Application Components: Creative & Performing Arts
Descriptions of the Creative & Performing Arts fields are provided here.
All applicants must complete and submit their applications via the Fulbright Online Application. This is where you enter data, upload documents and supplementary materials, and register your recommenders and foreign language evaluator.
The following items comprise the components of the Arts application:
The Personal and Contact Information pages asks for your basic personal information such as your name, contact information, birth date, etc. They also ask for the details of your academic background, occupational experience, extracurricular activities, publications, and previous experience abroad.
- Complete all required fields: You should take care to accurately complete all of the required fields in this section.
- Use proper capitalization and punctuation: This is a formal grant application and you are advised to follow the English language rules on capitalization and punctuation. Do not enter responses in all caps. Be sure to proofread your responses in the PDF proof prior to submitting your application.
On the Program Information page, you must include a Project Title and an Abstract/Summary of Proposal. These sections are a quick reference for screening committees and other reviewers. They should be able to determine the basic who, what, when, where, why and how of your project by reading this abstract. The project title should be informative, as well.
- Field of Study: Select from the drop-down the most closely-related field for the proposed project.
- Project Title (90-character limit): A succinct title that clearly introduces the proposed project. This title will be listed in the Grantee Directory, should you be awarded a grant.
- Abstract/Summary of the Proposal (1750-character limit): A concise description of the what, where, and why of the proposed project. If you are proposing the pursuit of a graduate degree program, summarize the program and relevance to your career/education plans․
- Host Country Engagement (1750-character limit): At its core, the Fulbright program aims to promote mutual understanding and seeks individuals who can be cultural ambassadors while living abroad. This section should offer a description of the ways in which you will engage with the host country outside of your grant activities to fulfill this mission. How do you plan to share your culture and values in your host community? Specific ideas should be included.
- Plans Upon Return to the U.S. (850-character limit): A brief description of your career and/or educational plans following completion of the Fulbright grant.
- Arts Experience Summary (850-character limit): A summary of your practical study, training, and experience specific to the proposed project.
- Arts Portfolio Description (850-character limit): A brief description of the supplementary materials uploaded to the portfolio page of the online application. Concisely details how piece(s) were selected, relevance to the project, time spent completing, location and date of completion, developmental trajectory vs. single series, and any information that will tell reviewers what they are looking at/listening to and why. For collaborative works, your contribution should be clearly specified.
Statement of Grant Purpose
This 2-page document outlines the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of what you are proposing for your Fulbright grant. Developing a strong, feasible and compelling project is the most important aspect of a successful Fulbright application.
The first step is to familiarize yourself with the award summary for your host country and selected award to verify the type of grant you are allowed to propose. Depending on the country and award, applicants may also have the option to propose completing a graduate degree program. Some countries have specific arrangements or named awards for graduate study. In this case, applicants should focus on demonstrating the reasons for pursuing the proposed program at a particular institution in the host country.
Whether you are applying for a research project or a degree program, the proposal should indicate a clear commitment to the host country community and a description of how you will engage with it.
Develop an intellectually compelling and feasible project: This is the most important factor in presenting a successful application. Program design varies from country to country and while some countries encourage applicants to incorporate coursework into a project, others prefer independent research. You should ensure that your Statement of Grant Purpose fits the program guidelines for the host country and award.
For applicants proposing independent study/research projects, address the following points:
- With whom do you propose to work?
- What do you propose to do?
- What is innovative about the project?
- What are the specific goals?
- What is important or significant about the project?
- What contribution will the project make toward the Fulbright goal of promoting cultural exchange and mutual understanding?
- When will you carry out the project? Include a feasible timeline.
- Where do you propose to conduct your study? Why was this location(s) chosen?
- Why do you want to undertake this project?
- Why does the project have to be conducted in the country of application?
- How will your project help further your professional development?
- How you will engage with the host country community? Give specific ideas for civic engagement.
- What are your qualifications for carrying out this project?
Design a feasible project: You must demonstrate that your project is viable, including its content and timeframe. Address the following points:
- How will the culture and politics of the host country impact the work?
- Will the resources of the host country support the project?
- Have you developed a connection with a potential adviser in the host country?
- Do you have the requisite background to undertake the proposed project?
- Do you have sufficient language skills for the project being proposed? If not, how will you accomplish your work?
- What are your plans for improving your language skills, if they are not adequate at the time of application? Remember, even if a country indicates that English will be sufficient for carrying out the proposed project, for purposes of Community Engagement, at least a basic level of language skill should be obtained prior to leaving the United States for the host country.
- Are there any possible sensitive topics or feasibility concerns that the project could evoke?
For applicants who are proposing to complete a graduate degree program, the Statement of Grant Purpose should address the following points:
- Why do you want to pursue the proposed program in the country to which you are applying?
- What are your reasons for selecting a particular institution?
- Do you have the requisite academic/field-specific background to undertake the proposed program?
- Why do you want to gain a better understanding of the peoples and cultures of your host country? Please demonstrate a commitment to the community through volunteer and extra-curricular activity.
- Do you have sufficient language skills to successfully complete the program?
- Do you have the flexibility and dynamism necessary for active involvement in the host country?
Candidates applying through U.S. institutions are urged to consult professors in their major fields or faculty members with experience in the host country, as well as their Fulbright Program Advisers, about the feasibility of their proposed projects. At-Large applicants should consult qualified persons in their fields.
- Be clear and concise. The individuals reading the proposal want applicants to get to the point about the ‘who, what, when, where, why and how’ of the project. Avoid discipline-specific jargon and ensure your application can be clearly understood by a general audience.
- Organize the statement carefully.
- Don’t make reviewers search for information. We urge you to have several people read and critique the Statement of Grant Purpose, including a faculty adviser, a faculty member outside your discipline, a fellow student, and/or a colleague.
All candidates must adhere to the proper format:
- Length is limited to a maximum of two single-spaced pages. The application system will not allow documents longer than two pages to be uploaded.
- Do not include any bibliographies, publications, citations, etc., except those that will fit in the two-page limit.
- Use 1-inch margins and Times New Roman 12-point font.
- At the top of the first page include:
- On line 1: Statement of Grant Purpose
- On line 2: Your Name, Host Country, and Field of Study
- On line 3: Your Project Title as it appears in the Program Information page of the application
Many Fulbrighters undertaking projects in the arts will affiliate with universities, although in some countries it is possible to affiliate with other types of organizations such as a theater troupe or an arts academy.
For Study/Research Applicants, affiliation with an educational institution or other sponsoring entity in the host country is required, even if the grant project is primarily or solely research or artistic activity or does not require enrollment in regular classes. All applicants are required to list a proposed affiliation, with some awards requiring a letter of affiliation to be submitted at the time of application. Please refer to the award description for specific requirements. Failure to submit a letter of affiliation for an award that requires one at the national deadline may result in an application being deemed ineligible.
The affiliation letter should come from the institution/individual in the host country with whom you are proposing to work. It should be written in or translated to English, printed on official letterhead and should be signed by the author.
Understand the affiliation requirements for the country to which you are applying: Affiliation arrangements vary by country and may not be required at the time of application. Carefully review the affiliation information provided in the award summary for your host country. All academic grantees must have an affiliation in the host country.
Countries differ in the kinds of host affiliations that are acceptable. Examples of affiliations include universities, laboratories, libraries, non-governmental organizations, and so on. Pay special attention to the requirement in some countries to attend classes and/or affiliate with academic institutions.
Identify an appropriate affiliation for your project: The affiliation is your proposed host in the country to which you are applying. Fulbrighters have used a number of methods to contact potential hosts and solicit support for their projects. One primary method is to use the contacts and advisers that you already have. Ask current or former professors to put you into contact with appropriate people in the host country. If the proposal contains a strong research component, you must have host country contacts that can support the research, provide access to required resources, and/or advise you during the grant period. It is your responsibility to identify, contact, and secure an affiliation from a potential adviser.
Potential avenues to identify an appropriate affiliation/host country adviser include:
- Faculty at your home campus.
- International students.
- Visiting Fulbright Professors in the U.S. or U.S. Fulbright Scholars who had grants to your host country. Directories are available here.
- Internet searches of faculty at potential host institutions with your interests, or organizations in the host country that work with issues related to your topic.
- Other U.S. academics with expertise in the location/subject matter of the proposed project.
- Contacts from previous experience abroad.
- Educational Advising sections of Embassies or Consulates of your potential host country.
Start early: Obtaining an affiliation letter from overseas can be a time-consuming process and sufficient lead time must be given to receive signed affiliation letters before the application deadline. Late affiliation letters will not be accepted after the application deadline.
Request the Affiliation Letter: After identifying the appropriate host institution and the individual at that institution best suited to serve as an adviser for the proposed project, contact the potential adviser to determine if they are willing to write an affiliation letter. Before requesting the letter, you should provide the author with a copy of the Statement of Grant Purpose. The affiliation letter should indicate the author’s willingness to work with you on the intended project and it should speak to the feasibility and validity of what is being proposed. The letter should also indicate any additional resources or contacts that the adviser can provide to support the work.
- Scanned versions of the original hard-copy letters with hand-written signatures should be uploaded into the application. Letter writers can either send the original hard-copy letters or electronic copies to the applicants.
- Since affiliation letters are not confidential, you will upload the letter yourself into the online application system. Affiliation letters written in a foreign language must be translated into English and both the original letters and the English-language translations must be uploaded into the application. An ‘official’ translation of the letter is not required.
- Instructions on uploading letters of affiliation are available in the Fulbright online application system. IIE will not accept any affiliation letters via email or fax.
Adhere to the proper format:
- The affiliation letter must be printed on institutional letterhead and must be signed by the author.
- Copies of email correspondence will not be accepted.
- Do not upload any documents other than a letter of affiliation to this field of the application. Uploading extraneous materials to this field may result in your application being deemed ineligible.
The statement should be a one-page narrative that provides a picture of yourself as an individual․ It should deal with your personal history, family background, influences on your intellectual development, the educational, professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you and your personal growth․ Also include your special interests and abilities, career plans, and life goals, etc․ It should not be a recording of facts already listed on the application or an elaboration of your Statement of Grant Purpose․ It is more of a biography, but specifically related to you and your aspirations relative to the specific Fulbright Program to which you have applied․
Do not repeat information from other parts of the application.
Adhere to the proper format:
- Length is limited to a maximum of one single-spaced pages. The application system will not allow statements longer than one page to be uploaded.
- Use 1-inch margins and Times New Roman 12-point font.
- At the top of each page include:
- On line 1: Personal Statement
- On line 2: Your Name, Host Country, and Field of Study
Foreign Language Forms
Language requirements vary by country, so before starting the application you should note the specific language proficiency requirements of the proposed host country. You must possess the necessary language skills to successfully complete the project you are proposing.
For programs where language skills are Required, you must complete the Language Self Evaluation form within the application, and register an individual to complete the Foreign Language Evaluation Form. The Foreign Language Evaluation form is completed by a professional language teacher, preferably a university professor.
Submission of both forms is mandatory, even if you have advanced skills or native-speaker ability. The application system will not allow the submission of an application if a required Foreign Language Evaluation form is not registered. Failure to submit the required language forms may affect your eligibility.
For programs where language skills are Recommended or Not Required, if you possess some language skills relevant to the host country or proposed project, you should complete the Language Self Evaluation and submit a Foreign Language Evaluation Form. It will be advantageous to have your language ability documented, even though it is not required for the award. Remember, even if a country indicates that English will be sufficient for carrying out the proposed project, for purposes of Community Engagement, at least a basic level of language skill should be obtained prior to leaving the United States for the host country.
For programs in countries where English is one of the national languages, you do not need to submit any foreign language forms unless a foreign language is required for your project.
If you have little or no knowledge of the language relevant to the host country but plan to acquire proficiency prior to the start of the grant, you may discuss your plans in the Language Self Evaluation. In this case, you should not obtain a Foreign Language Evaluation.
For Commonly-Taught Languages: The Foreign Language Evaluation should be completed by a professional language teacher, preferably a university professor. The language evaluator cannot be related to the applicant.
For Less-Commonly-Taught Languages: If a professional language teacher is not readily available, a college-educated native-speaker of the language can be used. The language evaluator cannot be related to the applicant.
Provide your language evaluator with the Instructions for Foreign Language Evaluators. You can print these out and discuss them with the person completing the form.
If you wish to have the same person complete both a recommendation and a Foreign Language Evaluation, you will need to register the person once for the recommendation and once for the Foreign Language Evaluation. Please check with your evaluator/recommender to ensure they receive the correct forms. If your evaluator/recommender is having issues accessing the forms, please instruct them to email [email protected] for assistance.
You must submit three recommendation letters as part of the application. The authors should be the three individuals who can best speak to your ability to carry out the project being proposed; they should discuss your intellectual and professional preparation, and your ability to represent the U.S. abroad. You should provide the recommender with a copy of your Statement of Grant Purpose before requesting the recommendation letter. The recommendation letter should NOT simply be a character reference, as this will be of no value in assessing your ability to complete the proposed project.
- When choosing recommenders, select the three individuals who can best speak to your ability to carry out the proposed project. Do not submit character references.
- Recommenders cannot be related to you. Do not submit recommendations from a parent, sibling, or other relative.
- Provide reference writers with copies of the Statement of Grant Purpose and the Personal Statement so that they can write well-informed recommendation letters.
- Give recommenders at least 3-4 weeks to complete the recommendation letters.
- You must register the recommenders in the online application system so that they can upload their recommendation letters directly into the application. Let your recommenders/evaluators know that they should be expecting an email message with the following information in the header:
- From: Fulbright U․S․Student Program ([email protected])
- Subject: Fulbright Recommendation for [your name]
- Recommendations must remain confidential. Applicants cannot upload recommendation letters.
- Recommendation letters should be printed on institutional letterhead, signed by the authors, and then uploaded into the online application system. Digital signatures are also acceptable.
- Provide your recommenders with the Instructions for Study/Research Recommendation Writers
- All recommendations must be written in English. If the original recommendation letter is written in a language other than English there must be an official English translation. Because the recommendation letter is confidential the translation cannot be done by the applicant. Both the original recommendation letter and the English-language translation must be uploaded into the Fulbright application.
- After the recommendation is submitted, it cannot be edited. However, if there is a significant error and the recommender agrees to submit a revised recommendation, the following process must be followed:
- The deadline to request a letter be un-submitted is Friday, October 7, 2022 at 5:00pm Eastern Time.
- The recommender sends an email from the registered email account to [email protected] to request that the recommendation be un-submitted (from the login page of the Fulbright Online Recommendation System, the same used to submit the recommendation/evaluation).
- The email to [email protected] must include the applicant’s full name and country of application.
- The recommender will need to allow at least 48 hours for the request to be implemented.
- Once the recommendation is un-submitted, the recommender can edit the recommendation and resubmit.
- All recommendations must be submitted by the application deadline, Tuesday October 11, 2022 at 5 pm Eastern Time.Late recommendation submissions are not accepted.
- If a recommendation letter needs to be removed from the application after being submitted, the recommender must send an email from the registered email account to [email protected] to request that the recommendation be deleted from the application.
Note: Applicants and Fulbright Program Advisers cannot request that a recommendation be un-submitted.
Applicants can follow the status of the recommendation (In progress, Submitted) from the Status Page. Additional instructions and details on the submission of recommendations are available in the online application system.
The Fulbright Program requires a complete academic record of your higher education. You must provide transcripts from all undergraduate and graduate institutions from which you received degrees. Transcripts must also be submitted from other institutions where you studied and received credit for coursework. You may submit documentation of certificates (i․e․non-degree programs) only if relevant to your Fulbright Grant Purpose․ However, do not submit extraneous documents as they will not enhance your application․
Failure to submit any required transcripts will result in your application being declared ineligible.
- You must upload one unofficial academic transcript from each post-secondary institution from which you received (or expect to receive) a degree. Additional transcripts should be uploaded for coursework and grades not reflected on degree-granting transcripts.
- Make sure that the document that you submit clearly shows your name, the name of the institution, and appears as an academic record that is organized chronologically–with course dates, titles, credits and grades. Screenshots of online academic portals (e.g. a course schedule) will not be accepted.
- Graduate-level students who do not include undergraduate transcripts will be considered ineligible.
- Consult the Transcript and Upload Instructions page for more detailed information.
All candidates applying in the creative and performing arts must submit examples of their artistic work; this work, along with the written portions of the application, will be evaluated by the screening committee members. Arts applicants should understand that they will be evaluated first and foremost on their technical and artistic skills within their artistic disciplines and that the supplementary materials need to be complied in a professional manner.
- Carefully review and follow the instructions in the Required Supplementary Materials for Arts Applicants. Applicants for Germany should review and follow the additional instructions provided.
- You should assemble a portfolio that relates to the proposed project and demonstrates your artistic skills and growth in the field. Portfolio material should not be outside of the artistic discipline you have selected.
- You should solicit critiques from professional artists on the portfolios before submission.
- Work submissions need to be labeled in detailed fashion so that the National Screening Committee members are clear on the sizes of objects, the materials used, what your role in the production of the pieces was, etc.
The list of Arts fields
- Creative Writing
- Historical Performance
- Jazz Performance
- Opera Stage Direction
- String Instruments
- Woodwind & Brass
- World Music
- Performance Art
- Theater Arts
- Design & Crafts
- Drawing, Illustration, & Sequential Art
- Installation Art
Consult the Required Supplementary Materials For Arts Applicants page for more detailed information.
Applicants to Germany are required to submit additional materials at the semi-finalist stage. These materials are described in Additional Materials For Music And Arts For Germany and are in addition to the work samples described in the Required Supplementary Materials listed above.
Applicants proposing research involving human beings or animals as research subjects should have their projects vetted by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) at their home institutions. Pending selection, grantees may be required to obtain research clearance from the host country (where applicable). Strong letters of affiliation should include the host institution’s commitment to guiding the applicant through any in-country clearance processes.
At-Large applicants should conduct an individual ethics review ensuring that their proposed projects are consistent with ethical standards for research involving humans as research participants as outlined in the National Guidelines for Human Subjects Research (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Extramural Research, National Institutes of Health), and in the National Guidelines for Animal Welfare at the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare or other applicable internationally recognized ethics guidance documents.
Human subjects research includes:
- Clinical investigations (any experiment or study on one or more persons which involves a test product/article, whether a drug, treatment, procedure or device);
- Social-behavioral studies which entail interaction with or observation of people, especially vulnerable populations (i.e., as minors, pregnant women, inmates, drug-users, the mentally impaired, displaced/refugee populations); and,
- Basic scientific research to study the biology of animals, persons, or organs and specimens thereof.
The most fundamental issues in studies involving human research subjects include: valid scientific questions and approaches; potential social value; favorable risk-benefit ratio; fair selection of study participants and an adequately administered informed consent process.
On the ‘Affiliation’ page of the application, applicants must note if their proposed project will involve activities that may require a license to practice and/or involve clinical training and/or patient care.
While IRB approval is not required at the time of application, individuals selected for grants must abide by all ethical requirements before commencing their research on human and/or animal subjects through a Fulbright award.
The Prestigious Fulbright Award Is for Creative Writers, Too
Do you have a novel you want to write that takes place in Sicily? Madagascar? Belarus? Tahiti? If your character walks down the streets of San Cristobal, you have to walk those streets, right? If your character has an altercation with a shop owner in Perth, you have to describe the details, right? The specific gestures, the change in the voice, the thugs who enter from the back, the meat cleaver stuck in the rafters? You will have to see how the purples and yellows swirl on the ice floes in Patagonia to write it with authenticity. The heat of India? On a train? At rush hour? Being pushed to and fro by the crowd? You have to be there. You have to smell the elephant dung in the air, burn your tongue on the molé, distinguish the subtle changes in sounds of the dialects in Dresden, watch the seasons change at 15,000 feet in Nepal, feel the handlebars vibrate on the cobblestone streets. Beijing? Tasmania? Marrakesh? You have to live it.
The Fulbright Program is an international exchange program for students, scholars, and professionals to conduct international research, graduate study, university study, and teaching funded by an appropriation from Congress
to the Department of State.
In April of 2007, while in a PhD program in creative writing at Binghamton University, I attended a Fulbright information session and discovered a little-known fact: the prestigious Fulbright Award is for creative areas also. It is for undergraduates, graduates, and doctoral students. For musicians, writers, actors, filmmakers, artists, and dancers. I even learned that a nonstudent can apply as an independent. Age? Not an issue.
And so began my great adventure.
The Fulbright Program is an international exchange program for students, scholars, and professionals to conduct international research, graduate study, university study, and teaching funded by an appropriation from Congress to the Department of State. Though the program began in 1946 to promote mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, the Fulbright-Hays Act of 1961, proposed by Arkansas senator J. William Fulbright, provided the authorization. The program is dedicated to expanding positive relations between the United States and other countries with the aim of creating a true and lasting peace.
It was Kim Connel, a student in the MFA program at the University of Arkansas when I was an undergraduate, who first inspired me with the story of his Fulbright to Africa. But I was a single mother and did not know that the Fulbright not only allows family members to accompany the recipients of the awards but also increases the award slightly to accommodate them. Since then, I have learned of many single mother Fulbright Fellows, including medical student Rebecca Trotsky-Sirr, who spent her Fulbright year with her son in Venezuela, visiting rural health clinics.
With my inspiration still alive, I approached the Fulbright Program advisors at Binghamton, Susannah Gal and Elizabeth Tucker, with my idea. I had read Under the Still Standing Sun (Kindred Press, 1989), a historical novel by Canadian Dora Dueck about the Ukrainian Mennonite refugees who arrived in the inhospitable Chaco region of Paraguay in 1930, and I wanted to write a novel about the contemporary conditions of these refugees. I formulated my proposal, sought out sponsors in Paraguay, and took the necessary language tests. In April of 2008, I learned the news: I was accepted. By the end of August, after a July orientation in Washington, DC, with other bursting-with-enthusiasm Fulbright Fellows, I was in Asunción, Paraguay, and on my way to Filadelfia, the Chaco. The Fulbright grant covered my round-trip air fare, a generous monthly stipend for the ten-month period, and cash for research materials. I soon moved in with a Mennonite family.
A room of my own and a stipend. A writer’s dream.
Even more luck came my way, and I was able to spend two months in Yalve Sanga, a Nivaclé and Enlhet village about twenty miles from Filadelfia. I was able to walk the sandy roads, attend Saturday night music concerts and Sunday church, experience the 120-degree heat, teach in the schools, ride my bicycle for miles, read books not available in the United States, interview Enlhet, Nivaclé, Mennonite, and Paraguayan leaders, and write articles which I published in Canada and the United States. By May I had finished my novel, Chaco. In June I reluctantly left my new friends and home.
I will never be the same. My heart will always be in Paraguay.
“With the Fulbright I took myself more seriously as a writer,” says Gail M. Dottin, Fulbright Fellow to Panama in 2008-9. “I have a deeper understanding of my need to write. I have much more respect for my work and my process. I see more clearly what my writing career can look like and what other things it can lead to. It changed everything.” Gail M. Dottin’s project, a historical memoir, Where There Is Pride in Belonging, about her Barbadian grandfather’s work on the construction of the Panama Canal in the early 1900s and about her father’s life both on the Canal Zone and in the United States, involved interviewing family members, younger Panamanians, to get their perspective on growing up in Panama and researching the history of the canal builders. “At the national library, I dug through the issues of an old newspaper written by and for the West Indian Panamanian community in the middle of the last century,” she says.
Erika Martinez, Fulbright Fellow to the Dominican Republic for 2008-9, was able “to take the entire academic year to connect with the literary community in Santo Domingo [and] to conduct a call-for-submissions process for Daring to Write: Contemporary Narratives by Dominican Women (University of Georgia Press, 2016), and I was able to dedicate more time to my own writing.” In addition, she teamed up with Meg Petersen, a Fulbright Scholar in Santo Domingo, to teach a creative writing course.
Katrina Vandenberg, a 1999–2000 Fulbright Fellow to the Netherlands now teaching at the MFA program at Hamline University in Minneapolis, worked on a book of poems tentatively called “Vermeer’s Women.” She wrote poems that resulted in the book, Atlas: Poems (Milkweed Editions, 2004), in a tea shop in a cathedral in Utrecht. The book’s centerpiece is a section called “The Red Fields of Lisse (A Love Story).” “It weaves together the history of the tulip with the death of my former partner who had hemophilia and was infected with HIV through the blood supply,” she says, “It was all the walking through flower markets, and biking and taking trains past tulip fields, that did it.”
Poet and novelist Jillian Weise (The Amputee’s Guide to Sex, Soft Skull, 2007; The Colony, Soft Skull, 2010; Book of Goodbyes, BOA Editions, 2013), now a tenure-track assistant professor of English at Clemson University, was a 2008–2009 Fulbright Fellow to Argentina. “The Fulbright supports wild ideas. My wild idea was to live at the end of the world and follow Darwin’s ghost around for a novel I was writing. I didn’t use the word ‘ghost’ on the application, but that was the idea. Because of the Fulbright, I met Darwin in places like the Darwin Bar, the Beagle Channel, and San Martin Street. I finished a novel in which Darwin is a central character. Once someone supports your wild idea, it starts feeling real and wildly possible,” she says. Jillian Weise also completed a novel while on fellowship, called The Colony (Soft Skull, 2010). She wrote in cafes and pubs as well as at a defunct maximum-security prison (now the Museo Maritimo) and on a boat while touring the Beagle Channel. Her advice for Fulbright applicants? “As cheesy as it may sound, the Creative Writing Fulbright will change you in ways that you cannot imagine. Apply for some place that’s always seemed a little out of reach, a little impossible. Some place of mythos and intrigue,” she says.
I will also be hosting a panel on the Creative Writing Fulbright at the March 2020 convention of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs in San Antonio, where a group of Fulbright Creative Writing Fellows will be present to answer your questions and encourage you in your own great expectations of travel, research, and writing abroad.
M. Thomas Gammarino was a 2000–2001 Fulbright Fellow to Japan, an experience that spawned the idea for a novel, Big in Japan (Chin Music Press, 2009). “The idea grew largely out of a class I took while I was studying at Doshisha University in Kyoto during my Fulbright year. The class was entitled ‘Japan in the American Imagination,’ taught by a Professor Jonathan Veitch.” He wrote mainly at home and in cafes. He carried around a notebook, aimlessly wandering, talking to people, visiting temples and museums, traveling around the country, giving out tea and blankets to the homeless, and riding a BMX bike with some local kids at Kyoto Station.
When I was a temporary lecturer at Concord University in West Virginia, I organized the art department to send art supplies and form a sister relationship with the art club I started in Yalve Sanga, Paraguay, with the hope of fulfilling a part of the purpose of the Fulbright to promote mutual understanding.
I will also be hosting a panel on the Creative Writing Fulbright at the March 2020 convention of the Association of Writers & Writing Programs in San Antonio, where a group of Fulbright creative writing fellows will be present to answer your questions and encourage you in your own great expectations of travel, research, and writing abroad. There you can meet University of Houston Assistant Professor Daniel Peña (Garcia Robles Fulbright Scholar to Mexico, 2014–15), who says that he could not have written his novel Bang (Arts Publico, 2018), based on real events, without the Fulbright. “I knew if I was going to write about the drug war in Mexico, it was not enough to read the statistics and reportage alone. It was essential to go there, to give that information and those stories context and texture. It was very important for me to explore the characters in my novel with as much depth and dignity as possible—to get them right,” Peña says.
“My Fulbright year was my first experience of true creative and intellectual freedom. I was allowed—encouraged—to follow my project wherever it led, however it changed. I knew my work and my project better afterward; I knew myself better afterward, too,” says Fulbright Fellow Elisa Gonzalez (Poland, 2016–18) who will also be on the panel. Panelist Eireene Nealand, who spent her Fulbright year in Bulgaria (2014–15), says, “I’m happy to be able to say that I literally built a frame for the documentary book I created as part of my Fulbright research grant. True to the Fulbright philosophy of emphasizing human connection over production, The Nest (Nova Kultura Foundation, 2016) gathered itself up slowly, over sketchbooks, cups of tea, and the chance discovery of a festival I quickly fell in love with.” You will also be able to meet Serena Chopra, Fulbright Fellow to Bangalore, India, from 2016–17.
If you are a student, look for announcements about Fulbright information sessions on your campus. You can visit the websites associated with the State Department or the Institute of International Education for more information. If you are not a student, find information on these websites about applying “at large.”
Gail M. Dottin advises you to “have a clear idea about what you want to write about and try to communicate that well in your application. Sounds kind of obvious but it’s one of the most important things you can do, to think about what it is you want to get from the place you’re going to and how you’re going to get it. Then if you get the Fulbright, just be open. Throw the plan away because much of you what you wrote in your proposal and you envisioned will not happen. But what will happen, if you’re open and flexible, will be even richer.”
Best of luck to you!
Katherine Arnoldi’s graphic novel The Amazing True Story of a Teenage Single Mom was named one of the top ten books of the year by Entertainment Weekly. Her collection of short stories, All Things Are Labor, won the Juniper Prize. She has received the Henfield TransAtlantic Fiction Award, the DeJur Award, two New York Foundation of the Arts Awards (Fiction and Drawing), American Library Awards, the Newhouse and Link Awards, and a nomination for the Will Eisner Award. She was a Fulbright Fellow to Paraguay 2008–9.