Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellows

ACLS created the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars to support scholars in the humanities and social sciences in the crucial years immediately following the granting of tenure, and to provide emerging leaders in their fields with the resources to pursue long-term, unusually ambitious projects. The 2020 cohort is the twenty-first and final for the program, which over the past two decades has supported nearly 275 scholars as they took up year-long residencies at independent research centers and universities.
The Burkhardt Fellowships are generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They are named for the late Frederick Burkhardt, President Emeritus of ACLS, whose decades of work on The Correspondence of Charles Darwin constitute a signal example of dedication to a demanding and ambitious scholarly enterprise.

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. 

Gordon Belot
Gordon Belot  |  Abstract
False theories play a crucial role in our scientific knowledge: we keep many superseded physical theories on the books. It seems very plausible that lasting explanatory contribution is what distinguishes those false theories that we keep on the books from those that are set aside. But how this can be so is not well-understood: there is little agreement concerning the sense in which false theories can be explanatory. This project approaches this topic via a close examination of a central and important case: the relation between classical and quantum mechanics. The intention is to generate insight into the role of false theories in our system of scientific knowledge.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Pittsburgh  -  Understanding and False Theories
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2006-2007

Benjamin Schmidt
Benjamin Schmidt  |  Abstract
This project explores the production of exoticism and globalism c. 1700 and the Dutch role therein. During this critical moment of expansion--postdating the Columbian thrust of 1492-1650, yet predating Europe's great age of empire--the Dutch produced an unprecedented quantity of works depicting distant peoples and places. These materials coincided, paradoxically, not with an expansion but contraction of Dutch colonial efforts. New research accounts for this project of geography, so influential in shaping Enlightenment Europe's image of the globe, and the strategy of "exoticism" adopted in marketing a world the Dutch had but a meager stake in possessing. This study questions the place of power in the production of knowledge and endeavors to understand Europe's mimetic engagement with the world c. 1700.

Associate Professor, History, University of Washington  -  Inventing Exoticism: European Geography and "Globalism" Circa 1700
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies during academic year 2006-2007

Herman L. Bennett
Herman L. Bennett  |  Abstract
By the mid-sixteenth century, Africans outnumbered Spaniards in Mexico City--a demographic phenomenon that characterized the viceregal capital and spilled into the rural areas throughout the colonial period. A century later, New Spain was home both to the largest slave and free black populations in the Americas. Rather than ask what happened to Mexico's black population--a standard refrain from Latin American scholars--this project explores the black experience, slave and free, to ask fundamental questions about the meanings and experience of freedom in an era before liberalism.

Associate Professor, History, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  An Early Modern Culture of Freedom: Afro-Christian Narratives in Absolutist New Spain, 1640-1750
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies during academic year 2006-2007

Jeffrey Sklansky
Jeffrey Sklansky  |  Abstract
This project explores the century-long struggle in the United States over what should serve as money, who should control its creation and circulation, and according to what rules. The account offered explains how Americans made sense of their deepening dependence upon cash transactions and bank credit as well as how they understood their place in a national polity united by greenbacks and banknotes and an international economy bound by the gold standard. Approaching political economy as a popular genre akin to melodramatic theater and fiction, evangelical Christian theology and oratory, and pictorial journalism and still-life painting, this project examines the prevailing modes of literary, religious, and visual representation through which Americans grappled with the rise of industrial capitalism.

Associate Professor, History, Oregon State University  -  The Rise and Fall of the "Money Question" in the Nineteenth-Century United States
For residence at the American Antiquarian Society during academic year 2006-2007

Lucille Chia
Lucille Chia  |  Abstract
This project considers the impact on Fujian in southeastern China of trade with and migration to the Spanish Philippines (sixteenth-eighteenth centuries). Earlier studies have examined the Sino-Philippine trade and the role of the Chinese in Philippine history but have not considered how this instance of the "Chinese diaspora" has affected the region from which the migration originated. Using sources mainly in Chinese and Spanish, this study examines both the local history of southern Fujian and this region's role in the early modern world economy. Patterns of Fujianese migration and sojourning in China and abroad, provide insight into the dynamics of migration and the nature of transnational ethnic identities.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, Riverside  -  Impact on Fujian of Trade with and Migration to the Philippines (Sixteenth--Eighteenth Centuries)
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies during academic year 2006-2007

Martin A. Summers
Martin A. Summers  |  Abstract
This project focuses on African American patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital, a federal insane asylum in Washington, D.C. It begins with the hospital's creation in 1855 and ends in 1970, when the hospital began its process of deinstitutionalization. St. Elizabeths is a case study through which to explore the relationships between state institutions, medical authorities, and people of color. The account offered maps out the intersections of the historical process of racial formation, medical and cultural understandings of insanity, and the exercise of institutional power. This project promises to yield a broad understanding of the racial dimension of American society's understanding of mental illness and the racial differential of efforts by the state to deal with people defined as insane.

Associate Professor, History, University of Oregon  -  Race, Madness, and the State: A History of African American Patients at St. Elizabeths Hospital, 1855-1970
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2007-2008

Wendy Beth Heller
Wendy Beth Heller  |  Abstract
This study explores the uses of antiquity in seventeenth- and early eighteenth-century Italian opera and cantata. Poets, composers, and choreographers used music and drama to reconcile fragments of antiquity with their special vision of the ancient realms, considering as well how the genre reinterpreted ancient history. Taking into account the discovery and collection of antiquities in early modern Europe, their eclectic use in baroque art—with special attention to Ovid—this project provides new insights into opera's recuperation of the ancients.

Associate Professor, Music, Princeton University  -  Pans Pipes and the Triumph of Bacchus: Baroque Dramatic Music and The Uses of Antiquity
For residence at Villa I Tatti during academic year 2006-2007

Emma J. Teng
Emma J. Teng  |  Abstract
My project is a comparative study of Chinese and Chinese American representations of Chinese-Western interracialism (interracial marriage and biracial identity) at the turn of the 20th century. As imperialism and migration drew China and the West closer, intellectuals on both sides of the Pacific took up this controversial subject, using the Eurasian as a metaphor to condense the cultural anxieties and desires produced by East-West encounters. Through analysis of racial theory, literature, and visual texts, I examine how divergent understandings of race, culture, and gender informed constructions of the Eurasian among Chinese and Chinese American authors. I aim to extend our cross-cultural understanding of biracialism, and to bridge the divide between Asian and Asian American Studies.

Associate Professor, Foreign Languages and Literatures, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  The Chinese Eurasian: East-West Interracialism at the Turn of the Twentieth Century
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2007-2008

Jay C. Rubenstein
Jay C. Rubenstein  |  Abstract
The First Crusade in twelfth-century Europe began amidst great eschatological hope, apparently fulfilled at Jerusalem's conquest in 1099. The massive literary outpouring that followed was in part an attempt to answer the question raised by this victory: how to understand a successful apocalypse, a prophecy fulfilled? Contemporary chronicles, exegesis, and theology together suggest that the act of interpreting the crusade reshaped thought on chivalry and the conduct of war, sin and penance, national identities and governments, and the shape of history more generally. This intermingling of long-surviving apocalyptic hopes and gradual disillusionment shaped fundamentally the character of medieval Europe.

Associate Professor, History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  History and Holy War: The Legacy of the First Crusade in Twelfth-Century Europe
For residence at the American Academy in Rome during academic year 2006-2007