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Call for Applications: Interseminars Graduate Fellowship in Arts and Humanities

The Humanities Research Institute is pleased to announce the call for graduate student applications for its inaugural Interseminars cohort on the theme of Imagining Otherwise: Speculation in the Americas. Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the College of Fine and Applied Arts, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate College, Interseminars seeks to build communities of inquiry among graduate students and faculty at the University of Illinois around emerging research directions in the interdisciplinary humanities and arts. Join us for a zoom information session (advance registration required) on October 28 at 4:00 PM or November 2 at 4:00 PM. A recording will be made available for students who cannot attend.

Admission to the graduate cohort comes with

  • a $25,000 graduate fellowship for the 2022-2023 academic year,
  • a $5,000 summer fellowship (two total) for summer 2022 and 2023.
  • a $2,000 research fund for each fellow
  • Fellows will take part in planning and then enroll in
  • one graduate seminar each semester (fall 2022 and spring 2023),
  • two short summer workshops (2022 and 2023),
  • and a final, community/public-facing event in fall 2023.

This is an especially unique fellowship opportunity because it is specifically designed for graduate students still in coursework. To be eligible, applicants must be enrolled in a terminal degree (PhD, DMA, or MFA) program in the arts or humanities. Additionally, they must have at least two semesters of coursework remaining at the start of the 2022-2023 academic year. Please note that students in self-supporting (tuition paying), professional, terminal masters, and masters of science programs are not eligible for Interseminars. Through Interseminars, fellows will develop important skills in interdisciplinary research and benefit from dedicated mentoring by an interdisciplinary group of faculty. The initiative especially encourages students from backgrounds historically underrepresented in higher education to apply.

Taught collaboratively by Carolyn Fornoff (Assistant Professor, Spanish and Portuguese), J. David Cisneros (Associate Professor, Communication), and Patrick Hammie (Associate Professor, School of Art and Design), Imagining Otherwise builds a community of inquiry united around a shared method: speculation. Derived from the Latin speculatio, which means to observe from a vantage point, speculation offers a way of looking differently at the world, using estrangement in order to critically assess how the world is and imagine ways that it could be. From TV shows like Lovecraft Country to activist rallying cries for “a world without borders,'' speculative cultural production is experiencing an unprecedented hemispheric boom in popularity. Far from mere escapism, speculation creates space for radical political dreams. Speculation in the Americas seriously asks how artists and scholars can mobilize nonrealist forms (both utopian and dystopian) to show that the present is contingent and can therefore be changed (or even abolished). 

This cohort explores speculation as an oppositional method, practice, and aesthetics that perforates current logics of capitalism and structural realism. Foregrounding historically marginalized Black, Indigenous, and brown knowledges/communities throughout the Americas, we explore how speculation has been used and can be used to generatively reframe the past, present, and future. We welcome graduate students from across different scholarly disciplines and creative practices who are interested in exploring speculation as a method and a means to engage with crises ranging from climate change to systemic racial violence and global imperialism.

Questions about eligibility or other aspects of the application process or the award itself may be directed to the Assistant Director for Education and Outreach and Interseminars Coordinator, Alaina Pincus (