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Caroline Schroeder, associate professor of Religious and Classical Studies, has received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to fund the KELLIA project which will aid in digitizing, translating, and analyzing Coptic texts.

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Coptic Scholar Receives $192,500 National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

Johanna BakmasMay 27, 2015

Caroline T. Schroeder, associate professor of Religious and Classical Studies is the principal investigator of a $192,500 grant awarded to the University of the Pacific from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Working in collaboration with her U.S. co-director, Amir Zeldes of Georgetown University, and colleagues in Germany, Schroeder's project KELLIA (Koptische/Coptic Electronic Language and Literature International Alliance) will promote international and interdisciplinary collaborations across the Digital Humanities Coptic Studies. The grant is a joint award from the NEH and the German agency, the Deutsche Forchungsgemeinschaft.

KELLIA will involve work with students and scholars from around the world. In the US, the partners are Pacific and Georgetown University, who will receive $192,500; in Germany, the partners are the University of Göttingen and the University of Münster, who will receive funding from the DFG. The grant will support a number of activities, including the appointment of a Digital Humanities specialist who will work half time on KELLIA and half time in the University of the Pacific Library. "It was important to me that if at all possible, this grant could help build an infrastructure at Pacific and not just support this one project," said Schroeder.

The project will compliment Schroeder's course on Digital Humanities, which examines how digital methods are used to communicate or share what it means to be human.
"Scholars around the world and students right here at Pacific will both benefit from Professor Schroeder's investigations," said Dr. Rena Fraden, dean of College of the Pacific, the liberal arts and sciences college at University of the Pacific. "Pacific students will also be able to ask and answer questions about the usefulness of new sorts of technology in Carrie's course, Introduction to Digital Humanities."  

This isn't the first time Schroeder has received NEH funding for studying Coptic language and literature. In 2014 she received a $40,000 Humanities Collections and Reference Resources grant, which enables scholars to digitize core Coptic texts and develop standards for future digitization projects. She also received a $60,000 Digital Humanities Start-Up Grant which allows scholars to develop the tools and technologies necessary for computer-aided study and interaction with the materials. Schroeder and her counterpart in Germany, Dr. Heike Behlmer, have also worked together before.  Dr. Behlmer is the German Principal Investigator for KELLIA, director of the Seminar for Egyptology and Coptic Studies at Göttingen, and Schroeder's host for a fellowship there in 2011-12. The KELLIA project will aid in creating new technologies to study and publish online texts that are important for the understanding of the Bible and the history of Christianity as well as the cultural heritage of an important religious community in the Middle East, Coptic Christians.
Professor Schroeder in front of the Pyramids in 2012

"This community has a rich and important history and legacy. The Bible was translated into Coptic very early, and the Coptic Bible then influenced the literature, language, and culture of Egypt until Arabic became the primary language of daily life," says Schroeder. "Today, the Coptic Orthodox Church is a religious minority-- an estimated 8-10% of the population of Egypt. Most people probably have heard of Coptic because of recent crises there. I hope our research helps increase awareness about its contributions to the world's heritage, as well." This collaboration between Pacific and universities in Germany will enable advances not only in Coptic Studies but also in other fields that use corpus linguistics methods or produce digital text editions.

About the National Endowment for the Humanities
Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the NEH supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. For more information, visit

About University of the Pacific
Established in 1851 as the first university in California, University of the Pacific prepares students for professional and personal success through rigorous academics, small classes, and a supportive and engaging culture. Widely recognized as one of the most beautiful private university campuses in the West, the Stockton campus offers more than 80 undergraduate majors in arts and sciences, music, business, education, engineering and computer science, and pharmacy and health sciences. The university's distinctive Northern California footprint also includes the acclaimed Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco and the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. For more information, visit

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