Dr Tess Somervell awarded British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship

Congratulations are in order for Dr Tess Somervell of the School of English, who has been awarded a prestigious Postdoctoral Fellowship by the British Academy.

These fellowships are designed to allow outstanding early-career academics in the humanities and social sciences to conduct a significant piece of research over a three-year period, resulting in publication. This year, the British Academy has awarded a record number of fellowships - 85 in total - with an unprecedented 64% being awarded to women.

Dr Somervell will be using her fellowship to conduct a research project entitled 'Georgic Climates: Writing the Weather in 18th Century Poetry', which investigates how 18th century poets used the Georgic mode to explore humanity’s relationship with the weather.

Georgic poetry was used to enquire into the causes of the weather: to navigate between scientific and theological explanations; to ask whether it was spontaneous or part of a larger ordered 'climate'. It asks the fundamental question of whether humans can really know, let alone control, nature. Understanding this history of weather-writing is important to understanding our own attitudes to, and assumptions about, climate.

Dr Somervell said of her achievement: "I was thrilled to be awarded a fellowship at Leeds because it’s the perfect home for my project, especially due to the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures’ strengths in environmental humanities. The support I received in putting together my application, from staff in the Leeds Humanities Research Institute and the School of English, was invaluable."

Chief Executive of the British Academy, Alun Evans, said: "We are delighted to welcome the largest ever cohort of Postdoctoral Fellows. It is particularly exciting to recognise the achievements of so many women at early-career level. This is a promising trend – both for our disciplines and academia as a whole – as Postdoctoral Fellows often go on to stellar academic careers."