First Book Program
First Book is open to all tenure-track, junior faculty in the humanities and interpretive social sciences with manuscripts that are near completion, but still in a position to benefit from review. The goal is to turn solid and promising manuscripts into first-rate, field-shaping books. Applications for the 2017-18 First Book program will be accepted until Monday, September 25, 2017.
The core of the program is a workshop organized by the Center for the Humanities in which two external and 5-7 internal reviewers are brought together to read and discuss a book manuscript by a junior faculty member at UW-Madison. The workshop structure will allow the reviewers and author to respond to one another’s comments and collectively devise strategies for improving (and placing) the manuscript. The goal is to turn solid and promising manuscripts into first-rate, field-shaping books.
The focus of the program will be on constructive, informed criticism of a scholar’s research. The workshop will consist of both formal presentations and informal commentary from the group. Invited guests will present their responses to the book, while local participants will participate in a discussion of the book. The author will have a chance to respond to the presentations and the commentaries. In order to continue the discussion, the Center will host a lunch for all participants. This will be a closed workshop, and it will be recorded for the author’s benefit.
The Center will carry all the costs for the program, including printing and distribution of the manuscript to participating UW-Madison faculty and external reviewers identified by the author (in consultation with the Center Director), the travel, accommodation, and honoraria for the external reviewers, and the lunch following the workshop.
This program is open to all tenure-track, junior faculty in the humanities and related social sciences with manuscripts that are near completion, but still in a position to benefit from the review.
Proposals must be for the discussion of scholarly manuscripts. Authors and their book projects will be selected based on the potential significance of the finished work, and the potential impact of the book on the author’s career. Academic accomplishments also will be taken into account.
The program was initially funded by a short-term humanities programming grant from the A.W. Mellon Foundation. In recognition of the successes of the program, subsequent support has been provided by the University of Wisconsin–Madison, Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education with funding from the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, the International Division, and the Offices of the Vice Provost for Faculty and Staff and Vice Provost for Diversity and Climate.
Proposals must include the following components, saved as a single PDF:
- A one-page summary of the book in development, including a schedule for completion. In this summary, applicants should also include a statement indicating whether the work is under contract with a publisher. Please note the potential for the work to shape a field, and/or how the work contributes to diversity and inclusion, and/or how the work contributes to a better understanding of international cultures.
- A one-page narrative explaining why and how this opportunity will be important to the process of completing the work. In this narrative, applicants should include a brief statement specifying their tenure and/or promotion timelines.
- A list of prospective invitees to the workshop, to include: (1) two scholars external to UW-Madison; (2) a list of general invitees to the workshops from the campus, including their departmental affiliations. The list may include no more than 10 people. Please note that this list is intended to give the review committee a sense of the workshop to be proposed and will not be considered final. Applicants should not make any advance commitments to anyone on their list.
- A current curriculum vitae.
- Names and email addresses of two referees, one of whom should be external to UW-Madison. Actual letters are not required.
Proposals must be saved in the above order as a single PDF and sent via email attachment to email@example.com by 5:00 PM on Monday, September 25, 2017. Please include the phrase “First Book Proposal” in the subject line.
In “Relative Races: Genealogies of Interracial Kinship in Nineteenth-Century America,” Brigitte Fielder (Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies) presents an alternative theory of how race is constructed. Contrary to notions of “downward” genealogies by which race is transmitted from parents to children, Fielder identifies and theorizes forms of racialization that follow other directions through adoption, sexual kinship, and reflection from children to parents. Fielder’s work on the “relative races” of historical and literary figures in the 19th century effectively reimagines the relationship between race and family.
Gloria McCahon Whiting (History) explores the attempts of Africans, both enslaved and free, to create and maintain families in 17th- and 18th-century New England. in “African Families, American Stories: Black Kin and Community in Early New England.” Overcoming significant archival challenges and pulling together thousands of fragments of evidence, Whiting’s study of the living situations, gendered relationships, and kin communities of early Afro-New Englanders expands our understanding of diasporic life and adaptation by bringing into fuller context the beleaguered intimacies, and creative strategies, of black families in a region where Africans were only a small minority.
In “On the Backs of Tortoises: The Past and Future of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands,” Elizabeth Hennessy (History and Environmental Studies) traces the history of the islands and their namesake species--the prehistoric-looking giant galápagos, or tortoises, that are paradoxically icons of the Darwinian theory of evolution and of the attempts of conservation to halt change. Hennessey’s project rethinks the Galápagos as a laboratory of co-evolution to find a way out of a conservation paradigm that depends on the unsustainable myth of pristine nature.
Nicole Nelson (History of Science) uses ethnographic methods to explore how scientists develop and deploy animal models to produce molecular knowledge about human alcoholism and anxiety, and how this shapes scientific and cultural understandings of how we define the human in Model Behavior: Animal Experiments, Complexity, and the Genetics of Psychiatric Disorders (University of Chicago Press, 2018).
Nandini Pandey, Assistant Professor of Classics. Her manuscript, “The Poetics of Power in Augustan Rome,” explores how Roman writers responded to Augustan iconography in ways that shaped its perception in subsequent culture. Pandey’s project re-examines scholarly assumptions about the relationship between art, society, and power in the Augustan period, and is forthcoming from Cambridge University Press.
Jonathan Senchyne, Assistant Professor of Library and Information Studies and Director of the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture. His manuscript, “Intimate Paper and the Materiality of Early American Literature,” illuminates new dimensions of material culture, media studies, and the American literary public sphere by examining the literary, visual, and material cultures of rag paper in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
2017 Awards Brigitte Fielder (Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies); Gloria McCahon Whiting (History); Elizabeth Hennessy (History and Environmental Studies)
2016 Awards Nicole Nelson (History of Science); Nandini Pandey (Classical and Ancient Near East Studies); Jonathan Senchyne (Information School);
2015 Awards Kathryn Ciancia (History); Stephanie Elsky (English); Pablo Goméz (Medical History and Bioethics); Andrea Harris (Dance); Eunjung Kim (Gender and Women’s Studies)
2014 Awards Emily Callaci (History); Hannah Vandegrift Eldridge (German)
2013 Awards Daniel Ussishkin (History); Jordan Zweck (English)
2012 Award Karma Chávez (Communication Arts)
2011 Award Mitra Sharafi (Law)
2010 Award Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen (History)