Propose a Theme

Shaping the theme of a fellowship year at the Katz Center is an opportunity to have a major impact on scholarship, directing the Center’s resources in support of a substantial group of scholars each year, generating new conversations and collaborations that include conferences and a book, and helping to set an agenda for new research and thought. A fellowship theme is different from a book project. The goal is not merely to identify a specific topic that needs investigation but to advocate for a theme, question, or issue that will draw scholars together from a variety of disciplines, from within and beyond the field of Jewish studies, and that will push research in new directions.

If you have an idea for a theme year, the first step is to get in touch directly with director Steve Weitzman (wsteve@upenn.edu) or associate director Natalie Dohrmann (dohrmann@upenn.edu), who will set up a phone conversation, and can offer guidance and advice in conceiving the proposal.

If we are encouraged or need to hear more we may ask you to prepare a written document of no more than a thousand words that includes a brief history of the relevant scholarship and/or a description of current research that helps reviewers understand the significance and potential impact of the fellowship year. It will be to the advantage of a proposal if it can connect its focus to questions, issues, and approaches in other areas of humanistic and social scientific research.

Such initial proposals serve as seeds for the collaborative work of topic-development. They will go before our faculty advisory boards, and other scholars are consulted for input. As a result, should a proposal result in a fellowship year, the contours of it often differ to some degree from what was originally proposed.

Any individual or group of scholars in Jewish studies may submit a proposal, but an ideal proposal will come from a team of two or three scholars at different stages in their careers who represent divergent national perspectives and will encompass diverse disciplines or intellectual viewpoints. A proposal should also include a list of scholars who might participate in the year in order to demonstrate how broad and how appealing the subject might be to a wide range of people. The list is not binding in any way, it is only meant to provide some indication of potential interest on the part of scholars around the world.

 

Note:

The authors of a successful proposal, though not required to be full-time fellows in the year that they shape, are almost always actively involved in one way or the other, and should they apply to be fellows, their role in shaping the theme is weighted into the selection process.