Ph.D. in Literature Student Hannah Zdansky wins Jacob K. Javits Fellowship

Author: Shari Hill

Hannah Zdansky

Hannah Zdansky, who just completed her first year in Notre Dame’s Ph.D. in Literature Program, has won a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship—one of 40 awarded nationwide thus far out of more than 700 applications. The fellowship will pay her tuition, fees, and a living stipend for the next four years.

Zdansky, of Lyford, Texas, has been successful in fellowship competition in the past. After graduating magna cum laude in May of 2006 from Baylor University, where she was a member of the University Scholars Program, she studied at the National University of Ireland in Galway as a Fulbright Scholar, taking an M.A. in Old and Middle Irish with First Class honors.

In her studies at Notre Dame, Zdansky has been focusing most of her attention on the intersection of multiple literary and cultural traditions in medieval texts. She has done extensive research on the twelfth-century French poet Chrétien de Troyes because, as she explains, “by examining his work, we can unravel the way in which various literary traditions were appropriated with all of the implications this elicits. The results, in turn, tell us something about the author and the audience who made it their own.” To carry out her detailed philological analyses, Zdansky has worked with texts in a broad range of languages, including Latin, Old French, Old and Middle English, as well as Old and Middle Irish.

Zdansky says that she chose Notre Dame for graduate school “because in addition to being one of the nation’s top universities, it is one of the very few that teaches Irish or anything Celtic. In addition, the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies and the Medieval Institute are incredible resources for students in many areas of inquiry. While I chose to do my work in the Ph.D. in Literature Program for the flexibility it allows between my fields of interest, through the Keough-Naughton Institute, I am able to maintain my Old and Middle Irish language study while pursuing Modern Irish in more depth. The Medieval Institute also provides me with the means to explore a variety of other disciplines integral to my research.”

In announcing Zdansky’s Javits Fellowship, Prof. Joseph Buttigieg, director of the Ph.D. in Literature Program, said: “The College of Arts and Letters faculty has a remarkable record of success in obtaining external funding for their research. It is important that we now help our graduate students in the humanities develop the skills needed to write grant proposals. The rewards are not just financial: in the process of writing a good grant proposal one is able to refine one’s ideas and develop more coherent research projects.”

The Javits Fellowship is open to application from students the year before entering graduate school or during the first year of graduate studies. For more information, see the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship Program website.