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. 

Daina Ramey Berry
Daina Ramey Berry  |  Abstract
This study examines slave prices in the Upper and Lower South, from 1790-1865, with an emphasis on planters' criteria and slaves' perceptions of their value. Although some of the data presented employs a statistical regression model, this work also addresses the social, political, and historical impact of slave prices on all parties involved in the domestic slave trade. Enslaved men and women negotiated their value on the auction block, while their owners and traders sold them for the highest bid. A close look at the conflicting motives among owners, traders, and slaves reveals interesting patterns that have contemporary importance to public policies relating to slave insurance claims and the ongoing debate about African American reparations.

Associate Professor, History, Michigan State University  -  Appraised, Bartered, and Sold: The Value of Human Chattels, 1790-1865
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2007-2008

Saba Mahmood
Saba Mahmood  |  Abstract
This project is a comparative study of how secularism has been both promoted and contested in two Muslim-majority societies, Lebanon and Egypt, in the postcolonial period. In both these societies, secularism has increasingly come to be seen as a prophylaxis against the ascendance of religious strife and political struggle. Despite this widely held consensus, it is unclear what secularism means within these two national contexts, both conceptually and practically, given their distinct demographic, political, and religious profiles. This project explores the distinctly different ways in which the Egyptian and Lebanese states have reconfigured religious belief and practice, and the ensuing ethical and political effects each reconfiguration has generated in the social and cultural fields.

Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley  -  Defining the Secular in the Modern Middle East
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2009-2010

Gaurav Desai
Gaurav Desai  |  Abstract
Histories of colonial societies in Africa often tend to read cultural and political struggles in terms of the competing demands of European settlers and African natives. This project asks how these discussions are transformed when the presence of a significant minority community—the South Asians in Eastern and Southern Africa—is taken into account. Rather than a society structured along the black/white binary, we see a complex system of discursive triangulation. While engaging with this issue at the conceptual level, the study presents a history of Asian literary production and a close reading of some of the key texts of this emergent tradition. This literature is read with an attention to the long term history of cultural exchanges across the Indian Ocean.

Associate Professor, English, Tulane University  -  Post-Manichean Aesthetics: Africa and the South Asian Imagination
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2009-2010

Louise Meintjes
Louise Meintjes  |  Abstract
This ethnography of Zulu ngoma song and dance examines how a rural community celebrates the male body and uses the artistic voice amid the silence surrounding AIDS. The work probes the values and ethics that shape the pandemic’s course and that are co-produced by a history of violence and by a Zulu warrior ethos circulated by the culture industry. Analysis of local aesthetic values epitomized by expert ngoma performance provides insight, by contrast, into the local basis for discrimination toward and stigmatization of the diseased. While at the same time demonstrating that aesthetic practice is central to the production of political power, this research suggests sustainable possibilities for managing the pandemic.

Associate Professor, Music and Anthropology, Duke University  -  The Unwavering Voice and Disintegrating Body: Zulu Song and Dance in a Time of AIDS
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2007-2008

Marian H. Feldman
Marian H. Feldman  |  Abstract
Sumptuous Phoenician and North Syrian ivories and metal vessels, with striking formal connections to Late Bronze Age (1600-1200 BCE) luxury arts, flooded the Mediterranean and Near East during the early Iron Age (1200-1600 BCE). This project investigates the ways in which these artifacts drew upon the earlier arts, alongside contemporary literature, to construct a golden age (or ages) through the intentional selection of artistic elements freighted with Late Bronze Age connotations of heroic kingship. Incorporating cross-disciplinary concerns (politics, economics, comparative literature) to pursue a contextualizing art historical analysis, the study offers new perspectives on the visual culture of the period by reinstating the arts in the rich historical setting of their production and use.

Associate Professor, Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley  -  Luxury Arts, Literature, and Memory: the Construction of a "Golden Age" in the Mediterranean and Near East, 1200-600 BCE
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2008-2009

Paula A. Michaels
Paula A. Michaels  |  Abstract
This study situates the international story of psychoprophylaxis, popularized in the United States as the Lamaze Method, against the backdrop of postwar pronatalism and the Cold War. This project reconstructs the transmission of psychoprophylaxis across the Iron Curtain and inquires into how changing political, economic, and cultural contexts shaped not only the method’s practice, but the social meaning that both advocates and detractors ascribed to it. The methods of medical anthropology and the social history of medicine, brought to bear on a wide array of published and archival sources from the USSR, France, and the United States, shed light on shifting socially constructed notions of motherhood, childbirth, pain, and civic duty.

Associate Professor, History, The University of Iowa  -  Good Girls and Their Helpful Husbands: A Transnational History of the Lamaze Method of Childbirth Preparation, 1930-80
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2008-2009

Sarah E. Fraser
Sarah E. Fraser  |  Abstract
The question of Chinese cultural identity was hotly debated during the three transitional decades (1912-1949) after the fall of dynastic China and before the establishment of the PRC. Scholars and artists actively shaped what we now understand as Chinese art in profound ways. In his quest to discover the origins of Han Chinese painting, Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), a painter central to this study, copied hundreds of Buddhist murals with the aid of Tibetan assistants in 1941-43. Reproducing Silk Road art was a national act of reclamation, establishing ownership of a forgotten monument that symbolized the glory of a multiethnic China. Zhang pioneered a new form of painting that was a dramatic response to modernity and China’s semi-colonial history, becoming a national hero in the process.

Associate Professor, History of Art, Northwestern University  -  What is Chinese About Chinese Art? Archaeology, Politics, and Identity in Republican China, 1928-1947
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies during academic year 2009-2010

Robert O. Self
Robert O. Self  |  Abstract
This project follows the politics of gender and sexuality in the United States from the Moynihan Report and Watts riot in 1965 to the emergence of the Moral Majority and the election of Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s. In those 15-20 years, the politics of welfare reform, the Vietnam War, feminism(s), gay rights, and the New Right produced a fundamental debate over the legal and social terms on which men and women defined their citizenship. The project asks how struggles over gender equity, sexual liberation, the family, and the boundaries between public and private remade the nation’s political culture and redefined liberalism before the so-called culture wars of the 1990s.

Associate Professor, History, Brown University  -  The Politics of Gender and Sexuality in the United States from Watts to Reagan
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2007-2008

Hannibal Hamlin
Hannibal Hamlin  |  Abstract
This project is the first major study of Shakespeare’s use of biblical allusions and references to make meaning in his plays. One of Shakespeare’s most frequent sources, the Renaissance Bible, was also an interpreted Bible. Thus, this study explores glosses, sermons, commentaries, literature, and art to determine the range of interpretations available to Shakespeare’s audience. The experience of hearing the Bible in church conditioned Shakespeare’s audience to recognize and interpret biblical allusions in the theater. Therefore, the study also explores the relationship between the Church and the Theater as cultural institutions. This project advances our understanding of both Shakespeare and the culture of early modern England.

Associate Professor, English, The Ohio State University, Mansfield  -  Shakespeare and Biblical Culture: A Study of Biblical Allusion in Shakespeare’s Plays
For residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library during academic year 2008-2009

Gideon D. Yaffe
Gideon D. Yaffe  |  Abstract
Why are we justified in treating failed attempts to commit crimes as crimes? Laws against attempts acquit some defendants with criminal intentions, stopped before causing harm, and condemn others. While the law specifies the acts and mental states constituting attempt, it is rarely clear what justifies drawing the lines as we do. This project analyzes the fundamental basis of attempt law through examination of both the philosophical basis for particular criminal law doctrines and the historical roots in the Common Law’s approach to attempts, an approach informed by seventeenth- and eighteenth-century conceptions of agency. It is a multi-disciplinary project at the intersection of philosophy of action, criminal law theory, and the history of seventeenth- and eighteenth-century British philosophy of action.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Southern California  -  Trying and Attempted Crimes
For residence at the Huntington Library during academic year 2008-2009

Martin Harries
Martin Harries  |  Abstract
This project examines twentieth-century drama in relation to its most influential and most under-considered partner: film. The study argues that film was crucial to the development of drama in the twentieth century. In particular, the project shows that some of the most notable modernist experiments in theater—including works by Gertrude Stein, Antonin Artaud, Samuel Beckett, Tennessee Williams, and others—owe their form to the influence of film. Further, these works are powerful interrogations of the historical conditions that shaped twentieth-century audiences. They reacted to film’s consolidation of an unprecedented mass audience after World War II by imagining anew the conditions of theater, revealing it to be a medium always in flux.

Associate Professor, English, New York University  -  Theater after Film
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2008-2009