I sent off an application for a fellowship at the Humanities Research Centre at Australian National University. I nearly felt a twinge of optimism. The project proposal is as good a proposal as I’ve ever written, in no small part thanks to the help Tom McLean, Jonathan Lamb, Phil Armstrong and Paul Millar offered. My three referees are all highly-regarded figures, and I’ve shared the proposal and some early drafts with them so they can be specific. “The World Atlas of American Cinema, 1945-2010” seems to be a good match for their theme: Cities, Imaginaries, Publics. Finally, it’s an interesting project that nobody else is doing but it isn’t incomprehensible. It’s a combination of distant reading, digital cartography and data visualization, and industrial and cultural history through cinema history.

Then again, when I clicked attach on the “publications list” I knew that there’s very little reason to put my chances at anything higher than 1%.  I grow more and more weary of the circular nature of the fellowship game. I haven’t published a mess of archive-excavating research in prestigious journals because I haven’t had any grants to fund such excursions (and I’ve found the response time a bit slow too) mostly because the granters take archive-scouring outputs in swank journals as a precondition for their support.