Call for 2019-20 Society for the Humanities Fellowships at Cornell University

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University is currently accepting applications for fellowships from scholars whose work matches up with their 2019-2020 theme, “Energy.” Fellowships involve:

  • One year in-residence at Cornell University.
  • Participation in a weekly Fellows Seminar.
  • Teaching one course related to their research as it pertains to the year’s theme. (Courses should be targeted toward graduate students and advanced undergraduates.)
  • A stipend of $50,000.

Fellows will collaborate with the Taylor Family Director of the Society for the Humanities, Paul Fleming (Professor of Comparative Literature and German Studies), and are encouraged to explore topics they would not normally teach.

Additionally, Fellows will have the opportunity to spend time working with four Invited Society Scholars over the course of their fellowships, each of whom will spend a week in-residence during which time they will lead a Fellow seminar and deliver a public lecture. Invited Society Scholars for 2019-2020 include: Dominic Boyer (Director, Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences & Professor of Anthropology, Rice University), Brent Hayes Edwards (Professor of English & Comparative Literature and Jazz Studies, Columbia University), Cymene Howe (Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender & Sexuality; Associate Professor of Anthropology, Rice University), and Kathi Weeks (Professor of Gender, Sexuality & Feminist Studies, Duke University).

2019-2020 Theme: Energy

Per their call for applications, the Society for the Humanities describes their theme, “Energy,” for the 2019-2020 academic year:

“Coming from the Greek energeia – work, activity, performance, force – and now synonymous with life and liveliness, verve and vitality, energy underlies the productive forces that animate the natural and social worlds as they scale from the macro to the microcosm: from life music of the planets to dance, poetry, and art; from political movements to modes of labor (whether physical, mental, emotional, or mechanical); from the forces of history up to the carbon age and climate change.

In artistic expression, energy marks the ability to have an effect, to make things move: whether rhetorically by a turn of phrase, musically by organization and modulation of sound, or performatively in the coordination of words and bodies in space. Consider the ‘energy’ of a performance, the je ne sais quoi that sets one artwork, one interpretation, one version apart from others. In the social sphere, energy lies at the heart of labor power, whether human or machine, physical or mental, as well as in the multiple forms of unacknowledged labor: the energy invested in emotional, domestic, undocumented, or poorly paid work. Energy also fuels the political ideas that move people into the streets, to assemble and stand opposed – from #blacklivesmatter and #metoo to labor and equal rights movements. Finally, energy is bound up with mental life: from Freud’s energetic model of the psychic apparatus to the forces behind magical practices, magnetism, rituals, and religions – forces both immaterial and material that span the globe.

In its most timely inquiry, the issue of energy runs up against climate change. From carbon-based and nuclear sources of fuel to renewables such as solar and wind, our modes of dwelling on and sharing the planet (not only with fellow humans) require sustained reflections on energy: its history, uses, and abuses; its relation to ‘progress’ and colonialism; its futures as well as its costs. At stake in the question of energy are not only its political and economical valences, but also the social and cultural forces – the values, beliefs, attitudes, and images that shape our global past, present, and future.”


Applications are due by October 1, 2018. For more information on applying for a Society for the Humanities fellowship, including required materials and additional information on this year’s theme, please visit: