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Simpson Center for the Humanities

CFP: 2020-21 Joff Hanauer Graduate Fellowships

Applications are now open for six supplemental graduate fellowships in the amount of $5000 for the period September 16, 2020 - June 15, 2021, for graduate students whose work and research involves Western civilization, broadly defined.

Next year's theme is "Environments in the 21st Century: Migration, Climate, Extinction, In/humanness, Non-Humans and Beyond." This year-long seminar is structured around the idea that the concept of the Anthropocene challenges us to rethink our basic humanistic values: the centrality of speech for human expression, rational thought, the ability to reason and communicate, the demand for freedom, democracy, justice and human rights, and the creation of cultural expressions based on enlightenment values. Seminar participants will critically examine the literature and culture of humanism on select examples drawn from the Western tradition and compare them with contemporary environmental conditions that emphasize the need to rethink human exceptionalism and emphasize relationality and precarity.

In close consultation with the seminar participants, we will examine issues such as global migration, climate change, extinction, cultural and biological diversity, environmental justice, sustainability, the agency of nature, and the need for rethinking human and nonhuman relations, from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. The idea is to transcend narrow disciplinary frameworks and arrive at a greater horizon of understanding that brings the critical and self-reflexive framework of Western Civilization into full fruition. What does it mean to engage the Western tradition and its core values such as equality, freedom, justice, democracy, and the rule of law in a broader and more global context? What is the role of Western culture in an age in which humanity has been charged, by the scientific community, with geological agency, i.e., an age in which compartmentalized thinking is simply no longer adequate and where we have to solve problems on a larger and global scale?

Hanauer Fellows will participate in a bi-monthly seminar led by Sabine Wilke, Joff Hanauer Distinguished Professor for Western Civilization. The goals of the program are to foster creative and critical work in the Western cultural tradition and to help prepare teachers from different disciplines who have well-reasoned convictions about the place of Western civilization in the curriculum of an American liberal arts institution. The seminar enables students from different disciplines to work together and understand the commonalities and differences in their disciplinary perspectives. The activities of the group will be determined, in part, by the specific fields and interests of the fellows. Fellows will be encouraged to remain connected with the program after the term of their fellowship.

Successful applicants will demonstrate a strong record of achievement and commitment to critical study of Western culture as a whole or to some specific aspect of it in a context that generates reflection on Western civilization and/or its place in a global context. Graduate students at all levels are encouraged to apply; this is not specifically a dissertation fellowship.

Applicants should submit 1) a letter outlining their record of achievement and commitment to studying Western civilization, and of their preparation for engaging with disciplines outside their own; and 2) a separate description of how their research and teaching plans engage the topic. This description might include exam and/or dissertation topics, and a vision of their teaching career.

Documents should be submitted to the chair of the applicant’s department by May 11, 2020. Chairs are requested to submit all applications from their department as a single packet with a cover letter ranking applicants by quality and with brief explanations by May 26, 2020, to: 

Barbara Mack at 

It is important to note that this is a supplemental fellowship and chairs should provide evidence that their nominees are adequately funded for the academic year 2020-2021.

Please refer any questions to Sabine Wilke at: