Dec. 11, 2012 by Lauren Rubenstein
History major Solomon “Zully” Adler ’11 has been named a Marshall Scholar for 2013-14, an honor that will allow him to study toward a graduate degree at a British university. He is Wesleyan’s eighth Marshall Scholar, and the first since 1996.
The Marshall Scholarship was founded in 1953 in honor of U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall to commemorate the humane ideals of the Marshall Plan (the American program to help European economies rebuild after the end of World War II). Each year, up to 40 intellectually distinguished young American scholars are selected to receive full financing of a graduate degree at a U.K. institution in any field of study. More information on the program is available here.
Adler was nominated for the Marshall Scholarship by Wesleyan’s International Scholarships Committee, and President Michael S. Roth signed a letter of institutional endorsement. Professor of Art David Schorr and Adler’s thesis advisor, Jennifer Tucker, associate professor of history and science in society, wrote letters of recommendation for him.
Adler studied printmaking, typography and graphic design with Schorr as well as serving as his teaching apprentice. Schorr said, “Zully’s abilities as an artist and designer were commensurate with his intellectual gifts, and in fact, his ability to make his own complex ideas visual was his great gift. His work was challenging and always witty, and though not a studio major, he and his roommate had a two-person show in Usdan of their work in printmaking and typography.”
According to Tucker, the History Department awarded Adler the Dutcher Prize in recognition of his outstanding performance as a history major. Adler’s excellent honors thesis, “‘I Belong to Every Country’: John James Audubon and the Multivalence of National Identity,” received high honors in the History Department with a grade of A+, and has drawn attention from scholars of the history of science and art.
Adler says Tucker, who was a Marshall Scholar herself at the University of Cambridge in 1988, suggested he apply for the scholarship based on his interest in researching the United Kingdom. “I was fascinated by British print culture in the 19th century and its many transformations—from letterpress to engraving, to lithography, and finally the offset rotary press. I also had a particular affinity for the British Arts and Crafts Movement,” he says. “The Marshall was the perfect opportunity to explore these histories through interdisciplinary practice.”
Adler’s studies in the U.K. will begin in Fall 2013. The Marshall Scholarship is granted before applicants are officially accepted by the individual universities. Adler’s preference is to first earn a one-year Master of Studies in Art History and Visual Culture at Oxford University. There, he intends to write a short dissertation on William Morris, the Kelmscott Press, and the nexus of independent print and commercial reproduction in the late 19th century. In his second year, he hopes to study at the Glasgow School of Art and earn a Master of Research in Creative Practices. This program explores how academic research informs studio practice/creative production.
Ultimately, Adler says, these programs will prepare him to earn a Ph.D. in History. He plans to pursue an academic post that will allow him to study Modernism in Visual Culture and teach history in a hands-on manner. “If everything goes my way, I will be able to fold curatorial and editorial practice into my academic work,” he says.
Adler, who hails from Los Angles, Calif., applied for the Marshall Scholarship while traveling around the world through a year-long Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, which ended in August. During this year, Adler researched independent and sustainability approaches to community art and music, and collaborated with DIY music labels (specifically, cassette-based labels) and musicians in nearly 40 cities across 15 countries. In each location, he lived with a local artist and worked with a local “collective,” who shared their space and equipment with him. (Read more about Adler’s Watson Fellowship in this Wesleyan Connection article.)
“My work included collaborating on new releases of local music, organizing collaborative concerts, and recording with various musicians. I took part in several panel discussions on new approaches to independent music,” Adler says.
Adler traces his academic pursuits back to his relationships with Wesleyan faculty. “I owe so much to my mentors and instructors, who prompted my fascination with Morris, my addiction to print, and my love of research,” he says. Specifically, “Professor Joseph Siry’s course of Modern European Architecture introduced me to the work at theory of William Morris, John Ruskin, and the whole British Arts and Crafts Movement. Professor David Schorr’s course on Typography was the foundation for my interest in the craft of print. He opened my eyes to the world of design; a visual code that permeates our everyday lives. My academic advisor, Professor Magda Teter, encouraged my study of books. Her courses on Jewish History and the History of the Book gave new life to old tomes. My thesis advisor, Jennifer Tucker, proved to me that Visual Culture is a worthy pursuit. She fostered my appetite for Victorian England and the 19th century in general. And working with Suzy Taraba in Wesleyan’s Special Collections proved how exciting and rewarding archival research can be. All I needed were some great people to help me out.”