IPRH–Andrew W. Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Legal Humanities

The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities, supported by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to hire two Post-Doctoral Fellows for two-year appointments commencing Fall 2020.

Legal humanities examines how the law, society, culture, politics, and economy are mutually constituted. It thus draws from a range of methodologies, including those dealing with representation (e.g., literary, cultural, and performance studies), history, and sociological perspectives. Legal humanities understands the law as both reflecting and actively influencing societal values, aspirations, anxieties, biases, and notions of justice, examining how law constitutes and shapes the social world in which it is embedded.

Each IPRH-Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellow in Legal Humanities will spend the two-year term in residence at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and will participate in all activities of the Mellon Legal Humanities research group, as led by the IPRH–Mellon Faculty Fellow in Legal Humanities, Professor A. Naomi Paik. The Fellows will pursue an individual research project in an area of the legal humanities; participate in a seminar and programs focused on the methods and challenges of interdisciplinary work in the legal humanities; work together on a collaborative, public-facing project in the field; and work with the research group to develop a Legal Humanities curriculum. Each fellow will be required to teach one of the courses developed in the second year of the fellowship term.

This search for Mellon Fellows is open to scholars in all humanities disciplines, including the humanities-inflected social sciences, whose research and teaching interests lie in the area of Legal Humanities. Special consideration will be given to scholars whose scholarship centers social justice, community engagement, and activist organizing. Areas of interest include, but are not limited to racial, im/migrant, and/or gender justice; human rights; housing and built environments; environmental justice; Indigenous sovereignty; anti-imperial resistance; and similar issues.


Applicants should have received their Ph.D. in a humanities discipline between January 1, 2017 and no later than July 31, 2020. Only untenured scholars who have not held the title of “assistant professor” are eligible (visiting, non-tenure-line assistant professors are eligible); lecturers with indefinite appointments that renew (rather than terminate after a fixed term) are ineligible. PhDs are the only terminal degree accepted. Please note that these are external fellowships; current full- and part-time faculty members at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as scholars who received their doctorates from the Urbana campus, are not eligible for these awards. Scholars who cannot legitimately anticipate the conferral of their degrees by July 31, 2020, should not apply.


The appointment will begin on August 16, 2020, and the successful applicants must be on the Illinois campus by that date for employment processing and orientation. The Post-Doctoral Fellows will be required to live within 20 miles of Champaign-Urbana during the academic years of the appointment.

The fellowship carries a $58,350 annual stipend, a $5,000 research account, a modest moving allowance, and a comprehensive benefits package. (Foreign nationals’ benefits eligibility is contingent upon meeting a “Substantial Presence Test,” as determined by IRS rules.) The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer.

Application Guidelines

Applications must be submitted online at the application portal.

Applicants will be asked to create a password-protected account, to which they can return multiple times. The application system opens September 1, 2019 (and will not be accessible before then). No paper or emailed applications will be accepted. The application portal closes at 11:59 p.m. U.S. Central Time on October 21, 2019. All materials, including letters of reference, must be submitted by that time. As IPRH staff will not be available for any trouble-shooting assistance after 5:00 p.m., applicants are strongly urged to submit their applications well prior to the close of business on October 21 (by 4:30 p.m. Central Time). Please be certain that you clicked through to reach the final section of the application system and clicked “submit” to actively complete and submit your application (simply uploading all your documents will not suffice to submit your application).

In addition to completing the online application form, applicants must upload the following application materials through the online system:


  • A one-page abstract, with current project title (250–300 words). Note that the project title may often not be the same as the dissertation title. The title should be for the research project the applicant will undertake during the course of the fellowship.
  • A detailed narrative statement (2,000 words) describing the research project the applicant will undertake during the term of the fellowship. The narrative statement should describe how the proposed project emerges from the applicant’s prior work and should
    • provide a clear articulation of the applicant’s research question;
    • explain how the applicant’s research project engages or advances key conversations in the legal humanities;
    • explain the applicant’s enthusiasm for the specific opportunities of this fellowship—including joining a seminar comprised of post-docs, dissertation fellows, and undergraduate interns, and collaborating on collective research and programming;
    • briefly explain how the applicant might utilize and collaborate with the specific resources of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to advance their work and the work of the seminar.
    Please upload the narrative under “research statement.”
  • A curriculum vitae (maximum 10 pages).
  • Three (3) letters of recommendation to be uploaded by the applicant’s referees. If the applicant’s degree has not been conferred at the time of application, one of these letters must be from the dissertation advisor, who should cover in some detail the candidate’s progress toward and likelihood of PhD degree conferral by July 31, 2020. Please note that this means not simply defense or even deposit of the dissertation but that the applicant’s degree has been awarded by then.
  • In general, the letters of recommendation should come from senior colleagues who are familiar with the applicant’s work and the proposal being made for the fellowship. Letters must address the specifics of the project being proposed for the fellowship, the applicant’s research and teaching skills, and the contributions the proposed project would make to the broader scholarly community. (Only three letters will be accepted.) Because the letters must address the specifics of the proposal and the position being sought, we strongly discourage applicants from sending general dossier files.

We recommend entering your recommenders’ names and emails early in the online application process. The application system will generate an email request for letters of recommendation to those referees whose names and emails you submit, and the email will provide a link to the recipient for uploading the letter. Please note that you must enter your personal contact information in that section first before you can proceed to entering references information. Once this information is entered (and one clicks “continue” at the close of the reference-letter section), the designated referees should receive an email requesting their letters and containing a unique link at which they may be uploaded. Reference letters must be submitted via this link. Please be aware that these links expire with the fellowship application deadline; therefore, entering letter requests at the eleventh hour may result in an incomplete application at the time of the deadline. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please maintain communication with referees to ensure they have received the emails with uploading links and are aware of the deadline. Referees should check their junk and spam email folders for letter requests that may have landed there. Please do not have the referees (or dossier service) email reference letters directly to IPRH. The letters should be uploaded at the link provided in the email sent to the referee/dossier service by the application system.

Please note: Applicants choosing to use a dossier service, such as Interfolio, should allow ample time for the service to upload the reference letters to their applications. Requests are not automatic in this case and can take several business days to process. Last-minute requests to dossier services will likely result in incomplete applications, which will not be considered. It is the responsibility of the applicants to familiarize themselves with the dossier service’s policies and procedures, and to allow ample time for the uploading of their reference letters. (Typically, the email address one should enter for a referee in the application system in order to have his or her appropriate Interfolio dossier letter uploaded to one’s application involves entering something similar in form to “send.name.alphanumericindentifier@interfolio.com.”)

Applications for which all three letters of recommendation have not been uploaded by 11:59 p.m. Central Time on October 21 will be deemed incomplete and will not be considered.


Online applications must be complete and actively submitted, including all letters of support uploaded by referees, by 11:59 p.m. on October 21, 2019, after which the application portal closes. All applications must be submitted via the application portal.. Deadline extensions will not be granted. The review committee will consider only complete applications. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that all documentation is complete, and that referees submit their letters before the deadline.


All applications will be acknowledged via e-mail, and all applicants will be notified when the search has concluded. Please do not contact IPRH about the status of an application. Because of the volume of applications IPRH receives, we are unable to answer questions about individual applications, including whether the proposed research project to be undertaken fits the subject rubric of the competition. The latter will be adjudicated by the selection committee.

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Visit the application system to create an account. The system opens September 1, 2019.

Questions about these fellowships may be addressed to Dr. Nancy Castro, Deputy Director of IPRH, at ncastro@illinois.edu or (217) 244-7913.

Application Deadline:
October 21, 2019