Vyjayanthi R. Selinger receives
2024 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship Award


23 February 2024 (Dallas, TX) Vyjayanthi R. Selinger, Associate Professor in Asian Studies at Bowdoin College, is the recipient of the 2024 Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship. The “Wheeler” aims to cultivate women as academic leaders.

Established to honor well-known medievalist Bonnie Wheeler, The Bonnie Wheeler Fellowship Fund of The Dallas Foundation supports the research of women medievalists with tenure below the rank of full professor. In addition to a generous stipend, each recipient is paired with a distinguished mentor in the field who engages with the recipient and her project to its successful completion. The fellowship helps women who have been at the associate level for too long to get “unstuck” and move to full professor.

Professor Selinger will receive the $25,000 fellowship and the support of a mentor as she completes her research for her second book, The Law in Letters: The Legal Imagination of Medieval Japanese Literature and Drama, which deals with the Japanese dramatic form known as Noh. Medieval Japanese drama features courtroom argumentation, legal waiting, and depictions of judicial appeals, in addition to characters who break out of jail or persuade the jailer to let them go. The jail cell expresses both liberation and unfreedom. Selinger eagerly anticipates the day when translations and studies of these plays will be taught in interdisciplinary classes on legal fictions and on global medieval literatures. Her life-long interest in legal procedurals, whether in fiction or film, have sustained her passion for this project.

Chair of the Selection Committee, Professor Anne Yardley, Drew Theological School (retired) noted that the committee was unanimous in its enthusiasm for Selinger’s application, “We are excited to support this fascinating, interdisciplinary work and look forward to the completion and publication of Professor Selinger's project.”

Born and raised in India, Vyjayanthi R. Selinger (Jayanthi for short) majored in Japanese at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University and was awarded a Japanese government MEXT scholarship to support study in Japan. She then moved to the United States for graduate study, earning her M.A. at Harvard and her Ph.D. at Cornell University. Jayanthi has been an Associate Professor in Asian Studies at Bowdoin College since 2014. Her first book, Authorizing the Shogunate: Ritual and Material Symbolism in the Literary Construction of Warrior Order (Brill, 2013), focused on the medieval epic, The Tales of the Heike (1371). She has received numerous grants and fellowships, including the Fulbright Core Scholar Award (2017) and multiple Japan Foundation Research Fellowships (2010, 2017, 2021). In addition to her monograph, she is the author of nine articles on topics including sword metaphors in medieval texts, the semiotics of blood in medieval Japan, the travel of the Indian epic Rāmāyana across Asia to Japanese shores. She works in multiple Asian languages and publishes in both English and Japanese.

Past Fellows