling Museum is the home of the Melville Society Cultural Project and Melville Society Archive. A grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Education Programs will help fund a two-week Melville summer institute for teachers in 2018.


Emcee and Curator of Maritime History, NBWM, Michael P. Dyer invites audience members to try to stump the Melville Scholars (seated) during the 2017 Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. (Seated L-R) Mary K. Bercaw Edwards, Jennifer Baker, Robert K. Wallace, Christopher Sten, Wyn Kelley, and Timothy Marr.

About the New Bedford Whaling Museum

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of human interaction with whales through time, and the history and culture of the South Coast region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown. Museum hours: April through December, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; January through March, Tuesday – Saturday 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission is free for Museum members and children aged three and under; adults $17, seniors (65+) $15, students (19+) $10, child and youth $7. For more information visit