Four Williams alumni were awarded Guggenheim Fellowships this year: Robin Broad ’76, a professor at American University’s School of International Service; novelist Fiona Maazel ’97; poet and MacArthur fellow Claudia Rankine ’86; and choreographer Will Rawls ’00.
The grants are made freely and with no conditions, allowing the fellows—173 scholars, artists and scientists this year—“blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible,” according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Selections are made “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the foundation states.
Each of the Williams fellows is using the award to further current projects. Broad, a professor of international development, is conducting research on a project that she says debunks the myth that “people in poorer countries don’t care about the environment.” Studying a grassroots campaign to ban metal mining in El Salvador, she plans to publish a book based on her findings.
Rawls, who describes himself as a creator of “solo and group works that engage and attenuate relationships between language and dance,” says he is committed to expressing “the nature of multiple selves within socially inscripted constructs.”
He and Rankine, who recently collaborated on a performance called What Remains, which is to premiere at Bard College April 27-30, are both using their Guggenheim Fellowships to continue their creative work.
Rankine is the author of two plays and five collections of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric. The recipient of many awards and fellowships, she recently co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute, described on its website as “a cultural laboratory in which the racial imaginaries of our time and place are engaged, read, countered, contextualized and demystified.”
Maazel, whom the L.A. Times called “a dazzling prose stylist,” and whose novel A Little More Human came out earlier this spring, says that “besides the day I sold my first novel, winning the Guggenheim has been the best moment of my professional life.” She says the fellowship will allow her to step away from other commitments and focus on writing a new novel, her fourth. “I couldn’t be more thrilled or grateful.”
Learn more about the 2017 class of Guggenheim fellows.