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RSA Fellowships

Research fellowships for members of the
Renaissance Society of America


Application deadline: 15 September 2018.

The submission website is closed.

 

The Society awards a number of competitive fellowships to members each year supporting individual research projects and publications that advance scholarly knowledge about the period 1300-1700. The purpose of the fellowships, both residential and non-residential, is to support members who need to travel to archives, libraries, and historic sites to conduct short-term research (usually 1–2 months), and then to publish their results for the scholarly community and the general public. Even in the digital age, there still exists a need to view original manuscripts and early printed books as well as to view works of art and architecture in situ. Fellowships are made possible by donations from RSA members, and grants from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation and The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation.

All RSA members are eligible to apply; all fellowships are open to members from any country. (Some fellowships are restricted by field or require ABD status or the Ph.D.) The deadline for submitting applications for the current cycle is 15 September 2018.

The fellowships

RSA residential fellowships for scholars in all disciplines

Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowships for Art Historians

RSA research fellowships

Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships in Renaissance Art History

Application guidelines

General guidelines for residential fellowships

Model proposals

Testimonials from past winners

Webinar recording

Career stage categories

Selection criteria

Application and award timeline

Research fellowship award statistics

Frequently asked questions

Past winners


The fellowships

RSA offers two types of research fellowships: residential fellowships supporting one or two months of research at one of the institutions with which RSA has a partnership agreement and short-term research fellowships that may be used to support research at the collection or collections of the applicant's choice.

Starting with the 2019 cycle, applicants must apply for either a residential fellowship OR a short-term non-residential research fellowship; they may not apply to both categories. The residential fellowships include the six RSA fellowships available to all applicants, and the nine Samuel H. Kress Short-term Research Library fellowships available only to art historians. The eighteen research fellowships, including the five Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships in Art History, support research at any location but may be restricted by field.

Those who have received an RSA fellowship in the past will not be considered for further fellowships for three years after the award and will not be considered for further fellowships for the same project. Applicants will win at most one fellowship per year; RSA does not give multiple awards to the same individual in a single year.

All applicants must be current RSA members. If an applicant is not a current member, they should either join RSA or renew their membership before applying for a fellowship. As of June 2018, RSA memberships last for a full twelve months from the start date or time of renewal.

Successful applicants must agree to complete the proposed research by 30 June 2020 and submit to RSA a brief report indicating the accomplishments of the fellowship within one month of returning from the research trip.


RSA residential fellowships for scholars in all disciplines

RSA expects to award one residential fellowship to a scholar in any discipline at each of the following six host institutions. Applicants should apply for one RSA residential fellowship per year, but may list an alternate location if desired. For more information about application requirements specific to the host institution and details about the highlights of the collections and residency please click on the name of the fellowship. The RSA reserves the right to not award a residential fellowship if the Fellowship Committee finds no qualified applicant(s). Please note that for the 2019 cycle RSA-Folger fellowships must be completed by December 2019.

Name Stipend Duration Eligibility Host
The RSA–Bodleian Library Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All Bodleian Library, Oxford University, UK
The RSA–Patricia H. Labalme Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All Centro Vittore Branca at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy
The RSA–Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month PhD Centre for Reformation & Renaissance Studies, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The RSA-Folger Fellowship $5,000 up to 2 months PhD Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
The RSA-Newberry Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month ABD or PhD Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
The RSA-Huntington Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month ABD or PhD Huntington Library, San Marino, CA

Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowships for Art Historians

Thanks to a generous grant from the Kress Foundation, RSA will award one Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowship to an art historian at each of the following nine host institutions. Applicants should apply for one Samuel H. Kress Short-Term Research Library Fellowship per year, but may list an alternate location if desired. For more information about application requirements specific to the host institution and details about the highlights of the collections and residency please click on the name of the fellowship. Please note that for the 2019 cycle RSA-Folger Kress fellowships must be completed by December 2019.

Name Stipend Duration Eligibility Host
The RSA–Kress Bodleian Library Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians Bodleian Library, Oxford University, UK
The RSA–Kress Centro Vittore Branca Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians Centro Vittore Branca at Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, Italy
The RSA–Kress Centre for Reformation and Renaissance Studies (CRRS) Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month PhD in art history Centre for Reformation & Renaissance Studies, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
The RSA–Kress Folger Fellowship $5,000 up to 2 months PhD in art history Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC
The RSA–Kress Newberry Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month ABD or PhD in art history Newberry Library, Chicago, IL
The RSA–Kress Huntington Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month ABD or PhD in art history Huntington Library, San Marino, CA
The RSA–Kress New York Public Library Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians New York Public Library, New York, NY
The RSA–Kress Beinecke Library Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University, CT
The RSA–Kress UCLA Library Fellowship $3,000/$4,000 1 month All art historians University of California Los Angeles, Special Collections, Los Angeles, CA

RSA research fellowships

The Renaissance Society of America will award up to thirteen RSA research fellowships in amounts of $3,000 for research travel. All applicants for a Short-Term Research Fellowship are automatically considered for the Kristeller Fellowship, and may indicate if they also wish to be considered for the Palisca and Pedretti Fellowships, if eligible. For more information about application requirements please click on the name of the fellowship.

Name Maximum Award Number of fellowships Eligibility
Paul Oskar Kristeller Fellowship $3,000 3 All
RSA Short-Term Research Fellowship $3,000 8 All. These are usually divided evenly between Senior, Junior, and Non-doctoral scholars.
Claude V. Palisca Fellowship in Musicology $3,000 1 Musicology
The Pedretti Fellowship $3,000 1 Leonardo da Vinci Studies


Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships in Art History

Thanks to a generous grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, RSA will award up to five Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships of $3,000 each. These fellowships are intended especially to support the costs of publication in the history of art, but in some cases may be awarded for research travel costs for art history projects.

Name Maximum Award Number of fellowships Eligibility Notes
RSA-Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Research and Publication Fellowships $3,000 5 PhD, Art History, mid-career Primarily to subsidize publication costs; occasionally awarded for research.


Application guidelines (click for a description)

All application materials must be written in English. Letters of recommendation are not required and are not accepted by the proposal submission software.

Applicants for all fellowships submit the following:

  • Project description
  • Curriculum vitae

Applicants for residential fellowships submit the following:

  • Project description
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Relevance of collection to project

General guidelines for residential fellowships:

  1. The research proposal must be relevant to specific library collections and should indicate primary collection resources that are relevant to it.
  2. The fellowship must be used for full-time onsite research during the period of residency at the specific library, working in its collection.
  3. The residency must end on or before 30 June of the following year and may not be subdivided into more than one continuous period of residency at the library.

Model proposals

Beginning in the 2015 fellowship cycle, we posted several examples of successful application essays, as well as excerpts of the evaluations provided by the Fellowships Committee. These examples are only intended to be representative; they are not to be slavishly imitated, nor do they provide a proven formula for success.

Please note that we no longer require a budget.


Testimonials from past winners

For information on how past winners used their RSA Fellowships please see here.


Webinar recording

Follow this link to view the recording of our fellowships webinar, which took place Thursday, 20 November 2014. To view the video you will need to enter your email and name; the fellowships committee will not see that information. Please note that Kress applicants do need to be Art Historians.


Research fellowship award statistics

2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Total Fellowships Available 16 18 18 22 24 33 33 34 33
Total Applicants 83 68 98 101 134 146 173 254 258
% winning applications 19% 26% 18% 22% 18% 19% 16% 13% 13%

 

About a third of applications are typically for residential fellowships while the rest are for research fellowships. In previous years, the Bodleian and the Cini Foundation residential fellowships consistently received a significantly higher number of applications while other residential fellowships received fewer applications, particularly for the RSA-Kress grant in Art History.

Career stage categories


  • These awards will support doctoral candidates, pre-university teachers, and other applicants who do not have doctorates.


  • These awards will support assistant professors; associate professors in the first two years of appointment at that rank; temporary, adjunct, and/or part-time professors; and junior independent scholars holding a PhD.


  • These awards will support associate professors with more than two years at that rank, full professors, retired professors, and senior independent scholars.


Selection criteria

The RSA Executive Board will appoint a Fellowships Committee drawn from different disciplines within Renaissance studies. Applications will be evaluated using the following criteria:

  1. The scholarly quality of the proposal (scope, theoretical framework, and grounding in the relevant scholarly literature) and the project’s potential to make a significant and original contribution to knowledge about the Renaissance.
  2. The scholarly record and achievements of the applicant.
  3. The demonstrated need for access to research materials and the feasibility of accomplishing this research in the given time frame; or, in the case of Samuel H. Kress Mid-Career Publication Fellowships only, the worthiness of the project for publication support.

The Fellowships Committee reserves the right to award fewer or more fellowships in any one category, depending on the nature and size of the pool of applications.


Application and award timeline

  • 15 September: applications due
  • By 28 February 2019: all winners notified
  • By 30 June 2020: winners expected to complete research trip, publication-related spending (for publication subventions only), or residency

Frequently asked questions


  • Yes. All applicants must be current RSA members. If an applicant is not a current member, they should either join RSA or renew their membership before applying for a fellowship. As of June 2018, RSA memberships last for a full twelve months from the start date or time of renewal.


  • You can review your dues payments by signing in to the RSA website and going to Membership Info. It indicates what date your membership is current through and you will see a list of all dues payments in the list of transactions.


  • No, RSA does not accept applications in languages other than English.


  • Please choose the rank that best describes your current professional status. We understand that the terminology may not precisely match.


  • Applicants may apply for up to two different locations for residential fellowships each year. Indicate the residential fellowships for which you wish to apply by indicating a primary location and an alternate location; make sure that your application describes the rationale for each location. Starting in the 2019 cycle, you may not apply to more than one type of fellowship, i.e., to a residential fellowship and a research fellowship.


  • To include this material, please incorporate it into your project description, as quoted extracts or otherwise as you see fit. The application does not allow additional uploads other than your CV.


  • We no longer require a budget in the application materials. Research Fellowship winners are awarded a flat stipend of $3,000. Residential Fellowship winners are awarded a flat stipend based on the extent of their travel: those winners traveling within the same continent are awarded $3,000 while those traveling to another continent are given $4,000. For the purposes of the RSA Fellowship Program, the UK is considered part of Europe.


  • We do not accept recommendation letters.


  • The RSA research grants are competitive, but less competitive than some others (e.g., NEH Summer Stipends). There is no precise formula to determine your chance of winning a fellowship, as each year there is a different applicant pool, and a different Fellowships Committee. See the table above for statistics on recent numbers of applications and winners.


  • It is true that projects in art history, history, and literature have received a majority of fellowships in previous years, but it is also true that a majority of RSA members conduct research in those areas. Projects pertaining to Italy have received a disproportionate share of fellowships in recent years, but the Fellowships Committee usually receives more proposals for Italy than for other geographic areas.


  • Yes. The Fellowships Committee looks for a balance between graduate students, junior scholars, and senior scholars when making awards, but there is no precise formula for distribution of awards. The fellowships go to the strongest proposals each year; in 2016 75% of fellowships went to non-doctoral and junior scholars.


  • Yes. Scholars at liberal arts colleges or community colleges, and independent scholars, are encouraged to apply, and do regularly win research fellowships.


  • A good proposal makes a clear, concise, and cogent argument for the significance and viability of the project. It should briefly address the historiography, to show that the applicant is aware of previous work in the area, and explain how the proposed work will enhance scholarship in Renaissance studies. It should demonstrate familiarity with the sources to be studied. It is not necessary to explain when/where the work will be published, though that information should be included if available.


  • Members can live or work in any country. The research can be conducted in any country.


  • No. You can win only one RSA fellowship in a calendar year. The RSA fellowship can be combined with fellowships from other institutions, although not for identical expenses on an identical project at an identical time (i.e., no double-dipping). Starting in the 2019 cycle, fellowship winners may not apply for another fellowship for three years after their successful application. If you won a fellowship in the last three years you may not apply again this year.


  • Some applicants apply past the deadline; some applicants previously won an RSA fellowship to fund research on the same project; some applicants are not members when they apply.


  • The Fellowships Chair is nominated for a three-year term by the RSA Selection Committee and elected by the RSA membership. The Fellowships Chair, in consultation with the RSA office, selects from the RSA membership the other members of the Fellowships Committee each year for two-year terms, seeking senior scholars who will cover a range of disciplines and geographical areas. The full committee is then approved by the RSA Executive Board. All members of the Fellowships Committee are volunteers. The Fellowships Chair is a member of the RSA Board; the identity of members on the Fellowships Committee is revealed at the annual meeting after the selection process has been completed for that year.


  • Yes. Beginning with the 2015 fellowship cycle, we posted several examples of successful application essays, as well as excerpts of the evaluations provided by the Fellowships committee. These examples are only intended to be representative; they are not to be slavishly imitated, nor do they provide a proven formula for success. Please note that a budget is no longer required.


  • RSA anticipates that fellowship winners will be contacted by late February. Upon confirming with all winners, notices will be sent to all applicants who did not receive funding.


  • You should plan to use the award by 31 December 2019 (30 June 2020 for residential fellowship winners). If you need to conduct the research or complete the publication preparations after the deadline please contact the RSA office to request an extension. For the 2019 cycle, please note that the RSA-Folger Residential Fellowships requires that the residency be taken June–December 2019, owing to substantial renovations of the building beginning in January 2020.


  • Before receiving the award check you will need to return a copy of a signed agreement that sets out the rules for fellowship money use, timeline for fellowship completion, and the process of filing a report after the research has been completed. After the conclusion of the research, no more than one month after your return, you should prepare a report that includes a narrative description of the accomplishments of the fellowship.


  • Funds usually arrive within one month of the RSA office receiving a signed agreement form from the fellowship winner. This means that winners should usually have their checks in hand by 31 March.


Past Winners

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