Friday, April 28, 2017
Scott Sulzener

Name: Scott Sulzener
Hometown:  New Philadelphia, Ohio
Type of Fulbright Award: Fulbright U.S. Student Program Study/Research Award
Degree and Field of Study: Ph.D. candidate, History

Research/Teaching: The historical questions I’m interested in concern the intertwined roles of class and gender in claims to political power. My work examines a peculiar institution in the German Empire (1871-1918): the explicitly aristocratic and highly gendered space of the Protestant convent. In researching the membership and administration of four of these noble convents in the northern state of Schleswig-Holstein, I hope to demonstrate gender’s role in mediating questions of status and control in the German provinces. 

What drew you to this field of study? As with most of us, the actual answer is happenstance. Yet I’d imagine my upbringing conditioned me for such a topic, as well. The elite I study were from neither the social nor political heart of Germany. They were provincials, in a sense. And growing up in small-town Ohio, I’ve felt sensitive to the ways in which both religious and regional narratives can be sidelined in broader discussions about the nature of power. Try as I might to move beyond it, my interests, therefore, resonate with my background in a fairly typical way. 

How do you envision this will change your life? Practically, the Fulbright provides the means to access sources otherwise inaccessible stateside, allowing me to conduct research essential to the completion of my dissertation. These scholarly goals are only part of the package, however, given Fulbright’s dedication to promoting mutual exchange beyond national borders. I’ll, therefore, be able to represent the U.S. abroad through engagement in both the academic and social community of my host country. And it's this element that holds out the greatest possibility for change, I'd imagine, enriching an otherwise conventional research year with meaning far beyond the archive itself.  

What advice do you have for future students interested in pursuing a Fulbright award? First, take advantage of the University’s great international grants support system through International Programs! Their help is invaluable. Second, remember that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The application process can feel so arduous that finishing often becomes an end in itself. Keep in mind the reason you are pursuing this goal, and your essays will better emphasize the person behind the project. Your research and its feasibility are important, but you are the most significant component of your application. Considering Fulbright’s emphasis on international dialogue, do not lose sight in your proposal of your own value as an American cultural ambassador.