First Book Program


With support from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and the International Division, the Center for the Humanities is pleased to request applications for First Book, a program supporting the development of nearly completed scholarly manuscripts by tenure-track assistant professors in the humanities and related social sciences. This program is designed to provide helpful and timely feedback to junior faculty preparing their first academic book. In 2016-17 we will offer support for two seminars to take place in the spring semester.

Proposals Due: Friday, September 23, 2016 by 5:00 PM

Program Description

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.

Eligibility and Criteria

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. 

Questions should be directed to Megan Massino.

Application Process

Proposals must include the following components, saved as a single PDF:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. A current curriculum vitae.
  5. 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 by 5:00 PM on Friday, September 23, 2016. Please include the phrase “First Book Proposal” in the subject line.

Click here to download this information as a PDF.