Five University of Chicago Scholars Earn Guggenheim Fellowships

UChicago Campus Photo by Drone Media Chicago

The following was first published in UChicago News on April 12, 2019.

By Louise Lerner, Sara Patterson, and Jack Wang

Five University of Chicago scholars have been named 2019 Guggenheim Fellows, chosen on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Prof. Michael Bourdaghs, Assoc. Prof. Agnes Callard, Prof. Per Mykland, Prof. Robert Pippin and Asst. Prof. Sam Pluta were among the 168 scholars, artists and writers chosen this year from a group of almost 3,000 applicants. They will receive financial support to pursue a variety of projects—from Japanese Cold War culture to the fundamentals of data architecture.

Michael K. Bourdaghs
Prof. Michael K. Bourdaghs

During the four decades that Michael K. Bourdaghs has studied the Japanese Cold War culture, his scholarship has evolved from comparing Japan to America to examining Japan in a wider global context. The award-winning East Asian scholar will use the Guggenheim Fellowship to finish a book about the Japanese Cold War. He will evaluate its relationships to countries in the so-called First, Second and Third Worlds.

“I contend that a full understanding of Japan’s Cold War requires us to look at how Japanese artists and intellectuals were simultaneously participants in all three ‘Worlds’ of the Cold War era,” said Bourdaghs, the Robert S. Ingersoll Professor in East Asian Languages and Civilizations.

The idea for his new book started through teaching the UChicago course entitled “Japanese Culture of the Cold War: Literature, Film, Music.” Bourdaghs realized postwar Japanese culture was radically different when viewed through the lens of Cold War culture and when Japan was placed at the center of Cold War geopolitics instead of on the sidelines.  Japanese artists and intellectuals were simultaneously aligned with First World liberal democracies, while building ties to the socialist Second World and the nonaligned movement’s Third World.

John Muse Receives the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism

John Muse

University of Chicago scholar John Muse recently received the prestigious 2017–2018 George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism for his book Microdramas: Crucibles for Theater and Time (University of Michigan Press, 2017). “In Microdramas, John presents compelling and original arguments about the significance of short plays on the theatrical tradition, changing audience expectations, and time,” said Anne Walters Robertson, Dean of the Division of the Humanities.

How Lauren Berlant's Cultural Criticism Predicted the Trumping of Politics

Lauren Berlant photographed by Whitten Sabbatini for The New Yorker

The followin was first published in The New Yorker online on March 18, 2019.

In October, 2011, the literary scholar and cultural theorist Lauren Berlant published “Cruel Optimism,” a meditation on our attachment to dreams that we know are destined to be dashed. Berlant had taught in the English Department at the University of Chicago since 1984. She had established herself as a skilled interpreter of film and literature, starting out with a series of influential, interlinked books that she called her “national sentimentality trilogy.” A sense of national identity, these books argued, wasn’t so much a set of conscious decisions that we make as it was a set of compulsions—attachments and identifications—that we feel.

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