RBS-Mellon Fellows for 2014–16


In September 2012, Rare Book School received an $896,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund a new three-year fellowship program at RBS, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography. An additional grant of $783,000 was awarded in October 2013 to fund a second cohort of twenty RBS-Mellon Fellows. 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 RBS-Mellon Fellowship page for more information.

2014 Awardees

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  • Joel Anderson

    • Joel Anderson is a doctoral candidate in the Medieval Studies Program at Cornell University. His research investigates the global networks and administrative apparatuses of the later medieval Church. He is particularly interested in how clerics on the fringes of northern Europe adapted and repurposed the official documents of distant ecclesiastical potentates for their own ends. At Cornell, he has been privileged to teach courses on topics such as heresy, sanctity, and the history of reading.

  • Benjamin Breen

    • Benjamin Breen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of Texas at Austin. His dissertation research focuses on the global diffusion of tropical drugs and the printed and manuscript texts (pharmacy manuals, travel accounts, scientific works, Inquisition files, letters) associated with them. More broadly, he is interested in how natural knowledge traveled around the globe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

  • Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire

    • Marie-Stéphanie Delamaire is a Core Lecturer in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University in the City of New York, where she received her Ph.D. in art history. Her scholarship focuses on American visual culture and intermedia translation. She has published essays on antebellum American genre painting in relation to the nineteenth-century transatlantic publishing industry, and an article on American cartoons. Her current book project investigates the aesthetic and cultural transformations that took place when works of art were shipped across the Atlantic Ocean, and later translated in printed form for various publications.

  • Meghan C. Doherty

    • Meghan C. Doherty is the Director and Curator of the Doris Ullmann Galleries and Assistant Professor of Art History at Berea College in Berea, Kentucky. She received her Ph.D. in art history from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the connections between art and science as seen in the visual culture of the early Royal Society of London, and her current book project, “Carving Knowledge,” features studies of primary visual and written materials related to Hooke’s Micrographia, Francis Willughby’s Ornithology, and the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.

  • Claire J. C. Eager

    • Claire J. C. Eager is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at the University of Virginia. Her research and teaching focus on Renaissance literary and material cultures, with special interests in poetic, visual, and spatial forms; vernacular ecologies and memories; and histories, ethics, and aesthetics of war and colonization. In her dissertation, “Virtual Paradise: Poetic Inheritances, Colonial Aspirations, and the Architectures of Early Modern Gardens,” she analyzes how poetic, print, and illustration techniques construct garden spaces described as Paradise. Alongside literary texts and records of period gardens, her objects of study include emblem books, architectural treatises, herbals, and garden manuals.

  • Damian Fleming

    • Damian Fleming is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Linguistics at Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, where he teaches Old and Middle English, Latin, mythology, and literature. He received his Ph.D. in medieval studies at the Centre for Medieval Studies at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on early medieval texts and how they reveal their authors’ cultural concerns about the authority and power of language. He is particularly interested in perceptions of the Hebrew language in the biblical commentaries and homilies of Anglo-Saxon England. His current project involves collecting and examining manuscript copies of Hebrew alphabets—of various degrees of accuracy—written by Christian scribes.

  • Simon Grote

    • Simon Grote is an assistant professor in the Department of History at Wellesley College, where he teaches broadly in the history of early modern Europe. He received his Ph.D. in history from the University of California, Berkeley. Within the area of his research, the intellectual history of Enlightenment Germany and Scotland, he has written most extensively about aesthetic theory and moral philosophy in the first half of the eighteenth century, the subject of his first book. He is now beginning a project on the concept of “medicine for the mind” in the early Enlightenment, focusing on German Pietist understandings of original sin and the way those understandings informed hermeneutic theory, textual exegesis, reading, and other devotional practices.

  • David A. Harper

    • David A. Harper is an assistant professor in the Department of English and Philosophy at the United States Military Academy, where he teaches composition and literature. He received his Ph.D. in English from the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on Milton, eighteenth-century criticism, and Interregnum and Restoration texts. His current project reexamines the early reception of Paradise Lost and its role in developing literary and textual criticsm. Recent publications include: “Bentley’s Annotated 1674 Edition of Paradise Lost: Hidden Method and Peculiar Madness” (RES, February 2013), “Francis Gregory and the Defense of the King’s Book” (PBSA, March 2012), and “Revising Obsession in Shakespeare’s Sonnets 153 and 154,” (forthcoming in Studies in Philology).

  • Joseph A. Howley

    • Joseph A. Howley is an assistant professor in the Department of Classics at Columbia University in the City of New York, where he has taught Columbia’s Core “Literature Humanities”; course and a diverse array of Latin prose. He received his Ph.D. in Classics from the University of St Andrews. He is interested in ancient Greek and Roman intellectual culture in the imperial period. His first book project, “Aulus Gellius and the Narrated Mind in Imperial Rome,” explores representations of knowledge in antiquity, history and theory of media, and in miscellany, collection, and gathered knowledge. His new project concerns the book in the Roman imagination. The Mellon Fellowship in Critical Bibliography will support his development of courses in ancient books, transmission of classical texts, and media history.

  • Vera Keller

    • Vera Keller is an assistant professor in the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. She received her Ph.D. in history from Princeton University. A historian of science and an early modern Europeanist, she is interested in the co-production of science and politics, and is the author of over a dozen articles and book chapters on the history of friendship, constitutions, wish lists, celebrity, secrets, inventions, alchemy, magic and the reason of state. Her first book project, “The Wish List: Knowledge and Interest, 1575–1725,” explores how the literary technology of desiderata (shared epistemic desires) re-shaped the body of knowledge and its relationship to the body politic in early modern Europe.

  • Jeannie M. Kenmotsu

    • Jeannie M. Kenmotsu is a doctoral candidate in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on the art of early modern Japan, with particular emphasis on paintings, prints, and illustrated books. Her dissertation project examines the development of full-color printing in the eighteenth century. She is especially interested in materiality, social networks, and the relationship between color and emerging discourses of natural history and painting theory in the mid-eighteenth century.

  • Diego Pirillo

    • Diego Pirillo is an assistant professor in the Department of Italian Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from the Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa. His research interests focus on early modern philosophy, heterodoxy and political thought, with special attention to the history of books and reading. Along with several articles, he is the author of Filosofia ed eresia nell’Inghilterra del tardo Cinquecento: Bruno, Sidney e i dissident religiosi italiani (Storia e Letteratura, 2010). He is currently working on a new monograph which concentrates on the Italian Protestant reformers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, examining their reading practices and their role as intelligencers, cultural brokers, and news gatherers.

  • Jessica Plummer

    • Jessica Plummer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Her broad interests are in nineteenth- and twentieth-century German literature and popular culture. In her dissertation project, she focuses on cheap serial novels (colportage novels) and periodical culture in the late nineteenth century. Material aspects of texts that are important to her work include: text-picture formats and the technical conditions for producing them, and identification of book production methods via “autopsy.” In addition, she is interested in description, classification, and collection of “extinct” publishing formats. In terms of overarching disciplinary questions, she hopes to explore the compatibility of the terms and methods of bibliography and media studies.

  • Aaron T. Pratt

    • Aaron T. Pratt is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Yale University. His research focuses on English literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, bibliography, and the history of the book. He is currently writing a dissertation that develops a new history of drama as a literary form by carefully reconstructing the material practices and conventions that shaped the experiences of buying, reading, and collecting books in the period. He has recently completed a study of early modern bookbinding practices as part of this project, and has published on Holinshed’s Chronicles and early modern English Bibles. He also runs a small business as an antiquarian bookseller.

  • Jane Raisch

    • Jane Raisch is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. She is writing a dissertation on the reception of Greek in early modern English literature that examines the influence of postclassical Greek authors on scholarship, fiction, and humanism. Her dissertation grows out of her larger interests in textual and cultural recovery, utopianism and fictional experimentation, and the organization and preservation of knowledge. Her approach to research and teaching combines literary studies with intellectual history—the history of scholarship in particular—and the material analysis of book and manuscript production.

  • Courtney Ann Roby

    • Courtney Ann Roby is an assistant professor in the Department of Classics at Cornell University. She received her Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University. Her research focuses on the literary aspects of scientific and technical texts from the ancient world, the interaction of verbal and visual elements in those texts, the interplay between material and textual objects in ancient science, and the dissemination of ancient scientific texts. Her current book project, “Technical Ekphrasis in Ancient Science: The Written Machine between Alexandria and Rome,” traces the literary techniques used in the textual representation of technological artifacts from Hellenic Greece to late-ancient Rome.

  • Rachel Stein

    • Rachel Stein is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures at Columbia University in the City of New York. She received her M.A. in Spanish from Middlebury College. She is interested in the impact and functioning of the printing press in early modern Iberian worlds. Her dissertation, which focuses on a corpus of books on the Americas, Asia, and Africa published in Lisbon by the Flemish-born printer Pedro Craesbeeck, reveals the intertwining of book composition and political composition across the global monarchy of the Spanish-Portuguese Union of Crowns (1580–1640).

  • Sarah Wall-Randell

    • Sarah Wall-Randell is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Wellesley College. She is the author of The Immaterial Book: Reading and Romance in Early Modern England (University of Michigan Press, 2013), an examination of representations of reading in Renaissance literature. She received her Ph.D. in English and American literature and language at Harvard University. She has published articles about sixteenth-century editing practices and about “bookish” metaphors in early modern literature. Her current projects include tracking how Shakespeare, Marlowe, and their contemporaries imagined the classical Sibyls in relation to material text technologies, and studying the early English reception of Don Quixote, that epic of reading.

  • Rachel Wamsley

    • Rachel Wamsley is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation examines the ambivalent reception of midrashic exegesis in early modern Ashkenaz, and the role played by print professionals in salvaging and refashioning this hermeneutic practice for Yiddish belles lettres. Her other research interests include artisanal figurations of authorship, gestures of fictive orality in textual literatures, and the skeptical poetics of literary anachronism.

  • Elizabeth Yale

    • Elizabeth Yale is an adjunct assistant professor at the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book. She received her Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University. Her research and teaching center on the history of science and the history of the book in the early modern world. She is currently finishing up her first book, Script, Print, Speech, Mail: Communicating Science in Early Modern Britain (under contract, University of Pennsylvania Press). She is starting on a second project tracing the cultural history of science through the posthumous fates of early modern scientists’ collections of papers.