Mellon-Sawyer Ph.D. Fellows

Call for Applications for Mellon-Sawyer Ph.D. Fellows

Deadline: May 26, 2015

UMass Ph.D. students in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences and in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts are invited to apply for participation in the UMass Sawyer Seminar Series, “Beyond Medieval and Modern: Rethinking Global Paradigms of Political Economy and Culture,” funded by the Mellon Foundation. In 2015-16, Mellon Ph.D. Fellows will participate in four 2-day seminars and in a linked Fellows Workshop. The Graduate School will provide modest research funds for Fellows, and course credit is possible.

The Seminar series will foster engagement with new data in world historiography about the ways that many systems and ideas we call “modern” emerged in a period that we call “medieval”– not in the European West but in the pre-1500 global South and East. This scholarship reframes global histories, throwing into question medieval/modern periodization as well as east/west oppositions. Bringing postcolonial and other critical lenses to bear on the data, we will rethink narratives of capitalism, states, and modernization; generate new ideas about the co-formation of states, economies, and culture; and reconsider processes of globalization. To foster this discussion, the Sawyer Seminar series will host over a dozen eminent scholars in both Social Sciences and Humanities who will present their research and discuss its conceptual implications. Mellon Ph.D. Fellows will benefit from engagement with these seminar scholars.


  • Expected completion of Ph.D. coursework by or before May 2016; ABD students should have submitted prospectus after August 2013
  • Evidence of interest in one or more of the following (as indicated by coursework, fieldwork, dissertation, Ph.D. exam topics, presentations or publications): non-European cultures, economies, histories; political economy, global/transnational studies, postcolonial/race studies, and gender studies, with preference given to those working in pre-twentieth-century periods; medieval or ancient political economy and culture; multi-lingual archival or cross-cultural studies.


  • CV
  • List of Ph.D. coursework and grades
  • 1-2-page single-spaced proposal (12 pt font) describing the connection between Sawyer Seminar topics and your research path, including links to work in one of the above areas
  • 1 letter of recommendation, which should briefly address how participation in the Sawyer Seminar would benefit your research. (Recommenders will be contacted after applications are submitted, so please include a current email address for your reference.)

Students are strongly encouraged to share their proposal with their faculty reference before submitting. Applicants will be notified by early July. To apply, submit materials here. If you have any questions, please email