RBS-Mellon Fellows for 2015–17


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. Additional grants of $783,000 and $757,000 were awarded subsequently to fund the second and third cohorts 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.

2015 Awardees

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  • Holly Borham

    • Holly Borham is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Her research lies at the intersection of early modern religious debates and visual representation, with a specific focus on artistic responses to the Reformation across confessional divisions in Central Europe. She has a particular interest in the ways that print illustrated Bibles and library collections shaped the religious identity of Protestant art patrons.

  • Hwisang Cho

    • Hwisang Cho is an assistant professor of Asian history in the Department of History at Xavier University. He received
      his Ph.D. in premodern Korean history from Columbia University. His current book project, titled “The Power of the Brush: Epistolary Revolution in Early Modern Korea,” explores how new modes of writing and reading that were developed in epistolary culture brought about academic, social, and political changes. It closely examines the physical peculiarities of new letter forms, the appropriation of letters for other purposes after their communicative functions, and the rise of diverse political epistolary genres in the Chosǒn dynasty.

  • Megan L. Cook

    • Megan L. Cook is an assistant professor in the Department of English at Colby College. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on responses to Middle English texts and books in the early modern period, especially editing and textual commentary before the advent of vernacular philology in England. Her current book project examines the scholarly reception of Chaucer’s works in the Tudor era, with special emphasis on the role of antiquarians in the production of early printed editions. She has also published essays about antiquarian reading practices, Chaucer’s early modern reputation as a proto-Protestant, and the influence of Spenser’s Shepheardes Calendar on Chaucerian editing.

  • Paul Dilley

    • Paul Dilley is an assistant professor of ancient Mediterranean religions with a joint appointment in the Department of Classics and the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Iowa. He received his Ph.D. in religious studies from Yale University. His research focuses on Late Antiquity and early Christianity; he studies the diverse textual cultures of religious communities in the Roman and Sasanian Empires, especially the Manichaeans and Christian monastic groups. He is a member of an international team editing the Chester Beatty Kephalaia, a large Coptic papyrus codex, using enhanced imaging techniques.

  • Sonja Drimmer

    • Sonja Drimmer is an assistant professor of medieval art in the Department of the History of Art and Architecture at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She received her Ph.D. in history of art (with distinction) from Columbia University. Her research focuses on manuscript illumination of the later Middle Ages, as well as early print culture. She is particularly interested in broadening the study of text-image relationships to include their intersections with other forms of material culture. Her current book project, “Timeless Texts, Timely Illustrations: Origins and the Illumination of the Middle English Literary Canon,” is a detailed and innovative study of the emergence of England’s first literary canon as both a visual and a linguistic event.

  • Devin Fitzgerald

    • Devin Fitzgerald is a doctoral candidate in the Program in History and East Asian Languages within the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University. His primary research focuses on different forms of intercultural communication in the early modern period. His dissertation will be a study of the cultural and intellectual history of the Ming-Qing conflict from a global perspective. He is also a co-founder of the Manchu Studies Group.

  • Paul Fyfe

    • Paul Fyfe is an assistant professor in the Department of English and a faculty member in the Communications, Rhetoric, and Digital Media program at North Carolina State University. He received his Ph.D. in English language and literature from the University of Virginia. His research and teaching areas include British Victorian literature, nineteenth-century book and media history, scholarly communications, and digital humanities. He has recently published his first book, By Accident or Design: Writing the Victorian Metropolis (Oxford University Press, 2015), and is now working on a study of historical communications media, a project to virtually reconstruct Queen Victoria’s lost garden pavilion, and content mining research in digital collections of nineteenth-century periodicals.

  • Jennie Grillo

    • Jennie Grillo is an assistant professor of Old Testament at Duke University Divinity School. She received her D.Phil. in Oriental studies from the University of Oxford, and held postdoctoral fellowships at Göttingen and Harvard. Her particular interests are in reading the Old Testament through its early Jewish and early Christian interpretation, and in material aspects of the reception of biblical texts. Her first book was The Story of Israel in the Book of Qohelet: Ecclesiastes as Cultural Memory (Oxford University Press, 2012); she is now working on a study of the Additions to Daniel in the history of interpretation. Before Duke, she taught at Amherst College and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

  • Sonia Hazard

    • Sonia Hazard is a doctoral candidate in the Graduate Program in Religion at Duke University, specializing in the material culture of religion in the antebellum United States. Her dissertation focuses on the distribution and reception of evangelical tracts and books produced by the American Tract Society. She is especially interested in recovering the material conditions that shaped experiences of religious print, including the materiality of print media and practices such as exchange, display, repurposing, and destruction. Her approach to material culture draws on new materialism and related conversations including actor-network theory and posthumanism.

  • Zachary Hines

    • Zachary Hines is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Texas at Austin. His research examines the relationships that exist between the literature of the Middle Ages and the material forms in which it was compiled. His dissertation focuses on Middle English works that come to us from the library collections of early modern England and considers the ways we might think of these medieval manuscripts—and the literary texts that they contain—as edifice.

  • Aaron M. Hyman

    • Aaron M. Hyman is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art Department at the University of California, Berkeley. His dissertation examines the use of northern European prints and book illustrations by artists in colonial Latin America in order to interrogate paradigms of “copying” and early modern authorship. His ongoing research projects include the history of paper arts, such as découpage, translation as a visual, textual, and spatial practice in the early modern world, and collaborative artistic production.

  • Katherine Mintie

    • Katherine “Kappy” Mintie is a doctoral candidate in the History of Art Department at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation examines debates among nineteenth-century American photographers over patent and copyright practices that appeared in period trade journals. Her research engages with the production of commercial photography in the United States, shifting notions of photographic authorship, and acts of translation between media.

  • Santiago Muñoz-Arbeláez

    • Santiago Muñoz-Arbeláez is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Yale University. His dissertation examines the efforts of the Spanish empire to create a centralized kingdom among the diverse peoples and landscapes of northern South America during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. He is especially interested in the production and circulation of natural histories, cartography, and descriptions of the Indies, as well as in the interactions between colonial and indigenous literacies and forms of knowledge. More broadly, his work focuses on Indians and empires in the early modern Atlantic world and is informed by scholarship on comparative frontiers and borderlands, environmental history, history of cartography, and agrarian studies.

  • Benjamin J. Nourse

    • Benjamin J. Nourse is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Denver, where he teaches courses on Asian religious traditions. He received his Ph.D. in religious studies from the University of Virginia. His research interests are centered on the production and use of religious books in Buddhist cultures, and his current research projects include a study of the growth of Tibetan religious publishing in the eighteenth century. He is also working on a history of the Tibetan Buddhist Canon and a study of pre-twelfth-century manuscripts of the Heart Sūtra in Chinese and Tibetan.

  • Holly Shaffer

    • Holly Shaffer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of the History of Art at Yale University, focusing on South Asian and British art in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Her dissertation, “The Production and Dissemination of Maratha Art in India and Britain, 1700–1900,” examines the art that emerged under the Marathas (1674–1818) and its iterations in colonial and nationalist art production and publication in India and Britain. She has curated two exhibitions that include such material: Strange and Wondrous: Prints of India from the Robert J. Del Bontà Collection (Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2013), and Adapting the Eye: An Archive of the British in India (Yale Center for British Art, 2011).

  • Joshua Byron Smith

    • Joshua Byron Smith is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Arkansas, where he teaches medieval literature and languages. He received his Ph.D. in English, with a certificate in Medieval Studies, at Northwestern University. His research examines the multilingual literary culture of twelfth-century Britain, with particular interest in Anglo-Welsh textual exchange. His current book project, “Writing on the Border: Walter Map and the Welsh,” explores how one of the most important writers of medieval Britain incorporated Welsh material into his work. He is also interested in Welsh-language archival material in America.

  • Juliet Sperling

    • Juliet Sperling is a doctoral candidate in the Department of the History of Art at the University of Pennsylvania. She is broadly interested in American art and visual culture from the late eighteenth to the early twentieth century, with particular emphasis on the history of moving images. In her dissertation project, “Animating Flatness: Seeing Moving Images in American Painting and Mass Visual Culture, 1800-1895,” she examines movable books and metamorphic prints as visual contexts for the creation and viewing of paintings by Raphaelle Peale, David Claypoole Johnston, and Winslow Homer. Her objects of study include harlequinades, “dissected plate” anatomical atlases, metamorphic trade cards, and pop-up books.

  • Elizaveta Strakhov

    • Elizaveta Strakhov is currently a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in French Medieval Literature with a joint appointment in the Department of English and the Department of French and Italian at Northwestern University; in August 2015, she will become an assistant professor in the Department of English at Marquette University. She received her Ph.D. in comparative literature and literary theory at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research investigates the use of a specific lyric genre, the formes fixes, by a group of Francophone poets (including Guillaume de Machaut, Jean Froissart, Eustache Deschamps, Geoffrey Chaucer, and John Gower) to negotiate tensions placed on cross-European Francophone communities by the rise of protonationalism and regionalist faction during the Hundred Years War. In particular, she looks at the circulation of this genre in Continental and insular manuscripts of the period, arguing for the emergence of a cross-Channel “anthologizing impulse,” in which the sophisticated arrangement of lyric content became a form of trenchant political commentary.

  • Caroline Wigginton

    • Caroline Wigginton is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Mississippi, where her teaching encompasses literature by and about the early Americas, as well as Native Studies and antebellum literature. She received her Ph.D. in English at the University of Texas at Austin. She specializes in race, gender, and sexuality in North America. Her first book, In the Neighborhood: Women’s Publication in Early America (University of Massachusetts Press, forthcoming), identifies a continuum of publication practices—including print, material culture, manuscript, and performance—via which early American women rearranged communal relations. More broadly, her research considers the articulation of natural commodities, material culture, labor, and book history in order to examine what is American about the early American book.

  • Corinna Zeltsman

    • Corinna Zeltsman is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Duke University. Her dissertation examines transformations in Mexico City’s printing industry across the long nineteenth century, and the role of printers in shaping politics as well as broader social and cultural change. Trained as a letterpress printer, she focuses her research on labor history, the material and cultural politics of print in Latin America, and the boundaries between manual and intellectual production.