Junior Research Fellows Eligibility Requirements

Applications are invited from full-time assistant professors for appointment as Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory Junior Research Fellows, for a 2-year term. The Unit for Criticism welcomes applications from scholars whose research centers on critical and interpretive theory or the interdisciplinary study of culture and the arts.

Applications for the 2022-2024 cycle are due March 28, 2022, at noon CST. Letters of recommendation are due March 30, 2022, at noon CST.


The Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory fellowship program was created with the support of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research in recognition of the Unit for Criticism’s central role in fostering theoretical inquiry and interdisciplinary scholarship across the humanities, social sciences, and performing arts. 

Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory Junior Research Fellows are appointed to a 2-year term and are awarded 

  • $8,000 in unrestricted research funds (awarded in the first year) 
  • the title of “Criticism & Interpretive Theory Junior Research Fellow” for two years. 
  • funding for a manuscript workshop with one or two off-campus experts in the first or second year of the fellowship period

Eligibility and Requirements

Applicants should be full-time UIUC assistant professors, but need not be 0% faculty affiliates of the Unit for Criticism at the time of application. Applicants will ideally be entering their second or third year on the tenure clock in AY 2022-24. However, applications from third or fourth-year assistant professors are also welcome.

During their term, junior fellows are encouraged, although not required, to participate in the fellowship writing workshops sponsored by the OVCR’s office to assist them in applying for external funding to support their research project. 

Junior fellows will also be expected to become affiliates of the Unit for Criticism & Interpretive Theory. At the end of the fellowship period, junior fellows will submit a short report of their accomplishments during their term.

Faculty members who are awarded a fellowship may not apply for another Unit Research Fellowship for five years following the first award year. Junior fellows may not hold a CAS, HRI fellowship or other campus release-time award (such as from the Campus Research Board) during the first year of the Unit for Criticism fellowship term.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be reviewed by the Unit for Criticism’s Advisory Board. Applications will be evaluated on the following criteria:

  • the intellectual significance of the research project, including its theoretical or interdisciplinary value 
  • the quality or promise of the applicant’s scholarship
  • the quality of the proposal
  • the relationship between the research project and the Unit’s goals of advancing theoretical and interdisciplinary scholarship

Application Materials

Each completed application must include:

  • the Unit for Criticism application form
  • 2-page curriculum vitae
  • a proposal of no more than 1,500 words describing the applicant’s current research project and its theoretical or interdisciplinary contributions
  • a brief statement of how the applicant plans to use the unrestricted research funds

Letters of Support 

Applicants must arrange for the Unit for Criticism to receive 3 letters in support of the application—one of which must be from the Executive Officer of the unit, program, or department in which the junior faculty member is appointed (if the applicant is jointly appointed a second letter of support from a second Executive Officer is optional).  Executive Officer letters should describe the applicant’s strengths and they should also indicate their support for the fellowship award, including the manuscript workshop. The other two letters may be from faculty at UIUC or other universities. Applicants should instruct their letter writers to send their recommendation letters to unitcritfellow@gmail.com by March 30, at noon CST.


The application deadline is March 30, at noon CST


All applications will be acknowledged by email. Applicants will be notified of the decision by mid-April.

To apply, click here