Faculty

Five UChicago Scholars Awarded 2020 Guggenheim Fellowships

Photo by Jean Lachat

Guggenheim Fellowships have been awarded this year to five University of Chicago scholars, writers and artists who examine everything from sign language to video games to theater, from medieval Islam to the 20th-century United States.

Four of the five scholars—Prof. Diane Brentari, Prof. Patrick Jagoda, Prof. Tahera Qutbuddin, and Associate Prof. Catherine Sullivan—are from the Division of the Humanities and are among the 175 fellows selected in this year’s class from nearly 3,000 applicants. Since 1925, the Guggenheim Fellowships have been given on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise—granting more than $375 million to over 18,000 individuals.

Alternate Reality Game Sparks Innovative Student Ideas About Climate Change

An alternate reality game called Terrarium, created by UChicago faculty, including Prof. Patrick Jagoda (above), encouraged incoming students to work collaboratively. Photo by Eliana Melmed

As one of their first challenges at the University of Chicago, undergraduate students were given five minutes to tell the world how they planned on saving it. A new 17-minute video showcases UChicago students talking about how the alternate reality game, Terrarium, encouraged them to think critically about climate change.

UChicago Writer's Post-Apocalyptic Novel Earns Her Prestigious Honor

Ling Ma by Anjali Pinto

Ling Ma doesn’t feel like an oracle, even as her award-winning debut novel about an epidemic finds new resonance amid the coronavirus outbreak. Published in 2018, Severance was inspired by emergencies of lesser scales: the 2002 SARS epidemic, Hurricane Sandy, and the 2011 snowpocalypse that shut down Chicago businesses and schools.

“I thought about how companies would react when these catastrophes happened,” said Ma, AB’05, an assistant professor of practice in the arts in the University of Chicago’s Program in Creative Writing. “I thought about my jobs, how people interact in the workplace and the power hierarchies. And how the media metabolizes larger-than-life events, trying to create a narrative for us in real time.”

Two Humanities Faculty Members Receive NEA Creative Writing Fellowships

Ben Hoffman and Ling Ma received NEA Creative Writing Fellowships.

Ling Ma (BA’05) and Ben Hoffman are already acclaimed fiction writers. Ma received the prestigious 2018 Kirkus Prize for Fiction for her novel Severance (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2018), as well as the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Hoffman was honored by the Chicago Tribune’s 2014 Nelson Algren Award for short fiction work for his story “This Will All Be Over Soon,” as well as a Carol Houck Smith Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing, and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University.

Despite these successes, Ma and Hoffman did not expect to receive the National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. The competition is fierce for these NEA Fellowships of $25,000 each. Biannually, the NEA chooses only 36 Creative Writing Fellowships for prose from approximately 1,700 eligible applications. More significant after receiving NEA Fellowships, many recipients gain wider recognition, such as Anthony Doerr, Louise Erdrich, and Jennifer Egan.

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