Newsmakers: Spring 2021
The Newsmakers section of Radcliffe Magazine brings the extraordinary achievements of Radcliffe alumnae and fellows to our readership. Please tell us about your awards, publications, and other accomplishments by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Annette Gordon-Reed JD ’84, RI ’12, RI ’13, RI ’14, RI ’16 has been honored with the 2021 Empire State Archives and History Award. Bestowed by the New York State Archives Partnership Trust, the award recognizes outstanding contributions on the national stage to advance the understanding and uses of history.
Tacky’s Revolt: The Story of an Atlantic Slave War (Harvard University Press, 2020), by Vincent Brown RI ’06, won a 2021 Anisfield-Wolf Award for nonfiction. The book details the largest revolt by enslaved people in the 18th-century British empire, which took place in Jamaica in 1761
.The authors Lan Samantha Chang MPA ’91, RI ’01 and Ladee Hubbard RI ’22 have been named 2021–2022 Berlin Prize Fellows. Awarded annually by the American Academy in Berlin to American or US-based scholars, writers, composers, and artists, the prize allows fellows to spend a semester at the lakeside 19th-century villa known as the Hans Arnhold Center.
Laury Gutiérrez RI ’09, a viola da gambist, musical director, and music scholar, was named the inaugural recipient of the Thomas Zajac Memorial Scholarship by Early Music America (EMA). “Laury’s research, which explores African connections with Iberia and the New World, exemplifies the cultural cross-fertilization that was so important to Tom Zajac, and we look forward to seeing the results of Laury’s research in historically grounded scholarship and performance with her ensemble Rumbarroco,” said Karin Brookes, EMA executive director.
Boston Magazine published its list “The 100 Most Influential Bostonians” for 2021, on which were Maura Healey ’92, Ibram X. Kendi RI ’21, and Elizabeth Warren AM ’93, RI ’02.
Christine Folch ’98, Françoise N. Hamlin RI ’18, and Susan C. Stokes ’81 were named 2021 Andrew Carnegie Fellows. The award, which covers a period of up to two years, provides support for scholarship in the humanities and the social sciences.
The School for Advanced Research presented its 2021 J. I. Staley Prize to Laurence Ralph RI ’16 for his book Renegade Dreams: Living through Injury in Gangland Chicago (University of Chicago Press, 2014).
Tina Tallon RI ’21 won the 2021–2022 Frederic A. Juilliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome. She will continue to develop her experimental opera, Shrill— an interactive electroacoustic chamber opera that examines how bias in the development and regulation of voice technology has shaped society—for the Boston-based company Guerilla Opera.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences announced its 2021 elected members, among whom were Jericho Brown RI ’10, Linda G. Griffith RI ’10, RI ’11, Valerie Hansen ’79, Sheila S. Jasanoff ’64, PhD ’73, JD ’76, Perri Klass ’78, MD ’86, Nadya Mason ’94, Deirdre N. McCloskey ’64, AM ’67, PhD ’70, Leona D. Samson RI ’15, Rosalind A. Segal ’79, and Margo I. Seltzer ’83, BI ’97.
Drew Gilpin Faust, founding dean of the Institute, president emerita of Harvard University, and the Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor, was recognized by the Harvard Divinity School (HDS) Alumni/Alumnae Council with a Peter J. Gomes STB ’68 Distinguished Alumni Honor. “President Emerita Faust has played a critical role in the advancement of HDS,” said Dean David N. Hempton of the only nonalumna recipient. “In addition to her work as a distinguished historian and her inspiring leadership, she has recognized the role religion plays in the human experience and supported the vital ways in which HDS and its community of alumni and scholars advance knowledge of global religions, prepare faith leaders, and educate ethical and religiously literate leaders in all fields.”
Be Holding: A Poem (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020)—a book-length poetic tribute to Julius Erving, the star forward of the Philadelphia 76ers known as Dr. J—by Ross Gay RI ’16 won the 2021 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award in April, and Amy Stanley ’99, PhD ’07 won the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography for Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World (Scribner, 2020), about one woman’s unconventional life in 19th-century Tokyo, then known as Edo.
The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced its 2021 United States and Canada fellows in April, among whom were A.K. Burns RI ’17, Crystal Z Campbell RI ’21, Eve Fowler RI ’19, Kaitlyn Greenidge RI ’19, Farah Jasmine Griffin ’85, BI ’97, Tayari Jones RI ’12, Amalia D. Kessler ’94, Paul J. Kosmin PhD ’12, RI ’18, Irene E. Lusztig ’96, RI ’11, Lisa Pon ’86, AM ’93, PhD ’99, and Laurence Ralph RI ’16.
Renee Gladman RI ’15 and Vivian Gornick RI ’08 were among the recipients of 2021 Windham-Campbell Prizes, Gladman for fiction and Gornick for nonfiction. Each received an unrestricted award to pursue her work free from financial concerns.
A manuscript written by Ben Miller RI ’15 with drawings by Dale Williams, “Meanwhile in the Dronx…,” was a finalist for the 2021 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. The biennial prize, established by Barbara Kingsolver in 2000 and awarded to the author of a previously unpublished novel, promotes fiction that addresses issues of social justice and the impact of culture and politics on human relationships.
The 2020 Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in Economics was awarded to Claudia Goldin RI ’06 “for her groundbreaking insights into the history of the American economy, the evolution of gender roles and the interplay of technology, human capital, and labor markets.” Goldin received a cash prize and will spend several weeks in residence at Northwestern University interacting with students and faculty members as a condition of the biennial award.
Jonathan Lazar RI ’13 received the 2020 ACM SIGACCESS Award for Outstanding Contributions to Computing and Accessibility, the highest international award in the field of accessibility research. He is a professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland, where he is also the associate director of the Trace Center and a core faculty member in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab.
Ibram X. Kendi RI ’21 appeared on the 2020 TIME 100, which includes the most influential people of the year, according to the publication. “Kendi doesn’t simply engage in the ‘paralysis of analysis,’ as Martin Luther King Jr. once observed,” wrote Al Sharpton in his tribute. “He provides concrete and actionable steps and recommendations that we can all take to wipe out the vestiges of racism and bigotry and strive to be—to use the term Kendi popularized in 2019—antiracist.”
Marianne Novy AM ’67 was honored for her pioneering work in adoption studies with a Special Lifetime Achievement Award under the Iris Marion Young Awards for Political Engagement from the University of Pittsburgh’s Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies Program. After writing Reading Adoption: Family and Difference in Fiction and Drama (University of Michigan Press, 2005), she cofounded and cochaired the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture and developed the Pittsburgh Consortium for Adoption Studies, interdisciplinary organizations that are active in raising awareness about the rights of parties involved in adoption and the political contexts that affect adoption. A Pitt professor emerita of English, she is now writing a book on adoption memoirs by adoptees, birth mothers, and adoptive parents.
The Missouri legislature has passed a bill that will institute a statewide prescription drug monitoring program, but as Elizabeth Chiarello RI ’20 writes in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the move is unlikely to stop the overdose epidemic. “Our goal should not be getting a drug monitoring program but creating the treatment context that will solve the overdose crisis, she writes in “Now for the Bad News on PDMPs.”
As a contributing writer to the Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi RI ’21 most recently published “We Still Don’t Know Who the Coronavirus’s Victims Were,” in which he wrote, “Tracking the spread of the coronavirus among the incarcerated, the undocumented, and the unhoused did not seem to matter, just as their lives did not seem to matter. The invisible in life becoming the invisible in death remained the American way.” Other recent contributions to the magazine included “Compliance Will Not Save Me” and “Stop Scapegoating Progressives.” CBS News featured the fellow in their segment “Antiracist Scholar Ibram X. Kendi Reacts to Chauvin's Guilty Verdict.”
Nancy E. Hill RI ’11, RI ’15 and Alexis Redding ’98 EdM ’10, EdD ’18—a former Radcliffe professor—compared Millennials’ and Gen Zers’ apparently delayed transition to adulthood with that of previous generations. “The time it takes to transition to adulthood has more to do with being able to transition to the workforce than the perceived apathy of youth,” they wrote in “The Real Reason Young Adults Seem Slow to ‘Grow Up,’” in the Atlantic. “Young people reach adult milestones later when jobs that lead to financial independence are scarce or require additional training.” Hill and Redding, coauthors of The End of Adolescence: The Lost Art of Delaying Adulthood (Harvard University Press, 2021), worked from a new trove of historical research—in the form of recorded interviews with college students—that they uncovered in a Harvard attic.
In “They Call It a ‘Women’s Disease.’ She Wants to Redefine It,” the New York Times profiles the bioengineer Linda G. Griffith RI ’10, RI ’11, who aims to solve endometriosis—and unlock secrets of regenerative medicine. Her Radcliffe fellowship coincided with her founding of the Center for Gynepathology Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Rajiv Sethi RI ’21 served as an expert voice in the USA Today article “Fact Check: No, Police Aren’t Only Killing Black People in Blue States,“ in which he argued that analyzing fatal police encounters at the state level is not useful.
Lauren Groff RI ’19 published new fiction in the New Yorker this year: the novella “What’s the Time, Mr. Wolf?” and the short story “The Wind.” The magazine included an online Q and A with the author about the novella, “Lauren Groff on Violence and Masculinity.” The novelist also published a tribute to The Transit of Venus (Viking Press, 1980) in Literary Hub. “To read Shirley Hazzard’s masterpiece for the first time is to be immediately submerged into a world in which language and character carry the reader along, gasping, in a current too strong to fight. To read the novel for the second, third, even the nth time, is to see Hazzard’s careful orchestrations of echo and rhythm, her quiet deployment of foreshadowing and omniscient irony, and to be astonished anew,” Groff wrote in the article, “Lauren Groff on the Subtle, Poetic Voice of Shirley Hazzard.”
In “Richard Wright’s Newly Restored Novel Is a Tale for Today,” Reginald Dwayne Betts RI ’12 reviews Richard Wright’s The Man Who Lived Underground, recently published in its entirety for the first time. (Betts quotes Kiese Laymon RI ’21 in the review.) The lawyer and poet previously published a feature in the New York Times Magazine, “Kamala Harris, Mass Incarceration, and Me.”
Khalil Gibran Muhammad RI ’17, RI ’20 recently appeared on a Democracy Now! segment, “Historian Khalil Gibran Muhammad: Policing in US Was Built on Racism & Should Be Put on Trial,” in which he reacted to the Derek Chauvin verdict. Earlier, the Harvard Radcliffe Institute and Harvard Kennedy School professor reviewed Elliott Currie’s A Peculiar Indifference: The Neglected Toll of Violence on Black America (Metropolitan Books, 2020) for the New York Times. In “America’s Refusal to Address the Roots of Violence,” he called the book “smart, timely, deeply disturbing, and essential.”
The National Geographic article “Groundbreaking Effort Launched to Decode Whale Language” described the events that led to the creation of Project CETI—and it’s truly another interdisciplinary Radcliffe Moment. On the team of scientists tackling this five-year project to decipher the rhythmic series of clicks, known as codas, through which sperm whales communicate—“likely the largest interspecies communication effort in history,” said the article—are the marine biologist David Gruber RI ’18, the computer scientist and cryptographer Shafi Goldwasser RI ’18, and the machine learning expert Michael Bronstein RI ’18.
A New York Times article about the current state of military rule in Myanmar cited research by Erica Chenoweth, a Susan S. and Kenneth L. Wallach Professor at Harvard Radcliffe Institute and the Berthold Beitz Professor in Human Rights and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. “Only 20 years ago, 70 percent of protest movements demanding democracy or systemic change succeeded. But that number has since plummeted to a historic low of 30 percent, according to a study by Erica Chenoweth,” said “Myanmar’s Bloodshed Reveals a World That Has Changed, and Hasn’t.” The New Yorker profiled Chenoweth in the fall: “How to Stop a Power Grab” detailed Chenoweth’s decades of researching civil resistance tactics. Earlier, with Jeremy Pressman, Chenoweth published “Black Lives Matter Protesters Were Overwhelmingly Peaceful, Our Research Finds” in the Washington Post.
Min Jin Lee RI ’19 published a double tribute—to her Uncle John and her lifelong reading habits—in the New York Times. “I had to write about the disgraced, the poor, and the earnest strivers of Queens, and I would be able to tell their stories not because I was a writer but because I was a reader,” she wrote in “A Lifetime of Reading Taught Min Jin Lee to Write about Her Immigrant World.”
Alongside such luminaries as Carlos Santana and Branford Marsalis, the composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen RI ’20 was tapped by the New York Times for its article “5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Brahms,” in which musicians and editors are asked to choose a piece to make a curious friend fall in love with the music of the 19th-century composer Johannes Brahms. (His choice? “A German Requiem.”)
In “Gray Eminence,” published in Artforum, the art historian Anne Higonnet ’80, RI ’20 writes about the reinstallation of highlights from New York’s Frick Collection in their new, temporary home: the Frick Madison, in the Brutalist Breuer building. “At the Frick Madison, the exquisite shades of gray on the walls and the organization of paintings into the traditional categories of painting history…felt like the opposite of neutral.” The Frick’s collections and staff have been relocated during the renovation of its historic building on East 70th Street—once home to its namesake, Henry Clay Frick.
Graphic Medicine, a website devoted to the intersection of comics and healthcare, included a cover reveal of Health and Wealth: A Graphic Guide to the US Healthcare System, the project undertaken by James Sturm RI ’21—in collaboration with the comics artists Kazimir Lee and Sam Nakahira and a team of Radcliffe Research Partners, among others—during his Radcliffe fellowship.
Jane Kamensky BI ’97, RI ’07, the Jonathan Trumbull Professor of American History and the Pforzheimer Foundation Director of Radcliffe’s Schlesinger Library, reviewed The Agitators: Three Friends Who Fought for Abolition and Women’s Rights (Scribner, 2021), by Dorothy Wickenden, in the New York Times article “An Unlikely Alliance in Upstate N.Y. and the Fight for Black and Women’s Rights.” “The Agitators is a masterpiece, not least, of structure, as each of the title characters dons her mantle, takes the stage and does a turn, usually at arm’s length from the others,” Kamensky wrote.
Two recent New York Times articles, “Is a Long-Dismissed Forgery Actually the Oldest Known Biblical Manuscript?” and “A Biblical Mystery and a Reporting Odyssey,” reconsider the controversial biblical scrolls about which Chanan Tigay RI ’20 wrote in The Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World’s Oldest Bible (Ecco, 2016). In new scholarship, the Israeli American scholar Idan Dershowitz argues that the manuscript fragments discovered by Moses Wilhelm Shapira—who said they were the “original” Book of Deuteronomy—are authentic artifacts, older still than originally claimed, and perhaps even the oldest known biblical manuscripts.
David Hemenway ’66, PhD ’74, RI ’21 wrote a review of Children under Fire: An American Crisis (Ecco, 2021) for the Washington Post. “It delves into gun suicide, campus lockdowns and school security, and other gun-related issues, but at its heart lie the stories of specific children,” said the expert on guns and public health in “7 Years Old and Shattered by Gun Violence.” “What comes across with tragic clarity is that kids suffer terrible collateral costs from gun violence—and that suffering is too often overlooked.”
A recent New York Times article by A.O. Scott, “Tillie Olsen Captured the Toll of Women’s Labor—on Their Lives and Art,” takes a close look at the life and work of Tillie Olsen BI ’63, an early Radcliffe fellow and one of the main figures in The Equivalents: A Story of Art, Female Friendship, and Liberation in the 1960s (Penguin Random House, 2020), by Maggie Doherty PhD ’15. “She helped change the study of American literature, opening its canon to neglected voices and traditions,” wrote Scott of Olson’s legacy as a teacher of literature—although the same may be said of her fiction.
Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin RI ’17 was featured as an expert in “Diversity Expanding within the Growing Black American Population, New Data Show,” a recent Boston Globe article about changing demographics in Boston and across the United States. “In the struggle against racist oppression, there is strength in numbers,” she said. “Recent efforts to document the true diversity of people of African descent can also be seen as a demand for recognition and dignity.” Brown-Nagin, who chairs the Presidential Committee on Harvard and the Legacy of Slavery, joined her fellow committee member Martha Minow EdM ’76, RI ’18 to comment on the historical ramifications of responses to the far-right violence of January 6 in the article “Unity without Justice Is Dangerous, Historians Say. Just Look at the Civil War” in the Boston Globe. Another Boston Globe article, “In a Close Election, Some Black Americans See a Clear Winner: Racism,” featured commentary by Brown-Nagin and Chad Williams RI ’18 on how many Black Americans were feeling about the 2020 election.
Jill Lepore BI ’00, RI ’20 revisits literary pandemics—from Octavia Butler’s to Albert Camus’s—in her New Yorker story “How Do Plague Stories End?” Lepore is a staff writer at the magazine as well as the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History and a Harvard College Professor.
Harper’s Bazaar published an article in which the former Radcliffe professor Durba Mitra RI ’19, the Harvard PhD candidate Sara Kang AM ’18, PhD ’24, and the Wellesley professor (and recent participant in the Institute event “The Stories We Tell and the Objects We Keep”) Genevieve Clutario examine the dehumanization of victims of the March 16 shooting in Atlanta. “To see these women’s lives in fullness requires that we reckon with overlapping histories of racism, militarism, and policing that have made Asian diasporic women invisible to Americans except when condemned through ideas of illicit sex,” the authors wrote in “It’s Time to Reckon with the History of Asian Women in America.”
Thea Riofrancos RI ’21 took part in a Q and A for Dissent, “A Reparative Politics for the Climate Crisis: A Roundtable,” in which she and others contemplate inequities laid bare by the COVID-19 crisis that must be addressed in advance of the coming climate crisis. “The climate crisis, even more than COVID-19, features a deeply unjust and tragic inverse between, on the one hand, complicity and responsibility and, on the other hand, vulnerability and harm,” she said. Earlier, Riofrancos drew on her book Resource Radicals: From Petro-Nationalism to Post-Extractivism in Ecuador (Duke University Press, 2020) for the article “Extractivism and Extractivismo,” which appeared in the digital scholarship project Global South Studies: A Collective Publication with the Global South. And for her article “Seize and Resist,” in the Baffler, she traced the supply chains of extractive capitalism through Martín Arboleda’s book Planetary Mine: Territories of Extraction under Late Capitalism (Verso, 2020).
A profile of Kaitlyn Greenidge RI ’19 in the New York Times, “Excellence Runs in the Family. Her Novel’s Heroine Wants Something Else,” contrasts the protagonist from her most recent novel, Libertie (Algonquin Books, 2021), with Greenidge and her sisters. Earlier, Greenidge moderated a conversation for Harper’s Bazaar titled “Megan Thee Stallion and Representative Maxine Waters on Misogynoir, Saying No, and the Genius of WAP.”
“Right now, we Asian Americans are proving to be a great test case of the question, ‘Is America America?’” wrote Gish Jen ’77, BI ’87, RI ’02 in a New York Times opinion piece titled “The Generational Split in How Asian-Americans See the Atlanta Shootings.” “It’s a question at which my parents would have scoffed. Of course not, they would have said. And let me pay heartfelt tribute here to their self-respect and their resilience, which we would do well to retain. But the time has come not just to cope but to move the world forward.”
Publishers Weekly recently interviewed Tiya Miles ’92, a Radcliffe Alumnae Professor and professor of history in the Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, about her forthcoming book, All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake (Random House, 2021). “The story reminds us that physical deprivation and brutality have always been part of the Black experience in America, but also that African American women have found creative ways to care for family and for themselves despite these assaults,” said Miles in “An Ordinary Treasure: PW Talks with Tiya Miles.” Radcliffe Magazine has an excerpt from the book [LINK TO STORY].
Space Command, the Defense Department’s coordinating body for space-related military operations, is moving from Colorado Springs to Huntsville, Alabama, and Diane McWhorter RI ’12 had questions about the decision in a New York Times opinion piece titled “Why Is Space Command Moving Into Mo Brooks’s Backyard?” McWhorter, who is at work on a book about Huntsville and the Cold War space race, , “Reasonable Americans might ask whether our national security should be entrusted to a community in which a significant portion of the work force may not believe that Mr. Biden is the legitimate commander in chief.”
The March 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar included an article, “How the Studio Museum in Harlem Transformed the Art World Forever,” that featured a number of Radcliffe-affiliated artists—including Abigail DeVille RI ’15, Leslie Hewitt RI ’10, Steffani Jemison RI ’17, and Xaviera Simmons, who created the exhibition Overlay for the Institute in 2017—all of whom have been through the Studio Museum’s artist-in-residence program.
Forbes published a Q and A with the women’s rights advocate Alaa Murabit RI ’21, “From Patriarchy To Inclusion: When Outrage Leads To Hope And Power-Sharing.” When it comes to political power, women face particular obstacles—especially during a global pandemic, she said. “We must stop tokenizing women’s leadership and back it up with action.”
In the New York Times article “What the Asian-American Coalition Can Teach the Democrats,” Viet Thanh Nguyen RI ’09 opined that Asian Americans as a group have a lesson to impart—namely, “that both identity and political ideology matter, not just one or the other.”
In “The Case for a Third Reconstruction,” for the New York Review of Books, Manisha Sinha RI ’20 discussed the challenges—and opportunities—ahead after the January 6 attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election results. “The history of Reconstruction reveals that moments of crisis can also provide opportunities to strengthen our experiment in democracy,” she wrote. Sinha also reviewed Heather Cox Richardson’s book How the South Won the Civil War: Oligarchy, Democracy, and the Continuing Fight For the Soul of America (Oxford University Press, 2020) in “The Oligarch’s Revenge” in the Nation and wrote an opinion piece for the New York Times, “Why Kamala Harris Matters to Me.”
In “The Important Political History of Black History Month,” which appeared in Education Week, Jarvis R. Givens RI ’21 outlined the role of Black educators in establishing the monthlong recognition—during the era of Jim Crow. “Originally founded in 1926 as Negro History Week by the famed educator and groundbreaking historian Carter G. Woodson, Black History Month is the product of Black teachers’ long-standing intellectual and political struggles,” Givens wrote.
In “Music’s First Responder: How Yo-Yo Ma Answered the Pandemic’s Call and Consoled a Reeling Nation,” Jeremy Eichler RI ’17, who is a music critic on the Boston Globe staff, wrote about the soothing power of the famous cellist.
John Tasioulas RI ’15, a philosopher, introduced readers to “conceptual overreach” in the digital magazine Aeon. In “The Inflation of Concepts,” he warns against “when a particular concept undergoes a process of expansion or inflation in which it absorbs ideas and demands that are foreign to it”—which, he says “leaves us poorly positioned to identify the distinct values that are at stake in any given decision.”
The New York Review of Books published an article by Alexandra D. Lahav JD ’98, RI ’20 in which the tort expert noted an increase in mass suits involving women. “These tort cases, in the aggregate, reflect our medical system’s grisly disregard for women’s health,” wrote Lahav in the article “Medicine Is Made for Men.” She noted especially the lack of sex-disaggregated data, saying, “We cannot improve what we don’t measure.”
Héctor Tobar RI ’21 contributed an opinion piece to the New York Times, “What the Future Holds for Undocumented Immigrants,” in which he wrote, “We are slowly creating a caste of permanently undocumented Latino people in the United States.”
In “Now Here We Go Again, We See the Crystal Visions,” which appeared in Vanity Fair, Kiese Laymon RI ’21 meditated on the pandemic, loneliness, and a viral video featuring a man skateboarding to the Fleetwood Mac song “Dreams.” Wrote Laymon, “I’d heard, and loved, Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” thousands of times, but I’d never felt the freedom in loneliness I felt when watching doggface208’s TikTok.”
In “Legacy of Hope,” in the New York Times, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie RI ’12 reviewed Barack Obama’s A Promised Land (Crown, 2020), which, she said, “is nearly always pleasurable to read, sentence by sentence, the prose gorgeous in places, the detail granular and vivid.”
In The Conversation, Mona Lena Crook RI ’09 commented on HR 1151, introduced in Congress this past fall by Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan). “HR 1151 marks an important moment in American politics,” wrote Crook in her article “How Sexist Abuse of Women in Congress Amounts to Political Violence—and Undermines American Democracy.” “As record numbers of American women are running for and winning public office, their growing political power has been met with death and rape threats, sexist abuse, and disparagement.”
Christopher Shinn RI ’20 discussed and shared an excerpt from a recent unstaged play in “The Strategist Who Could Have Put Hillary in Power: Christopher Shinn on His Play The Narcissist,” part of the Guardian’s Future Plays series. “I wrote The Narcissist in order to explore what is happening in the American psyche,” he explained in the introduction. “We are living in a kind of slow-motion apocalypse.”
Ben Miller RI ’15 spent much of the pandemic as a telehealth worker in South Dakota. He wrote about his experiences in “Field Notes from a Pandemic: Call of the Killdeer,” which appeared in Raritan: A Quarterly Review.
Susan M. Reverby BI ’88, RI ’03 published an op-ed in the New York Daily News titled “Prisons and Public Health: Governor Cuomo Must Let Out Thousands or Many Will Die.” Her book Co-Conspirator for Justice: The Revolutionary Life of Dr. Alan Berkman (University of North Carolina Press, 2020), about the health activist, political prisoner, and American doctor, came out last June.
A new poetry collection by Kathleen Ossip RI ’17, July (Sarabande, 2021), is already hotly anticipated despite not being due out until June. “This is one of the most encompassing and exciting books of poetry I’ve read in a long time,” said Craig Morgan Teicher (who also called Ossip “one of the best now writing”) in an NPR 2021 poetry preview.
Lucas Bessire RI ’19 has published Running Out: In Search of Water on the High Plains (Princeton University Press, 2021). An anthropologist and native Kansan who is descended from five generations of farmers and ranchers, Bessire researched and wrote this book, about aquifer depletion, during his fellowship year.
Judith Seligson ’72 has published Gaps and the Creation of Ideas: An Artist’s Book (Cambridge Scholars Publishing. 2021), described as “an interdisciplinary, encyclopedic portrait of the space between things” and a work of art 20 years in the making. Seligson is a painter whose next solo exhibition, The More You Look, The More You See, will be on view at the Mourlot Editions Galérie in New York City in late fall.
The Colour of God (Oneworld Publications, 2021), which Ayesha S. Chaudhry RI ’16 began writing during her Radcliffe fellowship, has just been published. The New York Journal calls it “an exquisite, engrossing, and very moving book.” Chaudhry discussed the memoir with Eastern Eye, saying, “In its essence, this book is a nonlinear story about grief, love, and belonging in a diaspora created by colonialism. Through a series of stories, I explore the ways we try to belong, find home, feel whole, and the kinds of violence that accompany so many forms of belonging.”
Jarvis R. Givens RI ’21 has published Fugitive Pedagogy: Carter G. Woodson and the Art of Black Teaching (Harvard University Press, 2021). “Jarvis Givens’s Fugitive Pedagogy is a brilliant, fascinating, and groundbreaking text,” said the scholar and author Imani Perry in advance praise. “In this transformative work, Givens rigorously examines critical pedagogy as an essential element in the Black intellectual tradition and, indeed, one situated at the very heart of Black Studies from its beginnings.”
Sherry Turkle ’69, AM ’73, PhD ’76, a licensed clinical psychologist who studies people’s relationships to technology, has published The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir (Penguin Press, 2021). A New York Times review called it beautiful: “It has gravity and grace; it’s as inexorable as a fable; it drills down into the things that make a life; it works to make sense of existence on both its coded and transparent levels; it feels like an instant classic of the genre.”
The Committed (2021), by Viet Thanh Nguyen RI ’09, is the sequel to the Pulitzer Prize–winning novel The Sympathizer (Grove Press, 2015). “The novel draws its true enchantment—and its immense power—from the propulsive, wide-ranging intelligence of our narrator as he Virgils us through his latest descent into hell,” wrote Junot Díaz RI ’04 in a New York Times review. “That he happens to be as funny as he is smart is the best plus of all.”
The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void (Nightboat Books, 2021), a poetry collection from Jackie Wang AM ’19, PhD ’20, RGF ’20, sculpts dreams into poems, said NPR’s Morning Edition in “With Sunflowers as Her Guide, Poet Tunes In to Dream Life for Debut Collection.”
Amy Nathan ’67, MAT ’68 has published a young adult nonfiction book, Together: An Inspiring Response to the “Separate-But-Equal” Supreme Court Decision That Divided America (Paul Dry Books, 2021), in which she explains the history of the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, race relations, and US civil rights movements, particularly in New Orleans, through the story of an unexpected alliance between descendants of the case’s namesakes. “An ambitious account of the legacies of Plessy and Ferguson, before and beyond the vs,” said Kirkus Reviews. “Undeniably timely and representative of the necessary work ahead.”
Ibram X. Kendi RI ’21 and Keisha N. Blain teamed up to edit the anthology Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619‒2019 (One World, 2021). They assembled 90 writers to take on a five-year period in African American history in each essay, and Jericho Brown RI ’10, Annette Gordon-Reed JD ’84, RI ’12, RI ’13, RI ’14, RI ’16, Kiese Laymon RI ’21, Laurence Ralph RI ’16, and Phillip B. Williams RI ’21 are among the contributors. “Four Hundred Souls weaves a tapestry of unspeakable suffering and unexpected transcendence,” said O: The Oprah Magazine.
“it all melts down to this (chapter 12),” by Ben Miller RI ’15—which originally appeared in The Offbeat, out of Michigan State University—was included in BAX 2020: Best American Experimental Writing (Wesleyan University Press, 2021), guest edited by Joyelle McSweeney ’98 and Carmen Maria Machado.
Land’s End: New and Selected Poems (University of Chicago Press, 2020) is the latest collection from Gail Mazur BI ’97, RI ’09. “In this comprehensive volume, Mazur demonstrates a remarkable mastery of poetic technique as she depicts human relationships in all of their ambiguities,” wrote Publishers Weekly in a starred review.
Ruth Ann Smullin ’65 has published her first poetry collection, The Open Door (Finishing Line Press, 2020). “Ruth Ann Smullin’s collection, The Open Door, invites the reader to consider the shape of memory, the way we experience our lives as moments and interactions, laden with feeling. Smullin is a clear-eyed guide; her poems unfold simply and without sentimentality,” says Mary Buchinger, a poet and the author of e i n f ü h l u n g / in feeling (Main Street Rag, 2018) and Aerialist (Gold Wake Press Collective, 2015).
The Boy in the Field (Harper, 2020), the latest novel by Margot Livesey RI ’13, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and an O Magazine Best Book of the Year. “Livesey’s writing is quiet, observant, and beautifully efficient—there’s not an extra word or scene in the entire book—and yet simultaneously so cinematic, you can hear the orchestral soundtrack as you tear through the pages,” said a New York Times review.
John T. Jost RI ’03, a professor of psychology at New York University, has published A Theory of System Justification (Harvard University Press, 2020), in which he draws on 25 years of research to explain why people are motivated to defend the status quo—even when it harms them.
The tap dancer Ayodele Casel RI ’20 was featured alongside the countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo and the veteran Broadway actor Nathan Lane—“three dazzling talents at the top of their game”—in a 60 Minutes segment about the state of the performing arts in New York City during the pandemic. Casel most recently teamed up with a number of other performers, including fellow tappers and musicians, to create Chasing Magic for the Joyce Theater. The show, which was a New York Times Critic’s Pick, streamed on demand April 8–21. “She doesn’t need to chase magic. It chases her,” said a New York Times review. Next, look for Casel at your local post office: she’s appearing in a series of tap stamps the USPS is releasing on July 8.
Inspired by 1968 films by the likes of Jean-Luc Godard, Wexner Center for the Arts commissioned works from 20 filmmakers around the world, each under two minutes. Among the participants in Cinetracts ’20 (streaming through June 30, 2021) were Christopher Harris RI ’21, Sky Hopinka RI ’19, and Bouchra Khalili RI ’18. The Brattle Theater recently organized a virtual screening of Hopinka’s first feature-length film, Małni—towards the Ocean, towards the Shore, from May 7 to May 13, and on May 12, the filmmaker participated in a live, virtual Q and A.
Our Towns, a new documentary from the filmmaking duo Jeanne Jordan BI ’93, RI ’03 and Steven Ascher ’82, premiered in April on HBO. Based on the best-selling book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America (Pantheon, 2018), by James Fallows ’70 and Deborah Fallows ’71, it continues to stream on HBO Max.
with it which it as it if it is to be, Part II, a film by Eve Fowler RI ’19, screened online this past winter (January 26–February 7) on the Tang Museum’s website. The film, as Fowler describes it, “explores the working practices of women artists in their later years of their career, in their studios, interacting with their art.” The voiceover is Gertrude Stein’s 1910 story Many Many Women, and the film documents some major women artists of our time, including Mary Lum RI ’05.
The Hollywood Reporter had some breaking news about Ibram X. Kendi RI ’21 earlier this year. The article “Netflix Partners with Dr. Ibram X. Kendi for Three Projects Based on His Books” detailed the projects under way to adapt for the screen his best-selling books Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Bold Type Books, 2016), Stamped for Kids: Racism, Antiracism, and You (Little Brown & Co, 2021), and Antiracist Baby (Kokila, 2020).
The Art of Political Murder: Who Killed the Bishop? (Grove Press, 2007), by Francisco Goldman RI ’19, was adapted into a documentary by the director Paul Taylor and broadcast by HBO. A New York Times review said the movie, in which Goldman appears, “succeeds at weaving a web in which justice appears impossibly elusive—which gives the ending all the more punch.”
Origin of the Species (2020), by Abigail Child ’68, RI ’06, had its world premiere last fall at the DOC NYC festival. The experimental documentary about androids—which invites viewers inside cutting-edge robotics laboratories in the United States and Japan to raise essential questions about what it means to be human and about traditional ideas of gender and race in scientific research—earned an NYC Women’s Media Grant last year.
A new large-scale public artwork by Sarah Sze RI ’06, Shorter Than the Day (2021), has been installed in New York’s LaGuardia Airport. CBS News talked to Sze about her career and about the artwork, located in the refurbished Terminal B.
Anne Seelbach BI ’90 contributed a painting to the 83rd Guild Hall Members Exhibition, in East Hampton, New York, which ran from March 6 through April 10, 2021. The exhibition is the oldest nonjuried show on Long Island and one of the few nonjuried exhibitions still running.
Colleen Kiely RI ’01 recently had a solo exhibition of her imaginary portraits, titled This Ain’t No Party, This Ain’t No Disco, at Steven Zevitas Gallery. “These are not portraits,” wrote Cate McQuaid in her Boston Globe review, “Painter Colleen Kiely Brings the Face beyond Portraiture.” “They are about paint’s great ability, and perhaps ultimate failure, to capture a likeness.” The show ran from February 5 to March 25.
Centers of Somewhere, a solo exhibition by Sky Hopinka RI ’19, was on view this past winter at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College. Earlier, the New Yorker reviewed his exhibition at the Manhattan gallery Broadway. Hopinka, whom the magazine called “restlessly intelligent,” is a filmmaker and cofounder of COUSIN, a collective supporting indigenous artists in film.
Abigail DeVille RI ’15 installed a new public artwork, Light of Freedom, in Madison Square Park as part of its conservancy’s public art commissioning program. On view for most of the past fall and winter, the project was a 12-foot high reference to the Statue of Liberty’s torch and to the scaffolding that encased it during construction. “It’s a commemoration of the Black Lives Matter protests and movement—and the Black lives here in this continent for 400 years,” DeVille said of the sculpture in an Art21 Extended Play video about its making.
In the fall, Beth Galston BI ’91 had a mini-retrospective, Built and Imagined, at the Gleason Public Library, in Carlisle, Massachusetts. Open by appointment, the exhibit featured Galston’s models for public projects—from Tree/House (1994) to Floating Garden (2019)—complemented by a slideshow of the finished pieces, process materials, and recent prints.
Eden Medina RI ’21 recently appeared on the podcast Tech Won’t Save Us to discuss the history and lessons of Chile’s Project Cybersyn, a technological system created by Salvador Allende's government in Chile.
C. Cybele Raver ’86 will begin a new post as the provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs of Vanderbilt University on July 1. Raver is currently the deputy provost of New York University, where she is also a professor of applied psychology.
Starting June 9, Ibram X. Kendi RI ’21 takes his antiracist message into a new format: a weekly interview podcast called Be Antiracist with Ibram X. Kendi. The 10-episode season will feature conversations with experts in politics, academia, journalism, and more. “After a year that laid bare the pervasive racial inequity that continues to plague our nation, we must continue the difficult but necessary conversations that will allow us to imagine and erect a truly antiracist society,” Kendi told The Root.
Sandra Susan Smith and Khalil Gibran Muhammad RI ’17, RI ’20, both Harvard Radcliffe Institute and Harvard Kennedy School professors, offered insight following the Derek Chauvin verdict in the WGBH News story “In Nubian Square, Black Bostonians Exhale after Chauvin Verdict, but Fear Unjust Police Killings Will Happen Again.”
Sharon Marcus RI ’18 was invited to discuss the Mozart aria “Hai già vinta la causa,” from The Marriage of Figaro, on the WQXR podcast Aria Code, hosted by Rhiannon Giddens. The journalist Laura Bassett and the bass-baritone Gerald Finley joined Marcus in the discussion, titled “Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro: Count on a Reckoning.”
On NPR’s All Things Considered, Mary Louise Kelly ’93 talked with the political scientist Thea Riofrancos RI ’21 about the surprise victory for the right wing in Ecuador’s presidential election. “This is a moment of social and economic and political upheaval, and I think that can make politics less predictable,” Riofrancos said in the segment “Ecuador Chooses Conservative Banker as Its Next President.”
Alexandra D. Lahav JD ’98, RI ’20 spoke with The Private Law podcast about her paper “Chancy Causation in Tort.” The episode covered such topics as causation, the distinction between factual and normative questions, pragmatism, and legal concepts.
President Joe Biden nominated Samantha Power JD ’99, RI ’18, a former US ambassador to the United Nations, to lead the US Agency for International Development. She appeared on the podcast Hysteria in March, where she spoke about her career so far—and what’s to come.
Camara Phyllis Jones RI ’20, a physician and epidemiologist, made a number of media appearances in the late fall and winter: On WGBH’s Basic Black, she made the case for the vaccine among people of color, while on Univision News, she commented on the Center for Disease Control’s recommendations for the COVID-19 vaccine distribution. She also appeared on the podcast A Different Kind of Leader, in which she gave advice and described her career trajectory.
Sara Bleich PhD ’07, RI ’19 was named the senior advisor for COVID-19 in the US Department of Agriculture’s Office of the Secretary. In this new position, she’ll lead efforts related to the pandemic, economic recovery, and federal nutrition assistance programs.
The award-winning writer, filmmaker, and physician Uzodinma Iweala ’04, RI ’12 was among seven new members appointed to the board of trustees of the Sundance Institute. He is currently the CEO of the Africa Center, which is dedicated to promoting a new narrative about Africa and its diaspora.
This past fall, The Ezra Klein Show welcomed Suzanne Mettler RI ’20 for a conversation titled “RBG, Minority Rule, and Our Looming Legitimacy Crisis.” Mettler commented on political machinations after the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg through the lens of her book, with Robert C. Lieberman, Four Threats: The Recurring Crisis of American Democracy (St. Martin’s Press, 2020).
Alexey Golubev RI ’21 appeared on the New Books Network podcast, talking about his research interests and his newest book, The Things of Life: Materiality in Late Soviet Russia (Cornell University Press, 2020), a social and cultural history of material objects and spaces during the late socialist era. The book uses material culture to consider the ways in which the Soviet people subverted the efforts of the Communist regime to control them.