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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 8, 2008

Applications due Oct. 24 for seminar on narrative theory in dissertations

Narrative theory has taken off since the 1980s, and a $293,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will help graduate students in the humanities use it to strengthen arguments in their dissertations.

Garrett Stewart, an English professor in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received a three-year grant to direct six-week Mellon dissertation seminars in the summers of 2009 and 2011. It is one of only four such awards given this year to enhance doctoral education in the humanities.

The 2009 seminar, "Story in Theory," will take place June 22 to July 31. Participants will receive a stipend of $4,500 and additional funds for research.

"Story in Theory" is open to UI graduate students and a limited number of participants from other institutions. Applications are due by Oct. 24, 2008.

Applicants at the dissertation-writing stage should submit a brief prospectus for their thesis, a cover letter describing their coursework on narrative theory, and a one-page proposal outlining what their project could gain from further work and discussion in the area of narrative theory. Applications for the 2009 seminar should be submitted to

In recent years, narrative theory has aspired to become a scientific discipline of its own: narratology, a study of the essential structural ingredients of a narrative. Work in this vein has brought to light the hidden plot assumptions of hard and soft sciences alike, such as the Aristotelian beginning, middle and end of concern to evolutionary biology or astronomy.

"Graduate students in the humanities with a broad range of interests -- anything from Elizabethan parables to science fiction film, or realist painting to opera scores -- could employ narrative theory in their dissertations," said Stewart, the James O. Freedman Professor of Letters in the Department of English. "In the seminar, we will examine student work and study Russian Formalism through structuralism, contemporary psychopoetics and cognitive narratology."

For more information on the seminars, e-mail

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Garrett Stewart, Department of English,, 319-335-0441; Nicole Riehl, University News Services, 319-384-0070 (office), 319-430-6576 (cell),