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Top American libraries and East Asian Institutes open their doors to over fifty UK academics

Date: 10/08/2016

More than fifty UK researchers are being given access to some of America, Japan and China’s most significant libraries and research institutions as part of a fellowship scheme funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.1

Taking up to six months, the International Placement Scheme (IPS)2 allows researchers to focus on reading and viewing literature, photography, art, maps and listening to recordings, as well as having the chance to hold historical artefacts, which could help them uncover new aspects of their current research.

Nathan Tuffin, Portfolio Manager at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: “These fellowships for Arts and Humanities Research Council funded PhD students and Early Career Researchers are all about opening up exciting opportunities for academics to build international links and have the experience of spending time at some of the leading research institutions in the world.

“In the last decade hundreds of researchers from the UK have had unique access to collections, resources and expertise, helping them to enrich their research experience and bring fresh insight to the way that they work.”

Five IPS researchers will be hosted by the Yale Center for British Art, a public art museum and research institute, and home to the largest collection of British art outside the UK. One of the IPS projects will look at marine paintings to further understand the history of Whaling in the 19th century.

The Harry Ransom Center will host five academics, whose research will include ‘Deconstructing the Spectacle: Aerial Performance as Critical Practice’, which will inform broader research about aerial performers in the UK, Europe and America from the late 19th Century to present day. The Ransom Center specialises in literature, photography, film, art and the performing arts.

The Huntington Library will host 10 IPS fellows. IPS projects include studying the Huntington's Medieval and British Historical Manuscripts collections to understand Renaissance medical and naturalist conceptions of parasites. This includes worms which could shed light on the use of parasitismas-metaphor in Shakespeare's canon. The Huntington Library specialises in British and American history, literature, and the history of science, medicine and technology.

Six IPS fellows will be hosted by the Smithsonian, including one project looking into the origins of commercial whaling in Europe, by researching references to whales, dolphins and porpoises, in the osteological reference collection for cetaceans at the Smithsonian, which is the largest and most extensive in the world. The Smithsonian is the world's largest museum and research complex, consisting of 19 museums and galleries, and nine research facilities.

The Library of Congress3 will host 21 fellows including a project on the 18th Century tobacco merchant John Glassford. In 2007 conservators 'discovered' a domestic slave in a portrait of the Glassford family. This new project will focus on understanding their place within the portrait and help give them a sense of identity. The Library of Congress holds extensive primary documents on Glassford and his business partner in Virginia, Neil Jamieson.

The National Institutes for the Humanities in Japan (NIHU)4 will host three IPS fellows – who will cover sounds in cities, Buddhist craft traditions and the concept of skinship which first appeared in early 1970s.

It is the second year that the Shanghai Theatre Academy (STA)5 has opened its doors to IPS fellows. One of the IPS fellows will be looking at Oscar Wilde’s play Salome and its influence on Chinese drama. The play was first performed in China in 1929 and is an interesting case study for how foreign plays were adapted for middle class audiences in China in the 1920s.


For further press information please contact:
Mike Collins, Head of Communications, on 01793 416083, 07590 463751 or M.Collins@ahrc.ac.uk
Arts and Humanities Research Council communications – 01793 416000 or communications@ahrc.ac.uk

Notes to editors:

  1. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98 million to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits and contributes to the economic success of the UK, but also contributes to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe.
  2. The annual International Placement Scheme (IPS) provides funded research fellowships at world-leading international research institutions for early career researchers, doctoral-level research assistants and AHRC/ ESRC*-funded doctoral students. *ESRC candidates are eligible to apply to Library of Congress only.
  3. AHRC funded Kluge scholar Mat Francis, University of Leeds, talks about his time at the Library of Congress.
  4. The National Institutes for the Humanities (NIHU) in Japan consists of six Inter-University Research Institutes which collectively support academic research on culture and the humanities:
    • International Research Centre for Japanese Studies
    • National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics
    • National Institute of Japanese Literature
    • National Museum of Ethnology
    • National Museum of Japanese History
    • Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
    NIHU's institutes are national repositories of cultural materials; they offer world-class research facilities for scholars with an interest in exploiting the extensive collections they hold.
  5. The STA is a comprehensive University of performing arts. Co-sponsored by the Ministry of Culture of China and the Shanghai Municipal People’s Government, STA is one of the best higher education art institutions in China. It has grown from a single discipline school into an outstanding comprehensive university of performing and digital arts, fine arts, and visual cultures. It has particular research strength in Chinese Theatre Studies. On the campus there are two professional theatres for educational practice and formal performance.
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