ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships

The ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship Program provides support to small teams of two or more scholars to collaborate intensively on a single, substantive project, which leads to a tangible research product (such as joint print or web publications) for which the collaborators will take equal credit. It is hoped that projects of successful applicants will help demonstrate the range and value of collaborative research in the humanities and related social sciences, and model how such collaboration may be carried out successfully.  

2016-2017 marked the ninth year of the ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowship Program, generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

  • A Landmark Ammianus Marcellinus  |  Abstract

    The Landmark Ammianus project is the first faithful modern translation of the neglected fourth-century historian Ammianus Marcellinus. Ammianus, a native Greek speaker who wrote in Latin, remains painfully inaccessible because his Latinity is difficult and his manuscript transmission is both tenuous and corrupt. Based on the standard critical edition of the text by Wolfgang Seyfarth, the translation is corrected from new textual research by the translator, Gavin Kelly, preparatory to his future work on a revised critical edition. With an author as complex as Ammianus, however, a good translation is not in itself sufficient to render the text usable: the historical content is so varied, the technicalities of late Roman administration so numerous, and the geography so often obscure. The project, using the well-known Landmark format, includes full annotations, with short explanatory notes in the generous margins of the text and an array of explanatory appendices. A full introduction, to be prepared by Michael Kulikowski as editor-in-chief, sketches the history of the later Roman empire and then considers Ammianus as both man and author, while also treating the ways modern historians use Ammianus as a source, checking his evidence against that of other sources. The project also includes the development of an array of lavish maps, produced to the highest standard of modern cartography and located exactly where they illustrate a point in the text. The project is a true collaboration: each collaborator has considerable experience of Ammianus, Kelly in his first book and many articles, Kulikowski in a variety of publications on the fourth century. Kelly is an active translator, while Kulikowski has wide experience organizing collaborative grants and collective volumes, and, as an academic administrator, is able to supervise the recruitment of authors for many of the explanatory appendices that the project requires. More importantly, this collaboration between a philologist and a historian, each with considerable interdisciplinary experience, helps advance the individual research agendas of each collaborator, while simultaneously producing a scholarly and pedagogical tool of lasting value. Award period: September 1, 2014 - June 30, 2016

    Gavin A.J. Kelly
    Gavin A.J. Kelly

    Associate Professor, Classics, University of Edinburgh

    Michael Edward Kulikowski
    Michael Edward Kulikowski

    Professor, History, Pennsylvania State University

  • Cornered: The Everyday Experience of US Inner-City Poverty in the Early 21st Century  |  Abstract

    Bourgois and Hart will co-author a photo-ethnographic book entitled Cornered to render more visible the increasingly distressed new subjectivities imposed on vulnerable, inner-city residents under the specific conditions of 21st century poverty: hyperincarceration, reductions in social services and rising economic inequalities. This collaboration involves two senior anthropologists and two additional project participants (a graduate student in anthropology and a medical student). As a team, all four conducted team-based anthropological participant-observation fieldwork in a violently-policed Puerto Rican immigrant neighborhood in the heart of Philadelphia's former industrial core that is now dominated by open-air narcotics drug corners. They documented everyday survival on a block where two of the team members resided for over three years. The project’s goal is to document the historically toxic landscape of US inner city hypersegregation, poverty, and public/private infrastructural abandonment. The research shows how increasingly limited social services for the poor have been reorganized punitively with the public sector attempting to manage social problems primarily through law enforcement and incarceration. The collaborators followed neighborhood residents in their interactions with state institutions, non-profit agencies, and the legal-private sector. US poverty management is increasingly organized around the ambiguously competing/complementary poles of: 1) law enforcement; and 2) health-related services. The research documents how these forms of governmentality reach inner-city streets, from police raids, prison cells, lawyer’s suites, parole offices, and courtrooms to treatment courts, school counselor offices, disability programs, psychotherapy sessions, medical clinics, and cemeteries. It also reveals the rising human cost of reductions in welfare services and the shift to allocating subsidies through disability payments dependant on medical diagnoses. These policies are increasingly transforming the most vulnerable sector of the unemployed into carceral felons and/or pharmaceutically-dependent pariahs fulfilling a script of violent pathology. Award period: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2015

    Laurie Hart
    Laurie Hart

    Professor, Anthropology, Haverford College

    Phillippe Bourgois
    Phillippe Bourgois

    Professor, Anthropology and Family Practice & Community Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

  • Ethics, Criticism, Anti-Semitism: Chaucer’s Prioress and the Jews  |  Abstract

    Do scholars have special obligations when discussing historical bigotry? Are medievalists exempt from such questions because they study a period remote in time? This project reassesses the critical history of Chaucer’s anti-Semitic poem, the Prioress’s Tale, in the context of conflicts between the claims of ethics and those of historicism in discussions of medieval anti-Semitism. Contemporary critics feel compelled to acknowledge that the Tale carries a significant ethical challenge for post-Holocaust readers, but the nature of the dilemma is often elided, leaving the stakes for historical understanding unexamined. Our intervention combines archival work and historical analysis with a critical history of earlier scholarship. This project will result in a co-authored book that intends to contribute to conversations about the aims of studies addressing hostile representations of outgroups, within and beyond medieval studies. Most importantly, however, this project models a critical approach relevant to the study of texts and works of art that have traditionally been considered masterpieces, while at the same time containing significant anti-Semitic overtones, such as Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Dicken’s Oliver Twist, Bach’s St John’s Passion, or Wagner’s Ring cycle. This is Blurton’s and Johnson’s first long-format collaboration; they have previously co-authored a review article, “Virtual Jews and Figural Criticism,” for Philological Quarterly. Award period: July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014

    Hannah Johnson
    Hannah Johnson

    Associate Professor, English, University of Pittsburgh

    Heather Blurton
    Heather Blurton

    Associate Professor, English, University of California, Santa Barbara

  • Sculpture and Photography: The Art Object in Reproduction  |  Abstract

    Although scholars across the humanities rely on photographs of art and archaeological objects to construct historical and aesthetic meaning, there remains little consensus today regarding the uses and values of these images for the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge. This collaboration addresses a pressing need for a history and theory of the imaging technologies that scholars use to contemplate and interpret objects. Focusing on the spatial and tactile medium of sculpture, long associated as a medium of embodiment, the collaborators explore how photographic reproductions direct our access to material things and shape our experience of space. Not unbiased copies, these images rather supply the objects they record with a particular setting and a point of view. This project will result in a co-authored book, surveying theories of facsimiles, reproductive technologies, and the limits of perception developed in Europe and America from 1800 to the present, based on research in photographic archives, photo-study collections, and collections of pre-photographic reproductive techniques such as plaster casts and bronzes. Underscoring photography as vital to the global exchange of art objects and cultural artifacts, the collaborators aim to shed new light on its centrality for the writing of art history. This book builds on work the collaborators have completed individually on modern sculptors’ photographs. In recent years, the authors have also collaborated by co-organizing a symposium jointly sponsored by the Clark Art Institute and the Getty Research Institute that brings together leading international scholars across disciplines to address the photographic mediation of sculpture. This symposium and now this co-authored book are conceived at a moment when knowledge circulates through digital images and the Internet to an unprecedented degree. The collaborators look to the interrelated histories of art, mass media, and visual culture to demonstrate how various methods of image production and transmission condition pedagogy and research in ways that vitally direct the future of humanistic inquiry. Award period: July 1, 2013 – June 30, 2015

    Sarah B.H. Hamill
    Sarah B.H. Hamill

    Assistant Professor, Art, Oberlin College

    Megan R. Luke
    Megan R. Luke

    Assistant Professor, Art History, University of Southern California

  • Stalin’s Great Terror: A Documentary History of Soviet Perpetrators  |  Abstract

    In the aftermath of Stalin’s Great Terror (1937-38), there were two waves of secret Soviet military trials of security police (NKVD) officers. During a three-year period following the Great Terror and an eight-year period following Stalin’s death, over 2,000 NKVD officers were prosecuted by Soviet military courts for “violations of socialist legality” (i.e., Soviet criminal procedure). The documentation generated by these trials – including reproductions of paperwork signed by perpetrators in 1937-38; testimony by defendants, victims, witnesses, and experts; and verbatim transcripts of court sessions – constitutes an invaluable source for the study of the Soviet perpetrator. The project collaborators are carrying out research on Soviet perpetrators in the archives of Ukraine and Georgia using these materials. On the basis of this research, they will publish a jointly authored, English-language book and two annotated document collections. This project casts into relief some of the most prolific perpetrators of Soviet mass violence and situates the secret Soviet military trials of NKVD officers in historical, political, and legal context. This projects also plans to publish the document collections, in their original language (Russian), in order to place them in the public domain and thereby ensure that they remain accessible to scholars of Soviet history and, more broadly, twentieth-century mass violence. The scholars have been working together on this project since 2011, with Rossman specializing in comparative genocide and Russian history, with previous experience in Georgia, and Viola, a specialist in Russian history, in particular Soviet collectivization, managing research in Ukraine. The research team also includes Marc Junge, who will serve as a general research coordinator. Award period: August, 11, 2013 - August 10, 2015

    Lynne A. Viola
    Lynne A. Viola

    Professor, History, University of Toronto

    Jeffrey J. Rossman
    Jeffrey J. Rossman

    Associate Professor, History, University of Virginia

  • The Civil War: An Environmental History  |  Abstract

    Environmental history—the study of past interaction between people and nature—provides a lens through which scholars can view familiar events in new and challenging ways. Timothy Silver, an environmental historian, and Judkin Browning, a military and social historian, turn that lens on the most studied episode in American history: the Civil War. Both soldiers and civilians struggled against weather, disease, and food shortages. The vagaries of geography and terrain frequently helped determine the outcome of major campaigns. Horses, cattle, and hogs accompanied the troops and, like people, faced new threats from disease and malnutrition. In the American South, foraging armies, larger than all but a few southern cities, left human and animal waste that polluted water supplies and spread dysentery and typhoid. Thousands of human and animal corpses littered abandoned battlefields, further escalating the risk of disease and posing serious health hazards for those who lived nearby. By investigating such non-traditional topics, Silver and Browning show how the war altered basic relationships between people and nature and, in turn, how nature shaped the course and outcome of the war. The Civil War also left an important environmental legacy. The first national parks celebrated unspoiled western landscapes as a cultural antidote for eastern fields and forests ravaged by warfare. Today, at Manassas, Antietam, and Gettysburg, human endeavors comingle with nature’s agency in areas managed, in large part, by the same institution that oversees the national parks. The project brings together Silver’s previous research in American and southern environmental history with Browning’s work in Civil War military history. Their collaboration will result in a co-authored book, The Civil War: An Environmental History, that combines research and methodology from their respective sub disciplines, and is designed for both scholars and general readers. Award period: August 15, 2014 - May 15, 2015

    Judkin Browning
    Judkin Browning

    Associate Professor, History, Appalachian State University

    Timothy H. Silver
    Timothy H. Silver

    Professor, History, Appalachian State University

  • The Whole on the Verge of Collapse: Shock, Balance, and Disequilibrium in Physiology and Related Disciplines during and after WWI  |  Abstract

    During and after World War I, influential researchers working in physiology and related fields produced a shift in the understanding of how the organism responds to bodily injury. Turning away from localized responses to approaches highlighting bodily balance and disequilibrium, they developed ‘integrative’ theories intended to explain organismic response to aggression, especially in theaters of war. In their work, the organism faced with injury became an integral whole, often at the moment when it was most under threat. The aim of the project is to demonstrate how these researchers, working in disparate scientific disciplines, in different countries, and often without contact came together to reform concepts of bodily regulation that would become a major source for intellectual projects in Europe. Drawing on Meyers’s specialty in medical anthropology and the history of medicine, and Geroulanos’ expertise in cultural and intellectual history, this project plans to study as a group the work of a number of medical thinkers most of whom had little personal or institutional contact, among them William Bayliss, Walter B. Cannon, Henry Dale, Kurt Goldstein, Henry Head, René Leriche, W. H. R. Rivers, Hans Selye, Ernest Starling, and Fenton Turck. This project balances close readings of published works with the study of laboratory experiments and their premises, the novel study of images and films, literary works, and attention to policy and regulatory changes, thus affecting the way that injured bodies were regarded and treated for many years beyond the historical frame of the war. The study will result in a co-authored book that contributes to scholarship on the representation of the body, especially in the context of the linked histories of war and the body, as well as to a greater appreciation of the place of medical thought more generally within European intellectual history and philosophy. Geroulanos and Meyers have several previous collaborations, including a German-language book, Experimente im Individuum (August Verlag, 2013), and co-edited volumes and translations. Award period: July 1, 2013 – December 31, 2014

    Todd Meyers
    Todd Meyers

    Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Wayne State University

    Stefanos Nikolaou Geroulanos
    Stefanos Nikolaou Geroulanos

    Assistant Professor, History, New York University