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“Future Philology”: New Directions Fellowship

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Assoc. Prof. Chad Wellmon a New Directions Fellowship last month in support of his proposal for a new course of study in the cross-disciplinary field of digital textual analysis. The $177,000 Mellon grant will support the efforts of Wellmon to deepen his understanding of emerging digital archives and how they interact with books and other cultural print archives.

“The aim of my project, ‘Future Philology,’ is twofold,” said Wellmon, an Associate Professor of German Studies, “First, I want to better understand the computational and mathematical basis of digital texts and our emerging digital archive and the possibilities (and constraints) that it affords humanistic inquiry. Second, I want to place this new knowledge within a longer history of philological inquiry, which has consistently refined and reinvented its concepts and practices in the face of technological change. My ultimate goal is to help reinvent an old humanistic practice for our digital age. And there is no better place to do that than UVA, where so many of my colleagues have been working to do just that.”

In his nomination letter for Wellmon, who joined the University of Virginia in 2007, Arts & Sciences Dean Ian Baucom wrote that Wellmon’s “impressive scholarship is advancing our understanding of the rapidly changing digital environment and its affect on the process of how we build knowledge.”

“Assoc. Prof. Wellmon’s proposed course of study in the cross-disciplinary field of digital textual analysis will prepare him to play an important leadership role among scholars committed to and trained in the enduring tradition of philology,” Baucom continued. “As they grapple with the challenges presented by the mining and interpretation of ideas across evolving forms of digital media, Assoc. Prof. Wellmon recognizes the importance of humanities scholars who can work with technically skilled colleagues across disciplines.”

This is the fourth New Directions Fellowship awarded to Arts & Sciences faculty in the last 10 years. The previous Mellon New Directions Fellows were all members of the Corcoran Department of History: Sophia Rosenfeld, Christian W. McMillen and James Loeffler.

Written by Lorenzo Perez and published in UVa Arts and Sciences News.

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