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For Immediate Release
December 16, 2020

Mary Ann Cain, professor of English and linguistics, selected for the 2020–21 Outstanding Research Award

Key Info

  • Professor of English and linguistics Mary Ann Cain selected as 2020–21 Outstanding Research Award recipient
  • Office of Academic Affairs and tenured faculty committee made selection
Mary Ann Cain, professor of English and linguistics, selected for the 2020–21 Outstanding Research Award Image 1
Professor Mary Ann Cain, Outstanding Researcher of 2020–21 Print-quality image

FORT WAYNE, Ind.—The Office of Academic Affairs at Purdue University Fort Wayne, and the Outstanding Research Award committee, comprised of tenured faculty members, have selected Mary Ann Cain, professor of English and linguistics, for the 2020–21 Outstanding Research Award.

Much of Cain’s research and scholarship explores how inquiry, art, critical analysis, and activism can bring communities together to improve their lives. With both national and international reputations as a scholar, researcher, and writer, Cain has made the integration of her cutting-edge work into her teaching, service, and community outreach a priority.

According to her nominator, Cain’s most recent book, the critically acclaimed biography, South Side Venus: The Legacy of Margaret Burroughs, demonstrates how that integration works.

“Her work is truly multidisciplinary, cutting across areas of rhetoric, composition, education, women’s studies, and psychology, as well as critical and sociocultural theory,” said Lil Brannon, professor emerita of English at UNC Charlotte. “Her work brings her into conversation with artists, writers, academic colleagues, and community members; and in doing so, she enriches their understanding of the work that writing/art can do to better lives.”

Brannon has been aware of Cain’s work for more than 30 years and first met her at the University of Albany-SUNY when Cain was recruited to the doctoral program there by the renowned, late author and Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison, who, at the time, was with the New York State Writers Institute.

“Her efforts are placed in the best venues across scholarly audiences — practitioner readers and academicians — as she works to lessen the divide between these two groups,” added Brannon. “To paraphrase Gloria Anzaldua, Mary Ann Cain does the work that matters. It is intellectually rigorous, challenging, and deeply humane. She is an outstanding nationally and internationally known scholar. You can find no one better.”

Describing her work, Cain wrote, “The reception of South Side Venus has been strongly positive locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Many positive reviews, along with book excerpts and interviews, have appeared in regional and national publications.” She added, “Of special note is the impact this book has had on Purdue Fort Wayne and Fort Wayne itself. A February 2019 book opening at the Arts United Center became a community outreach event and a celebration of Burroughs’ legacy. Several prominent local African American leaders participated in the event, with almost 100 people in attendance.”

Each academic year, the Outstanding Research Award at Purdue Fort Wayne honors a tenured, full-time faculty member for outstanding performance in the area of research, scholarly activity, or creative endeavor. The honoree must have achieved an exceptional record of contributions to the body of knowledge or creative works in his or her discipline(s). The faculty member must also have had great success communicating the results of his or her work to a wide audience.

For more information about Cain’s works and this accolade, contact her at