The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has invited UCR to submit one application for consideration to the 2023 John E. Sawyer Seminars on the themes of social and racial justice. Interested faculty should submit preliminary proposals which will be reviewed by a committee of CHASS faculty to nominate a proposal for full development. Please do not contact the Mellon Foundation.
The Mellon Foundation’s Sawyer Seminars program was established in 1994 to provide support for comparative research on historical and contemporary topics of major scholarly significance. Competitive proposals will center and advance the humanities while keeping a strong focus on race, ethnicity, and related intersectional analyses. Projects may address the contemporary moment as well as examples from the past that fill in the gaps left by more traditional narratives about the history and culture of the Americas.
Internal preliminary proposals should clearly cite three humanities examples to be compared, as illustrative of the PIs approach. For example, for their winning 2014 “Alternative Futurisms” proposal Nalo Hopkinson and Sherryl Vint briefly compared examples of speculative fiction by Black, Latinx, and Indigenous authors, examining the authors’ various contexts, implications, and uses of the form. In 2021, a PI team led by Jody Benjamin developed the “Unarchiving Blackness” project to explore how archives of Black life—including documents, drawings, maps, material culture, photographs, and digital content—shape historical narratives of the past, impact the material conditions of African and African Diasporic people in the present, and create imaginative possibilities of vibrant Black life for the future.
Similarly, competitive proposals may compare example texts, artworks, histories, or phenomena across cultures to draw out larger truths. Mellon further suggests that comparative cases might include differences of regions, nations, time periods, geographic areas, cultural trends, or social tensions. Clarity of explanation will be essential for complex projects.
In the full proposal, grant activities should be developed to encompass these comparative examples but should not be limited to them. The seminar structure, events, and invited postdocs should express the fullness of the PIs’ scholarly approach. Participants in the related social sciences may contribute to a rich understanding of the issue. However, a humanities approach should lead the project’s central questions and its consideration of “cases.”
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For questions regarding this limited submission application and review process, please contact Katharine Henshaw, email@example.com.