In partnership with Penn State’s Africana Research Center, the Richards Center established a competitive, one-year postdoctoral fellowship in 2012. The fellowship rewards recently graduated Ph.D.s studying aspects of the African American experience from slavery to Civil Rights.
Beginning in 2020, Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts, Department of History, and the Richards Center will host a second Center-sponsored postdoctoral fellowship (in addition to our joint RCWEC/ARC fellowship). The fellowship rewards recently graduated Ph.D.s studying aspects of the Civil War Era, particularly focusing on slavery and emancipation.
Both fellowships are one year with the possibility of renewal for a second year. While in residence, the fellows have access to the Center’s professional resources, receive guidance from a mentor, and participate in a series of professional development workshops. The fellows will present their research to the graduate community and will invite senior scholars in their field to the university to review and comment on their work.
Application and Submission Process: (positions have been filled; please check back in the fall for new opportunities)
Postdoctoral Scholar, African American History
The Richards Center and the Africana Research Center invite applications for a postdoctoral scholar in African American history, beginning July 1, 2022. This is a one-year position, with the possibility of renewal. All research interests spanning the origins of slavery through the Civil Rights movement will receive favorable consideration. Proposals that align with the Richards Center’s interests in slavery, abolition, and emancipation, as well as comparative or Atlantic history, are especially welcome. During their residency, the scholar will have no teaching or administrative responsibilities. They will be matched with a mentor, attend professional development sessions and other relevant events, and will be expected to take an active part in Penn State’s community of researchers. The fellow also will invite two senior scholars to campus to read and comment on their project.
Postdoctoral Scholar, Civil War Era
The Richards Civil War Era Center, in conjunction with the Department of History and the College of Liberal Arts, invites applications for a postdoctoral scholar in the history of the Civil War Era, beginning July 1, 2022. This is a one-year position, with the possibility of renewal. All research interests spanning the pre-war period through Reconstruction will receive favorable consideration. Proposals that align with the Richards Center’s interests in slavery, abolition, and emancipation are especially welcome. During their residency, the scholar will have no teaching or administrative responsibilities. They will be matched with a mentor, attend professional development sessions and other relevant events, and will be expected to take an active part in Penn State’s community of researchers. The fellow also will invite two senior scholars to campus to read and comment on their project.
2021-22 Postdoctoral Scholars
Maryam Aziz (they/them) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Richards Center and the Africana Research Center at Pennsylvania State University. Aziz received a Ph.D. in American Culture from the University of Michigan in 2020. Aziz also holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in African American Studies from Columbia University. Aziz’s first book asks how folks who practiced unarmed self-defense contributed to Black Power organizing and shifting ideas about liberation, abolition, and gender norms. It also traces how the learning of martial arts was facilitated by U.S. militarism during the Cold War. Aziz’s work was showcased in the 2017-2018 exhibit Black Power! at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, for which Aziz was a contributing writer and a curator for the sections on popular culture and blaxploitation film. Aziz currently serves as the current Assistant Coordinator for the American Studies Association’s Sports Studies Caucus as well as the Co-Director for the Schomburg Mellon Humanities Summer-Institute. As a scholar activist, Aziz regularly teaches radically inclusive self-defense classes in person and now virtually. They have written for the “Made by History” section at the Washington Post. Further insight into their work can be seen in publications such as Teen Vogue and Mic or heard in Podcasts such as Burn It All Down.
Mycah Conner received her PhD in History from Harvard. She specializes in the history of slavery, emancipation, the Civil War, and Reconstruction. Her dissertation, “‘On this Bare Ground’: The Ordeal of Freedpeople’s Camps and the Making of Emancipation in the Civil War West,” is a history of the battles for freedom and self-determination in the Western and upper Trans-Mississippi Theaters of the war, which interprets emancipation with the West as its starting point. It examines sites of existential struggle, betrayal, death-dealing, confiscation, and dispossession. But centrally, it is a study of the freedpeople’s defenses of their futures, their children, and other kin—in the face of cupidity, indifference, and bold and innovative cruelty. Mycah holds broader interests in social histories of the South, the Midwest, and the ways in which a westward shift of focus can change generalities and conventional metaphors in histories of emancipation and subsequent freedom struggles. As a Richards Center fellow, Mycah will be turning her dissertation into a book manuscript and beginning a second project on the lives of ageing or elderly freedpeople in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Her work has been supported by the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History and the Mellon-Sawyer Seminar on the Politics of Kinship at Tufts University. In 2011, Mycah graduated from Columbia University in the City of New York with an A.B. in History. She earned her A.M. in History at Harvard in 2014. She’s originally from mid-Michigan.
Kellen Heniford received her PhD in US History from Columbia University, where she completed her dissertation entitled “Slavery is Slavery: Early American Mythmaking and the Invention of the Free State.” Her project looks at the concept of the “free state” as a political construct with a history of its own, arguing that policymakers along the borders of slavery and freedom helped create the category of the free state and then sought to claim it—despite the persistence of chattel slavery within their states—in a bid for the moral capital the concept offered them. During her time at the Richards Center, Kellen will work to prepare her dissertation for publication as a book manuscript. An article based on her research for the dissertation is forthcoming in the Journal of the Early Republic. She has published on history and politics in a number of other outlets, including Insurrect!: Radical Thinking in Early American Studies, where she also serves as a founding editor. At Columbia, she received the Richard Hofstadter Fellowship, the highest honor conferred upon an entering graduate student, and before beginning graduate school, she graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University with a degree in History and African American Studies. Kellen’s research has been supported by the McNeil Center for Early American Studies as well as the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.
Postdoctoral Fellowship Funding
These postdoctoral fellowships are made possible by the generous support of Steven and Janice Brose, Robert and Bonnie Hammel, Lewis and Karen Gold, Ted and Tracy Winfree McCourtney, Mark and Ann Persun, Howell and Sandy Rosenberg, and Alice Schmidt. The fellowships significantly enhance the Center’s position as a national leader in advancing innovative scholarship in the Civil War era. Focused on African American history, these fellowships promote research in a traditionally under-studied aspect of the history of this period.