New Fellows to Further Research at the John Hay Library in 2017-2018

The John Hay Library will host two research fellows in the coming academic year, with support from the New England Regional Fellowship Consortium. While at the Hay Library, these scholars, whose projects are described in more detail below, will be using little known materials in the holdings of Special Collections in order to further their scholarly research.

Detail from St. Augustine of Hippo, De Ciuitate Dei (1467), Annmary Brown Memorial Collection 203, John Hay Library, showing printed text with hand applied rubrication and illuminated capitals

Renzo Baldasso, an Assistant Professor in the School of Art at Arizona State University, is currently at work on a study of printers in the early decades of the printing press (1453 to 1503 C.E.) — a period commonly known among historians as the incunabula era.  Baldasso’s research aims to discover how these printers “became masters of the page…to develop an independent print aesthetic” that differed from the aesthetic approaches used to produce the handwritten illuminated manuscript. With expertise in both Renaissance art and the history of science, Baldasso is uniquely qualified to undertake this intensive study of rare volumes. He will be focusing his work at the Hay Library on the 600 incunabula in the Annmary Brown Memorial Collection, for which Richard Noble, the Library’s rare books cataloguer, has been diligently working to enhance existing descriptive information.

Selected pages from the papers of Jean Bethke Elshtain (Ms. 2011.039), Feminist Theory Archive, John Hay Library

Alexander Jacobs, a recent PhD and current postdoctoral lecturer in History at Vanderbilt University, works on “the tangled histories and multiple meanings of liberalism and conservatism in modern American thought and politics” — a topic that formed the nucleus of his 2016 doctoral dissertation, Pessimism and Progress, a study of Conservatism within the political Left. While at the Hay Library, he will be looking at manuscript material in the Feminist Theory Archive, focusing in particular on the papers of Jean Bethke Elshtain.

The New England Regional Fellowship Consortium (NERFC) is a growing body of New England cultural institutions which seek to enhance scholarly access to their collections by offering grants for 8 weeks of study in the holdings of at least three of the participating institutions. The program is competitive and attracts scholars working on a broad range of topics. The John Hay Library, a NERFC member since 2014, has previously hosted fellows working on topics such as the fear of nuclear explosion during the Cold War, 19th century panoramic spectacles, and humor in the gay liberation and feminist movements.