Fellowship: Integrative Biology

Houghton Undergraduate Fellowship: Integrative Biology
Houghton Library SHARP Fellow Program
summer 2018

Houghton Library is pleased to invite Harvard undergraduates to work with our collections in the summer of 2018 with support of an Undergraduate Fellowship. These competitive fellowships are designed to fully support a summer of work at Houghton, Harvard’s world-class rare books and manuscripts library. Houghton is home to the world famous and the almost entirely unknown, the ancient and the contemporary, the enduring and the ephemeral; as a researcher, a practitioner, an experimenter, we want to know what you can do with these materials. During the course of a fellowship, undergraduates work closely with library staff to discover new areas of interest or to delve into ongoing projects. Our first two cohorts of nine fellows have created an opera, written a play, identified and filled gaps in scholarly literature, printed and bound books, constructed a guide to the Houghton collections for students, undertaken a digital humanities project, created exhibitions, produced a series of podcasts, made interactive fiction, written poetry and fictional autobiographies and so much more. The 2017 cohort of Houghton fellows all recorded videos about their projects which may help demonstrate some of what is possible through these fellowships. We invite proposals for summer 2018 on any topic or discipline supported by our collections. Creative, digital, research, and performance projects are all welcome, as are those we haven't thought of yet. Thanks to our continued partnership with Harvard Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (URAF) and their Summer Humanities and Arts Research Program (SHARP), 2018 Houghton Undergraduate Fellows will also be part of this unique residential research program. Fellows receive housing at Leverett House, light breakfasts and full dinners, financial and logistic support of student-driven programing, trips, and social events, coverage of the summer earnings obligation if receiving financial aid, and a stipend of $2,850. Move in for the program begins on Monday, June 4th and the program runs through August 9th. This is a 10 week commitment. A public program showcasing projects of the Houghton Library/SHARP Undergraduate fellows is held in Cambridge, MA in the fall. Eligibility: The Harvard Undergraduate Fellowship at Houghton Library is open to all Harvard College students currently enrolled in an undergraduate degree program. Projects must make primary and substantive use of Houghton materials. Additional Information: We are happy to discuss project proposals at any stage of development and encourage advance conversation on proposals. To schedule a time to talk with a Houghton librarian about your project, please use this form. You may also email us at: houghton_library@harvard.edu. To Apply: Applications for the Houghton/SHARP fellowship are accepted only through the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. Please click through to the SHARP tab on the URAF website to locate the application link. The deadline for receipt of complete application materials is 5:00 p.m. on February 13, 2018.

Integrative Biology

Integrative Biology, with its interdisciplinary yet evolution-centered approach to the life sciences, is a very versatile concentration. Houghton’s archive is a treasure trove for a science concentration so dependent on the history of the field and on history itself. Moreover, Integrative Biology’s heavy emphasis on ecology and organismal interactions makes the library’s archive even more suited to concentrators.

First and foremost, Houghton owns a variety of materials related to the history of the theory of evolution. The library holds items by celebrated figures, such as a 1764 edition of one of Carl von Linnaeus’ treatises describing the natural world (7605.50.15*, 005225334); Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Naturalist journal (MS Am 1280H [99], 008290191), which contains the famous writer’s observations about multiple scientific fields, including zoology, conchology, botany, osteology, and ornithology; and a first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (HEW 2.3.4, 005027133), as well as a manuscript draft of one of the volume’s pages (MS Eng 1214, 009371370).

Evolution, however, has never ceased to be a polemical topic in the scientific world, and some of the more modern arguments surrounding the issue can be found in the papers of W. V. Quine (MS Am 2587, 008937558), a former Harvard professor and on one of the twentieth century’s most important philosophers. Quine corresponded with Clive Entwistle (333), an architect that held interesting views about Darwin and his theories, which are reflected in the archives. However, the most fascinating discussions of evolution, which are heavily connected to philosophy, are mostly part of Quine’s academic paper collection. D. C. Dennett’s What Evolutionary Good is God? (1626) and Evolution, Error, and Intentionality (1628), as well as Elliott Sober’s Revisability, a Priori Truth, and Evolution (2213), are all engrossing essays on the matter, and Dennett’s reply to H. Allen Orr’s review of one of his works about evolution (1641) is also gripping in its very philosophical treatment of the theory.

Houghton’s collection of materials connected to ecology and biodiversity is also rich and riveting to explore. It includes Rachel Carson’s editorial correspondence with the Houghton Mifflin Company (MS Am 2105 [42], 006401474), as well as newspaper clippings on the psychology of animals collected by William James (WJ 577.53.1, 012182336). However, it also contains plenty of beautifully illustrated material that Integrative Biology concentrators, whichever their specialty area, must check out. One of them is, in fact, one of the most peculiar items in the entire Houghton collection: Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (Typ 732.05.567, 002860975), an eighteenth-century Dutch entomology treatise, written in the vernacular in an age when Latin was still the international scientific language, by a woman. Te drawings of birds and insects, colored by hand by the author and her daughters, are works of art in themselves. Students coming to Houghton can also access the notes and drawings of John Abbot (MS Typ 426-426.5, 000602404), a British-turned-American scientific illustrator; they contain more than 600 of his watercolors. Finally, they can see an ornithological classic: the gigantic edition of Audubon’s Birds of America (*AC8.Au292.827b, 004352714), another scientific and artistic masterpiece.

(posted 2/2018)