Announcing the Winners of the Inaugural ATBL Fellowships at Houghton Library and the Library Company of Philadelphia Fellow

The American Trust for the British Library and Houghton Library are pleased to announce that Lauren Eriks Cline, Assistant Professor of English at Hampden-Sydney College in Virginia, has been awarded the first American Trust for the British Library Fellowship at Houghton Library. This visiting fellowship, a joint initiative between the two institutions, supports a research project in any discipline of the humanities, social sciences, or arts that draws on primary source materials in the collections of both the British Library and Houghton Library.

LaurenEriksKlein_ATBL_Fellowship_2020Dr. Eriks Cline teaches courses in drama, film, and the novel; literary and cultural theory; and British literature across periods. She will spend two weeks in London and two weeks at Harvard conducting research for her book project, Restaging Race: Victorian Spectators and Imperial Performance Narrative, which considers the ways in which popular performance was used as a tool of the British empire. In four chapters, she analyzes the careers of four stage performers—Frances Kemble, Edmund Kean, Ira Aldridge, and Ellen Terry—to investigate how tropes of nineteenth-century narrative and spectator accounts of theatrical performance shaped the ways Victorians conceptualized race and the racism endemic to the British imperial project. Both libraries contain considerable collections on all four performers.


The ATBL and Houghton Library are pleased to announce that Atesede Makonnen has been awarded the second American Trust for the British Library Fellowship, also at Houghton Library, funded by the ATBL Advisory Council and Johns Hopkins University Libraries.  Ms. Makonnen is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Johns Hopkins University. She holds a BA in English from Dartmouth College and an MA in Shakespeare Studies from King’s College London.

Her dissertation, The Actual Sight of the Thing: Visualizing Blackness in Nineteenth Century British Culture,” examines how white visualization of black bodies in nineteenth century British culture led to the creation of a modern white gaze. The project investigates theatrical practice, children’s stories, poetry, novels and portraiture in order to argue that the successes of the British abolition movement inspired a new wave of anti-blackness and social segregation reliant on complex visual understandings of racial hierarchy.  She plans to use the Harvard Theatre Collection at Houghton Library to explore the relationship between black actors, white actors, and Othello. Her time at the British Library will be devoted to the writings of Thomas Clarkson and other abolitionists, as well as Romantic poets like Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

Following the establishment of the ATBL inaugural Fellowship Program with Houghton Library, Harvard University, and the British Library, ATBL member Davida Deutsch wanted to create a similar Fellowship Program. She had already established a fellowship with the Library Company of Philadelphia in women’s studies and wanted to start another fellowship to give women who are members of underrepresented racial and ethnic groups and working in the areas of women’s studies and American history the opportunity to study for two weeks at institutions which she feels strongly about—the Library Company of Philadelphia (LCP) and the British Library.

Davida did research at the British Museum, which included the Reading Room of the British Library, as well as one year at the new St. Pancras site, and is most grateful to the staff of the British Library for their assistance. She was a Board member of the LCP for many years. This LCP/ATBL fellowship is Davida’s second LCP fellowship which she hopes “may inspire others to do the same.”

burke_bio_picThe first Davida T. Deutsch/ATBL/LCP Fellowship was awarded to Rachel Burke, a Ph.D. student in art history at Harvard, and her topic is the African-American anti-slavery activist Henry Brown, aka “Box” Brown because in 1849 he escaped slavery by shipping himself by railway from Virginia to Philadelphia. That’s the American side to his story, which she will research at LCP.  At the British Library, she will study the British part of his life, where he fled in the 1850s.  At first, he was an anti-slavery celebrity but after the Civil War he became more of an entertainer, best known for his moving panorama, “Mirror of Slavery,” which he toured all over Britain.  She will look for records of his appearances in newspapers, ephemera collections, and other sources at the British Library.

The Fellows will be doing research at the British Library and at the US libraries when it is safe to travel.

Updated June 28, 2021.

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