Benedictine University awarded $195,000 National Endowment for the Humanities grant

  • Dr. Keveh Hemmat of Benedictine University

    Dr. Keveh Hemmat of Benedictine University

Updated 10/9/2021 12:44 AM

Dr. Kaveh Hemmat of Benedictine University in Lisle has been awarded a $195,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to collaborate with scholars from around the globe to produce an annotated translation of the "Book of China," a travel narrative written by a Persian merchant who toured China in the 16th century.

Dr. Hemmat is an assistant professor of History, Philosophy, and Theology in Benedictine's College of Liberal Arts. He is a historian specializing in the premodern Islamic world, and teaches courses at Benedictine in history, global studies, and interdisciplinary seminars on culture and history.


"The Book of China" is a description of China's government and society, written in 1516 by a merchant from Central Asia, who traveled to Beijing and then back across the continent to Istanbul. He wrote this book for the Ottoman empire, as it was expanding into Europe and the Middle East. The book shows how China was seen from Central Asia at a time when firearms were transforming warfare. It also documents a less studied side of globalization in the age of Columbus and Magellan: governments across Asia, Europe, and Africa simultaneously developed larger and more sophisticated armies, bureaucracies, and legal systems, creating the political foundations of the modern world.

Professor Hemmat's collaborators together bring expertise in languages including Chinese, Persian, Arabic, and Ottoman, to translate a truly global text previously unavailable in English.

Krissy Dulek, Benedictine's Director of Corporate, Foundation and Government Grants, assisted Dr. Hemmat in pursuit of the grant.

According to the NEH, 23 percent of applicants receive a grant under this program. "This is a great honor for the university and our College of Liberal Arts," said Benedictine University President Charles Gregory. "The competition for a NEH grant is intense; our team worked tirelessly on their submission, and we look forward to seeing their work."

During a recent afternoon visit to Benedictine, U.S. Congressman Sean Casten from Illinois' 6th District took time out to congratulate Dr. Hemmat. Rep. Casten's office was first to hear of the award and called Dr. Hemmat to break the good news.

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Earlier this month the National Endowment for the Humanities announced $28.4 million in grants for 239 humanities projects across the country. This round of funding will support vital research, education, preservation, digital, and public programs. Since its creation in 1965, National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded more than $5.6 billion for humanities projects through more than 64,000 grants.

Benedictine's College of Liberal Arts includes 40 full-time faculty and seven departments. It offers students a choice of over 20 majors and two graduate programs in disciplines ranging from literature, philosophy, and music to psychology, political science, and more.

Benedictine University is in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Benedictine University was also named the second-safest campus in the country and safest campus in Illinois by in 2019. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information about the University, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at


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