The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography
Rare Book School has received two major grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a three-year fellowship program at RBS, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography. The aim of the fellowship program is to reinvigorate bibliographical studies within the humanities by introducing doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty to specialized skills, methods, and professional networks for conducting advanced research with material texts. See the October 2013 press release.
Overview of Fellowship Program
During their three-year fellowship tenure, fellows will receive intensive, hands-on training at RBS, and will work with mentors from the bibliographical community who will guide their archivally based scholarship, and help connect them with professionals in allied fields. The fellowship program will include the following activities:
- three courses at Rare Book School, with travel and research stipends
Mellon Fellows will study with Rare Book School's distinguished international faculty during the School's weeklong seminar-style courses, once per year for three years. During their courses, fellows will receive hands-on, expert instruction by RBS faculty on interpreting the material forms of textual artifacts, from medieval manuscripts and early American hand-press books to born-digital materials. In these 30-hour courses, fellows will have the opportunity to handle, analyze, and interpret materials from RBS's c.80,000-item collection, from the University of Virginia's Special Collections, and, in some cases, from the Library of Congress, The Morgan Library & Museum, and other major special collections in the United States. One course, on the topic of critical bibliography, will be required; the other two courses will be chosen by fellows to suit their research interests. Fellows' expenses for their three RBS courses will be covered by the fellowship. In addition, they will receive a $6,000 stipend to cover travel, meals, lodging, course materials, and research-related needs.
- seminars on critical bibliography
Fellows will discuss bibliography and its potential place in humanities teaching and research during intensive seminars led by prominent humanists as part of their two-day orientation to the program. Fellows will continue to consider the questions raised during these seminars during their critical bibliography course at RBS. Fellows' expenses for attending the orientation at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA, and for attending their course on critical bibliography, will be covered by their fellowship.
- symposia on critical bibliography
Fellows will each be assigned $2,000 for use in hosting academic symposia at their home institutions. These symposia will enable fellows to invite distinguished scholars who are model practitioners of bibliography, book history, and related fields to enrich the ongoing critical conversations in their departments. Fellows will be expected to host at least one event, with a second (supported by additional funding) being optional.
- bibliographical field schools
Mellon Fellows will attend three-day "bibliographical field schools," targeted visits to major special collections in metropolitan areas (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, and more). The field schools will be tailored to fellows' research interests, and will provide them with opportunities to consult leading curators regarding resources pertinent to their research. Fellows will be encouraged to extend their stay to conduct research. Fellows' expenses for travel, meals, and lodging during the field schools will be covered by their fellowship; attendance at one field school will be required, with a second being optional.
- collaborative research trips
To foster a community of scholarship for critical bibliography, $1,500 of additional funds will be made available to fellows who wish to organize research trips to collections other than the ones visited during the bibliographical field schools, including international collections, in collaboration with other fellows in the program. Fellows will be granted funds to support travel and lodging for their research trip.
Applicants eligible for the 2014–2016 Mellon Fellowship must be, as of 2 December 2013:
- doctoral candidates (i.e., graduate students who have completed their qualifying exams),
- postdoctoral fellows, or
- junior (i.e., nontenured) faculty.
Applicants must be available for an orientation at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA on the following dates: 30 and 31 May 2014. Applicants must commit to participating in periodic, annual program activities through September 2016.
The following classes of applicants are ineligible for a Mellon Fellowship:
- students and faculty presently affiliated with institutions located outside the United States
- tenured faculty
- students and faculty whose primary professional focus lies outside of the humanities, including those in the areas of Library and Information Science*
- anyone who has attended three or more courses at RBS
- past or present members of RBS's full-time, year-round staff
*Rare Book School plans to seek funding to run a program similar to the Mellon Fellowship, but centered on students, librarians, curators, and faculty in Library and Information Science, in the near future.
Half-hour information sessions have been planned for each of the locations listed below. If you would like to attend one of the sessions at a given location, please let us know in advance (by emailing email@example.com) at which times you would be available, and your preferred time.
NEW YORK: Monday, 4 November 2013
Time: 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, or 4:30pm (by appointment)
Location: The Grolier Club (4th floor), 47 East 60th Street (between Park and Madison), NYC
PHILADELPHIA: Tuesday, 5 November 2013
Time: 3:00, 3:30, 4:00, or 4:30pm (by appointment)
Location: Furness Seminar Room, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library (6th floor), University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
PRINCETON: Wednesday, 6 November 2013
Time: 4:30, 5:00, 5:30, or 6:00pm (by appointment)
Location: Chancellor Green 105 (East), Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
NEW HAVEN: Friday, 8 November 2013
Time: 4:00, 4:30, 5:00, or 5:30pm (by appointment)
Location: McDougal Center Common Room, Yale University, New Haven, CT
ITHACA: Monday, 11 November 2013
Time: 4:30 or 5:00pm (by appointment)
Location: Kroch Library 2B48 (Lecture Room), Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
BOSTON: Friday, 15 November 2013
Time: 3:30, 4:00, 4:30, or 5:00pm (by appointment)
Location: Plimpton Room (Barker 133), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
You may also email firstname.lastname@example.org with specific questions about the program.
To request an application, please submit an RBS-Mellon Fellowship Information Request Form. Applications will be distributed via email, beginning 21 October 2013.
The deadline for application is 5pm EST on Monday, 2 December 2013. All application forms, essays, and supplementary materials are to be submitted via Adobe EchoSign. Applicants should provide their recommenders with the 2013 Recommendation Form to include with their letters. Letters of recommendation should be sent via email to email@example.com or via postal mail directly to:
Attn: Mellon Fellowship Program Director
Rare Book School
114 Alderman Library
University of Virginia
P.O. Box 400103
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4103
Applicants will be evaluated primarily on the basis of:
- their demonstrated academic achievements
- their capacity for intellectual leadership
- the strength of their argument for participating in the program
- the interpretative force of their written work
A total of twenty Mellon Fellows will be selected; successful applicants will be notified on 2 March 2014. Please email Mellon Fellowship Program Director Donna Sy with questions regarding the fellowship program, eligibility, and applications.
- May I submit a generic "dossier service" recommendation letter?
We recommend that you ask those providing your recommendations to respond to the prompt provided in the recommendation letter cover sheet. If your recommenders are unable to provide a customized recommendation letter, we will accept generic letters, but such letters are less likely to provide strong support for your application.
- What are you looking for in the writing sample?
We hope that you will submit a writing sample that represents your academic writing at its finest. The writing you submit need not have been previously published, and need not be on bibliographical or book-historical topics (though papers on such topics are, of course, welcome).
- Do you have any requirements for how responses to the essay questions must be formatted?
Each essay question must be submitted as a separate file (PDF preferred). Make sure that each page is numbered and includes your name on it in a header or footer. Please include the essay prompt at the beginning of your response.
- May I submit letters of recommendation or writing samples in foreign languages?
We ask that you submit two letters of recommendation and a writing sample in English. If you feel that your strongest recommendation letter and writing sample must be in a foreign language, you may include them as a supplement to your application, but we cannot guarantee that our selection committee members will be able to give full consideration to materials that are not in English.
- I am about to advance to candidacy for the doctoral degree, but it will be just after 2 December 2013. May I still apply?
You may apply if you will have completed your exams by 1 February 2014; we will consider your application provisional until we have received certification from your department that you have advanced to candidacy. If you will not complete your exams by that date, you are not eligible to apply at present; we hope to be able to select another cohort of fellows next year, if funding permits, and so we hope you will consider applying at that time.
- What are the restrictions on attachments submitted via Adobe EchoSign?
Adobe EchoSign accepts a variety of document types as attachments, including PDF and Word (full list). The maximum size for each attachment is 5MB. If you need to submit a writing sample that cannot be reduced to under 5MB in size owing to the images that accompany it, please send us the writing sample via email, and then upload a memo to Adobe EchoSign in place of the writing sample. In the writing sample, please include your full name on the first page; in the memo, please include the date and subject line of the email, and the file name of the attachment you have sent.
2013-2015 RBS-Mellon Fellows
Twenty RBS-Mellon fellowships for 2013-2015 were awarded in March 2013. (Press release)
- 2013–2015 RBS-Mellon Fellows
- Names and institutional affiliations of 2013–2015 RBS-Mellon Fellows (PDF)
- Biographical information for 2013–2015 RBS-Mellon Fellows (PDF)
Advisory Board for The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography
- Ann Blair (Harvard College Professor, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History)
- James Green (Librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia)
- Charles Henry (President, Council on Library & Information Resources)
- Jerome McGann (John Stewart Bryan University Professor, University of Virginia)
- Patricia Meyer Spacks (past President, MLA and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences)