Immersive Dissertation Research Fellowship

This innovative, competitive two-term research fellowship supports Humanities dissertation projects that involve substantial professional development and will likely result in dissertation formats other than the conventional proto-monograph. Ph.D. students are expected to embed themselves within, or otherwise collaborate intensively with, institutions or communities as part of their Ph.D. research. They will develop professional networks beyond higher education and be empowered to consider innovative dissertation formats. Such dissertation projects might, for example, center on ethnographic research in non-academic settings; participant-observer fieldwork; collaborations with museums or historical sites; structural and institutional analysis of cultural entities; the creation of crossover academic-lay texts that have public benefits or are directed toward the public good; community-based writing that aims to improve local conditions through research and expository writing. 

The Fellowship carries a competitive stipend and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the fellowship. These fellowships also come with access to professional development funds to support eligible costs (professional presentations, extra-mural professional development opportunities, costs related to dissertation project). Fellows are expected to engage in full-time dissertation research during the period of their fellowship. No additional duties will be required or permitted. See the immersive dissertation research fellowship flyer (PDF).

2021-2022 Fellows

Brittney KnottsFor her dissertation, “Keywords, Practices, and Products of the Twenty-First Century Girl Coder,” Brittney Knotts (English) seeks to historicize and understand the emergence and significance of 21st century “girl coders” locally and nationally. As part of this work, she will extend her partnerships with community sites, such as The Ellis School and Assemble, to do ethnographic work that is useful and legible to them. She was a Humanities Engage 2020-2021 Pitch Your Own Immersive Fellow.


Manuel RoblesManuel Robles (History) seeks to illuminate how Mexico went from largely ignoring its Afrodescendant population to recognizing it as an integral part of the nation in his dissertation, “Black Inclusion: Afro-Mexicans and the International Struggle for Recognition, 1974-2020.” He will collaborate with the Asociación de Mujeres de la Costa de Oaxaca (AMCO) to produce a short documentary film and develop educational infographics emphasizing women’s roles in this history, which will be presented in local schools and communities.


Celena TodoraIn her dissertation “Rhetorical Imaginaries of Liberation within Anti-Liberatory Spaces: Liberatory Rhetoric in Prison Education,” Celena Todora (English) will examine liberatory rhetoric in contexts, such as scholarship, pedagogy, and community organizing, within the field of prison education. She will conduct ethnographic research with the local abolitionist organization Let’s Get Free (LGF) and will produce multimodal and public-facing work. She was a Humanities Engage 2020-2021 Pitch Your Own Immersive Fellow.


2020-2021 Fellows

Samuel BoatengDrawing on both ethnographic and historical methods, Samuel Boateng (Music)’s dissertation project, “Jazz Sustainability in Ghana: Performance, Space, and Representation in Urban Africa,” is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sited work that focuses on three geographic locations – Ghana, the United States, and Britain – in order to assess the impact of Ghanaian musicians on the development, performance, and meanings of jazz beyond America’s borders. He is working with the Institute of African Studies to update Adepa Jazz Collection (AJC) documents and is completing a documentary film.


Alyssa QuintanillaIn her dissertation “A Matter of Waste and Bodies: Life, Death, and Materiality in the United States-Mexico Borderlands 1990 to the Present,” Alyssa Quintanilla (English) uses literary representations and digital art to examine how concepts of waste are applied not just to the items border crossers leave behind, but to their bodies, leading to the diminishment of their voices, experiences, and deaths. She created Vistas de la Frontera, a digital memorial that captures some of the places where migrants’ bodies have been recovered.