May 8, 2021

University of Virginia: Rare Book School Receives Mellon Foundation Grant to Expand Fellowship Program

From UVa in Charlottesville, Virginia:

Rare Book School at the University of Virginia has received a second grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to expand the reach of an ambitious fellowship program that is reinvigorating bibliographical studies within the humanities.

The $783,000 grant, announced earlier this month, will fund 20 additional three-year fellowships in the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography program for doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty seeking advanced training in the study of rare books, manuscripts and other material texts.

Aiming to encourage humanities scholars to look at books as physical artifacts worthy of study beyond the text on their pages, the program was launched last academic year with an $896,000 grant from the Mellon Foundation.

During their three-year fellowship tenure, fellows receive intensive classroom training in weeklong seminars held annually at Rare Book School, located within U.Va.’s Alderman Library and at other major special collections libraries nationwide. In addition, the program’s fellows receive travel and research stipends, as well as training opportunities in New York, Philadelphia and other cities with prized collections.

During their three-year fellowship tenure, fellows receive intensive classroom training in weeklong seminars held annually at Rare Book School, located within U.Va.’s Alderman Library and at other major special collections libraries nationwide. In addition, the program’s fellows receive travel and research stipends, as well as training opportunities in New York, Philadelphia and other cities with prized collections.

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While bibliographical training was a required element of elite graduate programs in English literature and other humanities disciplines five decades ago, that priority has long since faded at U.S. universities. The Mellon program, however, offers contemporary humanities researchers the analytical tools to evaluate the depth of scholarly information to be mined from a book or manuscript’s physical form. Whether it’s understanding the materials and methods that went into a book’s production or gaining additional insight into a book’s intended audience or cultural significance from the designs stamped on its binding, a new generation of scholars is recognizing the value of Rare Book School’s curriculum.

Scholars, curators and experts from around the world attend Rare Book School seminars as instructors and students, and fellows receive expert instruction on how to interpret the material forms of textual artifacts, from medieval manuscripts and early American hand-press books to contemporary digital materials. During these 30-hour courses, fellows are offered the  opportunity to handle, analyze and interpret materials from Rare Book School’s collection of approximately 80,000 rare books, manuscripts and related artifacts, as well as resources from U.Va.’s Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, the Library of Congress and other major special collections in the United States.

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The application deadline for the second cohort of 20 three-year fellowships within the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Critical Bibliography is Dec. 2. More information on the program and its application process can be found here.

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See Also: The First Mellon Grant ($896,000) Was Awarded in September 2012

See Also: Virginia’s Rare Book School Attracts the World’s Bibliophiles (July 30, 2011)

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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