Cogut Institute for the Humanities
Center for the Study of the Early Modern World

Hay Library Fellowship in Early Modern Studies

The fellowship supports curricular and research activities that engage with the John Hay Library's collections and promote collaboration between scholars of the early modern period and the library.

The John Hay Library and the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World are, in most years, jointly able to host one Interdisciplinary Opportunities fellow annually.

Applicants are invited to propose an undergraduate course, exhibition, curatorial project, conference, or symposium that engage with the John Hay Library's collections and will promote collaboration between scholars of the early modern period and the library. The fellow will be on a TA-ship or proctorship for one semester and a fellowship for the other semester. The fellow will be expected to participate actively in the scholarly culture of the John Hay Library and the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World, and will interact with a mentor in their field as well as the director of the John Hay Library.

The John Hay Library, comprising the Special Collections unit of the Brown University Library, contains some 400,000 monographs; 1,000,000 manuscripts; 500,000 pieces of sheet music; and 60,000 each of broadsides, photographs, prints, and postage stamps. While especially robust in the areas of the history of science and military iconography, it features unique materials and objects related to a diverse range of pertinent topics in the history of the Early Modern world, including art and architecture, Asian studies, Islamic studies, popular performance (especially theatre, fairs, fireworks and magicana), book arts, early printed books, children’s literature, history of medicine, printing and publishing history, caricature, military history, festival books, and the occult. For more information on these and other pertinent Special Collections, visit the website of the John Hay Library.

Above, banner image: J.W.P. Jenks with his taxidermy students, 1875. Four years earlier, John Whipple Potter Jenks had founded Brown’s Museum of Natural History, whose collections were mostly lost in the first half of the 20th century. Photo credit: John Hay Library and Brown University Archives. 


Applications will be accepted from fifth and sixth-year graduate students in any discipline of the humanities or social sciences whose dissertation topics deal with the early modern era (roughly 1300-1900). Fellows will be selected based on the quality of their research and the strength of the proposed project, which should contribute to the interdisciplinary efforts of the Center for the Study of the Early Modern World and the John Hay Library, and feature materials from the John Hay Library.


The 2022-23 application cycle is closed.

Applications for Interdisciplinary Opportunities are submitted to the Graduate School through Ufunds. In addition, applicants should submit a C.V. and a two-page (double-spaced) description of their project along with a bibliography of materials to be engaged with at the Hay. Before submission, applicants should discuss their ideas for this fellowship with a faculty advisor and the Hay Library staff member responsible for overseeing the fellowship, and they will aid in crafting a proposal.


  • Kenneth Molloy

    Kenneth Molloy

    2020-21 Hay Library Fellow in Early Modern Studies, Doctoral Student in Theater Arts and Performance Studies

    Kenneth Molloy is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Theater Arts and Performance Studies. His dissertation brings pre- and early-modern Islamic theories of performance into engagement with problems of ontology and epistemology in contemporary performance studies, with a focus on comparative concepts of screenality and cosmological readings of shadow and puppet theater in Arabic and Persian materials.

  • Ali Madani

    Ali Madani

    2019–20 Hay Library Fellow in Early Modern Studies, Doctoral Student in English
    Research interests Early Modern English Literature, Historiography, Poetics, Genre Studies, Shakespeare

    Ali John Madani’s dissertation, “Questionable Histories and the Aesthetics of Historiography from Shakespeare to Milton,” examines the appearance of some unstable historical objects and narratives in the cultural production of early modern England. The project seeks to articulate the shifting relations between the (in their modern forms) inchoate categories of the “historical” and the “literary” in borderline cases — chronicle giants, genres of stage drama, universal histories — as material shuttles back and forth between the emergent poles.

  • Zoe Langer

    Zoe Langer

    2017-18 Hay Library Fellow in Early Modern Studies, Ph.D. '19 Italian Studies
    Research Interests medieval poetry, history of authorship and reading, early modern book illustration, literature and cartography

    Zoe Langer completed her dissertation, "Dante's Printed Afterlives: Authorship, Authority, and the Early Modern Book (1500–1800)," in the Italian Studies Department in 2019. Drawing on the disciplines of book history, visual studies, and reception theory, her dissertation shows how the poem’s visual presentation in printed editions yields new insights into the history of reading the Commedia in early modern Europe. From 2017 to 2018 she was the curatorial fellow at the John Hay Special Collections Library where she curated the exhibition  “The Poetry of Science: Dante’s Comedy and the Crafting of a Cosmos." Langer completed her B.A. in Art History at the University of California, Berkeley and received her M.Phil. in Literature at the University of Cambridge. She has been awarded fellowships from the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, the Bibliographical Society of America, the Medici Archive Project, and the UCLA Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Herzog August Bibliothek in Wolfenbuttel, Germany.