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Mellon Foundation Invests in Dance Studies

Northwestern, Brown and Stanford collaborate to fund fellowships, summer seminars

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October 11, 2011 | by Judy Moore

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University, in partnership with Brown and Stanford, has received a $1,420,700 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a multi-year, multi-school project that will fund postdoctoral fellowships and weeklong summer seminars designed to advance the field of dance studies.

The project, “Dance Studies in/and the Humanities,” will fund the fellowships at each school from 2012 to 2016. The weeklong summer seminars will allow Mellon fellows to work alongside other recent Ph.D.s, advanced graduate students and junior faculty to formulate strategies for interdisciplinary research and teaching in the field.

The inaugural summer seminar will be held at Northwestern June 24 to 30, 2012. The summer seminars will then rotate among the three schools.

“Over the last decade the best young scholars in the dance field have contributed to ongoing conversations across the academy, and the Mellon project aims to intensify this momentum,” said Susan Manning, project director for the grant and a Northwestern professor of English, theatre and performance studies in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences.

In contrast to other fields in the humanities, which have experienced a contraction in the number of faculty and students over the last decade, dance studies has experienced modest growth. “It’s getting to the point that we no longer have to explain that dance studies stands in roughly the same relation to dance practice as musicology to music-making, art history to studio art and literary studies to creative writing,” said Manning.

“The summer seminars will engage rigorous thinking about the live body as archive as well as engage efforts to develop digital technology for teaching and research in dance,” said Rebecca Schneider, co-director of the project and chair of theater arts and performance studies at Brown.

“North American as well as international scholars are invited to apply for these postdoctoral fellowships as part of the project’s goal in bringing global dance studies scholarship into the intellectual life of the university and the academic mission of the humanities,” said Janice Ross, project co-director and director of the dance division at Stanford University.

Northwestern will act as the administrative center for the project. Applications for both the postdoctoral fellowships and summer seminars are due Feb. 15, 2012. Postdoctoral fellowship applicants need to send a cover letter, curriculum vitae, writing sample, sample syllabus for an introductory course in dance studies and three letters of recommendation.

Summer seminar applicants need to send a cover letter stating research and teaching interests, curriculum vitae, writing sample and two letters of recommendation. 

All applications should be sent to the Dance Studies Search Committee, Northwestern University, University Hall 215, 1897 Sheridan Road, Evanston IL 60208-2240. Electronic applications (in Word or pdf) may be emailed to project assistant Jennifer Britton (j-britton@northwestern.edu) with the subject line “Dance Studies Search.”