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A literary treasure trove awaits fellowship researchers

Two researchers from the University of Exeter will have special access to collections at some of the world’s most prestigious libraries and research institutions later this year. This is as part of a major fellowship programme involving 25 researchers on the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) International Placement Scheme (IPS). 

Taking up to six months they will be reading, touching and viewing literature, photography, film and art that they would be unable to access here in the UK. The IPS facilitates researchers in building strong international experiences by providing funded fellowships at some of the world’s leading research institutions. 

In America, the Yale Center for British Art, The Huntington Library and the Harry Ransom Center will provide access to their impressive archives and collections.  In Japan, National Institutes for the Humanities will host several IPS fellows and for the first time this year, the Shanghai Theater Academy is also opening up its amazing archives. 

This unique opportunity enables postgraduate students and early career researchers to enrich their research, understandings and connections through immersion in thriving research cultures, with privileges unavailable to independent visiting scholars.  The scheme offers dedicated access to their globally renowned collections, resources and expertise.  

University of Exeter, Research Fellows, Daniel Cattell and Robert Yeates have successfully secured a place to conduct their research at The Huntington Library in San Marino, California.  This renowned institution specialises in British and American history, literature, and the history of science, medicine and technology.

Representations of modern cities in post-apocalyptic science fiction are the focus for Robert Yeates research, which involves an early and rarely studied example of Jack London’s 1912 short story, ‘The Scarlet Plague’. The library’s huge collection on the author will support his research to an extent that wouldn’t be possible without access to this impressive archive.

Robert Yeates said:“The Huntington’s vast Jack London Collection, of around 60,000 items, is the premier resource for studying London’s work.  The early manuscript drafts and notes on 'The Scarlet Plague,' as well as many further documents, are vital resources unavailable elsewhere. Studying the story at The Huntington will add great value to my research, and offer a singular opportunity to pursue new avenues of inquiry.”

Daniel Cattell, a Research Fellow on The Poly-Olbion Project in the Department of English, is equally impressed with the opportunity to work with the collections at The Huntington Library. He said:“The IPS fellowship will greatly benefit our preparations for a new scholarly edition of Poly-Olbion, Michael Drayton’s epic 15,000-line poem on the landscape, history and traditions of early modern England and Wales.”

Cattell added:“The Huntington Library’s several original copies of Poly-Olbion, including one signed by Drayton himself, present a unique opportunity to advance textual study of the poem. The Huntington’s extensive holdings of manuscripts and rare printed works from the period also promise new insights into Drayton’s poem, helping to open up his extraordinarily rich and multi-faceted work for a new readership.”

Last year, Exeter PhD film student Eddie Falvey secured one of the prestigious AHRC IPS fellowships. The opportunity enabled him to conduct his research on photographic and cinematic representations of New York City at the beginning of the 20th century at the Library of Congress which is the oldest federal cultural institution in America and serves as the research arm of Congress.

The AHRC still has up to 25 IPS Library of Congress and Smithsonian fellowships to award, which will be announced in the summer.

Date: 17 June 2015

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