Programs and Series

First Book Institute

First Book Institute


The 2024 First Book Institute

Hosted by the Center for American Literary Studies

Pennsylvania State University

June 2-8, 2024

First Book Institute 2


  • Sean X. Goudie, Director of the Center for American Literary Studies and Past Winner of the MLA Prize for a First Book
  • Priscilla Wald, R. Florence Brinkley Distinguished Professor of English at Duke University and Co-Editor of American Literature

The stakes of successful publishing by early career professors in humanities fields are as urgent as ever given the many challenges confronting institutions of higher education and university presses. Responding to a glaring need in the field, the First Book Institute—now in its twelfth year—features workshops and presentations led by institute faculty aimed at assisting participants in transforming their book projects into ones that promise to make a significant impact on the field and thus land them a publishing contract with a top university press. Eight successful applicants will be awarded stipends to defray the costs of travel and lodging for the institute, which is scheduled to be held in person at Penn State.

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 12, 2024, 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

Learn more about the First Book Institute from this short video featuring the co-directors and participants of the inaugural First Book Institute.

"The Institute has given me a whole new perspective on my project. I have all kinds of ideas for how I'm going to go forward from here."