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. 

Brooke L. Blower
Brooke L. Blower  |  Abstract
Combat GIs dominate the history of Americans abroad during World War II. But these soldiers constituted only a small fraction of the unprecedented millions of Americans stationed on six continents, both in and out of uniform, during the twentieth century’s signal conflict. “Hidden Fronts” traces the backstories of a diverse group of noncombatants and their paths into global war in order to offer a panoramic portrait of American wartime engagements. It maps the far-flung networks of trade, transport, and political maneuvering that knit homefront to battlefield, delving below—and shedding light upon—the grand strategy and military actions that fill international histories of the crisis. Finding such new ways to narrate the American war experience upends common assumptions about the war’s geographies and chronologies, nuances our understanding of what modern battle entailed, and reveals World War II’s counterintuitive but key role in twentieth-century global integration.

Associate Professor, History, Boston University  -  Hidden Fronts: New American Histories of World War II
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2016-2017

Haiyan Lee
Haiyan Lee  |  Abstract
How has justice been envisioned and pursued in Chinese culture and society? Is “liberty and justice for all” a first principle in the Chinese legal imagination? This project approaches justice as a juridical, ethical, aesthetic, ecological, and cosmological concept as it emerges from a variety of verbal and visual genres ranging from traditional courtroom drama and knight-errantry tale to modern detective fiction and spy thriller, as well as media and intellectual debates on law and morality, human and animal rights, and social justice. The investigation is structured around five interlocking keywords—justice, violence, guilt, dissemblance, and the exception—and situated at the intersection of literary genre studies, critical legal studies, moral and political philosophy, and cognitive science.

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Cultures, and Comparative Literature, Stanford University  -  A Certain Justice: Toward an Ecology of the Chinese Legal Imagination
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2015-2016

Janet Y. Chen
Janet Y. Chen  |  Abstract
How did ordinary people learn to speak Mandarin in China? What constituted the language we call Mandarin at its various stages of historical formation, and how did it become a meaningful part of people’s lives? These questions are the inspiration for “The Sounds of Mandarin,” a project that investigates the creation of the national language in China and Taiwan at the turn of the twentieth century. By charting its fate as a social and cultural process, rather than the endpoint in the journey to linguistic unity, this book challenges the assumption that “Mandarin” was born whole at the time of its creation, and reconsiders how the idea and multiple realities of a national language intersected with the lives of ordinary people.

Associate Professor, History, Princeton University  -  The Sounds of Mandarin: The Making of a National Language in China and Taiwan, 1900-1960
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Historical Studies during academic year 2015-2016

Mary D. Lewis
Mary D. Lewis  |  Abstract
“The First French Decolonization” examines the transition from a world where Caribbean slavery undergirded French mercantile wealth prior to Haitian independence to one featuring novel forms of trade, governance and exploitation within and beyond the expanding orbit of formal French empire in the later nineteenth century. Following the trajectories of people, companies, networks, and investments that abandoned Saint-Domingue/Haiti, it explores the new business ventures, trading partners, and relationships that emerged in the century following 1804, while also considering how the French government, haunted by the specter of Haiti’s successful rebellion, worked to maintain and expand slave-labor economies in Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guyana until 1848.

Professor, History, Harvard University  -  The First French Decolonization: A New History of Nineteenth-Century Empire
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2015-2016

David Ciepley
David Ciepley  |  Abstract
This project thoroughly revises received understandings of government in the West by recovering its corporate roots and structure. The first part details the borrowings of the liberal democratic state from corporate practice, including juridical personhood, executive elections, representative assemblies, written constitutions and judicial review. The second part leverages this to challenge the reclassification of business corporations over the past two centuries from “bodies politic” to private concerns—a legal status that exempts them from any duty to the public, or accountability to the public, or even publicity to the public, while earning them legal protections and rights of political participation that they ought not have. Corporations are a hybrid, run on private initiative yet receiving their “personhood” and their authority over employees from the state. They are “franchise governments” and thus belong in a distinct legal category—neither public nor private, but “corporate”—to be governed by distinct norms and rules.

Associate Professor, Political Science, University of Denver  -  Our Corporate Civilization and its Neoliberal Crisis
For residence at the Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science during academic year 2015-2016

Margaret Litvin
Margaret Litvin  |  Abstract
This project explores the modern history of Arab-Russian and Arab-Soviet literary and cultural ties. For over a century, Russian culture offered important models against which Arab intellectuals developed their styles and ideas. Beyond particular authors or texts, the idea of Russia (and later the USSR) exerted a magnetic pull on intellectual life throughout the Arab world’s encounter with western-driven modernity. Russia was a potent exemplar: a civilization able to overtake and even join Europe without giving up its cultural integrity or status as an alternative to western culture. Focusing not on Russia’s cultural “influence” but on Arab intellectuals’ responses and appropriations, the project draws on travelogues, memoirs, poetry, novels, journalistic reports, documentary films, and archival research in Moscow and Cairo, as well as personal interviews with living writers, filmmakers, and other alumni of Soviet educational institutions.

Associate Professor, Modern Languages and Comparative Literature, Boston University  -  Another East: Arab Writers, Moscow Dreams
For residence at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Study during academic year 2015-2016

Steven Ellis
Steven Ellis  |  Abstract
The principal outcome of this project is the publication of a series of groundbreaking volumes that will unravel and contextualize the complex social structures of a sub-elite neighborhood of Pompeii. Through original and interdisciplinary approaches to Roman urbanism, including archaeological excavations of a large Pompeian neighborhood of houses, shops, and workshops, this research is uncovering the livelihoods of the Roman sub-elite by charting their socio-economic developments over generations, indeed centuries. The results are contributing a new understanding of the connections between urban infrastructure (especially waste management) and the construction of cities, while also revealing the structural and social relationships over time between Pompeian households of variable economic portfolios, determining the role that sub-elites played in the shaping of Roman urban networks, and registering their response to city- and Mediterranean-wide historical, political, and economic developments.

Associate Professor, Classics, University of Cincinnati  -  The Social Structures of a Roman City: Context and Complexity in the Archaeological Excavations of a Sub-elite Pompeian Neighborhood
For residence at the American Academy in Rome during academic year 2015-2016

Christopher N. Phillips
Christopher N. Phillips  |  Abstract
Hymnbooks were one of the most prolific print genres of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the English-speaking world, yet little has been written on their development, use, and cultural significance. Drawing on methods from book history, practice theory, and historical poetics, this study uses extensive archival research to focus on the use of hymnbooks by institutions and individuals, from the rise of hymnbooks for church use around 1700 to the appearance of mass-produced hymnals with interlined music in the 1850s. Hymnbooks, this study argues, were crucial means for the construction of corporate and individual identities, as well as being a widespread tool for teaching reading—and reading poetry. In fact, the hymnbook facilitated the rise of a mass readership for poetry in the nineteenth century.

Associate Professor, English, Lafayette College  -  The Hymnal Before the Notes: A History of Reading and Practice
For residence at the American Antiquarian Society during academic year 2016-2017

Paola Gambarota
Paola Gambarota  |  Abstract
“American Naples” is a cultural history of Naples under the Allied occupation (October 1943-April 1945). It examines the impact of the occupation on the culture of the Southern metropolis, and on the lives and work of international artists and intellectuals who experienced this historical event as soldiers or politicians and participated both in the making and in the writing of history. Based on a broad range of sources – including newspapers, newsreels, photos, novels, films, poetry, plays, and diaries – the project aims to analyze the affective and aesthetic responses to occupation in relation to cultural paradigms of modernity, how they shaped the transition from Fascism to democracy, the cultural memories of World War II, and the ways these memories are invoked today.

Associate Professor, Italian, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  American Naples: Cross-Cultural Memories of an Occupation
For residence at the American Academy in Rome during academic year 2015-2016

Shaden M. Tageldin
Shaden M. Tageldin  |  Abstract
As a discipline, comparative literature often ascribes its origins to Europe and the United States, overlooking other histories. Through the prism of Arab-European comparison, this project develops one possible transcontinental theory of the field. It traces the rise of modern comparative literature to a new regime of language—emerging in the shadows of empire and of modern scientific method, specifically empiricism—in which words increasingly were expected to be life-like, to visualize matter and to echo the actually spoken. Languages that once styled themselves larger than life—incomparable—came to share a new, modern sense—relativist and positivist—that language must mirror or echo life. This turn to nature, bonding word to world, redefined Arabic, European, and other literatures as comparable quantities.

Associate Professor, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Toward a Transcontinental Theory of Modern Comparative Literature
For residence at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress during academic year 2016-2017

Françoise Hamlin
Françoise Hamlin  |  Abstract
“Freedom’s Cost” positions children and youth at the center of the post-World War II African American movements for civil rights by addressing activism’s personal and communal costs. Blending civil rights movement histories with the burgeoning fields in trauma studies, the project adds dimension to the heroic narrative, exposing complicated and long-term realities for many young people. It involves a rethinking of activism, mental health, and loss, through the interdisciplinary lenses of race, childhood studies, trauma studies, psychology, and memory. The project extends civil rights and, more broadly, US historiography, revealing the challenges of movement-building, while celebrating those who sacrificed so much in the pursuit of freedom and justice.

Associate Professor, Africana Studies and History, Brown University  -  Freedom's Cost: Children and Youth in the Black Freedom Struggle
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2017-2018