The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography

Rare Book School has received three major grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a three-year fellowship program at RBS, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography. The aim of the fellowship program is to reinvigorate bibliographical studies within the humanities by introducing doctoral candidates, postdoctoral fellows, and junior faculty to specialized skills, methods, and professional networks for conducting advanced research with material texts. See the October 2014 press release.

RBS2013-DesBibOverview of Fellowship Program

During their three-year fellowship tenure, fellows receive intensive training at RBS, working with mentors from the bibliographical community who guide their archivally based scholarship and help connect them with professionals in allied fields. The fellowship program includes the following activities:

  • Courses at RBS, with travel and research stipendsMellon Fellows study with Rare Book School’s distinguished international faculty once per year for three years. Fellows receive hands-on, expert instruction by RBS faculty on interpreting the material forms of textual artifacts, from medieval manuscripts and early American hand-press books to born-digital materials. During these weeklong seminar-style courses, fellows have the opportunity to handle, analyze, and interpret materials from RBS’s c.80,000-item collection, from the University of Virginia’s Special Collections, and, in some cases, from the Library of Congress, The Morgan Library & Museum, and other major special collections in the United States. One course, Advanced Seminar in Critical Bibliography, is required; fellows choose the other two courses to suit their research interests. The fellowship provides a $6,000 stipend to cover travel, meals, lodging, course materials, and research-related needs, in addition to tuition waivers for three RBS courses.
  • Seminars on critical bibliographyDuring their three-day orientation to the program, fellows discuss bibliography and its place in humanities teaching and research in seminars led by prominent humanists and bibliographers. Fellows continue to consider the questions raised during these seminars as part of their critical bibliography course at RBS. The fellowship covers all expenses for the orientation at UVA.
  • Symposia on critical bibliographyFellows are allocated $2,000 for use in hosting academic symposia at their home institutions. These symposia enable fellows to invite distinguished scholars who are model practitioners of bibliography, book history, and related fields to enrich the ongoing critical conversations in their departments. Fellows must host at least one event during their tenure in the program. Fellows who wish to organize a second event may request matching funds of up to $2,000 for this purpose.
  • Bibliographical field schoolsMellon Fellows attend three-day “bibliographical field schools”— that is, targeted visits to metropolitan areas (New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago, &c.). Field schools are tailored to fellows’ research interests, and provide fellows with opportunities to meet with leading curators, private collectors, antiquarian booksellers, and conservators. We encourage fellows to conduct research related to their ongoing academic projects at these locations following the field schools. Participation in at least one field school is required; many fellows choose to attend multiple field schools.
  • Collaborative research tripsTo foster a community of scholarship for critical bibliography, the fellowship provides $1,500 of additional funds to fellows who wish to organize joint research trips to collections other than the ones visited during the bibliographical field schools. These funds can be used toward domestic and international travel made in collaboration with other fellows in the program.


RBS-Mellon Fellows

2015–17 Fellows

Twenty RBS-Mellon fellowships for 2015–17 were awarded in March 2015. (Press release)

2014–16 Fellows

Twenty RBS-Mellon fellowships for 2014–16 were awarded in March 2014. (Press release)

2013–2015 Fellows

Twenty RBS-Mellon fellowships for 2013–15 were awarded in March 2013. (Press release)

Advisory Board for the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography

  • Ann Blair (Harvard College Professor, Henry Charles Lea Professor of History, Harvard University)
  • James Green (Librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia)
  • Charles Henry (President, Council on Library & Information Resources)
  • Jerome McGann (John Stewart Bryan University Professor, University of Virginia)
  • Patricia Meyer Spacks (Edgar Shannon Professor of English, Emerita, University of Virginia; past president of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the Modern Language Association)