Deadline for Applications: October 1, 2017
Focal Theme 2018-2019
The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for residencies that reflect on the philosophical, aesthetic, political, legal, ecological, religious, and cultural understandings of authority.
From auctoritas to the author to authoritarianism, the question of authority – whether grounded in epistemological expertise, juridical power, rhetorical persuasiveness, creative innovation, divine decree, or political charisma – is inextricable from humanistic inquiry and critique. With authority, the power to decide, to authorize, to adjudicate, to rule, and to hold sway stands or falls – in science, law, art, oratory, religion, or politics. The Society invites scholarly projects that trace the consequences, crises, and possibilities of authority across historical periods, disciplinary boundaries, geographic territories, and social contexts.
At stake in authority is who or what authorizes and bestows power, prestige, and influence. On what basis does authority claim to rule? Knowledge? Law? Charisma? Popular will? The sovereign word? Tradition? Moreover, each expression of authority calls forth its contestation and opposition. At times authority is contested within the same discursive sphere (e.g. different scientific paradigms or hermeneutic interpretations at loggerheads); at times, however, the opposition is based on another source of authority: religious law vs. secular law; scientific knowledge vs. political will; economic concerns vs. ethical concerns. At such junctures, the question then arises: who or what power adjudicates the conflict between appeals to different authoritative instances?
The Society invites scholars to explore the ‘ends of authority,’ understood as its purposes, goals, and ideals as well as its limitations, aporias, and paradoxes. Applicants could investigate the rise of authoritarianism across different historical and political or religious contexts, exploring its conditions, its appeal, its critiques. One could research the crisis of scientific authority, in which expertise itself is called into question on grounds that are impervious to scientific argumentation. Considering the death of the author, one could question what signs, strokes, words, tics, and idiosyncrasies determine a text’s or artwork’s ‘author’; what authorizes an original from its copy or fake; or the degree to which the authority of a few authors still determines research fields today. In the age of a superabundance of information, what differentiates ‘real’ (authoritative) information from ‘fake news,’ and how one can be interchanged with the other as an ‘equal’ source of authority?
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.
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, 2017. 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.
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 $50,000. 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.
The following application materials must be submitted via AJO fellowship #9274 on or before OCTOBER 1, 2017. 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. A brief course description suitable for the University course catalog (50-125 words)
b. A detailed course proposal (up to 300 words)
c. 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, 2017.
To apply, go to:
For further information:
Awards will be announced by the end of December 2017.
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.