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Robert Penn Warren Center

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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2013-2014 Warren Center Fellowship Opportunities

The Warren Center will sponsor two fellowship programs in the 2013-2014 academic year: one for faculty members and one for Vanderbilt University graduate students.

The 2013-2014 Faculty Fellows Program will be co-directed by Vanessa Beasley (Associate Professor of Communication Studies) and Arleen Tuchman (Professor of History). The year-long interdisciplinary seminar is entitled "Diagnosis in Context: Culture, Politics, and the Construction of Meaning;" participants in the seminar will explore the types of work that medical diagnoses perform. Modern medicine typically defines diagnosis as the act of identifying or naming disease, with disease understood as a pathophysiological condition that produces characteristic symptoms and follows a predictable path. But such straightforward statements hide more than they reveal. Specifically, they leave unexplored the power of language and labels to create imagined boundaries between and among populations—boundaries that can affect the lived experience of disease and disability as well as the allocation of resources.

Both the act and the understanding of diagnosis invite interdisciplinary discussion about how, where, when, and why diagnostic meanings are made. Working at the intersections of medicine, culture, literature, and politics, scholars in the Warren Center Fellows Program will study the production of diagnoses, the various meanings ascribed to them across time and place, and the work they do for individuals and communities trying to navigate the elusive boundaries between health and disease. Seminar participants will represent a wide range of disciplines and will employ multiple methodologies to examine together the various uses, abuses, and meanings of diagnosis. These methodologies might include cross-cultural comparisons, historical analysis, literary and/or rhetorical criticism, disability studies, public policy studies, and medical and clinical research. The Warren Center will sponsor a Visiting Fellow with expertise in the area of study, in addition to selected members of the Vanderbilt faculty. Information regarding the internal and external application process can be obtained from the Warren Center or its website, www.vanderbilt.edu/rpw_center.

The Warren Center will also sponsor an interdisciplinary year-long Graduate Student Fellows Program. Vanderbilt University graduate students in the traditional humanities departments or those whose work is of a humanistic nature are invited to apply for the seven dissertation-completion fellowships. The fellowship provides a stipend as well as a modest research fund. Students are not allowed to hold any other form of employment during the term of the fellowship. Graduate Student Fellows are expected to complete and defend their dissertations before the start of the next academic year. The Graduate Student Fellows will meet in weekly seminars at the Warren Center, giving presentations from their work to the seminar and discussing texts of common interest. The Warren Center will also arrange for a number of visiting speakers to meet with the seminar during the year to provide opportunities for discussion of issues pertinent to scholarly life, such as the art of writing, successful strategies for publication, funding opportunities, grant writing, and workshops on delivering academic presentations. Each Warren Center Graduate Student Fellow will give a public lecture in the spring term. Fellows will also be expected to be active participants in the life of the Warren Center during their fellowship year. Further information is available on the Warren Center's website.

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