2020-21: Fabrication

Announcing the 2020-21 Fellows at the Society for the Humanities:

Paul Fleming, Taylor Family Director
Annette Richards, Interim Director

Invited Society Scholars

Cherubim A Quizon, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Seton Hall University

Tavia Nyong’o, Professor of African-American Studies, American Studies, and Theatre and Performance Studies, Yale University

Society for the Humanities Fellows

Julie Phillips Brown, English, Virginia Military Institute
The New Sister Arts: Women and the Poet-Artist’s Book

Georgia Frank, Religion, Colgate University
Making and Doing Emotion in Late Ancient Christianity

Anthony Lovenheim Irwin, Southeast Asian Studies
Building Buddhism in Chiang Rai, Thailand: Construction as Religion

Jeffrey West Kirkwood, Art History, Cinema, Binghamton University
The Future Was Bright: A History of Optical Technologies and Impossible Futures

Kimberly Kay Lamm, Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies, Duke University
Fabricating Truths: Sartorial Self-Fashioning and the Legacies of Enslavement

Adin E. Lears, English, Virginia Commonwealth University
Big Science: Craft-Knowledge and Creature Futures in the Age of Chaucer

Stephan Pennington, Music, Tufts University
Passing Tones: Transgender Vocality, Race, and Music

Society for the Humanities Faculty Fellows

Jill Frank, Government
The Beauty of Equality

Nicole Julia Giannella, Classics
The Mind of the Slave: The Limits of Ownership in Roman Law and Society

Denise Nicole Green, Fiber Science and Apparel Design, College of Human Ecology
Curating Fashion

Lauren Monroe, Near Eastern Studies
Becoming Israel: A Microhistorical Approach to the Song of Deborah

Mellon Graduate Fellows

Rebekah Ciribassi, Anthropology
Fierce Blood and Gentle Genes: Sickled Cells and the Fabrication of Intergenerational Bodies in Tanzania

Austin Lillywhite, English
Sensuous Fabrications, Fabulist Forms: Race, Queerness and the Ecology of Imagination

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows                       

Hannah LeBlanc, Science & Technology Studies
Disposable: A History of Food Packaging

Jon Ander Mendia, Linguistics
The Grammar of Ignorance

Mathura Umachandran, Classics
Critical Mythologies: Classical Reception and the Frankfurt School

2020-21 Focal Theme: Fabrication

The Society for the Humanities at Cornell University seeks interdisciplinary research projects for residencies that reflect on the theme of fabrication. Embodying two strands of production – creation and concoction, making and faking, forming and falsifying – fabrications are both made up and made real. 

Fabrication is bound up with fiction, language, and storytelling: from spinning a yarn and weaving a tale through embellishment to lying and falsehood. Fabrication recalls the old adage that ‘the poets lie,’ pondering the relation between invention and deception. While today it seems that the pejorative sense of fabrication often falls to politicians, this dual valence nonetheless raises the question of whether art, fiction, narrative, and historiography ever fully extricate themselves from suspicion. This is especially the case in the age of quantification and ‘hard data,’ with its attendant effects on the humanities – and yet numbers without narrative tell us nothing, have no story to tell.

In so far as homo faber demarcates the human as artisan, as one who works and produces (or perhaps refuses to participate in an economy of production and reproduction), fabrication necessarily calls upon studies of labor, manufacturing, and (mass-)production. In this sense, fabrication connotes a materiality or tactility that stretches from the factory floor to the loom, and can be apprehended in metal and wood, plastics and dyes, canvas and paper, clays and concretes, fabrics and textiles.

From the weaving of Penelope to the communal knitting of ‘pussy hats,’ fabrication is gendered and embodied, mythologized and politicized, turning domestic crafts (often ‘women’s work’) into acts of resistance. Through fashion, costume, adornment, and drag, fabrication is woven into questions of embodiment, gender, sexuality, performance, and transformation. Communities and identities can be crafted, agency conjured, systems of power refashioned. 

Raising the relation between the high and low arts, the artist and the worker, the poet and rhetorician as well as the gendering of production and reproduction, fabrication lies at heart of the art and humanities.

The Society for the Humanities invites applications from scholars and artists who are interested in participating in a productive, critical dialogue concerning the topic of fabrication from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

Image: Raúl de Neieves, Daves of Wonder, courtesy of the artist & Freedman Fitzpatrick Gallery

Rainbow sculpture made out of tiny plastic beads.

2019-20 Fabrication Competitions:

  • Society FellowshipsOne-year residential fellowships at Cornell University with a $52,000 stipend. Application deadline: October 1, 2019.
  • Faculty FellowshipsOpen to Cornell faculty members only, one-year residential fellowships located at the A.D. White House. Application deadline: October 31, 2019.
  • Mellon Graduate FellowshipsOpen to Cornell graduate students only, one-year residential fellowships located at the A.D. White House, includes a $26,000 stipend, tuition, and student health insurance. Application deadline: October 31, 2019.

Information about our FABRICATION fellowship competitions, see our research & funding page.