William C. Kirby, Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, has announced this year’s Walter Channing Cabot Fellows. Chosen for their eminence in history, literature or art, this year’s Fellows are Svetlana Boym, Curt Hugo Reisinger Professor of Slavic Languages and Literature and professor of comparative literature; Jorie Graham, Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory; Evelyn Higginbotham, professor of history and Afro-American Studies; Richard Moran, Brian D. Young Professor of Philosophy; Eric Rentschler, professor of German; and Maria Tatar, John L. Loeb Professor of Germanic Languages and Literatures and Harvard College Professor.
Svetlana Boym has written extensively on nostalgia and on Russian culture. Her courses examine the relationship between literature and the visual arts, and literature and philosophy. Boym’s current research explores cross-cultural conceptions of freedom and compares freedom in the singular, as an aesthetic or philosophical notion, and freedom in the plural, as in, for instance, political “freedoms.”
“I am very excited to get the Cabot Fellowship prize, and I hope to continue doing my interdisciplinary research and teaching. I encourage my wonderful graduate students to do the same – courageously, exploring new territories rather than trying to fit into familiar critical labels and schools,” Boym said.
Jorie Graham, distinguished poet and recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and the Pulitzer Prize, teaches poetry writing and a seminar on reading poetry in the Department of English and American Language.
Evelyn Higginbotham, who holds appointments in both the History and Afro-American Studies departments, is the award-winning author of books and articles on African-American women in the 19th and 20th centuries. Higginbotham’s current projects include a study of race in the academy in the 20th century, and a biography of her late husband, the eminent jurist A. Leon Higginbotham Jr. His life and work serve as a lens for her investigation into the rise and decline of the liberal civil rights agenda in America.
Richard Moran’s recently published book, “Authority and Estrangement: An Essay on Self-Knowledge,” considers how knowledge of oneself differs from knowledge of others; he examines self-knowledge in its philosophical, psychological, and literary contexts. Moran’s current work looks at, respectively, testimony and the speaker’s relation to his or her own words, and at how a person’s practical knowledge of what he or she is doing differs from knowledge of another person’s actions.
“If I live long enough I’d love to write something on Proust on agency, the experience of beauty, and the overcoming of solipsism,” Moran said. “It’s a wonderful surprise to be named a Cabot Fellow, and I’m very grateful and encouraged.”
Eric Rentschler, who specializes in German cinema during the Weimar Republic, the Third Reich, and the post-1945 era, says, “I am pleasantly surprised to have been named a Cabot Fellow. Looking at the names of colleagues who have received this honor in past years, I find myself in very illustrious, indeed august, company. The fellowship is, to be sure, well-timed. It will help sustain my work during the final stages of a long-term project devoted to postwar German cinema whose title is “Points of Departure: Film in the Federal Republic of Germany, 1982-1989.”
Maria Tatar is completing a book on the Bluebeard story, showing how writers, artists, and filmmakers have recycled the folktale to produce plots about the attractions of curiosity and the lure of the forbidden. She includes a wide range of texts in her study, beginning with the French folktale and its international cognates, then turning to works ranging from “Jane Eyre” and “Rebecca” through Chaplin’s “Monsieur Verdoux” and Hitchcock’s “Notorious” to Nabokov’s “Lolita” and Jane Campion’s “The Piano.” She is also at work on a study of the Grimms’ fairy tales, documenting their origins and investigating their cultural dissemination.
“This award is impeccably timed,” said Tatar. “It provides a wonderful jump-start to research efforts, coming at a time when the rigors of teaching leave most faculty members feeling depleted. I am grateful to the donor for this generous gesture and hope to use the funds to broaden my research base.”
The fund supporting the Cabot Fellowships was founded in Walter Channing Cabot’s memory in 1905, by his wife Elizabeth Rogers Cabot and their children.