Society for the Humanities Fellowships 2019-20

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University invites applications for residential fellowships from scholars whose research projects reflect on the 2019-20 theme of ENERGY. Six to eight Fellows will be appointed. The fellowships are held for one academic year. Each Society Fellow will receive $50,000.

Fellows include scholars and practitioners from other universities and members of the Cornell faculty released from regular duties. Fellows will collaborate with 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, participate in the weekly Fellows Seminar, and offer one course related to their research. Courses should be related to the focal theme, and appropriate for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. 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.

 2019-20 Invited Society Scholars:

The following Invited Society Scholars will each spend a week in residence, leading a seminar with the Fellows and offering a public lecture.

  • Dominic Boyer, Director of CENHS (Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences), Professor of Anthropology, Rice University
  • Brent Hayes Edwards, Professor of English & Comparative Literature and Jazz Studies, Columbia University
  • Cymene Howe, Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender & Sexuality, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rice University
  • Kathi Weeks, Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies, Duke University

2019-20 Focal Theme: ENERGY

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for residential fellowships that reflect on the theme of energy, its past, present, and futures.

Coming from the Greek energeia – work, activity, performance, force – and now synonymous with life and liveliness, verve and vitality, energy underlies the productive forces that animate the natural and social worlds as they scale from the macro to the microcosm: from the music of the planets to dance, poetry, and art; from political movements to modes of labor (whether physical, mental, emotional, or mechanical); from the forces of history up to the carbon age and climate change.


In artistic expression, energy marks the ability to have an effect, to make things move: whether rhetorically by a turn of phrase, musically by organization and modulation of sound, or performatively in the coordination of  words and bodies in space. Consider the ‘energy’ of a performance, the je ne sais quoi that sets one artwork, one interpretation, one version apart from others. In the social sphere, energy lies at the heart of labor power, whether human or machine, physical or mental, as well as in the multiple forms of unacknowledged labor: the energy invested in emotional, domestic, undocumented, or poorly paid work. Energy also fuels the political ideas that move people into the streets, to assemble and stand opposed – from #blacklivesmatter and #metoo to labor and equal rights movements. Finally, energy is bound up with mental life: from Freud’s energetic model of the psychic apparatus to the forces behind magical practices, magnetism, rituals, and religions – forces both immaterial and material that span the globe.

In its most timely inquiry, the issue of energy runs up against climate change. From carbon-based and nuclear sources of fuel to renewables such as solar and wind, our modes of dwelling on and sharing the planet (not only with fellow humans) require sustained reflections on energy: its history, uses, and abuses; its relation to ‘progress’ and colonialism; its futures as well as its costs. At stake in the question of energy are not only its political and economical valences, but also the social and cultural forces – the values, beliefs, attitudes, and images that shape our global past, present, and future.

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



Fellows should be working on topics related to the 2019-20 focal theme, ENERGY. 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, 2018. 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. International scholars are welcome to apply, contingent upon visa eligibility.


Application Procedures:

 The following application materials must be submitted via AJO fellowship #11336 on or before OCTOBER 1, 2018. 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, 2018.


To apply, go to:

For further information: Phone: 607-255-9274 / Email:

Awards will be announced by the end of December 2018.

Diversity and Inclusion are a part of Cornell University’s heritage. We are an employer and educator recognized for valuing AA/EEO, Protected Veterans, and Individuals with Disabilities.

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.

Cite this blog post
Nathalie Ortar (2018, September 3). Society for the Humanities Fellowships 2019-20. Energy Anthropology Network. Retrieved June 17, 2024, from

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