University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Dissertation Prospectus Development Fellowships, 22-23

The Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures is pleased to announce a new cohort of dissertation prospectus development fellowships for three graduate students working across departments in the College of Arts & Sciences: Brittany AcorsIsabelle Ostertag, and Rebekah K. Latour.

Brittany Acors (PhD student, Religious Studies) specializes in the intersection of medicine and religion in twentieth-century America, paying a particular interest in vaccination, genetics, and health care. Her dissertation aims to explore how religious communities reacted to the polio vaccine of the 1950s. Her project seeks to uncover through archival research the never-before-told history of how religious communities championed, questioned, or opposed this vaccine, and to analyze how they used their religious frameworks to make sense of vaccine science.

Isabelle Ostertag's (PhD student, Art History) research interests lie in English medieval architecture, lay piety, and Marian devotion. Her dissertation will focus on what a comparison of parish Lady Chapels - and their associative architecture, location, material culture, social space—reveals about how Marian devotion spread among lay people during the medieval period. The primary aim of this project will be to present a more holistic analysis of medieval lay piety and devotion towards the Virgin Mary through the case study of parish Lady Chapels in East Anglia.

Rebekah K. Latour (PhD student, Religious Studies) specializes in embodiment ethics, epistemology, sex and gender issues across Christian theologies and church histories. Her dissertation aims to contrast the writings of 16th century Protestant Reformation leaders such as Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin with the significant and understudied writings of  two Reformation women writers: Caritas Pirckheimer and Argula von Grumbach. By foregroudning these writers and upending the typical Reformation narrative, Lator seeks to provide a lens through which questions about the relationship between freedom and coercion, agency and restraint, resistance and creativity may find new footing.

These fellows will join an interdisciplinary cohort of current graduate fellows at the IHGC and will participate in periodic workshops to discuss their respective projects. They will have opportunities to interact with IHGC faculty fellows and distinguished visiting scholars throughout the year, as well as offer a formal presentation based on their dissertation prospectus during the term of their fellowship.