Nine Teams of Scholars Awarded 2016 ACLS Collaborative Research Fellowships


ACLS is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2016 Collaborative Research Fellowships. With the generous support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the program funds small teams of scholars as they jointly pursue research and coauthor a major scholarly product. The nine projects funded this year cross disciplinary, methodological, and geographic boundaries, stretching beyond individual research practice to produce knowledge collectively that individual scholars could not produce alone.

“The scale of imagination and innovation on display in these collaborative research projects impresses our selection committees every year,” said ACLS Director of Fellowships Matthew Goldfeder. “The 2016 Collaborative Research Fellows demonstrate what can be accomplished when scholars with different expertise work together to ask big questions and tackle major challenges.”

This year’s collaborative projects combine disciplinary expertise in a broad array of fields such as music, anthropology, history, literature, and science studies. That diversity extends to the time periods under study, from the third century BCE to the present, and the range of academic institutions represented, in the United States and beyond. 

  • Analyzing disparate scientific claims about testosterone that are employed in contentious debates about, for example, the nature of sports and violence, anthropologist Katrina Karkazis (Senior Research Scholar, Stanford University) and sociomedical scientist Rebecca Jordan-Young (Associate Professor, Barnard College) will document these divergent discourses within science fields and show how certain scientific claims gain authority, and to what social ends.
  • With the help of new technologies in microscopy and digital imaging, classicists Richard Janko (Professor, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor) and Mirjam Kotwick (Lecturer, The New School) will produce a new critical edition and English translation of the Derveni papyrus, the oldest European book to be reconstructed after having been broken into 266 pieces and carbonized on a funeral pyre in ca. 330 BCE.
  • Art historian Meredith Martin (Associate Professor, New York University) and historian Gillian Weiss (Associate Professor, Case Western Reserve University) look at seventeenth-century Mediterranean ship design, artillery sculpture, paintings, and other artistic productions to underscore the role of the convicts and enslaved Turks who built and decorated naval vessels, and thus reconsider how their roles have been variously celebrated or concealed and how artistic creations are profoundly shaped by cross-cultural encounters.
  • Based on interviews with former leaders of the Peruvian revolutionary movement Shining Path and police officials and on thousands of previously inaccessible documents, historian Miguel La Serna (Associate Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) and anthropologist Orin Starn (Professor, Duke University) shed new light on the movement’s revolutionary politics and offer a case study in how an ostensibly righteous cause powered intense violence.
  • Historians Abigail Firey (Professor, University of Kentucky) and Melodie Eichbauer (Assistant Professor, Florida Gulf Coast University) examine the evolving expression, study, and implementation of law in Western Europe between ca. 600 and 1300 CE to show how medieval monasteries, university faculties, and royal courts selected, circulated, and adapted legal texts to suit their interests and how the church influenced frameworks for secular law.
  • Philosophers Roger Ariew (Professor, University of South Florida) and Erik-Jan Bos (Independent scholar) are working to produce a new critical edition and complete English translation of the correspondence of René Descartes, which will include recently discovered letters and insights into the lives of his contemporaries that are essential to better understanding his work and intellectual network.
  • Exploring the use of textual and graphical representation, models, and forensic tools within modern patent law, historian Mario Biagioli (Professor, University of California, Davis) and legal scholar Alain Pottage (Professor, London School of Economics and Political Science, UK) argue that these practices, techniques, and devices worked to conflate the more elusive idea of discovery into that of invention, and thus created the thing on which the episteme of modern patent law itself rests: the notion of invention as an intangible form of property.
  • Bringing philosophical argument to bear on Richard Wagner’s music and performative art and taking his music and performance as a means of philosophical engagement, philosopher Andrew Mitchell (Associate Professor, Emory University) and musicologist Kevin Karnes (Professor, Emory University) investigate Wagner’s ideas about subjectivity and redemption, in light of his tangled legacy and the integral connection of those ideas to his anti-Semitism, to clarify whether an idea of redemption is possible without being grounded in exclusionary political beliefs.
  • In Survival, Civilization, and Salvation: The Origins of Bread Culture in Early England, historians Debby Banham (Lecturer, University of Cambridge, UK) and Martha Bayless (Professor, University of Oregon) delve through diverse sources, including historical, legal, and theological texts, literature, images, and archeological and paleobotanical findings, to show how this staple foodstuff became a nexus of social practice and moral meaning that continues to shape lives across the globe today.

More information on this year's nine funded projects and research teams is available here.

Contact: Matthew Goldfeder, 212-697-1505 x124