|Society for the Humanities
The focal theme for 2014-2015 is “Sensation.” Six to eight Fellows will be appointed. Selected Fellows will collaborate with the Director of the Society for the Humanities, Timothy Murray, Professor of Comparative Literature and English and Curator of the Rose Goldsen Archive of New Media Art, an international research center on new media. The Senior Invited Fellows will be Lauren Berlant, George M. Pullman Professor of English, University of Chicago, Saba Mahmood, Associate Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of California at Berkeley, and Susanna Siegel, Edgar Pierce Professor of Philosophy, Harvard University.
Erin Colleen Johnson & Ashley Ferro-Murray, “Tulle/Tool”
Focal Theme 2014-2015
The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects that reflect on philosophical, aesthetic, political, ecological, religious, psychoanalytical, and cultural understandings of sensation as a concept and experience that lies at the heart of the humanities and the arts.
We invite considerations of how sensation might be inherent to the humanities across historical periods, disciplinary boundaries, geographic territories, and social contexts. From the earliest writings on poetics to more recent theories of mood, affect, and feelings, how might sensation shape the aesthetic experience? How have theories of the sensing body and the sensational shaped the performing and the visual arts? Has sensation been equally important to theories of poetry as to tragedy? Is the “literature of sensation” primarily a nineteenth-century phenomenon of the Anglophone novel or does it stretch across the globe and ages? To what extent do discourses of sensibility and sentiment across the arts intersect with histories of research in human physiology and explorations in global culture? Some scholars might consider how artistic, theatrical, and musical experiments capitalize on the senses of touch, smell, sound, and taste.
Sensation is central to philosophical and theoretical traditions. While the philosophy of mind/perception reflects on the nature of sensory content and how concepts organize sensation, epistemological and phenomenological approaches to sensation examine the role of perception as well as the impact of the senses. Applicants might also want to consider how theories of the sublime span the disciplines when researching mathematical and dynamic approaches to sensation. Important to criticism in the arts, literature, and music, the sublime also influences more recent psychoanalytic approaches to trauma just as earlier studies of hysteria and neurosis have focused on the sensory. And while recent anthropological studies critique psychoanalytic theories of sensation for false understandings of indigenous culture, other approaches consider how factors of religion, gender, race, and class shape the regulation of sensation. Could the “intersubjective” nature of sensation even destabilize liberal theories of human agency?
Scholars also might consider the sensations of discomfort, anxiety, and vulnerability, all of which touch on recent studies in precarity, whether related to poverty, the environment, or social struggle. Touch itself, from the mythical/mystical power to heal by touch to the refined touches of the sculptor or keyboard player, might also be an object of inquiry. In the virtual realm, recent experimentations with sensor technologies open the realm of sensation to questions of the human, the animal, and the machine, just as “the sensational” subtends popular culture and mass media.
The Society for the Humanities welcomes applications from scholars and practitioners who are interested in investigating this topic from the broadest variety of international and disciplinary perspectives.
Cornell’s David R. Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future co-sponsors one fellowship to support scholarly work addressing sensation as it relates to energy, the environment or economic development.
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, 2013. 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.
Candidates should inform the Society of their intention to apply by returning the attached form immediately. The following application materials must be postmarked on or before October 1, 2013. Faxed or emailed applications will not be accepted.
1. A curriculum vitae and a copy of one scholarly paper no more than 35 pages in length. Applicants who wish to have their materials returned should enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope.
2. A one-page abstract in addition to a detailed statement of the research project the applicant would like to pursue during the term of the fellowship (1,000-3,000 words). Applicants are also encouraged to submit a working bibliography for their projects.
3. A brief (two-page) proposal for a seminar related to the applicant's research. Seminars meet two hours per week for one semester (fourteen weeks) and enrollment is limited to fifteen graduate students and qualified undergraduate students.
4. 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 send their letters directly to the Society. Letters must be postmarked on or before October 1, 2013.
Send 3 copies of the full application and letters of recommendation to:
Society for the Humanities
A.D. White House
27 East Avenue
Ithaca, NY 14853-1101
For further information:
Awards will be announced by the end of December 2013.
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.
The 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.
Fellows include scholars from other universities and members of the Cornell faculty released from regular duties. The fellowships are held for one academic year. Each Society Fellow will receive $45,000. Applicants living outside North America are eligible for an additional $2,000 to assist with travel costs.
Fellows spend their time in research and writing, participate in the weekly Fellows Seminar, and offer one seminar related to their research. The seminars are generally informal, related to the Fellow's research, and open to graduate students, suitably qualified undergraduates, and faculty members. Fellows are encouraged to explore topics they would not normally teach and, in general, to experiment freely with both the content and the method of their courses.