WMU News

Kain is first WMU student awarded Fulbright-Hays

April 25, 2001

KALAMAZOO -- A Western Michigan University graduate student working on a doctoral degree in history has established a legacy of his own as the first WMU student to ever be awarded a Fulbright-Hays Fellowship.

Kevin Kain was awarded a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship for the 2001-2002 year. He will use the nearly $30,000 award to conduct nine months of research in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia.

The fellowship will allow Kain, a native of Wilmington, N.C., to continue his research on Patriarch Nikon (NEE kohn), an 17th century leader of the Russian Orthodox Church who introduced reforms that split the church and resulted in the mass religious dissention in Russia known as the Great Schism. Specifically, Kain will look at the image of Nikon as it appeared in art, architecture and literature from the 17th century to the present.

While his student's work is historical, says Dr. John O. Norman, WMU associate professor of history and Kain's advisor, it has resonance in today's Russia.

"The collapse of the Soviet regime and the reemergence of Russian Orthodoxy as an institutional and political force underscores the vital relevance of this undertaking," Norman says. "An investigation of the role of the Russian Orthodox Church and its patriarchs as patrons of art and architecture is critical to a full and less politicized view of Russian cultural history. In today's Russia, the role of the Orthodox Church and of the patriarchate is one of the most pressing issues awaiting resolution."

Kain will begin his fellowship in September. Previous funding from WMU's Department of History, Graduate College and Office of International Affairs allowed him to spend the past two summers conducting fieldwork in Russia, where he established valuable contacts with the Historical, Architectural and Art Museum "New Jerusalem" and the State Historical Museum in Moscow, and Moscow Spiritual Academy's Kabinet. Much of his research will be conducted using artifacts, literature and art collections at these institutions.

"The contacts I made there have been pivotal in my research," he says. "Affiliation with Galina Zelenskaia of New Jerusalem allowed me to broaden my research in Russia. In addition, Dr. Michael Levintov has been invaluable in helping to make arrangements and work out the logistics in Russia."

Kain also credits Norman as well as Drs. Judith Stone and James Palmitessa of WMU's Department of History with providing encouragement and guidance in applying for the fellowship.

"Kevin's award of the Fulbright-Hays fellowship confirms my belief that the best of WMU's graduate students are fully competitive with those of better known and more established research institutions," says Norman. "I can only hope it will encourage others to compete for these prestigious awards."

Kain, the son of Robert and Maureen Kain of Wilmington, N.C., earned a master's degree from Appalachian State University in 1995 and a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1990.

The Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad is administered by the U.S. Department of Education and supports research overseas in modern foreign languages and area studies. This year, 87 fellowships ranging from $12,000 to $60,000 were awarded.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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