Well, I am still pleased about the one situation, and I can probably still put the finishing touches on the present application without any real problem given the limitations of my sample "chapter" (of which I have complained before).
However, this one requires that one of the recommendations come from my chair or dean, so I had sent the chair--who is on my dissertation committee and is quite familiar with my work--the requisite information. (The application is due Tuesday, although admittedly the letters can drift in a little later.) This morning he emailed the entire department to let us know that anyone applying for this particular fellowship will be having their letters written by the dean (someone I doubt any of us have ever met or heard of), so we have to change our applications to list her instead of him and must send information to her so that she can come up with something to write about us.
I am not sure whose brilliant idea this was. It is a mystery to me why any dean would want--at the last minute, yet--to take on the task of writing recommendation letters for every PhD student in the humanities and social sciences who applies for this grant. Is this person going to be able to say anything more than that I am a student in good standing and that the university has agreed not to fund me further if I get this grant and fail to graduate on time? I cannot imagine that she will want to spend the weekend reading through X number of 5-page applications and 25-page chapters plus whatever else we send her to acquaint her with our academic progress and plans.
This is all happening on a Friday, I might add. I am sure I am not the only applicant who is away in a foreign country and might not be checking email every few minutes. Suppose I were diligently pursuing my research somewhere in Latin America, Africa, or Asia (or even a European village) where I could only check my email once a month or so and had sent off my application long ago and considered the matter finished? What if, for example, I were studying Laplanders' traditional music and was roaming around northern Finland with a group of Lapps and a team of reindeer?
Well, I say no more.