Four U. faculty named Guggenheim Fellows
Four members of the Princeton faculty were named among the 173 Guggenheim Fellows of 2013 on April 11. History of science professor D. Graham Burnett, visual arts lecturer Deana Lawson, visiting lecturer in creative writing David Rosenberg and creative writing lecturer Colson Whitehead were awarded the fellowship to pursue various projects, both academic and artistic, over the course of the coming year.
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation’s fellowship provides scholars or artists already established in their fields, chosen from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants, with grants lasting from six to 12 months to provide the fellows with time for creative exploration, according to the Foundation’s website.
Burnett will spend the coming year looking at both the scientific study of vision and the aesthetic response to works of art as he continues working on his book “Minding the Eye.” He explained that his goal is to combine his experience in the study of the history of science with an interest in visual arts that he developed while working as an editor at Cabinet, an art magazine.
“For the last few years, I’ve been working at the intersection of the history of science and the visual arts,” Burnett said. “[My book is] largely about sensory physiology of vision and people’s experience of works of art.”
With the time and resources provided by this fellowship, Burnett said he hopes to devote even more time to working on his research. In particular, Burnett said he hopes to refine his work into more of an argumentative work.
Rosenberg will work on his memoir, "A Life in a Poem: Memoir of a Rebellious Bible Translator," a project in which he said he hopes to recount his work translating the Bible and the difficulties that accompanied the challenge. In particular, Rosenberg said he saw this project as a way to examine how he survived the world with his self intact, facing the various roles and responsibilities that have been given to him as well as the failures that he experienced throughout his life.
“[To write a memoir] you have to reach a point in your life when you feel that ‘how you go there’ how you got to be 50, is not a question of I did this and I did that,” Rosenberg said. “It’s about how did you survive internally with your sensibility intact? How did you survive this onslaught of all these cultural things that people demand of you in these roles?”
In the process of writing his memoir, Rosenberg said he hopes to take the time offered by this fellowship to travel to some of the significant places in his life, including Jerusalem, where he lived in the early 1980s while working on his Bible translation.
Burnett, Rosenberg and Lawson all declined to comment on the amount of the monetary award they each received. Whitehead could not be reached for comment by press time.
Lawson, a photographer interested in environmental portraiture, will be using her fellowship to travel to a set of sites that have a shared ancestral memory. She will use the fellowship to travel to Jamaica, Haiti; some locations in the deep South in the United States; and a country in Africa that she has not yet determined.
Her photography projects are works of environmental portraiture in which she photographs people in their everyday environment. Her project funded by the Guggenheim award will focus on “ancestral memory and how it’s seen through the body, whether it be through dance religious practices, how one decorates their home or their style.”
Lawson has taught photography courses at the University since fall 2012 and will continue to teach next fall. Her trips to the countries of her work will each last about one to two months, and she plans to schedule her travel to make use of vacation times in the University’s academic calendar.
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