Cornell University, Society for the Humanities

Fellowship ID:Cornell-Society for the Humanities-SHUMFELLOWS [#16569, AFTERLIVES-WDR00023501]
Fellowship Title: Society for the Humanities Fellowships 2021-22
Fellowship Type:Postdoctoral
Location:Ithaca, New York 14853, United States [map]
Subject Areas: Literature
American Indian and Indigenous Studies
Judaic Studies
Political Theory (more...)
Appl Deadline:2020/10/01 11:59PMhelp popup finished (2020/07/21, finished 2021/02/09)

*** this fellowship has been closed and new applications are no longer being accepted. ***

Society for the Humanities Fellowships

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University invites applications for residential fellowships from scholars whose research projects reflect on the 2021-22 theme of AFTERLIVES. Up to six Fellows will be appointed. The fellowships are held for one academic year. Each Society Fellow will receive $55,000.

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 considered “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 weekly seminars 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 to meet with students or each other. All applicants for Society Fellowships should share in this commitment to creating a supportive and intellectually stimulating community. 

Fellows teach one course during their fellowship year appropriate for graduate students and advanced undergraduates, and should feel free to experiment with both the content and the method of their courses. 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 explore topics they would not normally teach that might provide new directions for their own research projects.

2021-22 Focal Theme: AFTERLIVES

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for residencies that reflect on the theme of afterlives.


In times of revolt, times of shutdown, times of crisis, times of hope and transformation, the focal theme of afterlives raises the double question concerning all moments of transition, upheaval, or demise: What lives on and what comes after? What survives, what fades away, and what emerges changed? We invite applicants to interrogate afterlives in this tension between rupture and continuity, difference and persistence, revolution and tradition.


In their diachronic trajectories, the humanities are inseparable from multifarious afterlives. This is evident in the ghosts and specters that haunt history and texts; in spiritual afterlives and rebirths; in artistic, psychic, and intellectual residues and traces; in the notion of ‘aftermath’ whether nuclear, natural, or traumatic; in reception studies and the re-use or re-coding of tales, texts, motifs, images, and ideas; in posthumanist futures, science fictions, speculative ecologies, and multispecies ethnographies.


Afterlives can be utopian projects – from heavenly lives to post-capitalist, post-work, and post-family societies – as well as strangely mundane worlds, in which the flip side of catastrophe is often the quotidian task of living on and with its aftermath. In fact, afterlives all too often have their violent modalities such as the enslavement of Black and Brown bodies persisting in the form of Jim Crow, segregation, mass incarceration, and daily microaggressions.


At stake in afterlives is, then, not only what lives on, but how such ‘living on’ occurs – its modalities, mechanisms, processes, and translations – in which something both recognizable and new, ongoing and ‘eventful,’ persistent and epochal is at work. Thus, we are interested in not only the afterlives of artistic movements, historical periods, literary styles, economic orders, political regimes, and religious institutions, but also how such afterlives are possible in the first place. What structures and enables (pragmatically, imaginatively) the afterlife of events, ideas, and institutions? What needs to take place for something truly new to emerge?


The theme of afterlives asks us to consult both histories and imaginaries, theory and practice, to interrogate how cycles are reproduced or radically ruptured.


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 afterlives 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, 2020.  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, 2020. 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 from any institution 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, 2020

For further information:

Awards will be announced by the end of December 2020. 

Note: Extensions for applications will not be granted. The Society will consider only fully completed applications. It is the responsibility of each applicant to ensure that ALL documentation is complete, and that referees submit their letters of recommendation to the Society before the closing date. 

Society for the Humanities:
The Society for the Humanities was established at Cornell University in 1966 to support research and teaching in the humanities. It is intended to be at once a research institute, a stimulus to educational innovation, and a continuing society of scholars. The Society and its Fellows have fostered path-breaking interdisciplinary dialogue and theoretical reflection on the humanities at large.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University's heritage. We are a recognized employer and educator valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities. We also recognize a lawful preference in employment practices for Native Americans living on or near Indian reservations.

Application Materials Required:
Submit the following items online at this website to complete your application:
And anything else requested in the description.

Further Info:
Society for the Humanities
Cornell University
A. D. White House
121 Presidents Drive
Ithaca, NY 14853

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