Undergraduate Fellowship FAQs

What counts as a humanities project?
That’s a complicated question, with a complicated answer! The humanities are a family of disciplines with emphases on critical, culturally or historically contextualized, and qualitative approaches to the research. At Pitt, the classification “humanities” includes the following departments: Classics; Communication; East Asian Languages and Literatures; English; French and Italian; German; Hispanic Languages and Literatures; History and Philosophy of Science; History of Art and Architecture; Linguistics; Music; Philosophy; Religious Studies; Slavic Languages and Literatures; Studio Arts; Theatre Arts. It’s NOT that you have to be majoring in one of those subjects to be eligible or well-placed for the fellowship. It’s that most of the research projects and classes and people in those departments are humanistic. These critical, culturally or historically contextualized, and qualitative approaches to research can take up a wide range of objects too. It can be the poems and plays and art works that some of your classes in English and History of Art and Architecture have probably emphasized. It can also be things like pandemics - which might otherwise seem to be in the domain of natural scientific or public health inquiry - approached from the critical, cultural, historical angle.

Can you continue with an existing mentor?
You sure can. We can connect you with a research mentor tailored to the project you work on during the fellowship year, but you can also by all means continue a collaboration with a faculty member that is working for you already.

Are older topics that have been studied for a while possibilities? 
Absolutely! Just because something is famous doesn’t mean that it can’t be approached from an original angle. Plato’s Symposium - pretty established as a CLASSIC. But ain’t that the dead, white, male domain we should be marginalizing? There are lots of ways of bringing a critical gaze to things. As one recent work puts it, “What can contemporary feminist readers do with this troubling yet immeasurably influential work?” - namely, the Symposium, which “depicts a group of men giving a series of speeches about the nature of love.” That’s just one example, but have faith in your ability to bring new energy to something old or established.

Do structural racism and whiteness studies count for the Ethnic Studies fellowships?
Maybe - but also maybe not. Look closely at the language on the website, which speaks in the following terms: “The interdisciplinary field of Ethnic Studies examines the social and historical examination of race and racism in the U.S. In particular, it centers the histories, experiences, cultures, and issues concerning four core underrepresented racial-ethnic groups: Asian American, Latinx, Native American, and African American/African diasporic communities in the U.S.” That’s the language we’ll be looking to when we make decisions. If you want to make a case for your project, feel free to quote snippets from the fellowship call so that you can address them specifically. Is whiteness an important part of a “social and historical examination of race and racism in the U.S.”? For sure. Does studying whiteness center the histories, experiences, cultures, and issues of the four core under-represented racial-ethnic groups name in the call? Probably not.

When is the proseminar taking place?
** In the Spring 2023 semester, Proseminar 1 will be 10-12:25 on Wednesdays.

What if I can’t make the scheduled time of the class?
It’s crucial for the program that the cohort of undergraduate fellows be able to convene together, so it’s possible that if you can’t make the time you won’t be able to accept the fellowship. Wednesday mornings are the current slot. It will probably stay that way, but it’s possible that it might change. IF IN DOUBT, APPLY! You can still list a declined fellowship on your CV, and we might be able to work with you to make things fit.