Michael Bennett, Kaye McLelland and Aislinn Muller share with us their experiences of, and advice for, applying to the SRS Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme.
I was awarded the postdoctoral fellowship to research the intersection of Catholic material culture and political engagement in post-Reformation England, ca 1570-1660. Specifically, my research examines the production, circulation, and distribution of sacred devotional objects, considering these processes as acts of subversion to English Protestant regimes in and of themselves, as well as the various ways in which Catholics employed sacred objects to express dissent.
When applying for the SRS Fellowship I adapted a research proposal that I had been working on for some time, which was for a larger project intended to examine the relationship between Catholic material culture and political engagement over a longer period, extending into the late eighteenth century. In my application to the SRS I outlined the specific part of this project that I hoped to complete during the fellowship year, and what stages of research I had already completed. Because the SRS Fellowship is only one year, I had to be realistic about what I expected to be able to produce by the end of it. This will be different for every discipline, but it is particularly important to consider with a fellowship of this duration.
Another point I tried to highlight in my application was the implications of my research for the broader field of Renaissance Studies, beyond the English Catholic history in which my research is grounded. While I did situate my work in relation to other studies of post-Reformation English Catholicism, I also connected my proposal to other scholarship on religious materiality, political culture, and dissent in early modern Europe, and offered some suggestions for how my research might contribute to these fields. The fellowship selection committee is usually made up of scholars from different disciplines (history, literature, music, theology, etc.), so it is helpful to speak about how your work will resonate beyond the confines of your specific subject area.