Final Reminder: First Book Institute Applications Due by 2/15

deadline for submissions: 
February 15, 2021
full name / name of organization: 
Center for American Literary Studies
contact email: 


The 2021 First Book Institute

June 6-12, 2021

Hosted by the Center for American Literary Studies (CALS) at Pennsylvania State University via Zoom


Sean X. Goudie, Director of the Center for American Literary Studies and Winner of the MLA Prize for a First Book

Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Professor of English and Women’s Studies, Duke University, and Co-Editor of American Literature

The stakes of successful publishing by early career professors are more urgent than ever given the current state of higher education promotion and publishing.  Responding to a glaring need in the field, the First Book Institute—now in its ninth year—features workshops and presentations led by institute faculty aimed at assisting participants in transforming their book projects into ones that promise to make the most significant impact possible on the field and thus land them a publishing contract with a top university press. 

Updating the initial call for applications: Given the ongoing pandemic and the slower-than-expected vaccine rollout, the institute will be held virtually via Zoom. 

Applications to the First Book Institute are invited from scholars working in any area or time period of American literary studies who hold a PhD and are in the process of writing their first book (whether a revised and expanded dissertation or other project).  Applicants should not have negotiated a formal agreement of any kind with a press to publish their manuscript.  

Electronic applications, due by February 15, 2021, should include the following:

·       Application letter describing the project and anticipated timeline for completion

·       C. V.

·       Project abstract, including chapter summaries

·       Introduction or sample chapter

Please send all application materials in a single PDF file (and any queries) to

For more information about the First Book Institute, including video testimony about the inaugural First Book Institute from the participants and co-directors, please see: