The Curran Fellowships

penny-a-liner press news may 15 1869The Curran Fellowships are a set of travel and research grants intended to aid scholars studying 19th-century British magazines and newspapers in making use of primary print and archival sources. Made possible through the generosity of the late Eileen Curran, Professor Emerita of English, Colby College, and inspired by her pioneering research on Victorian periodicals, the Fellowships are awarded annually.

The Curran Fellowships are open to researchers of any age from any of a wide range of disciplinary perspectives who are exploring the 19th-century British periodical press (including magazines, newspapers, and serial publications of all kinds) as an object of study in its own right, and not only as a source of material for other historical topics. Applicants’ projected research may involve study of any aspects of the periodical press in any of its manifold forms, and may range from within Britain itself to the many countries, within and outside of the Empire, where British magazines and newspapers were bought, sold, and read during “the long nineteenth century” (ca. 1780-1914).

All previous awardees are listed below the guidelines.

Applications open November 15 and are due December 1.

See the current award calendar for all application and recommendation letter deadlines.

Curran Fellowship Application Guidelines

Please note that Officers and Directors of RSVP are prohibited from applying for RSVP grants and fellowships. Please contact RSVP with any questions not addressed below. Download a printable version of these guidelines here.

I. General Information

The Curran Fellowships are research and travel awards intended to support the use of primary sources for the exploration of any aspects of the British periodical press in any of its manifold forms, forms that may range from within Britain itself to the many countries, within and outside of the Empire, where British magazines and newspapers circulated during the “long nineteenth century” (ca. 1780-1914).

The Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) intends to grant at least six Curran Fellowship awards each calendar year.  Applicants may request any amount of support up to $5000; the Curran Fellowships Committee may choose partial funding of successful applications.

The Curran Fellowships are intended to provide a researcher with funds to cover only those expenses directly related to research, such as transportation, lodging, photocopies, scanning, database subscriptions, and the like.  Indirect expenses are not covered.

The fellowship is named for the late Eileen M. Curran (1928-2013), Professor Emerita of English at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. She taught English at Colby from 1958 to 1992, and was a pioneer of periodicals research, serving as associate editor of the Wellesley Index to Victorian Periodicals, Vols. 1-3. A founding member of RSVP, Professor Curran established the Curran Fellowships in 2009, and bequeathed funds to RSVP for their continuance and expansion.  Her vision of the importance of basic research, compellingly presented, animates her namesake competition.

II. Eligibility

The Curran Fellowships are intended to support primary research on the nineteenth-century periodical press: magazines, newspapers, and serial publications of all kinds.  Therefore, eligible projects must engage with primary sources, whether those sources appear in print, manuscript, or digital facsimile.  All else being equal, preference will be given to projects that use or bring to light new or little-known materials about the periodical press.

The fellowship research must begin during the calendar year following the application deadline.

Only one application may be submitted by an individual per deadline.

Only one applicant is permitted per application.  (Those seeking support for collaborative projects should consider the RSVP Field Development Grants.)

Those holding academic appointments as well as graduate students and independent or retired scholars are equally welcome to apply.  An academic degree or affiliation is not required.

Applicants are strongly encouraged, but not required, to become RSVP members.

Applicants may hold grants or fellowships from other organizations concurrent with a Curran Fellowship.  However, a Curran Fellowship winner may not hold other RSVP awards in the same calendar year.

Officers and Directors of RSVP are not eligible to apply.

III.  The Application

All applications must be submitted through the online application portal at  not later than 11:59 p.m. US Pacific time on the deadline listed in the awards calendar.

The application portal will open two weeks before the application deadline, at which time applicants may create an account and begin preparing and submitting their proposals. At the application portal you may start your application and finish submitting it at a later date.

As a courtesy to evaluators, RSVP strongly recommends that applicants prepare their proposals using a readable font, not smaller than 11 point, with margins of at least one inch.  Documents may be single spaced.

An application includes the following components:

  1. An online application form, which collects the following information:
      • Full name
      • Postal address
      • Email address
      • Telephone number
      • Affiliation (if applicable)
      • Proposed period of the fellowship
      • Amount of request (not to exceed $5000)
      • Project title
      • Brief project description (50-75 words)
  1. A c.v. not to exceed two single-spaced pages, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document should include current and past employment; education; recent publications, awards, and honors; and other information relevant to the review of the proposed project.
  2. A narrative proposal not to exceed three single-spaced pages, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document must explain the nature and background of your project, the specific research you intend to do with the support of the Curran funds, the time frame for conducting that research, and how the Curran-enabled research contributes to the goals of the larger project. Be sure to explain how your research will help to advance scholarly understanding of the 19th-century British periodical press more generally. This last is very important. The Curran Fellowships are not intended to support historical or literary research that merely makes some use of Victorian newspapers and magazines as sources, but, rather, to support research that tells us something new about the nature of those publications, their role in the 19th-century literary marketplace, and the people who wrote, illustrated, edited, published, sold, bought, and read them.
  3. A one-page description of the printed and manuscript materials you want to explore, and why, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format.. Be as specific as you can.  For example, if you propose looking at runs of certain periodicals, give specific titles and date-spans for them; likewise, if you want to work in a publisher’s or author’s archive, indicate what kinds of documents there you intend to inspect. Make sure that all the materials you mention will in fact be available to you at the time of your proposed visit.  Make sure that the materials you are proposing to travel to see are not already available to you in microfilm or digital form, or in a repository closer to home. Any archives that you plan to visit with Curran Fellowship assistance need not necessarily be in the UK, as many libraries in other parts of the world have important collections that are of interest to students of Victorian periodicals. If you need to travel to another institution to use an electronic database not available to you locally, or to subscribe to such a resource, please mention that, as well.
  4. The name and email address of one recommender familiar with the proposed project. The recommender will receive an email with a link to upload a recommendation letter directly into the application system. The recommendation letter deadline is listed in the award calendar.  Applicants are responsible for soliciting the letter of recommendation from someone familiar with their project.  The letters should address the evaluation criteria below.  While the absence of a letter of recommendation from an application will not make it ineligible, a letter that arrives late (or not at all) may make an application less competitive.

IV. How Applications will be Evaluated

A group of interdisciplinary evaluators with knowledge of periodicals in the long nineteenth century will use the following criteria to evaluate applications. Applications and letters of recommendation should be crafted with these criteria in mind.

  1. The importance of the project, including its use of materials relevant to deeper understanding of the British periodical press in the nineteenth-century.
  2. The quality of the application, including its clarity of expression.
  3. The applicant’s preparation to pursue the project.
  4. The feasibility of the plan of work and the likelihood that the applicant will be able to bring the entire project to a successful completion in due course.

Evaluators will use the evaluation criteria to identify the best applications.  Final decisions and award amounts (up to $5,000) will be based on the overall budget of the program, an applicant’s specific requested amount, and the justification of that amount as put forward in the plan of work.

Please note that need is not a criterion.

V. Notification and Award Administration

If quality applications are received, RSVP anticipates naming at least six awardees at the end of the competition.

Award notification will take place by email. Awardees must confirm their acceptance of the award within two weeks’ time.

All decisions are final.  Unsuccessful applicants may choose to revise and resubmit their applications in future competitions.

Awards are made directly to individuals but may be paid, upon instruction from an awardee, through the awardee’s employing institution.  Indirect costs are not permitted.

At the conclusion of the grant period, awardees must submit a narrative report describing grant activities and a financial statement describing the use of award funds.  The narrative report may be published on the RSVP website. All publications or other research outputs resulting from fellowship support must include the following acknowledgement: “This publication received support of a Curran Fellowship awarded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals and funded from the bequest of the Eileen Curran estate.”

Although RSVP membership is not required in order to apply for a Curran Fellowship, researchers in this field are encouraged to join RSVP if they have not already done so. Joining RSVP supports the Society in its support of our field, and the people who work in it.

2020 Curran Fellowship Awardees

Recipients of this year’s Curran Fellowships for research in 2020 are listed below (download full abstracts here):

    • Diana Muriel Cooper-Richet (Centre d’histoire culturelle des sociétés contemporaines, Université de Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines), English-Language Periodicals Published in French Provincial Towns (1818-1912)
    • Lydia Craig (Loyola University-Chicago), Female Philanthropic Knitting:  Lady Harriet Scott’s “Grandmother” Patterns in The Queen    
    • Laura Diaz-Esteve (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), The Southeast Asia British Press and the Philippine-American War (1898-1902)
    • Beth Gaskell, The History of Early Regimental Journals
    • Erica Haugtvedt (South Dakota School of Mines & Technology), Transfictional Character and Transmedia Storyworlds in the British Long Nineteenth Century
    • Sofia Huggins (Texas Christian University), Blank Spaces: Global Geographies of Moral Capitalism in the Anti-Slavery Reporter, 1831-1833
    • Haejoo Kim (Syracuse University), Anti-Vaccination Periodicals and the Rise of Lay Medical Agency in Nineteenth-Century Britain
    • Carole O’Reilly (University of Salford), Satirising the City: Civic Humour, Place and Accountability in the Later Nineteenth Century Satirical Press
    • Neil Ramsey (University of New South Wales Canberra), Romantic Era Military Periodicals and the Emotions of War
    • Maryam Sikander (SOAS University of London),  Punch in India: The Transcultural Life of a British Institution
    • Matthew Wale, The Natural History Periodicals of Edward Newman (1801-1876)

Previous Projects and Awardees

Names with links include reports about the progress of research projects undertaken with Curran Fellowship funds. These reports give a fascinating look at some of the exciting developments in the field today.


    • Sarah Ailwood, Literary Copyright and the Periodical Press Law in Colonial Australia
    • Lara Atkin, Migrating Forms: Transculturation and Transnational Imaginaries in Early Anglophone Newspaper Poetry (1820-1860)
    • Alison Hedley, Graphical Thinking: Data Visualization in Popular British Magazines, 1830-1910
    • Gary Hutchison, The Conservative Party and the Scottish Press, 1832-1880
    • Lindsay Janssen, Networks of textual reuse in South-African periodical culture, 1870-1902
    • Annemarie McAllister, Activist writers: Conviction and Career
    • Joellen Masters, How to Travel with Sir Henry Lunn
    • Jennifer Phegley, Magazine Mavericks: Marital Collaborations and the Invention of New Reading Audiences in Mid-Victorian England
    • Isabelle Richet, English-Language Periodicals in Italy: Mapping the Terrain, Identifying the Authors
    • Fionnghuala Sweeney, Fugitive Ground: Black Abolitionists and Irish Periodical Press, 1840-1865
    • Christine Woody, Illness, Disability, and Periodical Production: Printing the Quarterly Review under William Gifford (1809-1824)


    • Elisa Beshero-Bondar on Mary Russell Mitford’s involvement with periodicals
    • John Handel on the evolution of the financial press, 1830s-1880s
    • Claire Landes on Eliza Sharples and Isis
    • Kathryn Ledbetter on Edmund Yates, gossip, and personal journalism
    • Dallas Liddle on technology and agency in British daily journalism, 1785-1885
    • Maire Ni Fhlathuin on poetry in the periodical press of 19th-c British India
    • Beth Palmer on press, page, and stage in the work of Colin Hazelwood and Henry J. Byron
    • Candace Ward on the rise of a free black pan-Caribbean press


    • Susan Cahill (Concordia University)
    • Deborah Canavan (Greenwich University)
    • Anna Gielas (University of St. Andrews)
    • Helena Goodwyn (University of London)
    • Deborah Logan (Western Kentucky University)
    • Lauren Miskin (Southern Methodist University)
    • James Mussell (University of Leeds)
    • Mark Neuendorf (University of Adelaide)
    • Teja Pusapati (Independent)
    • Johanna Seibert (Johannes Gutenberg U.)
    • Thomas Smits (Radboud U.)
    • Clare Stainthorp (University of Birmingham)


    • Molly Youngkin (Loyola Marymount)
    • Lauren Weiss (Stirling)
    • Paul Raphael Rooney (TCD)
    • Jessie Reeder (Binghamton University)
    • Stephan Pigeon (McGill)
    • Anne-Marie Beller (Loughborough)