At this year’s Digital Humanities Summer Institute at University of Victoria, there’s going to be a colloquim on “Mapping and Visualization”, featuring the following presentations (all of which look pretty great):
Mary Borgo, “Voyeur-istically Viewing Middlemarch: Visualization Tools and Traditional Literary Scholarship”; Paul Faber, “‘A Thousand Tawngling Instruments’: Digital Humanities and the Study of Song”; Mary Galvin, “The Materiality of the Digital”; Gabriel Hankins, “Mapping the Modern Republic of Letters: Modeling Correspondence Networks with Omeka/Neatline”; Tim Hawkins, “Developing a Google Earth Finding Aid for Archival Materials About the Southern Colorado Coal Fields”; Alison Hedley, “Visualizing Subjectivity: A Failed Map of Victorian Maternal Mobility”; Rob Imes, “Mapping Early Modern Travel Compilations: Merging Cartography, Travelogues, and GIS”; Sarah Koning, “Historical Gentrification?: The Example of 19th-Century Mexico City”; Ross Woods, “Mapping Madrid: Digital Humanities as Literary Criticism”

None of them resemble the proposal I send out into the world. That should be good news – I have my little corner to investigate. Perhaps I need to enrol in the DHWI session on Project Development, because I have yet to meet with any success. Consider this rejection form letter:

Dear Dr Christian Long,

The Selection Committee of the [Southern hemisphere research centre], met recently to consider applications for its 2012 Visiting Fellowships Program. We appreciate the time and effort you put into submitting an application on this occasion.

On behalf of the Committee, however, I regret to inform you that your application was not successful.  We received many outstanding ones and could only fund a few of them. Due to the very  large number of applications received, we are unable to provide any feedback on unsuccessful applications.

I would like to thank you for your interest in the work of our Centre and do hope you can participate in our programs in the future

Yours sincerely, [etc., etc.]

If they’re inundated by masses of applications, which I know they are, no doubt they’ve streamlined their review process. That would mean there would be a checklist that the review panel applies to every application- what to look for in an ideal application. You would be likely to save this evaluation document – perhaps in electronic form, ending in .doc/.docx – so that after the mountain of applications has been summitted, you can review and decide accordingly. I am certain this is what happens. So why can’t I see my checklist? This is one part pissiness, ninety-nine parts genuinely wanting to know where my proposal goes awry so that I can finally win a god damn fucking fellowship.

I have vast experience in failed fellowship applications, and the industry standard is “we’re so swamped we can’t tell you why we said no.” Kill that noise. Why should I have to fly to Maryland in January to hear, in the abstract, what a fellowship rejection – even in checklist form – could tell me much quicker about my own proposal? Outside of weeding out the less-flush, of course.