Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellows

The Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars support scholars in the humanities and social sciences in the crucial years immediately following the granting of tenure, and provide potential leaders in their fields with the resources to pursue long-term, unusually ambitious projects.

The Burkhardt Fellowships are generously supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. They are named for Frederick Burkhardt, President Emeritus of ACLS, whose decades of work on The Correspondence of Charles Darwin constitute a signal example of dedication to a demanding and ambitious scholarly enterprise.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Charlene Villaseñor Black
Charlene Villaseñor Black  |  Abstract
This project investigates the transformation of Spanish Catholic imagery during the mass religious conversion that occurred after the fall of the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, in 1521. What congruences came to the fore, as mendicant friars attempted to foster conversion from the Aztec religion, with its pantheon of deities, to Catholicism, with its constellation of saints? Why were friars so preoccupied with potential covert practices circulating around images of female holy figures? This investigation concentrates on St. Anne, the Madonna, Mary Magdalene, and St. Librada, all critical figures in Catholic devotion, all figures whose imagery came under Church scrutiny, and all figures whose cults were conflated with indigenous religious practices and, at times, known cults of native deities.

Associate Professor, Art History, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Transforming Saints: Women, Art, and Conversion in Spain and Mexico, 1521-1800
For residence at the Huntington Library during academic year 2011-2012

Eric Matthew Nelson
Eric Matthew Nelson  |  Abstract
This project offers an account of American political thought between 1763 and 1789 that places it firmly within its early-modern context. It argues that the American founders were heirs to, not one, but three different traditions of republican political theory. These distinct ideologies were in conflict with each other throughout the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and the tensions among them do much to explain the fissures within patriot political thought in the 1760s and 1770s—as well as the trajectory of the ratification debates a decade later. This study argues further that American patriots of the early 1770s, far from being republicans of any stripe, in fact became the last Atlantic defenders of Stuart Royalism.

Professor, Government, Harvard University  -  Thinking the Revolution: American Political Thought, 1763-1789
For residence at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study during academic year 2011-2012

David R. Como
David R. Como  |  Abstract
This project illuminates the origins and nature of the most radical species of parliamentarian political and religious agitation that appeared during the English civil war of the 1640s. Drawing on a wide range of manuscript and print sources, and exploiting digital technologies to unravel the world of civil war underground print, the study provides a new narrative of the civil-war period. In the process, it explores the emergence of many of the more strikingly novel intellectual currents of the times, offering, for instance, a new analysis of the origins of the Leveller agitation (by some accounts the first democratic political movement in post-classical western history). More generally, it explains how and why the English civil war mutated into a revolution.

Associate Professor, History, Stanford University  -  Radical Parliamentarians and the English Civil War
For residence at the Folger Shakespeare Library during academic year 2011-2012

Michael Philip Penn
Michael Philip Penn  |  Abstract
Syriac Christians were the first Christians to encounter Muslims and they wrote the earliest and most extensive references to Islam. Nevertheless, because few scholars read the Aramaic dialect of Syriac, these witnesses to the initial strata of Christian-Muslim relations remain virtually unexamined. This project provides the first comprehensive investigation of these neglected works. Because these texts pre-date most extant Arabic writings, making these texts accessible to scholars and to the broader public will substantially enhance knowledge of Islamic origins and of the earliest encounter of the modern world’s two largest religions.

Associate Professor, Religion, Mount Holyoke College  -  Syriac Christian Reactions to the Rise of Islam
For residence at the National Humanities Center during academic year 2012-2013

Laura Gotkowitz
Laura Gotkowitz  |  Abstract
This study uses the unprecedented trial of a Bolivian military regime for acts of state violence to rethink Latin America’s post-World War II democratic opening. It charts a “democratic” struggle against state repression, one that was influenced by local uses of (distorted) knowledge about Nazism and that culminated in the 1947 trial of an allegedly Nazi-fascist military regime. The trial raises two questions of contemporary significance: How do democratic societies define and judge political violence? Will “the people” dispense violence and justice, or only the state? By linking a close study of the trial with a social history of violence, the project illuminates the porous borders between democracy and authoritarianism at a defining moment for Latin America, that preceding Cold War dictatorships to come.

Associate Professor, History, University of Iowa  -  Trials without End: Political Violence and Democracy in Bolivia after World War II
For residence at the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress during academic year 2012-2013

Ethan Pollock
Ethan Pollock  |  Abstract
In telling the history of the pervasive and resilient Russian bathhouse, this project offers new perspectives on Russian identity, traditional and modern conceptions of health and hygiene, and the evolution of ideas about community and sociability. The layers of meanings that have formed around the bania over its 1000 year history make it a unique prism through which to understand the effects of broad social, economic, and political changes on the everyday lives of Russians. Sources ranging from the earliest recorded Russian chronicles to recent feature films illustrate the ways in which the bania has always been more than just a place to get clean. It is also a space for intimacy, intrigue, violence, and sex.

Associate Professor, History, Brown University  -  “Without the Bania We Would Perish”: A History of the Russian Bathhouse
For residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences during academic year 2013-2014

Weijing Lu
Weijing Lu  |  Abstract
Literature on the history of marriage in China has been dominated by a paradigm that depicts virilocal marriage as the norm and arranged marriage as a practice that precluded affection and happiness. This project interrogates this paradigm. It investigates differentiated marriage practices and conjugal relationships by exploring the ideological, social, and economic constructs of marital life, with particular attention to conjugal emotions and intimacy. In recasting marriage as a dynamic, personal, and human experience mediated by specific late imperial contexts, the project deconstructs assumptions about static, loveless arranged marriage in late imperial China, and illuminates wide variations in the cultural understanding of happiness and intimacy.

Associate Professor, History, University of California, San Diego  -  Marriage and Intimacy in Late Imperial China
For residence at the Huntington Library during academic year 2011-2012

Monica Prasad
Monica Prasad  |  Abstract
This project develops a “demand-side” theory of comparative political economy. For all of their divergences, our theories of comparative political economy ignore the ways in which the American state has often been more interventionist and less liberal than any European country. Perhaps for this reason, they have been unable to explain some central facets of our world, including the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression. This study develops a theory that is more closely engaged with recent developments in American historiography, and that does a better job of explaining economic growth, poverty, and inequality.

Associate Professor, Sociology, Northwestern University  -  The Land of Too Much: American Productivity and Comparative Political Economy
For residence at the Newberry Library during academic year 2011-2012