Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2009 Newsletter

Philanthropy at the Ransom Center

Axel Stähler

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow Axel Stähler reads at Poetry on the Plaza.

One of the signatures of the Harry Ransom Center is its highly acclaimed fellowship program. Visiting fellows frequently make major contributions to their fields of study based on their research in the collections, enhancing the Center's stature as one of the preeminent institutions for research and learning in the humanities.

The Center awards up to 50 fellowships annually to support scholarly research projects in all areas of the humanities, including literature, photography, art, cultural history, film, music, and the performing arts. Fellows explore a remarkable range of subjects, from writers Lillian Hellman and James Joyce to composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, from the versatile designs of Norman Bel Geddes to the Watergate papers. The fellowships are supported by the generosity of foundations, individual donors, and The University of Texas at Austin. Since 1992, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has played a significant role in supporting the fellowships program, sponsoring more than 50 fellowships each year.

One recent Mellon fellow is Axel Stähler, a lecturer in comparative literary studies at the University of Kent in Canterbury, UK. His research interests include early modern European festival culture and Jewish culture and literature. Stähler's research at the Ransom Center focuses on the British playwright, writer, and poet Arnold Wesker. Stähler originally intended to study Jewish writing in a larger context until he came upon the Wesker collection, which was acquired by the Center in 2000. The author of 36 plays and numerous stories, essays, and poems, Wesker is a leading figure in twentieth-century drama who explored an important and often neglected aspect of British life in his writing—the Jewish working-class experience.

"It was kind of a treasure trove," said Stähler of the hundreds of boxes that contain the Wesker materials.

Listen to Stähler describe his experiences at the Center

In addition to conducting research, the fellows participate in the intellectual life of the campus by presenting readings and interacting with faculty and students.  Frequently, books and journal articles are produced from the fellows' research, leaving an indelible record of their time here. If you are interested in supporting the fellowship program, please contact the Center's Chief Development Officer Lisa Avra at lisaavra@mail.utexas.edu.

The Center gratefully acknowledges the principals of the following endowments and annual sponsors of the Ransom Center fellowship program.

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS), British Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, Henriette F. and Clarence L. Cline Memorial Endowment Fund, Fleur Cowles Endowment, Robert De Niro Endowed Fund, Dorot Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellowships in Jewish Studies, David Douglas Duncan Endowment for Photojournalism, Erle Stanley Gardner Endowment for Mystery Studies, Hobby Family Foundation Endowment, Alfred A. and Blanche W. Knopf Endowment, The Limited Editions Club Endowment, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Fellowship Endowment, Marlene Nathan Meyerson Photography Fellowship Endowment, Cora Maud Oneal Endowment, Carl and Lily Pforzheimer Foundation Curatorial Endowment, Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, Warren Skaaren Film Research Endowment, C. P. Snow Memorial Fund, South Central Modern Language Association (SCMLA), The University of Texas at Austin Office of Graduate Studies, and the Woodward and Bernstein Endowment.

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