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Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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Faculty Fellowships

2017/2018 Warren Center Fellows Program

"Telling Stories: Modes, Media, and Meanings"

Co-directors: Laura Carpenter (sociology) and Catherine Molineux (history)

Application Deadline: Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Topic. The Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities will host a year-long interdisciplinary faculty seminar to explore storytelling. Telling stories is fundamental to human life, but what makes certain stories “telling”? When, where, why, by whom, and to what ends do stories get told—and who listens to them?  Many academic disciplines have witnessed renewed interest in the meanings and functions of stories and the modes by and media in which people tell them.  This year-long Warren Center Faculty Fellows Seminar will explore innovative scholarly and popular approaches to telling stories emerging from the various humanistic disciplines and consider how these new approaches reframe the politics and ethics of storytelling. 

Taking a humanistic, interdisciplinary approach to pressing empirical, theoretical, and methodological issues associated with storytelling has the potential to deepen understanding of what makes some stories “tell” or compel.  Members of the seminar may explore questions such as the following: 

  • How do different modes of telling stories—e.g. literary, scholarly, journalistic, dramatic, oratorical, artistic, or cartographic—work and what do they accomplish? 
  • What is the relationship between these traditional storytelling modes and emerging modes, such as computer-generated worlds or digital storytelling? 
  • In what ways do media matter?  In addition to oral, aural, print, and visual media of many kinds, Warren Center Fellows may consider the stories told by mixed forms (e.g., museum exhibitions, statistics, material culture, the natural world, graphic novels, narrative medicine, or big data).

Innovations in these areas offer opportunities to open new conversations across disciplines.

The Program. The seminar will include the two Vanderbilt University faculty co-directors, up to seven additional Vanderbilt faculty participants, and one William S. Vaughn Visiting Fellow from an institution other than Vanderbilt. The group will meet weekly and will have access to generous program funds from the Warren Center that can be used for visiting speakers, conferences, or other appropriate program‑related expenses. The seminar provides an unusual opportunity for scholars with a variety of specializations to work cooperatively on a common issue in a sustained manner. 

Faculty Participants. The Warren Center operates under the aegis of the College of Arts and Science. Although the majority of the participants in the program will also come from the College,  we also encourage participation from faculty members from the other divisions of the University.   All tenured and tenure-track faculty and senior lecturers are eligible for Warren Center Fellowships.  Faculty participants may have offices in the Center and are awarded $4,000 individual research funds.

Application Process. Applicants should send a copy of their curriculum vitae (NO MORE THAN FIVE PAGES) and a statement of one or two pages in which they describe the relation of the topic to their own scholarly project to Warren Center Seminar Coordinator Emma Furman . Applicants should also notify their department chairs. 

Applications are due by Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Questions? If you have questions about the program or the application process, contact the Warren Center (343-6060) or the executive director, Mona Frederick.

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

VU Station B #351534