Four faculty members win Guggenheim Fellowships

Four Yale faculty members are among the 184 artists, writers, scholars and scientists awarded 2021 fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Isabela Mares, Tisa Wenger, Marisa Anne Bass, and Robyn Creswell

Top row: Isabela Mares, Tisa Wenger; Bottom row: Robyn Creswell, Marisa Anne Bass

Four Yale faculty members are among a group of 184 artists, writers, scholars and scientists awarded 2021 fellowships by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. 

Marisa Anne Bass, Robyn Creswell, Isabela Mares, and Tisa Wenger were chosen through a rigorous peer-review process from almost 3,000 applicants on the basis of their prior achievements and exceptional promise. Bass is an associate professor in the Department of the History of Art; Creswell is an associate professor in the Department of Comparative Literature; Mares is a professor in the Department of Political Science; and Wenger is associate professor at Yale Divinity School with courtesy appointments in the American Studies program and the Department of Religious Studies.

I am thrilled to announce this new group of Guggenheim Fellows, especially since this has been a devastating year in so many ways,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the Foundation. “A Guggenheim Fellowship has always been meaningful, but this year we know it will be a lifeline for many of the new fellows at a time of great hardship, a survival tool as well as a creative one.

The work supported by the fellowship will help us understand more deeply what we are enduring individually and collectively, and it is an honor for the foundation to help the fellows do what they were meant to do.”

The Guggenheim Fellowship, created in 1925 by Senator Simon and Olga Guggenheim in memory of their son John Simon Guggenheim, honors exceptional individuals in pursuit of scholarship in any field of knowledge and creation in any art form, under the freest possible conditions.

Marisa Anne Bass, a scholar of early modern art in northern Europe, received the inaugural Fellowship in Early Modern Studies. Her research focuses on how individuals use art to find grounding amid chaos. She seeks to understand how artists have responded to political, spiritual, and cultural upheaval, and how scholars, patrons, and collectors have turned to art to make sense of circumstances that otherwise defy explanation. Her current book project, “The Monument’s End: Public Art and the Modern Republic,” asks whether the making of monuments is ever compatible with the making of a modern republic. In it, Bass explores the tension between individual commemoration and the collective aspiration toward liberty in monumental experiments from the Dutch Republic to the present. Her previous publications include “Insect Artifice: Nature and Art in the Dutch Revolt” (Princeton 2019), winner of the 2020 Bainton Prize from the Sixteenth Century Society for the best book in art and music history.

Robyn Creswell is the author of “City of Beginnings: Poetic Modernism in Beirut” (Princeton University Press, 2019), a study of the modernist poetry movement in Arabic and its Cold War context, which received the Gaddis Smith International Book Prize for best first book.

His work focuses on the intellectual history of the modern Middle East, theories and practices of translation, and contemporary poetry. He regularly publishes essays and criticism in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Harper’s Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2012, he was a fellow at the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, where he worked on a translation of the Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim’s early masterpiece “That Smell and Notes from Prison.” Creswell has also translated works by the Moroccan fabulist Abdelfattah Kilito, and his English version of the Egyptian poet Iman Mersal’s “The Threshold” will be published next spring. Creswell is a former poetry editor of The Paris Review and currently an editor-at-large for poetry for Farrar, Straus and Giroux book publishers.

Isabela Mares, the Arnold Wolfers Professor of Political Science, has written extensively on a range of topics in comparative politics and political economy, including democratization, clientelism and corruption, taxation and fiscal capacity development, and social policy reforms in both developed and developing countries. She is the author of “The Politics of Social Risk: Business and Welfare State Development” (Cambridge University Press, 2013), “Taxation, Wage Bargaining and Unemployment” (Cambridge University Press, 2006); “From Open Secrets to Secret Voting: The Adoption of Electoral Reforms Protecting Voter Autonomy” (Cambridge University Press, 2015) and “Conditionality and Coercion: Electoral Clientelism in Eastern Europe,” co-authored with Lauren Young (Oxford University Press, 2019). She is currently completing a book titled “Democratization after Democratization,” which examines the adoption of electoral reforms limiting electoral irregularities in the Western world. Her work has received numerous awards, including the Gregory Luebbert Award from the American Political Science Association (APSA) for best book in comparative politics, the Willam Riker Award for best book in political economy, and the Gregory Luebbert Award for best paper in comparative politics from APSA, among others.

Tisa Wenger is an historian of American religion who explores the cultural politics of religious freedom and the intertwined histories of race, indigeneity, religion, and imperialism in U.S. history. She is the author of “We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom” (University of North Carolina Press, 2009) and “Religious Freedom: The Contested History of an American Ideal” (University of North Carolina Press, 2017). Her current project, “How Settler Colonialism Made American Religion,” coins the term “settler secularism” to describe how American practices and conceptualizations of religion took shape in the early 19th century within a settler colonial frame. Other current projects include a co-edited volume, “On Imperial Grounds: New Histories of Religion and U.S. Empire,” with Sylvester Johnson (Virginia Tech); and a new book series with the University of Kansas Press, “Studies in U.S. Religion, Law, and Politics,” co-edited with Laura Olson (Clemson University) and Leslie Griffin (University of Nevada, Las Vegas).

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