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6 Alumni Receive 2016 Guggenheim Fellowships

David Rabban ’71 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for his work in constitutional studies.

David Rabban ’71 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for his work in constitutional studies.

On April 5, six Wesleyan alumni–David Rabban ’71, Roxanne Euban ’88, Lyle Ashton Harris ’88, Rick Barot ’92, Adam Berinsky ’92 and Jonas Carpignano ’06–were each awarded Guggenheim Fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. According to the foundation, these prestigious awards aim to “further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color or creed.”

Rabban is an award winning author and academic whose research focuses on labor law, higher education and the law, and American legal history. For his 1997 book Free Speech in its Forgotten Years, he received the Morris D. Forkosch Prize presented by the Journal of the History of Ideas and the Eli M. Oboler Award of the American Library Association Intellectual Freedom Round Table. From 1998 to 2006 he served as the General Counsel of the American Association of University Professors and from 2006 to 2012 as the Chair of the AAUP’s Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

Over the course of his career Rabban has earned fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Whitney Humanities center, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and other institutions. During his Guggenheim Fellowship, he intends to author a book the history, theory, and law of academic freedom.

Lyly Ashton Harris was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for photography. (Photo by Rob Kulisek.)

Lyly Ashton Harris ’88 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for photography. (Photo by Rob Kulisek)

Lyle Ashton Harris ’88 received his fellowship for his contributions in the field of photography. On his website, Harris writes that his work “explores intersections between the personal and the political, examining the impact of ethnicity, gender and desire on the contemporary social and cultural dynamic.” In particular, his projects are known for employing self-portraiture and using iconic figures in popular culture such as Billie Holiday and Michael Jackson.

Rick Barot ’92 received a 2016 Guggenheim for poetry. (Photo by Mara Barot.)

Rick Barot ’92 received a 2016 Guggenheim for poetry. (Photo by Mara Barot)

Harris has exhibited his work around the globe at institutions like the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and the 52nd Venice Biennale. After graduating from Wesleyan, Harris went on to receive his MFA from the California Institute of the Arts. He currently lives in New York City where he teaches at New York University.

Rick Barot ’92, a poet, published his most recent collection of poems, Chord, with Sarabande Books in 2015. The book was a finalist for the L.A. Times Book Prize and the PEN Open Book award and won the 2016 UNT Rilke Prize. Barot has published two other titles with Sarabande Books, The Darker Fall (2002) and Want (2008), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and won the 2009 Grub Street Book Prize.

Barot resides in Tacoma, Wash., where he directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University. He serves as the poetry editor of New England Review.

Adam Berinsky ’92, professor of political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is a specialist in the fields of political behavior and public opinion. His work focuses primarily on questions of representation and the communication of public sentiment to the political elite.

Adam J. Berinsky ’92 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for political science.

Adam Berinsky ’92 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for political science.

He has authored two books, In Time of War (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and Silent Voices (Princeton University Press, 2004). He has received multiple grants from the National Science Foundation and was a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences.

He currently edits the University of Chicago Press’s Chicago Studies in American Politics book series and is the founding director of the MIT Political Experiments Research Lab. During his fellowship, Berinsky intends to study the spread of political rumors spread and how they can be effectively debunked.

Jonas Carpignano ’06 received a 2016 Guggenheim for film and video.

Jonas Carpignano ’06 received a 2016 Guggenheim for film and video.

Writer and director Jonas Carpignano’s most recent film, Mediterranea, had its world premier at the prestigious 2015 Cannes Film Festival. Since then, it has screened at festivals such as BFI London Film Festival, AFI Fest and Stockholm Film Festival where it won three awards including Best Debut Film and Best Actor. The film was also a New York Times critics’ pick.

Carpignano’s two short films, A Chjàna (2011) and A Ciambra (2014), have won many international awards including the Controcampo Award at the 68th Venice Film Festival and The Discovery Award at 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Currently, Carpignano is working on a feature film based on A Ciambra that has received the support of various institutions such as the Torino Film Lab and the Sundance Institute.

Roxanne L. Euban ’88 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for her work in political science.

Roxanne L. Euban ’88 was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim for her work in political science.

Since 1997 Roxanne Euben ’88 has served as the Ralph Emerson and Alice Freeman Palmer Professor of Political Science at Wellesley College. Her work has spearheaded a new area of inquiry often referred to as “comparative political theory.” This entails an “understanding of political theory…as inclusive of intellectual traditions of the “non-West” and global South, as well as of indigenous traditions in but not of ‘the West.'” In particular, she also focuses on the relationship between Islamic and European political thought.

Euben is also the author of several books including Enemy in the MirrorIslamic Fundamentalism and the Limits of Modern Rationalism (Princeton 1999, Oxford 2001) and Journeys to the Other Shore: Muslim and Western Travelers in Search of Knowledge, (Princeton, 2006). Her writing has also appeared in a number of scholarly and widely read publications including The Review of PoliticsThe Journal of PoliticsInternational Studies Review, the Atlantic’s digital magazine and The London Times Higher Education Supplement.

While on her fellowship, Euben will work on a book that examines Arab and Islamic rhetorics of humiliation in comparative perspective.

Two Professors Receive Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships

Magda Teter

Magda Teter, Chair of Medieval Studies, Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, professor of history, professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, and Elizabeth Willis, the Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing, professor of English, have been awarded 2012 fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

According to the Guggenheim Foundation, the prestigious academic honor is presented to scholars “who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.” This year, the 87th annual competition recognized 180 scholars, artists and scientists from across the U.S. and Canada. They were selected from a pool of almost 3,000 applicants, range in age from 27 to 84, and represent 62 disciplines and 74 different academic institutions. Through their fellowship projects, they will travel to all parts of the globe.

Teter also was recently awarded a Harry Frank Guggenheim fellowship. Both fellowships will allow her to take a full year sabbatical and support her travel and research expenses to the Vatican and Poland as she works on a new book, The Pope’s Dilemma: Blood Libel and the Boundaries of Papal Power.

The Pope’s Dilemma takes the familiar story of blood libel against Jews to tell a much broader story of religion and politics in Europe, demonstrating that the persistence of the ‘blood libel’ illuminates the reach, and also the limits, of papal authority in coping with local powers – a topic of significant interest even today, in light of the sex abuse scandals,” Teter says.

According to her biography on the Foundation web site, Teter specializes in early modern religious and cultural history, with an emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations in Eastern Europe, the politics of religion, and the transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. She is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (Cambridge University Press, 2006), Sinners on Trial (Harvard University Press, 2011), and a co-editor of and contributor to Social and Cultural Boundaries in Pre-modern Poland (Littman, 2010). She has also published numerous articles in English, Polish and Hebrew. Teter serves on the editorial boards of Polin, the Sixteenth Century Journal, and the AJS Review, and is co-founder and editor of the Early Modern Workshop, an open source site with historical texts and videos of scholars discussing them.

Elizabeth Willis

Willis, who specializes in poetry, is the author of Address (Wesleyan University Press, 2011), which won the PEN New England Winship Award for Poetry. Her other books include Meteoric Flowers (Wesleyan University Press, 2006), Turneresque (Burning Deck, 2003), and The Human Abstract (Penguin, 1995), which won the National Poetry Series. Her biography on the Foundation web site notes: “Her most recent projects are investigative in spirit, shifting increasingly toward hybrid genres and explicitly questioning the boundaries of literary representation.” Willis has been awarded fellowships in poetry from the California Arts Council and the Howard Foundation. She has held residencies at Brown University, University of Denver, Naropa University, the MacDowell Colony, and the Centre International de Poésie, Marseille, and was a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at Mills College.

With her Guggenheim fellowship, Willis will travel to Wyoming, Utah, Montana, Idaho, New York and California to conduct research for a new project. She explains, “I’ll be working on a new project that involves American religious, cultural and political history. It’s a book-length poem, not a history, but along the way it is thinking about theater, film and improvised family structures. I’m interested in what constitutes a sovereign body within America’s evolving concept of itself as a nation. And for me, poetry always brings up interesting questions about representation and voice.”

Willis adds, “I’m thrilled. The fellowship is a once-in-a-lifetime honor, and the timing couldn’t be better for me. The work I’m doing now involves a good deal of research and travel, so I’m immensely grateful that I’ll have the chance to focus on it more completely.”