Taylor Clement Wins 2017-18 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship

TaylorClement.jpgTaylor Clement, a doctoral candidate in Renaissance Literature and History of Text Technologies, has been awarded a 2017-18 Mellon/American Council of Learned Studies Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

The ACLS has been awarding fellowships to scholars in the humanities and social sciences for nearly 100 years and the council awards 65 fellowships for this particular competition. The fellowship supports a year of research and writing to help graduate students who are in their final year of PhD dissertation writing.

The notification arrived during an eventful 24 hours for Clement. She submitted her application in late October 2016, and to keep her thoughts from focusing too much on the application or on the council's decision, Clement trained for a half-marathon, her first one. Clement completed the 13.1-mile run on March 13 and she found out the following day she had won the fellowship.

"Two of my goals realized in a single week," she says.

In addition, Clement learned in the award announcement that the success rate for an ACLS fellowship is between 4 and 8 percent, depending on the program.

"Maybe it was better for me not to know what a small chance I had," she says. "It's unbelievable, really."

Clement's dissertation, Visualizing Verse in Early Modern England, examines the role of woodcut printing and image reuse in book illustration from 1530 to 1620. 

"The project introduces and develops a new vocabulary for assessing the effects of mechanical image reproduction on literary meaning in sixteenth- and early-seventeenth-century printed books," says Clement. "Early modern illustration often involved the repeated printing of one image in a single book, or alternatively, the printing of an image multiple times in multiple, subsequent, different books."

She identifies these types of image reproduction as "plural reproduction" and "afterlife reproduction," respectively, and says the processes influenced readers' word-image translation of texts, which led to a broader reception of texts in early modern literature.

"Studying these complex practices enhances modern scholarly understanding of European discourse communities, word and image relationships, and the signifying practices of woodcut illustration," Clement says.

Professor Anne Coldiron is Clement's dissertation director and she praises Clement for her research, saying her findings, in addition to work she has already published, promises genuine contributions to knowledge in fields such as Renaissance studies, history of textuality and visual theory, and poetics.

"We're proud to have Taylor Clement in our FSU community as well, and I've been delighted to direct her dissertation, with the help of her learned committee, English Professors Bruce Boehrer and Gary Taylor, and Art History Professor Stephanie Leitch," Coldiron says. "Taylor is a brilliant researcher, thinker, and writer, also quite witty, and, of course, she works very hard.  This couldn't have happened to a nicer person."

Clement says she could not have won this fellowship without Coldiron's advice through the application process.

"Dr. Coldiron is a brilliant professor with high and rigorous standards, and she's also generous and kind, with a great sense of humor," Clement says. "She has mentored and coached me in a way that challenges me to achieve my goals and work to the best of my ability. I'm forever grateful for her presence and advice.

"I'm also grateful to my FSU community, especially to the other members of my doctoral committee, Dr. Leitch, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. Boehrer, for their support and to my colleagues who have discussed these ideas with me in classes and in workshops."

Clement is in her fourth year at Florida State University, and she admits she did not have a clear direction for her dissertation when she first entered the PhD program after finishing her master's degree at the University of Tennessee.

"In fact, colleagues in my cohort used to tease me because I began my first semester not knowing what period I would study," she says.

In the fall of 2014, however, Clement established the roots for her dissertation subject matter. She signed up for nine credit hours, taking two HoTT classes with Coldiron and Taylor and an art history class with Leitch, which she says was "one of the toughest and most rigorous semesters I've ever had in my life."

"But in the pressure cooker, I wrote an essay titled 'Moveable Types: The De-Individuated Portrait in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction' that was later published in Renaissance Studies (2016) and this work set the foundation for what would become my dissertation," Clement says.

"I discussed my dissertation with my colleagues every single day for a week, which helped me to conceptualize the project, map it, and think about it from several angles. I worked for many months to polish my writing and consult with my mentors and colleagues about my ideas and application materials."

She committed herself to the Mellon/ACLS application process in January of 2016. She compiled the required materials – a writing sample, a proposal, a timeline, a bibliography, and reference letters – and then attended FSU's Dissertation Boot Camp at the Writing Center in the summer of 2016.

"I discussed my dissertation with my colleagues every single day for a week, which helped me to conceptualize the project, map it, and think about it from several angles," Clement says. "I worked for many months to polish my writing and consult with my mentors and colleagues about my ideas and application materials."

The extra effort and commitment paid off, and the Mellon/ACLS Fellowship is her "biggest achievement to date." She also won the Harold and Janet Gordon Fellowship in 2013 and the English department's Kingsbury Fellowship in 2016. Those two fellowships were valuable in terms of resources and time, Clement says, but they did not specifically acknowledge the work she has done over the past three years.

She now begins the task of revising and completing her dissertation – "For most of the fellowship, l'll be located at my writing desk," she says. The fellowship covers a period that begins in the summer of 2017 and ends August 31, 2018.

The fellowship allows flexibility, though, and Clement hopes to travel to the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., and the Huntington Library in San Marino, California, as well as the University of Glasgow's Emblem Collections.

She also will attend a Mellon/ACLS academic job market workshop, which will help Clement decide what she will do and where she will go when her dissertation is finished and she has her PhD.

"Right now, I have no clue," Clement says. "But, my dream job is an academic job."