Arts & Culture

Humanities Center to welcome postdoctoral fellows

3 min read

The Humanities Center at Harvard recently announced the inauguration of a postdoctoral fellowship program. The first class of fellows, who will be in residence for the 2008-09 year, includes two American and two German scholars.

“It is our ambition to house a vibrant postdoctoral program at the Humanities Center,” said Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities and director of the Humanities Center. “In bringing together European and American scholars of the very highest caliber, we hope to initiate a conversation that will connect central issues in the humanities with the natural sciences, social sciences, law, and medicine.”

The American fellows are John Pannill Camp and Emily O’Dell, both of Brown University. Camp will receive his Ph.D. in theater and performance studies this spring. At the Humanities Center, he will revise and expand his dissertation on theater architecture in 18th century France. O’Dell, who will receive her Ph.D. in Egyptology and ancient Western Asian studies, plans to revise her dissertation on representations of emotion in ancient Egyptian literature and visual culture.

A new collaboration with the Volkswagen Foundation will also bring two German fellows to the Humanities Center next year. Markus Krajewski, assistant professor in the faculty of media at Bauhaus University Weimer, is working on a study of the roles that servants have played in the production of knowledge, both historically and metaphorically in the “client-server” model of the contemporary digital realm. Julia Wilker, who received her Ph.D. in ancient history from the Freie Universität Berlin, will explore conceptions of interstate relations in fourth century Greece.

“This is a particularly interesting time in the development of the humanities,” said Bhabha, “for as they reach out to embrace other disciplines and discourses, they also reorient their inquiry in a global direction. Interdisciplinarity and internationalism go hand in hand.”

In addition to their research activities, all of the fellows will teach during their stay at the Humanities Center.

“Undergraduate teaching is a vital part of the new fellowship program,” said Steve Biel, executive director of the Humanities Center and senior lecturer on history and literature. “This extends in important ways what the Humanities Center has been trying to do in reaching out to undergraduates and in working to get students involved in our activities.”

The fellows have expressed delight at being selected for the inaugural year of the prestigious program.

“I am excited to work alongside of and exchange ideas with pre-eminent scholars … not to mention having access to the phenomenal libraries, museum collections, and seminars,” said O’Dell. “I am also enthusiastically looking forward to teaching undergraduate seminars, as teaching is just as important to me as research.”

Camp also said that he found the opportunity to teach classes to Harvard students particularly enticing. “I look forward to having the time to thoroughly prepare and teach new classes while also researching and expanding my book manuscript,” he said. “I also look forward to taking in the lectures, screenings, plays, and other cultural events that go on in Cambridge.”

O’Dell and Camp were selected by a committee that included members of the departments of English, History, History of Art and Architecture, History of Science, and Romance Languages and Literatures. Krajewski and Wilker were selected by a committee that included Bhabha, Diana Sorensen, dean for the arts and humanities and James F. Rothenberg Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures and of Comparative Literature, as well as several senior German scholars.

More than 200 scholars from across the United States and Germany submitted applications to the fellowship program.