Every spring, five to eight of Washington University’s most promising and talented sophomore scholars are admitted into the Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship, named in honor of one of our most influential and inspirational leaders.
Potential Kling Fellows are Arts and Sciences undergraduates who seek opportunities to engage in serious independent research in the humanities and/or the humanistic social sciences, with an interest in pursuing further graduate work in one of these areas. They apply early in the spring semester of their sophomore year and are selected before Spring Break.
Each Kling Fellow identifies a humanities-oriented research project, which often changes over time, and works with the Center for the Humanities to select a faculty mentor for guidance in his or her discipline and to request research funding. Kling Fellows meet weekly in an interdisciplinary seminar where they present drafts of their work, peer-review one another’s writing, read and think about the role of the humanities in university life, and occasionally get off campus to see humanities research in action around the St. Louis metro area. During the summers, Kling research continues, with many Fellows drawing on their research funds for everything from language study to ethnographic interviews to archival discovery. Kling Fellows are also encouraged to present their research at conferences and symposia, both on and off campus.
Over the course of two academic years, each Kling Fellow will write up his or her research findings in either a scholarly article or a long-form piece of creative nonfiction: both will be published in the annual Kling journal, Slideshow. Fellows are also encouraged to use their Kling research to get a head start on honors work in their major departments. At the same time, Kling Fellows are an important part of the Center for the Humanities, where they meet each semester’s cohort of faculty and graduate-student fellows, select an outside speaker to invite for a public lecture each year, and provide undergraduate representation on the center’s advisory board.
The Kling Fellowship Program aims to introduce students to the life of the mind, to show students what it is like to do research, and to excite gifted undergraduates about the possibilities of pursuing a graduate degree. Yet, the benefits of the Fellowship go beyond an individual’s interests and aspirations. The Kling Fellowship creates a community of scholars who come together and engage with one another’s research across disciplines. The program promotes fellowship in its truest form: a community of motivated intellectuals, brought together to facilitate discovery and collaboration.
The Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship Program is now entering its eleventh year. Jean Allman, J.H. Hexter Professor in the Humanities and director of the Center for the Humanities, serves as the faculty director of the Kling Fellowship. Wendy Love Anderson, the center’s academic coordinator, co-teaches the seminar and administers the Kling Fellowship Program. For more information about the application process, visit the Kling Application Process page or contact Dr. Anderson at 314-935-9523 or firstname.lastname@example.org.