The Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography

The Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography (SoFCB) is a community of scholars working to advance the study of texts, images, and artifacts as material objects. Fellows work across many disciplines, study a wide range of time periods and geographies, and occupy diverse roles and career stages within the academy. Scholars join the SoFCB through the Junior Fellows Program; after completing the program in good standing, they have the option of becoming Senior Fellows in the Society.

The SoFCB is a program of Rare Book School; fellows work in collaboration with RBS staff to forward our shared goal of promoting inclusivity and diversity in the field of bibliography. RBS courses are central to our Fellows’ intellectual growth. The SoFCB also sponsors symposia, lectures, classes, and field schools at our Fellows’ home institutions, and at libraries and museums around the world.

Please read the Society’s statement on the nationwide unrest of May and June 2020.

What is critical bibliography?

Critical bibliography is an emerging field, in recent years largely shaped by the scholarship and teaching of the SoFCB’s members and the scholarly communities from which we are drawn and to which we contribute. Critical bibliography seeks to bring the most salient elements of the bibliographical tradition—a close attention to the book as a material-cultural artifact; hands-on engagement with technologies and processes of textual production; and an awareness of circuits of textual transmission—into much-needed dialogue with the critical and theoretical insights of twenty-first century humanities scholarship.

Critical bibliography is broadly interdisciplinary, drawing on scholarship from art history, anthropology, archaeology, classics, digital humanities, literary studies, library science, history of the book, history of science, and museum studies to find points of intellectual intersection among diverse investigations into material culture. Critical bibliography seeks to intervene in two directions: challenging scholars in humanities fields toward a more serious, sustained consideration of media and materiality, while challenging scholars of bibliography to engage with the critical concerns most vital to the humanities in the twenty-first century. Critical bibliography seeks to expand and transform the purview of bibliography to promote public-minded, civically-engaged scholarship.

What does the Society do?

We endeavor to foster capacious, interdisciplinary scholarship; integrate methods of critical bibliography into our teaching and research; foster collegial conversations about historical and emerging media across disciplines and institutions; and share our knowledge with broader publics. We are committed to creating a more accessible, inclusive, and diverse environment for the study of the material text.

In practice, this means we organize symposia and conference sessions; meet annually as a Society to induct new fellows and plan new initiatives; collaborate on a wide range of scholarly activities in and across our home disciplines, including exhibitions, conferences, and publication projects; and support one another in our research and teaching. We bring together scholars who study material texts in cultural contexts around the globe, crossing geographical and disciplinary boundaries.

The SoFCB also sponsors an annual Essay Prize to recognize and reward published work that advances the mission of the Society.

Who are the members of the Society?

Current Junior and Senior Fellows are librarians, archivists, curators, doctoral students, independent scholars, and faculty members who hold tenure-track, teaching, or postdoctoral research positions. SoFCB Council and committee members for the 2020–21 term are as follows:

Council of the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography

  • President: Elizabeth Yale (Lecturer, Department of History, University of Iowa)
  • Vice President: John Garcia (Assistant Professor, Department of English, Florida State University)
  • Immediate Past President: Damian Fleming (Associate Professor of English and Linguistics, Purdue University Fort Wayne)
  • Secretary: Jane Raisch (Lecturer, Department of English and Related Literatures, University of York)
  • Diversity & Outreach Committee Chair: Corinna Zeltsmann (Assistant Professor, Department of History, Georgia Southern University)
  • Program Committee Chair: Megan Cook (Associate Professor of English, Colby College) 
  • Selection Committee Chair: Sonia Hazard (Assistant Professor, Department of Religion, Florida State University)
  • Communications Committee Chair (ex officio): Marissa Nicosia
  • Essay Prize Chair (ex officio): Beth Yale (Lecturer, Department of History, University of Iowa)

SoFCB Diversity & Outreach Committee

  • Chair: Corinna Zeltsman (Assistant Professor of History, Georgia Southern University)
  • Hansun Hsiung (Assistant Professor of Modern Languages and Cultures, Durham University)
  • Xiaoyu Xia (Ph.D. candidate, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, University of California, Berkeley)
  • Outreach Coordinator: Elizaveta Strakhov (Assistant Professor of English, Marquette University)
  • Selection Consultant: Elizabeth Eager (Assistant Professor of Art History, Southern Methodist University)
  • Selection Consultant: Pranav Prakash (Windgate Fellow, Center for the Book, The University of Iowa)

SoFCB Programs Committee

  • Chair: Megan Cook
  • Annual Meeting Coordinator: Jane Raisch (Lecturer, Department of English, University of York)
  • Communications Coordinator: Glenda Goodman (Assistant Professor of Music, University of Pennsylvania)
  • Orientation Coordinator: Devin Fitzgerald (Curator of Rare Books and History of Printing, UCLA)
  • Symposia Coordinator: Josh Smith (Assistant Professor of English, University of Arkansas)

SoFCB Selection Committee

  • Chair: Sonia Hazard
  • Hwisang Cho, ex officio
  • Ryan Cordell (Associate Professor of English and Core Founding Faculty Member in the NULab for Texts, Maps, and Networks, Northeastern University)
  • Santiago Muñoz Arbeláez (Assistant Professor of History, Universidad de los Andes)
  • Caroline Wigginton (Associate Professor of English, University of Mississippi)

SoFCB Nominating Committee

  • Chair (ex officio): Rhae Lynn Barnes
  • Two additional members TBD

SoFCB Communications Committee

  • Co-Chair (ex officio): Marissa Nicosia
  • Co-Chair (ex officio): Rhae Lynn Barnes
  • Juliet Sperling (Faculty Fellow in Art, Colby College) 
  • Two additional members TBD

SoFCB Essay Prize Committee

  • Chair (ex officio): Elizabeth Yale
  • Steffi Dippold (Assistant Professor of English, Kansas State University)
  • Brenna Wynn Greer (Associate Professor of History, Wellesley College)


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  • How can I get in touch with current Fellows?

    • If you would like to send a message (such as an announcement of a job opening, or a fellowship opportunity) to the current members of the Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography, please address your request to NB: requests for message distribution will be reviewed by the Society’s mailing list moderators, and messages may be forwarded to individual Fellows instead of being distributed via the complete mailing list if they seem more appropriate for a limited audience.

  • How do I become a Fellow?

    • Scholars join the SoFCB through the Junior Fellows Program; after completing the program in good standing, they have the option of becoming Senior Fellows in the Society. The Society’s Council may appoint a limited number of honorary Fellows whose work advances the intellectual, pedagogical, and service aims of our community but who are ineligible for the Junior Fellows Program.

  • How did the Society come to be?

    • Rare Book School received three major grants from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund an innovative fellowship program at RBS, the Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in Critical Bibliography. The aim of the fellowship program was 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. The program admitted its final cohort of fellows in 2015. The Society of Fellows developed out of a desire to maintain and expand the community of scholars brought together by this fellowship, and it admitted its first cohort of Junior Fellows in 2018.

  • Who makes this program possible?

    • The SoFCB is currently supported by a $1 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, awarded to Rare Book School in July 2017. We are grateful for their continued trust, and are actively seeking funds to sustain the Society beyond 2025, such as the new Nancy Norton Tomasko Fellowship. We also very much appreciate the private donors and foundations who have helped support our fellows’ ongoing activities. The Fellows are also grateful for the support of RBS Executive Director Michael F. Suarez, S.J., RBS Associate Director and Curator of Collections Barbara Heritage, and the Administrative Director of the SoFCB, without whose vision, creativity, and hard work the SoFCB would not exist.