Grants and Fellowships

2020-21 Society for the Humanities Fellowships

Focal Theme “Fabrication”

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University invites applications for residential fellowships from scholars whose research projects reflect on the 2020-21 theme of FABRICATION. Six to eight Fellows will be appointed. The fellowships are held for one academic year. Each Society Fellow will receive $52,000.

Fellows include scholars and practitioners from other universities and members of the Cornell faculty released from regular duties. Fellows at the Society for the Humanities are “residential,” and will collaborate with one another and the Taylor Family Director of the Society for the Humanities, Paul Fleming, Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies. Fellows spend their time in research and writing during the residential fellowship, and are required to participate in a weekly Fellows Seminar workshopping each other’s projects and participating in lively discussions on readings based on the yearly theme.

The nature of this fellowship year is social and communal—Fellows forge connections outside the classroom and the lecture hall by sharing meals following the weekly seminar and attending post-lecture receptions and other casual events throughout the year. Fellows live and work in Ithaca, NY, and are expected to be in their offices on campus frequently. All applicants for Society Fellowships should share in this commitment to creating a supportive and intellectually stimulating community.

Fellows teach one small seminar during their fellowship year appropriate for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Though courses are designed to fit the focal theme, there are no additional restrictions on what or how the course should be taught. Fellows are encouraged to experiment with both the content and the method of their seminar particularly as it relates to their current research.

2020-21 Focal Theme: FABRICATION

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for residencies that reflect on the theme of fabrication. Embodying two strands of production – creation and concoction, making and faking, forming and falsifying – fabrications are both made up and made real.

Fabrication is bound up with fiction, language, and storytelling: from spinning a yarn and weaving a tale through embellishment to lying and falsehood. Fabrication recalls the old adage that ‘the poets lie,’ pondering the relation between invention and deception. While today it seems that the pejorative sense of fabrication often falls to politicians, this dual valence nonetheless raises the question of whether art, fiction, narrative, and historiography ever fully extricate themselves from suspicion. This is especially the case in the age of quantification and ‘hard data,’ with its attendant effects on the humanities – and yet numbers without narrative tell us nothing, have no story to tell.

In so far as homo faber demarcates the human as artisan, as one who works and produces (or perhaps refuses to participate in an economy of production and reproduction), fabrication necessarily calls upon studies of labor, manufacturing, and (mass-)production. In this sense, fabrication connotes a materiality or tactility that stretches from the factory floor to the loom, and can be apprehended in metal and wood, plastics and dyes, canvas and paper, clays and concretes, fabrics and textiles.

From the weaving of Penelope to the communal knitting of ‘pussy hats,’ fabrication is gendered and embodied, mythologized and politicized, turning domestic crafts (often ‘women’s work’) into acts of resistance. Through fashion, costume, adornment, and drag, fabrication is woven into questions of embodiment, gender, sexuality, performance, and transformation. Communities and identities can be crafted, agency conjured, systems of power refashioned.

Raising the relation between the high and low arts, the artist and the worker, the poet and rhetorician as well as the gendering of production and reproduction, fabrication lies at heart of the art and humanities.

The Society for the Humanities invites applications from scholars and artists who are interested in participating in a productive, critical dialogue concerning the topic of fabrication from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Fellows should be working on topics related to the year’s theme. Their approach to the humanities should be broad enough to appeal to students and scholars in several humanistic disciplines.

Applicants must have received the Ph.D. degree before January 1, 2019.  The Society for the Humanities will not consider applications from scholars who received the Ph.D. after this date. Applicants must also have one or more years of teaching experience, which may include teaching as a graduate student.

Application Procedures: 
The following application materials must be submitted via on or before OCTOBER 1, 2019. Any other method of applying will not be accepted.
  1. A curriculum vitae
  2. A one-page abstract describing the research project the applicant would like to pursue during the term of the fellowship (no more than 300 words)
  3. A detailed statement of the research project (1,000 – 2,000 words). Applicants may also include a one-page bibliography of the most essential materials to the project.
  4. A course proposal for a seminar related to the applicant’s research. Seminars meet two hours per week for one semester and enrollment is limited to fifteen advanced undergraduates and graduate students. The course proposal should consist of:
    • A brief course description suitable for the University course catalog (50-125 words)
    • A detailed course proposal (up to 300 words)
    • A list of the essential texts for the course
  5. One scholarly paper (no more than 35 pages in length)
  6. Two letters of recommendation from senior colleagues to whom candidates should send their research proposal and teaching proposal. Letters of recommendation should include an evaluation of the candidate’s proposed research and teaching statements. Please ask referees to submit their letters directly through the application link. Letters must be submitted on or before OCTOBER 1, 2019.
Awards will be announced by the end of December 2019.

2020 African Critical Inquiry Workshop: Rethinking Resilience

The African Critical Inquiry Programme (ACIP) is pleased to announce that the 2020 ACIP workshop will be Rethinking Resilience. The project was proposed by organizers Janeke Thumbran (History, Rhodes University) and Ruth Sacks (Postdoctoral Researcher, SARChI Chair for Social Change, University of Fort Hare). It will take place in Makhanda (Grahamstown), South Africa in March 2020.

Rethinking Resilience

This three-day workshop brings together early career scholars and visual artists to engage with the concept of resilience and its co-option by neoliberal governance. The concept of “resilence” has a long history in psychology, but in the past decade or so it has become a pervasive buzzword in humanitarian and development circles, as well as in politics and governance, business, education, and more. We will examine problematic prevailing narratives that expect previously disenfranchised citizens to cultivate forms of self-reliance and informal networks in the face of collapsing infrastructure. The workshop also thinks with resilience as the manifestation of pervasive political and material remains from the past that shape everyday life. We reconsider historical systems that emphasize inherited societal inequalities and how they have been repurposed out of necessity.

Our focus on the afterlife of the infrastructural constructions of former regimes (including institutional policies, architecture, and industrialization) will allow for discussions on the politics of materiality and its affective influence on social relationships and structures. The multi-disciplinary forum (including history, fine art, anthropology, maritime archeology, and agricultural science) will include participants who work with creative practice research to help expand critical humanities methodologies and work across disciplinary barriers. In imagining the critical public culture we wish to build, we seek ways to challenge the capitalist structures that co-opt academic and artistic practice into neoliberal narratives. We will explore interpretations and manifestations of resilience as a way to develop new spaces for interaction through publications and future events that are accessible to a wider audience. Pointedly starting from the particular situation of a destabilized Eastern Cape environment, we will consider ways to grow a group of researchers concerned with how we operate as academic citizens and lecturers.

Founded in 2012, the African Critical Inquiry Programme (ACIP) is a partnership between the Centre for Humanities Research at University of the Western Cape in Cape Town and the Laney Graduate School of Emory University in Atlanta. Supported by donations to the Ivan Karp and Corinne Kratz Fund, the ACIP fosters thinking and working across public cultural institutions, across disciplines and fields, and across generations. It seeks to advance inquiry and debate about the roles and practice of public culture, public cultural institutions and public scholarship in shaping identities and society in Africa through an annual ACIP workshop and through the Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards, which support African doctoral students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences enrolled at South African universities.

Information about applying to organize the 2021 ACIP workshop and for the 2020 Ivan Karp Doctoral Research Awards will be available in November 2019. The deadline for both workshop applications and student applications is 1 May 2020.

For further information, see and