English Professor Awarded ACLS and Mellon Foundation Fellowship

Daniel Shore, Assistant Professor of English, has been awarded a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) for the period June 1, 2013-January 31, 2014 and a postdoctoral research fellowship from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Folger Library for the period February 1 2014-December 31, 2014, to focus on completing a book project, Cyberformalism: The History of Syntactic Forms in the Digital Archive, which is under contract with Johns Hopkins University Press.

A scholar of Renaissance literature, Shore’s book uses searchable digital archives to trace the history of syntactic forms, the forms that order and structure the verbal content of sentences. Like words and concepts, syntactic forms shape not just sentences, but also the way we live together, make choices, and understand our world. One chapter, for example, argues that in the seventeenth-century English preachers and theologians first began to write about imitating Christ using the conditional mood, challenging Christians to do not as Christ “did” but rather as he “would do,” bridging the historical gap between believers and the exemplary life of their savior.

While humanities scholars have produced countless histories of words and concepts as well as social and cultural contexts, Shore aims to add a previously overlooked object of study to this repertoire. Only with the recent development of large-scale, searchable digital archives like Google Books and Early English Books Online has it become possible to track the genesis, diffusion, and variation of syntactic forms across the full sweep of the textual past.

Because Cyberformalism aims both to establish a new object of philological inquiry and to reflect on the technologies and new media practices that are the conditions of such inquiry, says Shore, the project will speak to an unusually broad audience of humanities scholars.

Shore is one of 65 award recipients selected from a pool of 1,121 eligible applications for the ACLS competition.