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Fellows and Their Topics for the Year 2007-2008


James Cook
"Master Juba" and the Transformation of Black Popular Culture
James W. Cook is Associate Professor of History and American Culture at the University of Michigan. His books include The Arts of Deception: Playing with Fraud in the Age of BarnumThe Colossal P.T. Barnum Reader; and a forthcoming co-edited collection, The Cultural Turn in U.S. History. At the Cullman Center, he will be writing a book about black performers and the rise of the international entertainment market.
Joanne Freeman
New York Public Library/American Council of Learned Societies Joint Fellow
The Field of Blood: The Culture of Congress in Antebellum America
Joanne Freeman teaches Revolutionary and early national American history at Yale University. She is the author of Alexander Hamilton: Writings, and Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic, which won the Best Book prize from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. A trustee of the National Council for History Education, she speaks frequently at public programs and teaching institutes, consults for the National Park Service, and is a regular contributor to documentaries on PBS, the History Channel, and the BBC. Her work at the Cullman Center will be on a book about violence in Congress before the Civil War.
Nell Freudenberger
Untitled Novel
Nell Freudenberger’s collection of stories, Lucky Girls, won the PEN/Faulkner Malamud award for short fiction. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker,The Paris ReviewGranta and The Best American Short Stories, 2004. She won a Whiting Writers’ Award in 2005; her first novel, The Dissident, was published in 2006; and she was included in Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists, 2007. While at the Cullman Center, she will be working on a novel about two couples who take a honeymoon in Bangladesh.
Joel Kaye
The Transformation of Models of Equality and Equilibrium in Medieval Thought, c. 1225-1375
Joel Kaye is a Professor of History at Barnard College. His area of concentration is medieval intellectual history, with special interest in the history of science and the history of economic and political thought. His book Economy and Nature in the Fourteenth Century: Money, Market Exchange, and the Emergence of Scientific Thought won the John Nicholas Brown Prize awarded by the Medieval Academy of America. His most recent research centers on the history of balance in the later Middle Ages, and he will be working at the Cullman Center on a book that tracks the emergence of a new model of equilibrium within medieval scholastic thought.
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Give It Up: The Lives of Stand-Up Comedians
Journalist Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, a 2006 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, is a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine and many other publications, writing primarily about issues related to families and poverty. Her first book, Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble and Coming of Age in the Bronx won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Brendan Gill Prize, and the Ron Ridenhour Award, among others. Her current project, Give It Up, concerns the lives of standup comedians and will be published by Random House.
Louis Menand
Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation Fellow
An Intellectual History of the Cold War
Louis Menand is Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor of English and American Literature and Language at Harvard. His book The Metaphysical Club won the Pulitzer Prize for History, the Francis Parkman Prize from the Society of American Historians, and the Heartland Prize for Nonfiction from the Chicago Tribune, and was named one of the nine best books of 2001 by the editors of The New York Times Book Review. His other publications include American Studies and Discovering Modernism: T. S. Eliot and His Context. A staff writer for The New Yorker, he has been associate editor of The New Republic, and a contributing editor of The New York Review of Books.
James Oakes
Gilder Lehrman Fellow in American History
Emancipation: From Slavery to Freedom in the United States, 1860-1865
James Oakes has been writing about the struggle over slavery in America for more than a quarter of a century. He is the author of The Ruling Race: A History of American SlaveholdersSlavery and Freedom: An Interpretation of the Old South; and most recently, The Radical and the Republican: Frederick Douglass, Abraham Lincoln, and the Triumph of Antislavery Politics. He plans to spend his year at the Cullman Center completing the research on a history of emancipation during the Civil War. He teaches history at City University of New York Graduate Center.
Han Ong
Accustomed to Death (Novel)
Han Ong was born in the Philippines and came to the United States as a teenager. He has written more than three dozen plays that have been widely produced in venues ranging from the Joseph Papp Public Theater to the Almeida in London; and he has published two novels – Fixer Chao, hailed as a "new immigrant classic" by The New York Times, and The Disinherited, which was nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. In 1997 he became one of the youngest fellows of the MacArthur Foundation. While at the Cullman Center he will be working on a novel that touches on death, gentrification, and waves of change in New York City.
James Pethica
Authorized Biography of Lady Gregory
James Pethica teaches Irish Studies and Modern Drama at Williams College, with particular interest in History of the Book/Social Text theory and Performance Studies. He is currently completing a book on W.B.Yeats's collaborative partnership with Lady Gregory, and will be working at the Cullman Center on the authorized biography of Lady Gregory; most of Lady Gregory’s papers are in the Library's Berg Collection. His publications include two volumes in the Cornell Yeats series, an edition of Lady Gregory's Diaries, and the Norton Critical Edition of Yeats.
Owen Sheers
This Parliament of Monsters (Novel)
Born in Fiji, Owen Sheers is a Welsh writer whose work includes two poetry collections, The Blue Book and Skirrid Hill, which won the 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, and The Dust Diaries, a non-fiction narrative set in Zimbabwe, which was short listed for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize and won the Welsh Book of the Year 2005. His first novel, Resistance, will be published this summer. He is currently collaborating with the composer Rachel Portman on The Water Diviner’s Tale, a dramatic song-cycle for the BBC. While at the Cullman Center, he will be conducting research for This Parliament of Monsters, an historical novel set in Fiji and New York over the last decades of the 19th century.
Mark Stevens
A Life of Francis Bacon
Mark Stevens is the author, with Annalyn Swan, of De Kooning: An American Master, which won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times prize in biography. He has served as the art critic for NewsweekThe New Republic and, most recently, New York Magazine, and has written numerous essays on art and other subjects for various publications.
Jennifer Vanderbes
I, Emperor (Novel)
Jennifer Vanderbes's first novel, Easter Island, was named a best book of the year byThe Washington Post and The Christian Science Monitor, nominated for the IMPAC Dublin International Literary Prize, and translated into 16 languages. She was a 2006 Guggenheim Fellow, and has also received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Colgate University, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. She has taught in the M.F.A. programs at the University of Iowa and Columbia University. Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times and The Washington Post. She will use her time at the Cullman Center to begin work on a novel set in 19th century San Francisco.
Camilo José Vergara
A Visual Encyclopedia of the American Ghetto: Website and Book
A writer, photographer, and sociologist, Camilo Vergara has been photographing American urban landscapes since 1977, documenting the changes taking place in the country’s inner cities. At the Cullman Center he will use the Library’s collections to enhance the visual record he has created, turning it into an interactive website and a book. His previous books include Silent Cities: The Evolution of the American Cemetery (with Kenneth Jackson, 1989), The New American Ghetto (1995), American Ruins (1999), Unexpected Chicagoland (with Timothy Samuelson, 2001), Twin Towers Remembered (2001), Subway Memories (2004), and How the Other Half Worships(2005). Vergara has received numerous awards, among them a MacArthur Foundation fellowship in 2002.
Colson Whitehead
Untitled Novel
Colson Whitehead is the author of the novels The IntuitionistJohn Henry Days, andApex Hides the Hurt, as well as a collection of essays, The Colossus of New York. His work has appeared in The New York TimesGrantaHarper's and New York Magazine. He has received a MacArthur Fellowship, a Whiting Writers Award, and the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. He lives in Brooklyn.
Gaby Wood
The Crimes of Monsieur Bertillon
Gaby Wood is a staff writer and New York correspondent for the London Observer. She is the author of The Smallest of All Persons Mentioned in the Records of Littleness, and Edison’s Eve, which was shortlisted for the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2003. Her next book – In Lana Turner’s Bedroom, based on an article she wrote for Granta – will be published in 2008. At the Cullman Center, she will be working on a book about science, superstition and the work of a photographer-detective in 19th century Paris.