Alumna Wins Prestigious Postgraduate Scholarships
October 24, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. - Alicia Levin, a 2002 graduate of Illinois Wesleyan University,
received the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa (PBK) Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship for French
Studies last spring. The $20,000 award will allow her to conduct research in France
over the 2006-07 academic year as she writes a dissertation to earn her doctorate
from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Each year, the Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship provides one unmarried female doctoral
student between the ages of 25 and 35 with the opportunity to complete original postgraduate
research in Europe. This year the award was designated for a student of French language
"I wrote my application unsure of whether my topic was appropriate," said Levin, whose
field of research is musicology. "As I argued in my application, I use literary sources
in my work, although my discipline is not French literature or language. The fellowship
has been awarded to interdisciplinary projects in the past, so I thought I'd give
it a try."
Levin learned that she had won the Sibley Fellowship in the spring of 2006. "I was
thrilled at the prospect of spending a year in France and relieved that I would be
able to write the dissertation that I had proposed," she said. "Without the primary
sources in French archives, I would have had to adjust the topic to fit the limited
materials available in the U.S."
Levin's proposed dissertation, "Seducing Paris: Piano Virtuosos and Artistic Identity,
1820-1848," examines how prominent 19th-century pianists constructed their identities
and launched their careers in France.
A native of Oshkosh, Wis., Levin earned her bachelor of music in piano performance
with a minor in French and Francophone studies from IWU in 2002 and completed her
master's at the University of North Carolina in 2004. To support the necessary research
in France for her dissertation, the final requirement for the completion of her doctorate,
Levin applied for seven grants in addition to the Sibley fellowship last fall.
She has received a total of four awards, including the Chateaubriand Fellowship provided
by the Education Office of the Embassy of France in the United States. This grant,
which is awarded to 14 doctoral students at American universities each year, will
provide Levin with a monthly stipend, health insurance and a round trip ticket to
Levin will remain in Paris until June of 2007, when she will travel to Brussels to
continue her research. She plans to return to the University of North Carolina before
the beginning of the 2007-08 academic year.
The Mary Isabel Sibley Fellowship has been awarded to students of Greek and French
in alternate years since its inception in 1934. The award was founded by Isabelle
Stone, a graduate of both Wellesley College and Cornell University and a member of
PBK, who completed postgraduate research on Greek history and language in Europe during
the first decade of the 20th century.
Founded in 1776, PBK is the oldest academic honor society in the United States. With
more than 270 chapters and half a million members, PBK seeks to champion education
in the liberal arts and sciences, recognize academic excellence and foster freedom
of thought and expression.
Contact: Rebecca Welzenbach, (309) 556-3181