The Linda H. Peterson Fellowship

The Linda H. Peterson Fellowship was named after the widely influential Yale professor and longtime RSVP Board member and Vice President, and created with funds from a generous bequest to RSVP by the late Eileen Curran, pioneering researcher and Emerita Professor of English at Colby College. The purpose of the Peterson Fellowship is to support one scholar for four full-time months to enable him or her to conduct a research project on the 19th-century British periodical and newspaper press.

Peterson Fellowship Application Guidelines

RSVP is currently accepting applications for the 2020 Peterson Fellowship. Please note that given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 situation, we have decided to extend the application deadline for the 2020 Peterson Fellowship to April 6, with the deadline for recommendation letters extended to April 20.

Application Deadline: April 6, 2020
(for awards to be undertaken in 2020 or 2021)

For a printable version of these guidelines, download the PDF here. Please contact the President of RSVP ( with any questions not addressed below.

I. General Information

In 2020, the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) will grant one Linda H. Peterson Fellowship (henceforth, “the Peterson Fellowship”) to a single researcher for a period equivalent to four, full-time months in calendar years 2020 and/or 2021.  The amount of the award will be $17,500.

The Peterson Fellowship supports the 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).

Funds could be used to supplement sabbatical or other grant income, provide course “buy outs,” and/or conduct travel related to the project.  During the award period, a grantee could conduct secondary research, write, or pursue other scholarly activities related to a proposed project.  However, eligible projects must include substantial research in nineteenth-century primary sources, whether those sources appear in print, manuscript, or digital facsimile.

The Peterson Fellowship is intended to provide a researcher with the most valuable scholarly resource—time.  Thus, an awardee is expected to hold the fellowship for a continuous period for the equivalent of four, full-time months.  In the event that a full-time tenure is not possible, a part-time (or combination part-time/full-time) tenure can be requested. (Those who are seeking less than four months should consider RSVP’s Curran Fellowships Program.)

The fellowship is named for the late Linda H. Peterson (1948-2015), Niel Gray, Jr. Professor of English at Yale University.  Linda was a pioneering scholar and mentor in periodical studies who served as RSVP vice president from 2009-2013 and whose spirit of collegiality and scholarly rigor remains a hallmark of the Society.  The fellowship is funded by a generous bequest from the estate of Eileen Curran (1927-2013).

II. Eligibility

The Peterson Fellowship is intended to support, first and foremost, primary research on the nineteenth-century newspaper and periodical press.  Therefore, eligible projects must engage primary sources, whether those sources appear in print, manuscript, or digital facsimile.

Only one applicant is permitted per application. Awards cannot be shared or split among collaborators.  (Those seeking support for collaborative projects should consider the RSVP Field Development Grant.)

The fellowship period must begin during the 2020 or 2021 calendar year.

Those holding academic appointments as well as independent or retired scholars are equally welcome to apply. An academic degree is not required; however, those enrolled in a degree program at the deadline are not eligible.

Officers or Directors of RSVP are not eligible.

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

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

III.  The Application

All applications must be submitted through the online application portal at not later than 11:59 PM US Pacific time (PDT/UTC-7) on April 6, 2020.

The application portal will open on February 3, 2020, 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
      • Proposed period of the fellowship
      • Affiliation (if applicable)
      • Project title
      • A brief project summary (75-100 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.
  1. A narrative proposal not to exceed three single-spaced pages, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document must describe the project as well as the work you hope to accomplish with the award. A competitive application will articulate in clear prose how the project will illuminate some aspect of the nineteenth-century periodical press and indicate the audience(s) for the proposed publication(s) and/or other grant outcomes.  A competitive application will also include a brief yet detailed plan of work for the proposed, four-month award period as well as a timeline for completion of the entire project.
  1. A summary not to exceed two pages, uploaded in PDF, .docx, or RTF format. This document should list primary source materials, archives to be consulted during the project, and selected secondary sources that bear directly on the project.
  1. The names and email addresses for two recommenders familiar with the proposed project. Once the applicant enters these into the application portal, each recommender will receive an email with a link to upload a recommendation letter directly into the application system. Recommendation letters are due by April 20, 2020. Applicants are responsible for soliciting letters of recommendation. It is the responsibility of the applicant to supply recommenders with relevant information about the project. Letters should address the evaluation criteria below.  While the absence of letters from an application will not make it ineligible, letters that arrive late (or not at all) may make an application less competitive.

No itemized budget is required.

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 periodical press in nineteenth-century Britain and its empire.
  1. The quality of the application, including its clarity of expression.
  1. The applicant’s preparation to pursue the project.
  1. The feasibility of the plan of work and the likelihood that the applicant will be bring the entire project to a successful completion in due course.

Please note that need is not a criterion.

V. Notification and Award Administration

RSVP will award one Fellowship and may name up to two alternates at the end of the competition.

Notification will take place by email. The winner will have one month to accept or decline the award.

All decisions are final.  Unsuccessful applicants may choose to revise and resubmit their applications at later deadlines.

At the conclusion of the grant period, awardees must submit a narrative report describing grant activities and a financial statement of the use of award funds. All publications resulting from fellowship support must include the following acknowledgment: “This publication received support of a Linda H. Peterson Fellowship awarded by the Research Society for Victorian Periodicals and funded from the bequest of the Eileen Curran estate.”

2019 Linda H. Peterson Fellowship Winners

In 2019, RSVP awarded two Peterson Fellowships to Alexis Easley (University of St. Thomas) for New Periodical Print Media and the Rise of the Popular Woman Poet, 1830-50 and to Lorraine Janzen Kooistra (Ryerson University) for The Dial Digital Edition on Y90s 2.0. (Abstracts of their projects are below.)

The Peterson Fellowship committee received many strong applications and also shortlisted two projects: Trev Broughton (University of York), Periodical Selves: Autobiography, Journalism, and Print Culture in the Nineteenth Century and Jennifer Phegley (University of Missouri-Kansas City), Magazine Mavericks: Marital Collaborations and the Invention of New Reading Audiences in Mid-Victorian England.

2019 Peterson Fellowship Abstracts

Alexis Easley (University of St. Thomas)
New Periodical Print Media and the Rise of the Popular Woman Poet, 1830-50

This book project explores the role of new media in the rise of the popular woman poet from 1830 to 1850—a period that corresponded with a rapid expansion of the press and the founding of new genres and formats of periodical publication. This included several cheap Sunday papers, weekly penny periodicals, and magazines of popular progress—all of which were directed at an audience of artisan and lower-middle-class readers and achieved mass circulations in the tens of thousands. A new generation of women writers, born at the turn of the nineteenth century, was able to seize upon the opportunities that arose with the emergence of these innovative mass-media periodical and newspaper genres.

Lorraine Janzen Kooistra (Ryerson University)
The Dial Digital Edition on Y90s 2.0

This project works with primary print sources to make these materials available online in an open-access scholarly edition, supported by historical materials and critical contextualization. The Digital Edition of The Dial (5 occasional vols, 1889-1897) will join the expanding magazine rack of Yellow Nineties 2.0 in support of comparative study by scholars, students, and interested citizens around the world. It has two main aims. First, to illuminate the importance of textual ornaments to Victorian periodical studies. Second, to expand our understanding of the personal, professional, and geographic networks of magazine contributors and situate the so-called little magazines of the fin de siècle within an individually, politically, and aesthetically complex, transnational modern world, inclusive of, but not restricted to,urban, masculine, London.

Previous Awardees

Previous winners of the prize include:

  • 2018: In order to comply with US tax regulations related to our new status as a private foundation, RSVP had to cancel the 2018 Peterson Fellowship.
  • 2017: Ian Haywood, “The Rise of Victorian Caricature: Satirical Periodicals 1830-1850”
  • 2016: Tom Mole, “Periodicals and the Policing of Culture, 1802-1828”