Book Learning: Bibliographical Society Launches Fellowships for U.Va. Graduate Students

November 29, 2012

A new fellowship program from the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia will allow selected U.Va. graduate students to spend the summer months combing through the abundance of historical books, documents and other cultural artifacts housed in the University Library system.

The Battestin Fellowships for Graduate Student Summer Research, named in honor of Martin and Ruthe Battestin, will award $3,500 each to up to three U.Va. graduate student fellows, beginning in the summer of 2013.

The fellowships are in bibliographical and textual studies – the study of books and other documents as artifacts – and could be awarded to graduate students studying any discipline. Application information is available on the society’s website.

The fellowships will support budding scholars while making use of the many primary source materials available in the library, said Anne Ribble, the Bibliographical Society’s executive secretary. Nicole Bouché, director of the Albert & Shirley Small Special Collections Library, said that some graduate students might not be aware of all of the library’s resources.

“From our perspective in Special Collections, this is a wonderful opportunity to expose graduate students to the richness of the collections here, both for their own study and professional development and because the graduate students are often the path by which undergraduates come into Special Collections, through a class or section taught by a graduate student,” Bouché said.

For graduate students, especially those in the humanities, the grants could offer an opportunity to do exploratory research – or continue existing work – during a time of year when funding is sometimes hard to come by, said Phillip Trella, assistant vice president for graduate studies in the Office of the Vice President for Research.

“Finding funding is hard enough for students who already have a well-developed research project,” he said. “It’s harder yet for students who are doing exploratory research, which is absolutely critical. We’re very pleased to see any new source of funds for graduate students engaged in active research.”

Projects could include anything from the study of book production and distribution to tracing a particular work’s textual history. The society is also encouraging applications from students interested in applying digital methodologies to the study of books and documents.

Max Edelson, an associate professor in the Corcoran Department of History in the College of Arts & Sciences, said the fellowship is an excellent opportunity for students interested in both the study of the book and digital scholarship.

Edelson, whose own research involves both historical maps and digital humanities, said the fellowship could allow students who have grown up in the age of Google to become more comfortable physically searching through library collections.

“It’s great to type a subject into a search field, but it’s even better to become familiar with an entire body of sources that might exist, and get an idea of whole collections that are available,” he said.  

The fellowship program is designed to award new fellows each year for three years, and applications for the coming summer are due by Feb. 1. For information, click here.

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