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Four professors, eight Princeton University Press authors win 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship

<h6>“The home of the Princeton University Press.” by Djkeddie / <a href="https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Princeton_University_Press.jpg" target="_self">CC BY-SA 4.0</a></h6>
“The home of the Princeton University Press.” by Djkeddie / CC BY-SA 4.0

Four University professors, two of which are Princeton University Press (PUP) authors, have been awarded the 2022 Guggenheim Fellowship for their scholarship in their respective fields of study. Six other PUP authors were also recipients. In total, 180 Fellows received the award for their past, present, and future work in the social sciences, humanities, creative arts, and natural sciences.

Recipients include Daniel A. Barber, Karen Bakker, Daniel Hack, Shawn Michelle Smith, Micheal J. Hathaway, and University professors Manjul Bhargava, Esther Schor, Katja Guenther, and Judith Weisenfeld.

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The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation evaluates a candidate for the fellowship based on a project that the candidate proposes, as well as their previous experience and scholarship.

“The Guggenheim is a little different from some other fellowships in that it’s also, particularly for more senior scholars, a bit of a Lifetime Achievement Award. It recognizes your past work and your kind of corpus of work, in addition to that one project,” Suzanne L. Marchand, one of the 2022 fellows, said in an interview with the Daily Princetonian. “The Guggenheim sort of embraces all of you and where you’ve come from and where you're going.”

Marchand is a history professor at Louisiana State University who previously taught at Princeton and has published with PUP.

“I did spend seven and a half years at Princeton at the beginning of my career, and it was life-shaping and so enormously important for me to have that experience — both teaching and getting to know colleagues and that support I had was just fantastic,” she said. “I have lots of ties to Princeton, and I’m very grateful to the press too for believing in me.” Marchand also received a grant from the Princeton Humanities Center and will be teaching a class with Professor Anthony Grafton during the spring of 2023.

Though she teaches European intellectual history, she has also written a number of books exploring topics such as the impacts of orientalism and philhellenism in German thought.

Her project is a departure from her past work as an examination of Herodotus, a Greek historian. “It’s about the way in which Herodotus, and skeptics about his histories, drove the process of discovering the ancient world and figuring it in different ways since about 1700,” Marchand said. “It will be a kind of history of the writing of history and a real look at how we have assessed historical truth over time and tried to understand what constitutes a real event or what constitutes real evidence for something.”

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Karen Bakker is a geography professor at the University of British Columbia. Her research involves environmental studies, digital geographies, political ecology, and the political economy. Later this year Bakker will be publishing “The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bringing Us Closer to the Worlds of Animals and Plants” with PUP. She declined a request for comment from the ‘Prince.’

Daniel A. Barber is an associate professor of architecture at the University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design. His research focuses on the “environmental history of architectural modernism” and “contributing to a theoretical framework for architects and others to engage the climate crisis,” according to the University of Pennsylvania website. In 2020, PUP published Barber’s book “Modern Architecture and Climate: Design before Air Conditioning.” At the time of publication, Barber did not respond to a request for comment from the ‘Prince.’

Katja Guenther is a history professor at Princeton. Her upcoming book with PUP, “The Mirror and the Mind,” is “an exploration of how scientists have placed subjects — animals, infants, adults, or robots — in front of mirrors to look for signs of self-recognition,” she wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’

The project she submitted to the Guggenheim is a new book called “Being Heard,” which will study the therapeutic applications of listening. “Why is it that we believe that we can solve many of our mental difficulties by speaking, and especially, by being listened to?” she wrote.

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“In particular, I want to argue that it depended on the deployment of a range of technologies,” she wrote. “Practitioners have used phonographic recordings, stenographic and transcription technologies, and video, amongst others, to analyze and improve their listening efficacy in the therapeutic encounter, to teach their students, and to create data for scientific research.”

Daniel Hack is a professor in the English department at the University of Michigan. PUP published Hack’s book, “Reaping Something New: African American Transformations of Victorian Literature,“ in 2019.

The project Hack submitted to the Guggenheim aims to chronicle the concept of meaningfulness and its intellectual development over time. “People … call an experience meaningful or something like that, or even talk about the meaning of life,“ he said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ “But it turns out that people didn't use those terms or talk that way before the 19th century. And so I’m interested in the rise of that kind of thinking, or that kind of talk about meaning and meaningfulness.”

Hack appreciates the opportunity to explore stories that exclusively work toward scholarship, and not necessarily toward present-day issues.

“I’m grateful to the Guggenheim for being willing to support work that is on a different timeline, that is not trying to solve the immediate problems,” he said. “They’re supporting the value of humanistic scholarship more broadly.”

Shawn Michelle Smith is a professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and also serves as the Interim Dean of Faculty. Smith had a positive experience publishing with PUP, through which she published her first book, “American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture.”

“My first book I published with Princeton University Press, and I feel like it really launched my whole career,” she said.

For her, the Guggenheim Fellowship is an opportunity to step back into research and writing. “I also have a fellowship next year at the Clerk Art Institute in Williamstown, Mass. I’m just going to be able to devote myself to reading and writing and thinking and walking in the woods in Williamstown next year, so that will be rejuvenating,” Smith said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’

Smith’s project builds on her previous work examining representations of race and gender, particularly through the cultural history of photography in the United States. “It’s bringing critical race theory to look at representations that are largely photographic,” she said. “I’m going to be looking at largely contemporary artworks that are trying to address in different ways, either as a kind of crisis in race or a crisis in the environment.”

Judith Weisenfeld is a Princeton University Professor and Chair of the Religion Department. Her studies focus on early 20th century Black religious history.

Her project continues her previous research as she examines the racial nature of religious expression and its incorporation into psychiatry. 

“[I’m] looking at how early American psychiatry responded to African American, to Black religion,” she said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ “I was surprised to find…so much attention to religion in the psychiatric theories about Black life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

Similarly to Smith, the fellowship provides Weisenfeld an opportunity to step back into writing. “I’ve been chair of the department for the last three years in the pandemic and so I haven't had much time to do research. The fellowship gives me the opportunity to have some time to return to the research I did and get to some writing.”

Weisenfeld also credits the award to her intellectual community at Princeton. 

“My ideas take shape in conversation with my colleagues, with graduate students who are giving amazing feedback and in the context of the courses I teach, where I helped to think through some of the ideas in the broadest sense,” she said. “I see this not as just the kind of individual achievement but as the outcome of the kinds of rich and engaging and supportive interactions I've had.”

Manjul Bhargava is a Princeton University Professor in the Mathematics Department.

Bhargava was recognized for his work proving van der Waerden’s Conjecture, which examines polynomials whose roots can be swapped or permuted. 

“The proof of van der Waerden's Conjecture involved a combination of a number of areas of mathematics, including group theory, Fourier analysis, and algebraic number theory, so that made it particularly exciting, to see all these areas come together to resolve an old problem,” he wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ 

Continuing his work on the conjecture, the fellowship will allow Bhargava to further build on his research.

Michael J. Hathaway is an anthropology professor at Simon Fraser University. In 2022, he published “What a Mushroom Lives For: Matsutake and the Worlds They Make” with PUP.

Hathaway is primarily interested in examining the role of China as a “hidden global player and fostering transnational social formations,” he said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’ These transnational social formations include “environmentalism, feminism, and indigenous rights.”

He is exploring a specific historical and cultural phenomenon in the 1970s where an indigenous group from Canada and another from Japan were hosted in China. These two trips were significant in shaping indigenous political and social history and present a contrary picture of China and its role in fostering a “global indigenous movement.”

“I'm going to do this first in terms of the Canada and Japan story, but my long-term aspiration is to include this whole Pacific Rim range and work with the delegates that were on these trips to showcase their stories to the world about how they’re critical political actors,” he said.

The Guggenheim fellowship not only provides fellows the financial means to pursue their projects, but also publicity that can further aid them in their work. “Part of it is that it’s so public,“ Hathaway said. “It means that people interested in the stories are starting to contact me, and I’m finding an amazing group of people around the world who know things that I have no idea about or who can contribute or who want to stay abreast.”

Esther Schor is a Princeton University professor in the English Department who also chairs the Humanities Council.

Schor proposed a biography of Horace M. Kallen, an American philosopher who developed the concept of “cultural pluralism” in 1915. “He is an extremely important thinker, I think, for our present moment where we're still very much involved in discussions of identity, politics and pluralism, and threats to all that,” she said in an interview with the ‘Prince.’

Schor is interested in exploring how Kallen employed the term “cultural pluralism” in several contexts, from international government to American Judaism to the Bible. “I like projects that I wish someone else had written, because I need this book. I’d like to read about this person.”

For Schor and many other Guggenheim recipients, the fellowship award instilled a greater sense of confidence in the work they were pursuing. “When you’re fairly far from what you were trained to do, there are moments when you’re wondering, ‘Is this really okay for me to be doing this? Do I have what it takes to do this?’ And it’s a great encouragement to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship,” Schor said.

Hack echoed this sentiment. “I was really excited and really grateful for the vote of confidence, maybe more than anything else. It made me think that the work I’m doing now, which is pretty different from the work I’ve done before — it gave me confidence that there were people who were interested in it and believed in it,” he said.

Fellows emphasized the freedom that the Guggenheim Fellowship provides them with to take time off and focus solely on their scholarship. “A great thing about the Guggenheim is that there are no strings attached at all. They’re just interested in supporting people in whatever we propose doing, so it’s wonderfully freeing in that respect,” Hack said.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can never get a second one and it’s just such a gift to get one at all,” Hathaway said.

Erin Lee is a Staff News writer and contributing Sports writer at the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at erinlee@princeton.edu or @3rin1ee on Instagram.

Editor’s note: This article was updated to provide additional context about two award winners. 

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