Kellner Awarded 2017 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship

Joseph Kellner, a PhD candidate in history, has been awarded a prestigious 2017 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Sixty five fellows were selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants through a rigorous, multi-stage peer-review process. Now in its eleventh year, the fellowship program provides a $30,000 stipend and up to $8,000 in research funds and university fees to advanced graduate students in their final year of dissertation writing.

The fellowship offers promising graduate students a year of support to focus their attention on completing projects that form the foundations of their careers and that will help shape a generation of humanistic scholarship. The program, which is made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, also includes a faculty-led academic job market seminar, hosted by the American Council of Learned Societies, to further prepare fellows for their postgraduate careers.

Kellner's dissertation, "The End of History: Radical Responses to the Soviet Collapse," is a cultural history of the collapse of the USSR, focused on the highly visible flourishing of radical spiritual movements and worldviews that emerged in Soviet cities at that time. The collapse saw an abrupt and traumatic end to the Soviet world, and the values and orientations that Soviet people had long taken for granted. The project is comprised of five case studies, each examining problems people faced at that time, and the beliefs—esoteric or dogmatic, foreign or homespun, utopian or apocalyptic—that they adopted as solutions. These seekers, mostly of the urban, educated middle class, looked beyond conventional political philosophies or the USSR’s traditional faiths toward more radical conceptions of the world and the place of humans within it. Their stories speak to the nature of Soviet ideology, exposed as it unraveled, and to the common features of societies undergoing crisis.