Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows┋2017-18 Rice Seminar "Forgery and the Ancient: Art, Agency, Authorship"

The Humanities Research Center hosts yearlong residential postdoctoral fellowships at Rice University for outstanding junior scholars. The program is designed to encourage interdisciplinary teaching and research, facilitate new research communities at Rice, and prepare junior scholars for future faculty positions.

The Rice Seminars are designed to promote humanistic research, broadly understood. They bring together a select group of Rice faculty members, visiting scholars, and Rice graduate students to study a common theme from several disciplinary perspectives. Funding is also available to bring in outside speakers to present public talks, provide feedback, meet with the seminar participants, participate in a year-end conference, and otherwise engage with seminar participants and the broader Rice community. The most visible goal of the seminars is a scholarly publication to which all participants will contribute. Equally important but less visible is the creation of international and interdisciplinary scholarly communities that will outlive the seminars themselves.

The position is for August 15, 2017 through May 15, 2018. Fellows receive a $55,000 salary, benefits eligibility, and an allowance for research and relocation to Houston. Primary obligations include active participation in all aspects of the Rice Seminar, developing or continuing individual or collaborative research projects, and giving a presentation to colleagues at Rice. Fellows will also design and teach (or co-teach) two semester-long undergraduate courses, the topics of which will be determined in consultation with the HRC and/or appropriate department.

The topic of the Rice Seminars changes each year.

2017-18 topic ┋Forgery and the Ancient: Art, Agency, Authorship

As an activity and a concept, forgery is immediately controversial. It calls to mind illegal, unethical, and dishonest practice, and it stirs debates over authenticity, value, authorship, and meaning. The growth of scholarship on forgery in recent decades means that a host of new questions can be applied to its study, a longstanding and crucial branch of humanistic research.

How, for example, can fresh perspectives on intentionality and meaning shift discourse on the perceived intellectual and financial value of a forged work of art? What might theories of culturally and historically determined authorship change about our understanding of the origin, creation, and function of a forged text? When is a perceived forgery not, in fact, a forgery – fraudulent, diminished, even tainted – and instead a creative act of impersonation?

This Rice Seminar will investigate these and other issues as they relate to the topic of forgery and the ancient. Scholarship on forgery touches nearly every age of history and every part of the globe, and it inevitably deals with the culture-period that the forgery references, the culture-period in which it is produced, and the culture-periods over which it is received. Consequently, the field is vast and requires an expertise that reaches across traditional scholarly boundaries of time, geography and field. We anticipate a Rice Seminar that is robustly interdisciplinary, bringing together art historians, literary critics and historians, working in a wide range of specializations.

A central part of this seminar is the role that notions of antiquity play in the drive to create, reproduce and pass works of art and text for ancient treasure and testimony.  In different parts of the world, the antique begins and ends at different times, and it has diverse meanings for those who secretly recreate it.  Consequently, the Seminar will cast a wide net, and it will have within its compass over three thousand years of ancient history on five continents.  Furthermore, because the study of forgery necessarily involves the study of the reception of forgery, the Seminar will extend into the present. We expect that readings, invited lectures, and Seminar conference papers will reach into times, places, and fields as diverse as Ancient Mediterranean artistic production, Medieval Christian, Chinese and Islamic manuscripts, pre-Columbian and modern Latin American art, Renaissance and Neo-Classical sculpture, museum and cultural heritage studies and more.


Applicants from any humanistic discipline or interdiscipline are eligible to apply and must have received a PhD between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2017.

Rice University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer. Scholars who are members of traditionally under-represented groups are encouraged to apply. There is no citizenship requirement or restriction for this fellowship. Non-U.S. nationals are welcome to apply.

Application date
5 Dec 2016
Date of residence
15 Aug 2017 to 15 May 2018
9 months
America United States South West
Humanities Anthropology, Ethnology and Folklore Archaeology Architecture Art & Art History Classical Studies Digital Humanities History History & Philosophy of Science Linguistics Literature Media Studies Philosophy
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 3 years
Award granted
US$ 55.000 + research and relocation allowance