SPARC Advocates Open Access for Scholarly Resources

"SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication. SPARC believes that faster and wider sharing of the outputs of the scholarly research process increases the impact of research, fuels the advancement of knowledge, and increases the return on research investments. SPARC focuses on taking action in collaboration with stakeholders – including authors, publishers, and libraries – to build on the unprecedented opportunities created by the networked digital environment to advance the conduct of scholarship.

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Call for Papers: New Approaches to Manuscript Variations in South Asia

A panel at the European Conference on South Asian Studies

Warsaw, Poland, July 27-30, 2016


Convenors: Neeraja Poddar (Philadelphia Museum of Art) and Arthur Dudney (University of Cambridge)

The papers in this panel will explore the themes of copying, repetition and reproduction in the context of early-modern South Asian manuscripts to understand how such books were valued, used and disseminated. We hope to include manuscripts in both pothi and codex format—with and without illustrations—ranging from literature and religious treatises to dictionaries and indexes. Common to them is the fact that multiple versions and editions of each were made through copying by hand. The result of such non-mechanical reproduction is that copies might not be "perfect" with variations introduced by artists and scribes, either deliberately or inadvertently. The purpose of this panel is to explore the significance of such variations. Rather than thinking of them as merely discrepancies or mistakes, we regard them as junctures where the authors' or artists' engagement with contemporary sectarian concerns, literary trends, artistic strategies and popular culture may be manifest.

Papers might compare different editions or versions in order to investigate issues such as: What is the core of a text? Which viewpoint is preferred at a particular historical moment? How are narratives transformed as they are copied? What is the impact of scribal error when such an error becomes sanctified by usage? We invite proposals from scholars who work in a variety of disciplines including Art History, Literature, and Religious Studies, especially welcoming proposals that draw upon methodologies from Digital Humanities.

Submit a proposal here. Our panel is number P33. Please contact either of the convenors at the links above if you have any questions. Please note that in order to attend the conference you have to be a paid up member of the European Association for South Asian Studies. You can join here

Crossroads: The Future of Graduate History Education

The Caspersen School of Graduate Studies and History and Culture program at Drew University are pleased to announce the distinguished keynote speakers for Crossroads: The Future of Graduate History Education.

Leonard Cassuto is a professor of English at Fordham University and the author or editor of eight books on American literature and culture.

His new book, The Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It, was inspired by the monthly column, “The Graduate Adviser," that he writes for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Cassuto is also an award-winning journalist who writes on subjects ranging from science to sports, in venues from The New York Times to

Robert Townsend oversees the Washington office of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and day-to-day work on the Humanities Indicators initiative.

Prior to the Academy, he spent 24 years at the American Historical Association, in positions ranging from editorial assistant to deputy director. He is the author of History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 2013) and author or co-author of over 200 articles on various aspects of history, higher education and electronic publishing.

For more information on Crossroads, including the Call for Papers, visit Proposals for conference presentations are due November 15. Join the discussion online using #FutureofHistory

GRANT Slavic Studies May 2015

The Association for Women in Slavic Studies (AWSS) is pleased to announce a call for nominations for the Mary Zirin Prize in recognition of an independent scholar in the field of Slavic Studies. The award of $500 is named for Mary Zirin, the founder of Women East-West.

Working as an independent scholar, Zirin produced and encouraged fundamental works in Slavic/East European Women's Studies and has been instrumental in the development of the AWSS. The Prize aims to recognize the achievements of independent scholars and to encourage their continued scholarship and service in the fields of Slavic or Central and Eastern European Women's Studies.

The Committee encourages the nomination of candidates at all career stages. For the purpose of this award, an independent scholar is defined as a scholar who is not employed at an institution of higher learning, or an employee of a university or college who is not eligible to compete for institutional support for research (for example, those teaching under short-term contracts or working in administrative posts). We welcome nominations from CIS and Central and Eastern Europe.

The Zirin Prize Committee will accept nominations (including self-nominations) until September 1, 2015. Nominations must include: (1) a nomination letter of be no more than two-pages double-spaced; (2) the nominee's current curriculum vitae; and (3) a sample publication (e.g., article or book chapter). The nomination letter must describe the scholar's contribution to the field, as well as work in progress.

Nominations should be sent to Marilyn Smith at, or by postal mail to

Marilyn Schwinn Smith, 14 Allen Street, Amherst, MA 01002


Dorbrecht Grant Recipient Publishes Research

Edith Brotman has recently published Mussar Yoga: Blending an Ancient Jewish Spiritual Practice with Yoga to Transform Body and Soul (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014), using research funded by the Dorbrecht grant.  

Book abstract

While there are no statistics on the number of Jews participating in so-called Eastern religious practices, yoga and Buddhism anecdotally appear popular among liberal Jews in North America and even in Israel. According to Rodger Kamemetz, author of The Jew and the Lotus, the first known American convert to Buddhism in the late 19th century was a Jew named Charles Strauss. In the 1960s and 70s the term Jubu (or interchangeably, Buju) emerged as a way to refer to a person of Jewish religious and ethnic heritage who practices Buddhism in some manner or degree. The term is sometimes ironically used to refer to Jews who simply have a lifestyle that is highly infused with Eastern traditions such as yoga or meditation.

With the seeming rise of interest in yoga, there is growing curiosity and acceptance of spiritual parallels between Judaism and yoga’s philosophy and practices. Mussar Yoga draws on my own research into the similarities of the Jewish tradition of Mussar and yoga to offer a blended practice which draws on the similarities and strengths of the two.

Both Mussar and yoga are products of both the ancient and contemporary worlds. The yoga sutras date from around the Fourth Century CE, but yoga as we know it today is a likely outgrowth of the creation of the modern Indian nation-state. About the same time that the yoga sutras were written, Mussar, which means “instruction” was a recognized ethical discipline. In late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the Mussar Movement headed by Rabbi Israel Salantar developed as a community and yeshiva based approach to Mussar study. For many decades Mussar appeared to be another victim of the Holocaust. Currently, however, the practice is experiencing a revival.

The concurrent resurgence of both Mussar and yoga spotlights parallels between the two.  One parallel is the ethical principles—such as truth, zeal, loving kindness, order and moderation.  Another are the methods. Both practices work as conversations between the behaviors of every day life and the precepts of sacred texts. And, meditation, mantras and chanting are employed by both Mussar and yoga. The spotlight also reveals differences as well such a yoga’s greater use of the physical body as template for change, and the Jewish emphasis on action rather than intention.

The book, Mussar Yoga, works as an approachable “how to” manual with a discussion of the two traditions and how together they can facilitate transformation of body and soul.  The book offers insight into thirteen different middot (ethical precepts) from both Jewish and yogic perspectives and includes photos and instructions for yoga poses, suggested mantras and questions for daily journalling.

Conference Travel Grant Award Winners Announced

Congratulations to the winners of the NCIS Conference Support Grants.  The Awards Committee are currently considering the submisions received for the Fall 2015 cycle, and the award winners will be announced by 1 November, 2015. The Awards Committee is now accepting applications for the next grant cycle. Deadline: April 1, 2016. 
For more information visit
The following members have been awarded grants:
2014: Neil Dukas and Jolanta Wrobel Best
Dr. Dukas participated in the first NCIS-cosponsored session of the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, “From Surviving to Thriving: Practicing History as an Independent Scholar,” giving a talk entitled, “The Independent Historian and the Questions of 'Academic” Rigor.”
Dr. Wrobel Best presented a paper entitled “Vilnius, Czeslaw Milosz, and Facing the River,” as part of the panel “Like a Pendulum Swinging Back and Forth: Images of Vilnius/Wilno in Polish Culture after 1989,” at the conference of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  Unfortunately Dr. Wrobel Best was unable to attend the meeting in person and therefore declined the grant.  She presented her paper remotely.
There were no Research Support Grants awarded in the Fall cycle, due to insufficient entries.
2015: Gary L. Herstein
Dr Herstein was awarded a Conference Support Grant for his paper "Whitehead’s 'Intuitive' Interpretation of Relativity" which he was due to give as part of the "Intuition in Mathematics and Physics" panel at the 2015 International Whitehead Conference "Seizing an Alternative: Toward an Ecological Civilization" in Claremont, CA in June 2015.

Independent Scholar Wins MacArthur Foundation Award

Excerpted from The Washington Post article, September 17, 2014:
Pamela Long, 71, an independent scholar based in Washington, works from home and almost never answers her phone. So when she received an e-mail from the MacArthur Foundation asking her to call, she thought it was for an interview about someone else who had been nominated. Then she was told she had won. In the days that followed, her initial reaction — shock — slowly gave way to relief.
As a historian not affiliated with a university, she never knows how she will afford to do her work — research on the science and technology of 15th- and 16th-century Europe — from year to year. So far she has supported herself through grants. “But I don’t think you can get a grant every year for the rest of your entire life,” she said on a video call from Rome, where she is studying archival material for a book tentatively titled “Engineering the Eternal City.”
“Therefore I didn’t quite know how I was going to continue. Even though I was going to continue because I’m obsessed with what I’m doing, so there’s nothing that could really stop me. But it’s a wonderful thing because I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

JPASS Benefit

JPASS: A New Benefit for NCIS Members

The National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS) is pleased to offer a 50% discount on JPASS –JSTOR’s individual access plans.
JSTOR is one of the most heavily used research and teaching platform for academic libraries. Scholars use JSTOR to discover, read, and build upon a wide range of academic journals that are archived from the very first issue published.
For the first time, JPASS connects unaffiliated scholars—independent researchers, faculty with limited JSTOR access, and anyone working outside the academy—to the 1,600+ scholarly journals in the JSTOR archive on a monthly or annual basis. Designed specifically for those with limited or no JSTOR access,  JPASS acts as your “personal library card” where you pay a fee and get unlimited reading and limited downloading to JSTOR’s rich digital library.
NCIS members can access the annual JPASS for $99—a 50% discount off what others will pay.  A $19.50 monthly plan is also available to those seeking short term JSTOR access.
You can register for your JPASS account in the members only area of this site. Logon to your account first, then go to
You can also view the full title list and learn more about JPASS here: Please note that this custom link will expire 12/31/2014.  To renew your JPASS for next year, we will furnish a new link to guarantee your member discount rate.  Please contact with any questions.


Amendment to the Bylaws Passed

As of its meeting of April 16, 2014, the Executive Committee recommended to the Board an amendment to the Bylaws for immediate action. On April 19, the Board completed its voting, which was unanimous.  Members submitted their votes on May 25, 2013 and the amendment was passed.  

As NCIS grows and changes, the need for new executive positions grows as well. With the participation of the voting membership who approved a new amendment to the Bylaws, NCIS has created its first Membership Officer.


"The Board shall from time to time create a new officer position as needed."



Every Officer, either appointed or elected, is a member of the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is the leadership group that manages the daily activities and business of NCIS between Board meetings

Officers and Board Members comprise the Board of Directors.


The Membership Chair is one of the most important positions that any Board member can hold. Currently the position is managed by a Board member. We feel it is important to elevate the position of Membership Chair to that of Membership Officer, a position on the Executive Committee. This is a position that now exists broadly throughout the nonprofit sector. The Membership Officer would, by default, chair the Membership Committee.

The Membership Officer would work on issues and policies that affect NCIS and would be in charge of membership recruitment and retention. In addition, and just as important, this officer would be working closely with the Communications Officer and continue to collaborate with the Benefits Committee and other committees, as needed.

Membership Officers are far more important positions today than in the past when their responsibilities were far fewer and their positions of seemingly lesser importance. That has changed, and we need to move forward with an outreach campaign to grow the numbers of NCIS members. The Board needs the Membership Chair to play an important role in the management of the daily activities of NCIS, one whose overall responsibility will be the membership, work to spearhead the outreach, and work collegially with the Board to accomplish our very needed expansion.

We have reached the point where we require such an officer for the present and future growth of NCIS.

2015 NCIS Conference Bulletin

NCIS is planning a two-day conference in New Haven, Connecticut, for 2015! We hope to see you at roundtables, presenting papers, sitting on panels, networking with your NCIS colleagues as well as sharing tours and dining and a bit of sightseeing.

But we can't accomplish this without you. NCIS events such as this are member-driven, so it’s up to you to make this conference happen by volunteering to work on conference planning and implementation.

Without your committed participation, there will be no conference. A few essential hours a month from each of you will create a memorable conference in a fascinating city with a great university - Yale. Please read through the descriptions of the committees and let our Volunteer Liaison know on which you'd like to serve.
The Program Committee creates the conference's bone structure: the program. A separate affiliated peer-review group selects the conference papers and panels, which means that you can work on the Program Committee and still submit a paper or panel. Ultimately, the committee's work culminates in the program brochure that attendees need to guide them through the conference. The Program Committee are the architects of the conference.
The Local Arrangements Committee deals with the myriad practical requirements for holding a conference. To the members of this committee fall decisions about lodging for attendees, meals and coffee breaks, what venues we'll require and what spaces we'll need there, what necessities to have in place like AV/sound/podium, and much more. This committee needs detail-oriented people who aren’t afraid of the nitty-gritty.
The Publicity Committee is responsible for reaching out to the world and inviting them to the conference. Flyers, press releases, etc., will be the beginning of the work. This committee will form slightly later than the other two, but it is a vital effort and we want to sign you up now. Your communication skills are what we need.
Simply put: the conference won't happen without you.
We need to hear from you promptly - by midnight MONDAY, MAY 12 - to move forward.
To volunteer for committee service, please contact our Volunteer Liaison: Janet Wasserman,


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