Kling Fellows, Fall 2018

Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship


The Kling Program empowers students to pursue a funded humanities research project of their own design over the course of their third and fourth years, to engage in interdisciplinary work and conversations about the role of the humanities in college and in public life, and to polish their findings in the form of a published article in the Kling journal, Slideshow. Potential Kling Fellows are Arts and Sciences undergraduates who seek opportunities to engage in serious independent research in the humanities and/or the humanistic social sciences. In addition to receiving a research stipend each semester, Kling fellows are enrolled in the Kling seminar for each of the four semesters of the program, which offers them a chance to think deeply and collaboratively about their projects. The Kling Program is a community of scholars who engage with one another’s research across disciplines, advocate for humanities work and communities, and contribute to the development of innovative and diverse knowledges in the humanities at WashU. 

Two Kling Fellows receive WashU endorsement for prestigious UK scholarships

Two Kling Fellows receive WashU endorsement for prestigious UK scholarships

Application process

Accepting applications now for students in the Class of 2026. Click on each circle for details about each step.

Information session

Prospective students are invited to attend an information session on Tuesday, February 6, 2024, at 6 pm in DUC 276

Event page & RSVP

Application form

Applicants must submit 1) a completed application form and 2) two short essays by March 22, 2024.

Application form

Letter of recommendation

A faculty letter of recommendation is due Monday, March 25 (see application form for details).


Applicants selected to continue to the second round of the application process are interviewed by program leadership and faculty in early April before final selections are made.

Kling Fellows in their own words

Photo of Cecilia O’Gorman

Cecilia O’Gorman, Class of 2025

The Kling Fellowship has dramatically improved my ability to communicate my research across disciplines and, perhaps more importantly, out into the wider world.

Lena Levey, Class of 2025

The Kling Fellowship has given me research, writing, and communication skills that I believe are useful in all fields. Using religious studies as a lens, my research has allowed me to learn about literature, environmental science, gender studies, and world history. With the help of my cohort, I can develop concrete strategies to answer the philosophical questions that inspired my research project.

Joy Hu, Class of 2025

Getting feedback from my cohort has taught me the invaluable skill of explaining knowledge and terms specific to my discipline to a broader audience. The Kling fellowship gave me the freedom to design a project that extends beyond the boundaries of the departments in which I study to pursue my vision of interdisciplinary research. My project has taught me that every topic has multiple approaches — economic theory in conversation with humanistic analysis captures more nuances than either form of analysis alone.

Photo of Jeffrey Camille

Jeffrey Camille, Class of 2025

With creative control over my research, refined through faculty and peer mentoring, my time as a Kling Fellow has enabled me to pursue issues of global significance in a challenging yet rewarding environment.

About the Kling Fellowship

Each Kling Fellow identifies a humanities-oriented research project, which often changes over time, and works with the Center for the Humanities to select a faculty mentor for guidance in his or her discipline and to request research funding. Kling Fellows meet weekly in an interdisciplinary seminar where they present drafts of their work, peer-review one another’s writing, read and think about the role of the humanities in university life, and occasionally get off campus to see humanities research in action around the St. Louis metro area. During the summers, Kling research continues, with many Fellows drawing on their research funds for everything from language study to ethnographic interviews to archival discovery. Kling Fellows are also encouraged to present their research at conferences and symposia, both on and off campus.

Over the course of two academic years, each Kling Fellow will write up his or her research findings in either a scholarly article or a long-form piece of creative nonfiction: both will be published in the annual Kling journal, Slideshow.

The Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship Program has provided these opportunities for students since 2003. Stephanie Kirk, director of the Center for the Humanities, serves as the faculty director of the Kling Fellowship. Meredith Kelling, the center’s assistant director of student research and engagement, administers the Kling Fellowship Program. For more information about the application process, contact Dr. Kelling at mlkelling@wustl.edu.

As part of the Kling seminar, Fellows engage with public humanities organizations in the metro St. Louis area, such as the Gateway Arch National Park Museum and Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center.


Slideshow: The Kling Fellowship Journal

At the end of the two-year Kling Fellowship, the center provides an opportunity for fellows to publish their research through the Kling Fellowship journal Slideshow.

Read current and past issues of Slideshow
Kling Fellow Erica Williams doing summer research

Kling Fellowship Details & Timeline

The Merle Kling Undergraduate Honors Fellowship is a two-year research program that is housed in and administered by the Center for the Humanities. Between five and seven Arts and Sciences sophomores are selected each spring to pursue independent research projects of their choosing in the humanities or humanistic social sciences. Fellows receive guidance through faculty mentorship and participation in a weekly research seminar throughout their junior and senior years. In addition, Fellows conduct independent research each summer. Each Fellow will receive $6000 in research funding over the course of the two-year fellowship (normally $1500 / semester). The program culminates with the publication of the senior Fellows’ final papers in the Kling research journal, Slideshow.

Weekly seminar

A three-credit, writing-intensive Kling Fellowship seminar (L56 CFH 400W) meets once a week throughout the academic year and is required for all junior and senior Kling Fellows on campus (second-semester juniors may elect to study abroad). Stephanie Kirk, the center’s director, typically teaches this class and directs discussion of the Fellows' research goals, papers, and argument structure. Fellows engage the work of their peers through presentations and peer review, discuss the status of the humanities in public life and the potential advantages and drawbacks of graduate study, and engage with the center’s faculty and graduate-student fellows in discussions about research methods, projects, and careers in the humanities.

Mentor partnership

To provide subject expertise and discipline-specific advice on the wide range of topics pursued by Kling Fellows, each Fellow works closely with a WU faculty mentor (typically but not always in the Fellow’s major department) throughout the two-year program to plan and carry out a mutually agreeable research project. A few Fellows with highly interdisciplinary programs wind up with two faculty mentors; a few Fellows whose projects shift significantly will also wind up changing mentors as a result. During the academic year and the summer, mentors and Fellows communicate regularly to discuss research progress, challenges, and ideas.

Summer research

Fellows must submit monthly updates on their research progress to their mentors and program faculty during each of their two summers in the program. Many students in the program use their summers for intensive language study, fieldwork, or archival research. Kling fellows often save part of their stipends for summer research expenses, but they are also encouraged to apply for funds from their major departments/programs and from the Office of Undergraduate Research.


Every semester, Fellows go on an outing to one or more public humanities sites in the community, such as the George B. Vashon Museum, the Missouri Historical Society, or the Museum at the Gateway Arch.

Fellowship timeline

Here’s what your time as a Kling Fellow might look like:

  • Spring Semester, Sophomore Year – Beginning after Spring Break, the newly admitted Kling sophomores will attend an orientation seminar. Sophomores should also finalize their choice of faculty mentor and begin meeting regularly. The major responsibility of this semester is for each student to identify and articulate summer research goals.
  • Summer after Sophomore Year – Rising junior Kling Fellows conduct independent research, sending monthly updates to both their faculty mentor and the Kling program leaders. Language study and intensive immersion in existing scholarship are typical goals for the first summer of the Kling program. Some entering Kling Fellows also hold summer internships or jobs.
  • Fall Semester, Junior Year – Junior Kling Fellows attend weekly seminar meetings, learn about humanities research and careers, and expand on their summer research. They workshop other Fellows' research papers and refine their own proposals, including a literature review. They  learn how to present their research in everything from one-minute elevator speeches to ten- or fifteen-minute formal talks. Occasionally, Kling juniors study abroad in the fall semester, in which case they do most of the work on their proposals in the spring semester.
  • Spring Semester, Junior Year – Some juniors study abroad this semester, submitting periodic updates on their Kling research progress. (A few juniors opt to study abroad in the fall instead.) The remaining juniors continue with the seminar, writing either an expanded proposal, a separate short research paper (such as a survey of their project's historical background), or both.
  • Summer after Junior Year – Rising senior Kling Fellows often conduct the bulk of their original research in this summer, whether that research involves ethnographic interviews, textual analysis, archival immersion, or another form of research. They send monthly updates and otherwise remain in contact with their faculty mentor and Kling program leaders.
  • Fall Semester, Senior Year – Senior Kling Fellows will continue to attend weekly seminar meetings, giving and receiving peer feedback on written work and presentations, and ending the semester with a complete (but not final) draft of an article for Slideshow.
  • Spring Semester, Senior Year – Kling seniors must submit their Slideshow articles before Spring Break. One senior will serve as Slideshow’s student editor, writing an editor’s note and making decisions about journal layout and presentation together with the Kling program leaders. At the end of the semester, all Kling seniors will formally present their research. We end each academic year with a Kling Senior Dinner, where three years of Kling Fellows and their mentors come together to celebrate.

Contact Us

For additional information about the Kling Fellowship Program or the Kling application process, please reach out to:

Meredith Kelling

Assistant Director of Student Research and Engagement, Center for the Humanities