Who can apply?
Any PhD student in good standing in English, History, Philosophy, or Visual and Cultural Studies is eligible. Students may apply at any time, and they may submit applications while they are working on any major milestone of their graduate careers (i.e., exam preparation, dissertation prospectus, dissertation writing). Different programs have different requirements for students in the various years of their studies; the Mellon Fellowship program is flexible enough to take these differences into account.
Do I have to have a digital project underway when I apply?
Certainly not. Special digital skills and ongoing digital research projects are not requirements.
The application calls for a writing sample. What should it be? How long should it be?
The writing sample should be whatever writing you have done that you think (a) represents the kind of work you are doing and would like to continue doing; and (b) is some of the best work you have done to date. It can be on any topic and any length (although ideally something in the 15–30 page range).
The instructions say I need a letter from my advisor. I don’t have an advisor yet.
You should ask a faculty member familiar with your work to write in your support.
Will a Mellon fellowship help me get a job?
There’s no simple answer, and of course no guarantee. Job ads in the humanities have increasingly included “digital humanities” in their descriptions of desirable qualifications, and a number of academic jobs are now specified for the digital humanities-whatever that may mean to the institution placing the ad. But the primary goal of the Mellon program is not to improve your job prospects. It is to improve your ability to understand digital approaches to research in the humanities and to put you in a position to consider using such approaches in your own research.
What will Mellon fellows be doing?
The $24,500 fellowship lasts for two years, and includes summer support and attendant activities during the summer. Fellows, who will participate in teaching, research, and other activities, will spend roughly 10 hours/week engaged in fellowship activities (analogous to other fellowships in which students are engaged in academic service). Here is a very rough breakdown of fellowship activities:
- Participation in Digital Media Studies 501, the official Mellon seminar, which meets throughout the year for planning, reading and discussion, presentations, and brief training sessions. The fellows conceive and execute a very successful series of Digital Lunches; visits by scholars well known for their work in the digital humanities; and, every other year, a national colloquium or conference.
- Summer immediately before first fellowship year: fellows train in technologies that they will work with in year 1
- Year 1 and Year 2 include some combination of
- Teaching assistantships in humanities classes with significant digital components or courses in the Digital Media Studies program
- Teaching or research assistantships in Faculty Humanities Labs
It sounds as if I must be available during the summers of the fellowship. Is that true?
The fellowship stipend provides summer support, so, yes, you’ll need to available at times during the summer, though not all summer. Fellows have regularly attended workshops such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute at the University of Vancouver and the Rare Book School at the University of Virginia in the summer. And the fellowship helps support such learning activities off campus.
What if my principal area of research—the topic of my dissertation—is not digital? What if the digital humanities are a secondary interest for me?
If you are interested in learning about digital technology and the humanities, then you can and should apply to the fellowship program. You will need to articulate in your application the relationship between your humanities research and expertise in technology that you would like to cultivate, and you should also indicate ways in which you think technology might inform your future thinking.
Is DMS 501, “Seminar in Digital Humanities,” a 4-credit course?
No. It is a 1-credit discussion course co-directed by faculty and fellows. In this as in all other respects, the Mellon program encourages both a high degree of autonomy and an equally high degree of collaboration among the fellows.
Definitions and Explanations.
Project-based courses are those in which students engage in hands-on work in addition to studying traditional humanities materials. Graduate students working with faculty in teaching these courses will learn the relevant technologies and assist undergraduates in developing their skills and applying them to the humanities materials. They will also help students understand how digital forms of materials they may already be familiar with inflect those materials with new kinds of meaning. During the academic year 2013–2014, for example, the following project-based courses were on offer: ENG 263, “Clocks and Computers: Visualizing Cultural Time” (J. Burges); ENG 283, “Media ABC: The Digital Page” (M. Eaves); GER 275, “Digital Cityscapes” (J. Hwang); IT 245, “Visualizing Dante” (D. Stocchi-Perucchio); HIS 278, “Seward Family’s Civil War” (T. Slaughter); JAP 214A, “Tourist Japan” (J. Bernardi); AH 320, “The Politics of Space” (J. Saab). Other project-based courses have been offered in previous and subsequent semesters, and an increasing number of such courses are being offered.
A Faculty Humanities Lab is an ongoing faculty-led research project, generally one that is complex and that benefits from the participation of a number of people. FHLs typically consist of a faculty Principal Investigator (or sometimes two); at least one graduate student working under that faculty member; and, often, a number of undergraduates, whom the graduate student supervises. In this scenario, graduate students serve as both apprentices and mentors, learning as much as possible from the faculty PI(s) about the project, and then (a) doing his or her own work on the project and (b) mentoring undergraduates who work on the project. Some of these FHLs are associated with academic courses; others are not.
Examples of ongoing FHLs are Morris Eaves’s William Blake Archive; Thomas Slaughter’s Seward Family Digital Archive project; Michael Jarvis’s Virtual St. George’s [Bermuda]; Joan Rubin and Joan Saab’s Claude Bragdon project; Joel Burges’s Televisual Time; Joanne Bernardi’s Reenvisioning Japan; Peter Christensen’s Architectural Biometrics; and Gregory Heyworth’s Lazarus project—among others.
Further questions should be directed to Morris Eaves.