French doctoral student wins national humanities fellowship from American Council of Learned Societies

| Thu, 06/15/23
Carine Schermann, a doctoral candidate studying French and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics
Carine Schermann, a doctoral candidate studying French and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. Photo by Jean Marc Hervé Abélard.

A Florida State University doctoral student has received a prestigious national fellowship for her research aimed at understanding representations of Blackness through literature and art in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

Carine Schermann, a doctoral candidate studying French and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, part of the College of Arts and Sciences, was awarded the 2023 Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. Schermann is part of the inaugural cohort for this new category of fellowship created to support the most current and innovative movements in humanities fields.

“I feel incredibly proud and grateful to the ACLS, the FSU Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards, and everyone who has helped me with my research,” Schermann said. “I’m ecstatic to receive such a prestigious award and reminded of how lucky I am to be surrounded by such a positive and caring community of professors, peers and friends.”

The Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Innovation Fellowship program is designed to support emerging scholars as they pursue bold and innovative research in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. Support from the Mellon Foundation recognizes award recipients who show promise for leading their fields in important new directions by challenging traditional norms of doctoral education.

Schermann joins a cohort of 45 fellows selected from a pool of nearly 700 applicants through a multi-stage peer review process that drew on the expertise of 170 scholars from institutions of higher education across the country. Each fellow will receive a $50,000 award to support research, consisting of a $40,000 stipend for the fellowship year, $8,000 for project research, training, professional development, and travel, and a $2,000 stipend to support external mentorship and advising.

Schermann’s project, “Under the Skin: Monstrosity, Myth-Making, and Resistance Across and Beyond the Haitian-Dominican Border,” focuses on beasts, monsters, and supra-human beings in Haitian and Dominican imaginaries and folklores. Her work touches on different sets of mostly contemporary objects and artifacts, ranging from literature and visual arts to music and editorial practices.

“Ms. Schermann is doing rich interdisciplinary and comparative work within the global French studies Ph.D. program,” said Jeannine Murray-Román, assistant professor of French and Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics. “Alongside her innovative approaches to research, she’s interwoven her own professional development with that of her whole cohort by creating structures for peer mentorship, workshop series, and graduate student symposia along with her peers.”

One scholarly shortcoming Schermann aims to counter with her dissertation project is the segmentation of Haitian and Dominican Republic studies. Haiti and the Dominican Republic are two Caribbean countries that share the island of Hispaniola, with Haiti occupying the western half of the island. Scholarship often separates the countries along borderlines with a focus on conflict.

“I want to participate in the scholarly effort to rewrite the island’s narrative away from tropes of essential enmity and mutual hatred,” she said.

Schermann’s innovative approach to research includes interviews with activists and analyses of the visual ethnographies of artists’ processes, both of which serve as foundational aspects of her scholarship.

Since coming to FSU in 2020, Schermann has received multiple awards. In 2022, she won the North Central Council of Latin Americanist Graduate Award for her paper on Marcio Veloz Magiollo's novel, “El hombre del acordeón.” Schermann also received the 2023 Exceptional Service Award and the 2022 Outstanding Graduate Student Award from the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics as well as the 2022 Winthrop-King Summer Doctoral Fellowship.

ACLS supports the creation and circulation of knowledge that advances understanding of human endeavors in the past, present, and future, with the goal of improving human experience. Since its establishment in the 1920s, the organization has awarded more than $28 million to over 13,000 fellowship and grant awardees.

To learn more about how FSU graduate students can fund their academic endeavors, visit FSU’s Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards at For more information about the Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, visit