April 29, 1999 Library Announces Third Mellon Foreign Area Fellowship Awards

Contact: Yvonne French (202) 707-9191

Eight scholars have won stipends in the third Mellon Foreign Area Fellowship competition, the Library's Office of Scholarly Programs announced.

The postdoctoral fellowships, made possible over the last three years by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, were designed to support research that uses the Library's unrivaled foreign-language and area-studies collections. Stipends of $3,000 per month, for periods of five to nine months, were awarded to Christine Adams, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Nathan Brooks, Zuoya Cao, Jorge Chinea, Lynn Jones, Kathleen Kuehnast and Michael Moore.

"The Library's Mellon Fellowship program has received an enthusiastic reception, underscoring the initial premise for these grants: that they provide much-needed support to promising scholars at an important time in their careers," said Prosser Gifford, director of the Office of Scholarly Programs.

The postdoctoral fellowships are designed to assist fledgling American scholars as they embark on a second major research topic following their dissertations. The fellowships promote use of the Library's rich cultural resources, assembled from around the globe, while at the same time strengthening American expertise to interpret foreign-language materials. Having fellows in residence at the Library also enhances the knowledge and skills of the Library's own staff in the latest research trends and topics through occasional gatherings during which fellows are expected to share their insights and experiences.

The Mellon Fellowship program began in early 1997. Since that time, more than 160 applicants have competed for the 20 fellowships eventually awarded. "This year was the most difficult in the awarding of these fellowships," Mr. Gifford said, "because of the extraordinary quality of most of the applications." Nearly all applicants presented qualifications and proposals worthy of serious pursuit and support. "We wish that we had the resources to fund many more worthy projects than the few selected."

All applications were reviewed for basic criteria including American citizenship or permanent residency, a Ph.D. and appropriate career level. Applications were then grouped into area of language specialty and geographic region and carefully reviewed and ranked in relation to one another by specialists familiar with both the subject matter and the library resources proposed for use.

After this primary evaluation stage, the highest-ranking projects from all of the regions were considered and the final determination of the awards was made. They were judged on the basis of the originality and significance of the proposed project, together with the degree to which the proposed research would use the special foreign-language resources of the Library of Congress. The selected applications were deemed to propose research that embodies most fully the purposes and goals of the program.

Waldorf, Md., resident Christine Adams (Saint Mary's College, Saint Mary's City, Md.) will study "The Society for Maternal Charity in 19th Century France." During this period no charitable organization was more active in fostering the ideology of motherhood and domesticity than the Society for Maternal Charity, established in 1810 by Napoleon and Empress Marie-Louise. By 1837, Societies existed in 36 towns in France. Building upon her work in the city archives of Lyons, Dijon, Rouen and Paris, Ms. Adams will incorporate state documents and other historical material held by the Library of Congress into her examination of the relationships between the national agenda of strong and legitimate families and the efforts of local charitable organizations.

The research project of Ruth Ben-Ghiat (Fordham University, New York City), "Italian Film Between Fascism and Democracy," plans to investigate the fate of Italian film institutions and aesthetics from the fascist era, the cinema's role in the elaboration of post-fascist models of national identity, and the impact of Cold War politics on film policies, production and reception from 1945 to 1955. Ms. Ben-Ghiat plans to use materials from the European, Manuscript, and Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound reading rooms as she focuses on nonfiction films and military documentaries.

Nathan Marc Brooks (New Mexico State University, Las Cruces) will examine the social contexts of Dmitri Mendeleev's involvement in controversies that stirred Russian society during the 19th century. Mendeleev (1834-1907) is known primarily outside of Russia for his fundamental work in developing the Periodic System of Chemical Elements, but within Russia he became one of the most important and influential Russian "public scientists," participating in public debates concerning spiritualism, nationalism and industrialization. To complement his recent work in the Mendeleev archives in St. Petersburg, Mr. Brooks will utilize the Library's rich collection of prerevolutionary Russian materials.

The research of Zuoya Cao (Lincoln University, Lincoln University, Pa.) entails a study, "Out of the Crucible: Literary Works About the Lives of Zhiqing." Her sources will be the short stories and novels relating to the lives of zhiqing -- the 17 million Chinese urban youths who were dispatched by the Chinese Communist regime to live and work in rural areas during the second phase of the Cultural Revolution. The study will explore the historical, social, cultural and humanistic significance of the zhiqing's rural experience demonstrated in these literary works. Ms. Cao, a novelist and scholar of comparative literature, will use the novels, stories and related periodical, historical and descriptive materials in the Library's East Asian collections.

Roseville, Mich., resident Jorge L. Chinea (Wayne State University, Detroit) will pursue "The Quest for Freedom: Manumission Prospects for Maritime Maroons in the Hispanic Caribbean." During the 17th century, many slaves escaped from French and British colonies to Cuba and Santo Domingo. Despite the scale of these intra-Caribbean movements, and their demographic and cultural importance, little research has been done on them. Following a trip to the Seville archives, Mr. Chinea will explore the primary and secondary accounts of this period held in the Manuscript, Map and Main reading room collections, as well as in the deep and multilingual Hispanic collections on the Caribbean.

"The Visual Expression of Armenian Kingship: Ceremonial and Portraiture" is the subject of research by Lynn A. Jones (University of Maryland, College Park). The Bagratid kings, rulers of the northern kingdom of Armenia during the ninth through 13th centuries, were invested in two separate ceremonies. One was was conducted by the temporally powerful Muslim governor and its context was wholly Islamic. The second ceremony, performed by the Armenian Orthodox patriarch, was culturally and religiously Armenian in nature. This double investiture appears to be a symbolic unification in the Bagratid kings, a stability that was missing in the historical and political situation. Ms. Jones will use the Library's Armenian and Islamic collections, the microfilms of manuscript illuminations from important monasteries as well as many European journals. Ms. Jones is from Jenkintown, Pa.

Alexandria, Va., resident Kathleen Kuehnast (George Washington University, Washington, D.C.) will build upon her 20 months of ethnographic field research over several years in Kyrgyzstan to write about the current rejuvenation of conservative Islamic practices and traditional cultural customs affecting Central Asian women in "Islam and the New Politics of Gender Ideologies in Central Asia." She will use Kyrgyz and Russian collections to deepen her knowledge of the historical and religious factors that are now influencing policies and ideologies concerning women's education, employment and health care to answer how women will shape a future of social stability and economic sustainability.

Michael Moore (Wellesley College, Wellesley, Mass.) will study the social role of demons in early medieval society, in "Rulers of Darkness: Demons in Early Medieval Society." Between 500 and 900 A.D., Europe was a culture that believed itself to be pervaded by sinister beings. The place of demons in social structures and perceptions of history will be examined, with special emphasis placed on kings, monks, bishops and the poor. Both social roles and sacred spaces were reaffirmed in struggles against demonic intrusion, revealing doubts about human capabilities and about the viability of the social order. The believed existence of demons helped explain the origins of evil. Mr. Moore will use primarily the general collections and the medieval holdings of the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

The Mellon Foreign Area Fellowship Program is administered by Lester Vogel in the Office of Scholarly Programs (LJ 120), where the fellows are located when they are in residence at the Library. Not all of the Fellows are present at any one time, but a number of fellowship periods overlap. The new fellows will arrive as early as August 1999 and as late as June 2000.

Press interviews with the fellows may be arranged by calling the above telephone number.


PR 99-061
ISSN 0731-3527