Wesleyan Center for the Humanities Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships

"Corporeal Techniques and Technologies" and "Hyperbole: Sense, Sensation, Spectacle"

Scholars who have received their Ph.D. degree after June 2014 in any field of inquiry in the humanities or humanistic social sciences - broadly conceived - are invited to apply for a postdoctoral fellowship, made possible through a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Wesleyan University.  (Candidates do not need to have their PhD in hand at the time of application, but will need to have it by June, 2018).  The purpose of this Fellowship is to provide scholars who have recently completed their Ph.D.'s with free time to further their own work in a cross-disciplinary setting, and to associate them with a distinguished faculty.

A Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow will be appointed to the Wesleyan University Center for the Humanities for the whole academic years, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, and will be awarded a stipend of $55,000.  He or she will teach a one-semester undergraduate course; participate in the collegial life of the Center for the Humanities, which sponsors conferences, lectures, and colloquia; and give one public lecture.  The Fellow will be provided with an office at the Center for the Humanities, and will be expected to work there on weekdays while the university is in session, and to reside in Middletown. Please check our themes page here for updates.  Scholars whose interests bear upon one of the chosen themes are encouraged to apply for the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship.

We regret that we cannot reply to individual inquiries concerning the Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship Program at Wesleyan's Center for the Humanities.  All information that applicants may need is available at this web-site.

Online applications (see link to the right) should include:

Applications should include:
a) a letter from the applicant, including a statement of current research interests and a brief proposal for a one-semester undergraduate course related to the Center for the Humanities theme which will be announced later this fall
b) a full curriculum vitae
c) three letters of recommendation
d) copies of published work, extracts from the dissertation, or drafts of work in progress(not to exceed 25 pages)

There is no official application form. Preliminary interviews will be held by telephone. Finalists will be brought to the Wesleyan campus for longer interviews during February or March of 2018.

Fall 2018

Corporeal Techniques and Technologies

Techne, the ancient Greek term for art, artifice, craft, and skill, broadly designates systems, methods, practices and techniques of making or doing. Often translated as “know-how,” it locates knowledge production in corporeal techniques and technologies and helps us to think beyond cognitive, epistemological and disciplinary models grounded in mind-body dualisms. A wide range of scholarship across the disciplines deploys techne as a methodological tool to explore the cultural and historical manifestations, transformations and extensions of bodymind through techniques and technologies, including “techniques of the body” (Mauss), “habitus” (Bourdieu), the “history of manners” (Elias), “enskillment” (Ingold), ecological and technological “affordances” (Gibson), “bodily technologies” (Downey), the gendered and racialized body as a “cyborg” (Haraway) or “archive” (Fuentes), and “distributed cognitive ecologies” (Tribble) that extend across boundaries of brain, body, systems, instruments, objects, and material practices. This semester, we trace the past, present, and potential futures of our biotechnological age, and the new forms of post-human technicity prompting us to rethink the shifting boundaries of human and non-human embodiment, what counts as a “body,” how bodies make, move, act, feel, perceive, communicate, record, etc., as well as new forms of bodily inscription, modification, prosthesis, distribution and extension.

Spring 2019

Hyperbole: Sense, Sensation, Spectacle

Hyperbole—flagrant rhetorical exaggeration—was defined by the Roman philosopher Seneca as the affirmation of the incredible or false to arrive at the credible or true. Given the term’s etymology, which literally means “over-throwing” or throwing beyond, it should not be surprising that many have found in it a revolutionary potential. Aristotle associated hyperbolic vehemence with anger and youth. What are the advantages and disadvantages of overstatement versus understatement, immoderation versus moderation, in the search for truth? On the one hand, hyperbole has been viewed as a path or method to attain truth, as though overreaching were the only way to arrive at the facts of the matter. On the other hand, hyperbole often seems unreliable because one cannot always trust bodily sense and sensation, much less an immoderate speaker’s temper. When reaching toward the credible, hyperbole links itself with sense-as-truth, though perhaps a truth found at the level of sensation, of sense as embodiment or affect. When inflating toward the boastful, however, hyperbole collapses into spectacle. Across historical periods and discursive conditions, hyperbole has been characteristically split between—or articulated along the fissures that mark—these modalities of representation.

Is the problem with hyperbole in the world, in an incredible truth, or in us, in our recourse to outrageous styles of representation? This semester we will pursue the question of hyperbole, tracing sense, sensation and spectacle along the division between world and representation. We will examine its appearance in many guises, under the rubrics of camp, poetics, performance studies, popular culture, media theory, affect theory, genre studies, and beyond.  Over the course of the semester we aim to scrutinize a set of practices that have been and continue be used to pump up audiences, to diffuse tragedies into comedies, to skewer normativity, and to reach by overreaching what otherwise seems unreachable.

Application date
12 Jan 2018
2 years
America United States New England
Humanities Anthropology, Ethnology and Folklore Archaeology Architecture Art & Art History Classical Studies Digital Humanities History History & Philosophy of Science Linguistics Literature Media Studies Music & Musicology Philosophy Religion & Theology
Required post-doc experience: 
between 0 and 4 years
Grants available
Award granted
US$ 55.000/year