Humanities fellows bring wide-ranging perspectives to campus

From the Sept. 24, 2007, Princeton Weekly Bulletin

From the critically acclaimed novelist Ian McEwan to a prominent avant-garde filmmaker and from a globally inspired musician to a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer — the distinguished fellows brought to campus this year by the Council of the Humanities and the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts will represent a wide range of fields and interests.

The Humanities Council, which was founded in 1953 to foster teaching, research and intellectual exchange, will bring 24 writers, artists and scholars to Princeton during 2007-08. Fourteen of the visitors will spend a semester or more at the University, while the others will come for intensive shorter periods of lectures, seminars and colloquia. The University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts, which was established in 2006 to bring the arts to the foreground at Princeton, will host three fellows for the year.

The public is invited to talks by these visitors, which are announced in the Humanities Council's calendar, on the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts' website and in the Princeton Weekly Bulletin.

Long-term visiting fellows

These fellows generally spend a semester at Princeton teaching courses.

Marina Carr, an eminent Irish playwright, will be the Class of 1932 Fellow in Theater and Dance in the spring, teaching playwriting. Two of her plays have been staged at McCarter Theatre.

Frances Ferguson, the Mary Elizabeth Garrett Chair in Arts and Sciences at Johns Hopkins University, works at the intersection of 18th-century literature, philosophy and law. An Old Dominion Fellow in English this spring, she will teach a course about reading and pedagogy from the Enlightenment to the present.

John Gardner, a professor of jurisprudence at the University of Oxford, will be an Old Dominion Fellow in Philosophy in the spring. He will teach a seminar on jurisprudence and the philosophy of law.

Catherine Weinberger-Thomas is the author of "Ashes of Immortality: Widow-Burning in India." As the Class of 1932 Fellow in Anthropology this fall, she is examining comparative perspectives on dehumanization.

David Gordon White, a scholar of South Asian religious studies at the University of California-Santa Barbara, has written three books on tantra, yoga and alchemy in South Asia. A Stewart Fellow in Anthropology this fall, he is teaching a course about India.

Gary Shteyngart is the author of  "The Russian Debutante's Handbook," which was named Best Book of the Year by The New York Times and The Washington Post. His new novel is "Absurdistan." He will be the Class of 1932 Fellow in Creative Writing in the spring.

Short-term visiting fellows

During intensive three-day periods, these fellows lecture and participate in classes, colloquia and informal discussions. Four are designated Whitney J. Oates Fellows (*) in honor of the distinguished classicist and founder of the Humanities Council.

Andrea Breth*, the innovative theater director, will lead workshops on acting and directing as a guest of the German department this month.

Roger Chartier* studies print culture and reading practices in early modern Europe. He will be a guest of the Spanish and Portuguese department in the spring.

Jas Elsner, a specialist on pagan, Christian and Jewish art under the Roman empire, will be a Stewart Fellow in Classics in October. He divides his time between the University of Oxford and the University of Chicago.

Ernie Gehr, the prominent avant-garde filmmaker, will present public screenings and discussions of his films during his October visit as a guest of the visual arts program.

Susan Gelman* is a cognitive psychologist at the University of Michigan. She has shown that from our earliest days, we perceive the world through a lens that predisposes us to attribute stereotypical properties to members of particular classes. The philosophy department will host her visit in May.

Alain Mabanckou, the author of a dozen books of poetry and fiction, won the prestigious French Renaudot Prize in 2006. He teaches at the University of California-Los Angeles and will be a guest of the French and Italian department in the spring.

Annabel Patterson* is a specialist of 17th-century literature and a professor emerita of English at Yale University. She will be a guest of the English department in October, and will give talks and workshops, including one on how to write a book.

Omar Sosa is a major force in the world of fusion music who synthesizes different cultures, from African, Latin American and Afro-Cuban to American hip-hop and jazz. Hosted jointly by the music department and the Latin American studies program, he will give master classes in March.

Rosemary Trockel explores, through drawing, sculpture, video and "wool pictures," the central pre-occupations of modernism. She is a guest of the German department this fall.

Visiting professors of journalism

Each year eminent journalists teach at Princeton, joining a roster that includes many of America's most distinguished writers.

Peter Applebome is a New York Times columnist and the author of two books who previously covered culture and education after serving as bureau chief in Atlanta and Houston. As a Robbins Professor in the spring, he will teach "The Literature of Fact."

A. Scott Berg, a member of Princeton's class of 1971, is the author of four biographies, including "Lindbergh," which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1998. Currently he is writing a biography of Woodrow Wilson. As a McGraw Professor this fall, he is teaching a seminar on life-writing.

Robert Christgau, a former Village Voice rock critic, is a contributing editor of Rolling Stone and a music critic for National Public Radio. A Ferris Professor, he is teaching cultural journalism this fall.

Craig Duff of The New York Times has worked in television, video documentaries and Internet journalism, serving most recently as lead video journalist for the Times' website. He will be a Ferris Professor in the spring, teaching journalism on the screen.

Daoud Kuttab, founding director of the Institute of Modern Media in Palestine, created the Al Quds Educational Television station and the first Internet-radio station in the Arab world. He is a Ferris Professor, focusing on "New Media and the Arab World."

James Grimaldi shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting. A legal and investigative reporter for The Washington Post, he is a Ferris Professor this fall, teaching investigative reporting.

John McPhee, a member of Princeton's class of 1953, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning writer for The New Yorker and the author of 27 books. He has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton since 1974, teaching two semesters every three years. He will teach "Creative Nonfiction" in the spring.

Evan Thomas, Newsweek's editor-at-large and former Washington bureau chief, is beginning a five-year term as Ferris Professor in Residence. He has written six books and more than 100 cover stories on national and international news. He is teaching "The Literature of Fact" this fall and "The Media in America" this spring.

Belknap Visitor in the Humanities

Named in honor of Chauncey Belknap '12, this program sponsors visitors for one or two days at Princeton.

Ian McEwan, the award-winning British novelist, will be the Belknap Visitor in the Humanities on Thursday, Oct. 4, when he will give a public reading. McEwan's novels include "Amsterdam," which won the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1998; "Atonement," which is coming out as a major film this year; "Saturday"; and "On Chesil Beach," which is shortlisted for this year's Booker Prize.

Hodder Fellows

Recipients of this fellowship are humanists of exceptional promise who spend a year at Princeton pursuing independent projects. Staring this academic year, the Hodder Fellows program is being overseen by the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Michael Friedman is a composer and lyricist whose music has been heard in theater productions across the country and internationally. In 2007 he received an Obie Award for sustained excellence in music. He is a founding associate artist of The Civilians, a New York theater troupe, and has composed music for several of its productions. At Princeton, he is teaching "Making Music Theater" this fall and continuing his work on The Civilians' "This Beautiful City" as well as a musical adaptation of Jonathan Lethem's novel "Fortress of Solitude."

Monique Truong is the author of "The Book of Salt," which was published in 2003 and has garnered numerous awards, including the Bard Fiction Prize, the New York Public Library Young Lions Award and the Asian American Literary Award. She is a co-editor of the anthology "Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry and Prose." She will teach an introduction to fiction course this spring and work on her second novel, "Bitter in the Mouth."
Katherine Graber, a poet, is the author of "Correspondence" and the winner of the 2005 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. She is a recipient of a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship and a Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship. She will teach an introduction to poetry course this spring and finish a second collection of poetry.