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Five Columbians Awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has named five Columbia faculty members as 2005 Guggenheim Fellows. Their work includes a book on the anti-Nazi movement in Germany during World War II, research on the impact of the League of Nations on colonial administration and a book on the debate of nature versus nurture in the 18th century prior to the advent of modern biology.

Anne Nelson, adjunct professor of international and public affairs, will apply the fellowship toward a new nonfiction book with the working title Mortal Allies, about a group of Germans and German-Americans active in the anti-Nazi movement in Berlin from 1933 to 1942.

"The Guggenheim Fellowship has been a wonderful boost to both my book project and to my lifelong career in developing a new discipline that integrates the fields of journalism, human rights and international affairs," says Nelson. "Teaching at Columbia has greatly enriched my thinking, first at the Journalism School and now at the School of International and Public Affairs. The lives I describe in my book offer a dramatic new perspective on the Nazi era, and their story is one more cautionary tale about the terrible price societies incur when they choose to surrender civil liberties and public debate."

Nelson is the former director of the International Program at the Columbia Journalism School. A seasoned journalist, she has also worked as a field producer in Chile and Central America for the CBC and as a war correspondent in El Salvador in the early 1980s.

Her books include Murder Under Two Flags: The U.S., Puerto Rico and the Cerro Maravilla Cover-up, which was produced as the feature film Show of Force, and Twenty Years and Forty Days: Memoirs of a Cuban Political Prisoner.

Paul Spencer Byard, director of the Historic Preservation Program at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, will examine public interest in old architecture.

"I want to bring together all the things great architecture does for us all as members of the public and then suggest principled ways of researching them, discussing them, teaching about them, protecting them and being their advocates," explains Byard. "At the core of this is historic preservation, but it's also things like the role of old architecture in the formation of our identities and, very importantly, in the definition and management of conflict. It brings together all the things I have been thinking, practicing, teaching, arguing about for a professional lifetime."

Byard is a principal of Platt Byard Dovell White Architects. He is also a lawyer and was active in developing a low-income housing program for the New York State Urban Development Corporation. He is the author of The Architecture of Additions: Design and Regulation.

Byard has served as director of New York Landmarks Conservancy since 1973 and as a director or officer of the Architectural League of New York since 1978. He is the former director of the Municipal Art Society of New York and is a fellow of the American Institute for Architecture.

Jenny Davidson, assistant professor of English and comparative literature, will work on a book, Breeding: Nature and Nurture Before Biology, focusing on 18th-century Britain.

Davidson explained to the Guggenheim committee that the goal of the book is "to develop a more complex picture of how people thought and wrote about breeding—an umbrella term that can refer to nature or nurture, generation, pregnancy, heredity resemblance, manners, moral character, social identity or all of the above—in the several hundred years that preceded the coinage of the modern nouns biology (c. 1802), heredity (c. 1830) and genetics (c. 1906), telling a little-known story that offers a new perspective on the language with which we now explore and explain the fundamentals of human nature."

Davidson joined the Department of English and Comparative Literature in 2000. Her publications include an academic monograph, "Hypocrisy and the Politics of Politeness: Manners and Morals from Locke to Austen," and two novels—Heredity and Dynamite No. 1. The latter is the first volume in a projected trilogy.

Susan Pedersen, professor of history, is examining the impact of the League of Nations on colonial administration. The league existed from the end of World War I through 1946 to promote international cooperation, peace and security. Pedersen will use the fellowship to conduct research in the league archives in Geneva, Switzerland, and in the British and French national archives. She also plans to visit some areas that were league mandates between the wars or that held mandates, including Jerusalem; Sidney; Windhoek, Namibia; and Yaoundé, Cameroon.

Pedersen joined the Columbia faculty in 2003 after teaching at Harvard. She is the author of Family, Dependence, and the Origins of the Welfare State: Britain and France, 1914-1945 and After the Victorians: Private Conscience and Public Duty in Modern Britain (edited with Peter Mandler).

Mark Slouka, associate professor of creative writing, will work on a new fiction book. He is the author of the novel God's Fool; Lost Lake, a collection of stories that was cited as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and War of the Worlds: Cyberspace and the High-tech Assault on Reality. Slouka's short story "The Woodcarver's Tale" won the 1995 National Magazine Award for Fiction. He received a National Endowment for the Arts grant for 2000. Slouka has taught at Harvard University, Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, San Diego.

These Columbia scholars are among 186 selected for the 2005 fellowships for awards, which total $7.1 million. Guggenheim Fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment. The purpose of the Guggenheim Fellowship program is to help provide fellows with six to 12 months to work with as much creative freedom as possible. Since 1925, the foundation has granted almost $240 million in fellowships to more than 15,500 individuals.

Published: Jun 03, 2005
Last modified: Jun 03, 2005

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