Interseminars Graduate Fellowships

Interseminars is designed to prepare graduate students to be adept at both navigating and actively shaping the kind of higher education landscapes and cultures they want to see in the 21st century. 

Please note: The 2022–23 graduate call has closed—the details below are for reference only. Watch for the Round 2 call to be announced here in Fall 2022! Read about the first round graduate fellows

Interseminars invites applications for its inaugural (2022–2023) graduate cohort on the theme of "Imagining Otherwise: Speculation in the Americas."

  • Are you interested in speculation as an object of study and as a form of artistic and scholarly practice?  

  • Have you always wanted to co-create a graduate seminar along with other students and faculty from across the arts and humanities?  

  • Would you like to learn from professors and guest lecturers across disciplines, including scholars, artists, and activists?  

  • Do you want to collaborate with faculty and graduate students to organize a conference, exhibition, or public performance? 

If your answer to these questions is “yes,” you may be interested in applying to the inaugural Interseminars cohort: “Imagining Otherwise: Speculation in the Americas.”  

The Interseminars Initiative has been made possible by a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation and seeks to build communities of inquiry among graduate students and faculty at the University of Illinois around emerging research directions in the interdisciplinary humanities and arts. 

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The Interseminars fellowship is an eighteen-month interdisciplinary graduate experience that runs from the summer of 2022 through the fall of 2023. Students in the fellowship receive a full academic year of support (2022-2023, $25,000) plus two summer stipends (Summer 2022 & 2023, $5,000 per year), and an additional $2,000 in research funds, for students across the arts and humanities to seek interdisciplinary training for their research projects, creative portfolios, and public humanities work. 

In this way, Interseminars will prepare graduate students to be adept at both navigating and actively shaping the kind of higher education landscapes and cultures they want to see in the 21st century.  

Interseminars welcomes applications from graduate students in all disciplines across the arts and humanities whose research or creative practices connect with the 2022–2023 theme: “Imagining Otherwise: Speculation in the Americas.” Applicants should be in coursework during the 2022–2023 academic year, and prepared to enroll in one Interseminars course each semester. The fellowship also includes a week-long intensive workshop each summer, and culminates in an event in fall 2023, where students will share their experiments in speculative practice and study. We are especially interested in fostering interdisciplinary work between the humanities and the arts that is committed to social, racial, economic, and gender justice. 


Interested in applying for the fellowship but want to learn more? View a past info session in the video below.


2022–23 HRI Interseminars theme: "Imagining otherwise: Speculation in the Americas" 

We have survived the past—how do we imagine the future? How do peoples throughout the Americas narrate, remember, and commune with our pasts? What stories do we tell to create meaning for ourselves and inform meaning around others? How have artists, writers, activists, and scholars throughout the Americas used speculation as a means of troubling the world as it is and imagining it otherwise? How does speculation provide us a method for critiquing the world and conjuring another, more just world? What are the possibilities for imagining and creating a new and better future in the crises of the present?  

“Imagining Otherwise: Speculation in the Americas” builds a community of inquiry united around a shared method: speculation. Derived from the Latin speculatio, which means to observe from a vantage point, speculation offers a way of looking differently at the world, using estrangement in order to critically assess how the world is and imagine ways that it could be. From TV shows like Lovecraft Country to activist rallying cries for “a world without borders,'' speculative cultural production is experiencing an unprecedented hemispheric boom in popularity. Far from mere escapism, speculation creates space for radical political dreams. “Speculation in the Americas” seriously asks how artists and scholars can mobilize nonrealist forms (both utopian and dystopian) to show that the present is contingent and can therefore be changed (or even abolished).  

This cohort explores speculation as an oppositional method, practice, and aesthetics that perforates current logics of capitalism and structural realism. Foregrounding historically marginalized Black, Indigenous, and brown knowledges/communities throughout the Americas, we explore how speculation has been used and can be used to generatively reframe the past, present, and future. We welcome graduate students from across different scholarly disciplines and creative practices who are interested in exploring speculation as a method and a means to engage with crises ranging from climate change to systemic racial violence and global imperialism. 

What to Expect:

Fellows will enroll in an Interseminars course each semester during the 2022–2023 academic year. The fall 2022 course will be dedicated to thinking about interdisciplinarity as a method and practice. The spring 2023 course will dive into the thematic study of speculation as practice and object of study, engaged across scholarly readings, visual and performing arts, news media, and guest lecturers. 

In order to build an interdisciplinary community around speculation and to speculate together about what the Interseminars experience will entail, the cohort will also take two week-long workshops in summer 2022 and summer 2023. The 2022 summer intensive workshop will be an opportunity to get to know one another and co-create the syllabus of each Interseminars course. The 2023 summer intensive workshop will focus on organizing the culminating event to be held in fall 2023. 

Mentorship is an essential part of the Interseminars experience. Each fellow will have the opportunity to establish a mentoring relationship with at least one of the Interseminars Project Faculty. Fellows will have regular check-in meetings about how their fellowship is progressing and to discuss ways that the class can continue to evolve toward supporting them and their research. 


Champaign-Urbana campus PhD, DMA, and MFA graduate students from across the arts and humanities are eligible to apply for this fellowship opportunity. Please note that students in combined MA/PhD programs are eligible to apply, while those in master's-only programs are not. Graduate students from self-supporting programs are ineligible. Applicants should be in the coursework phase, since the Interseminars fellowship requires participation in an Interseminars course in both fall 2022 and spring 2023. Graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds are particularly encouraged to apply. Fellowship support is intended to obviate the need for other tuition waiver-generating appointments during the 2022–23 academic year. 

All Interseminars Fellows are required to maintain residency on the Illinois campus (residing within a 20-mile radius) during the academic award year, be available in person for the summer 2022 and 2023 week-long intensive workshops and participate in all elements of the fellowship.  

If you have questions about your eligibility, please contact the Interseminars Coordinator, Alaina Pincus.


  • Fellowships of $25,000 for up to eight graduate students in a participating arts and humanities degree program (MFA, DMA, or PhD) for the 2022-2023 academic year, and a tuition and partial feel waiver. 

  • A summer fellowship of $5,000 per graduate student fellow per summer for two years (2022 and 2023), dispersed over the course of three months, from May 16-August 15 each year. 

  • Research funds of $2,000 per student (which can be used for travel, books, and other research-related expenses). These funds will be managed by HRI. 

  • Fellowship support is intended to obviate the need for other tuition waiver-generating appointments during the 2022-23 academic year. 

Application Guidelines

The application must be completed and submitted via the application form no later than 11:59 p.m. on November 15, 2021. 

Applicants must submit the following materials as a single PDF (documents should be in 12-point Times New Roman font, with one-inch margins; materials that exceed the required length will not be considered): 

  • 600-word research or artist statement identifying how your work connects to the theme of speculation. Why does speculation appeal to you as an object of study, a method of study, or a creative practice?   Conclude by confirming your willingness to participate in all Interseminars activities, including two summer workshops (summer 2022 and 2023), a course each semester of 2022-2023 academic year, and a culminating event in Fall 2023. 

  • 300-word statement of commitment to racial and social equity. This may take the form of a description of how your work engages with these themes or a personal statement describing your commitment to these subjects. 

  • 300-word statement of what interests you about interdisciplinarity. What does interdisciplinarity mean to you and your work? What are the benefits or challenges of working across disciplines? What sorts of disciplines do you see as particularly exciting for your work? 

  • A current curriculum vitae, including a list of all U of I graduate courses taken, papers published, presentations made, and assistantships and fellowships held (maximum 5 pages). 

  • Work sample that is representative of your scholarly or artistic interests. This can take the form of an excerpt from an academic paper (between 5–10 pages), a portfolio, or performance. This sample should be exemplary of your academic or artistic practice but does not need to engage the theme of speculation. 

Selection Criteria

The applications will be reviewed by the Interseminars team and Advisory Committee, who will make their award recommendations to HRI; the HRI Director and the Assistant Director for Education and Outreach/Interseminars Coordinator serve on the committee in an ex officio capacity. 

Submissions will be evaluated on the following criteria: the applicant’s scholarly/artistic promise and relationship to the theme of speculation, commitment to racial and social justice, strong interest in interdisciplinary studies, and the case made for how the Interseminars experience would be beneficial to the student. 


All applications will be acknowledged via email, and all applicants will be notified December 20th, when the search has concluded. Please do not contact HRI about the status of an application, unless you are having difficulties with online submission; because of the volume of applications HRI receives, we are unable to answer questions about the suitability of particular research topics or the progress of the review and selection process.


Questions about these fellowships may be addressed to Alaina Pincus, Assistant Director for Education and Outreach and Interseminars Coordinator.