The New York Public Library's Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers Announces 2018-2019 Fellows

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April 23, 2018 -- The New York Public Library’s Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers has selected its 20th class of Fellows: independent scholars, academics, and creative writers, whose work will benefit directly from access to the collections at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building. Chosen out of 397 applicants from 45 countries, the 2018 class of Cullman Center Fellows includes:

  • Academics David Bell, Ada Ferrer, Faith Hillis, Martha Hodes, Brooke Holmes, and Corey Robin
  • Independent scholars Jennifer Croft, Mary Dearborn, Amanda Vaill, and Frances Wilson
  • Fiction writers Karan Mahajan, Marisa Silver, and Kirmen Uribe
  • Poets Vona Groarke and francine j. harris

"I am tremendously excited to welcome a new class of Cullman Center Fellows to The New York Public Library," said Tony Marx, President of NYPL. "Utilizing primary sources and conducting research is not only relevant but essential to our society and culture at this moment in history. I look forward to seeing how this year’s Fellows use our collections to create new work and enrich our world."

The 2018 class of Fellows will be in residence at the Cullman Center from September 2018 through May 2019. Each Fellow receives a stipend, a private office in the Cullman Center’s stately quarters at The New York Public Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building at Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, and full access to the renowned research collections and resources there, as well as the invaluable assistance of the Library’s curatorial and reference staff.

"Our judges had their work cut out for them this year: we have never had so many applicants," said Salvatore Scibona, Sue Ann and John Weinberg Director of the Cullman Center. "The selected writers are a group of tremendous talent and distinctive vision—each has a singular need for the Library’s collections, each makes a singular claim on the attention of the reading public. I can’t wait for the books they’ll make here."   

The Center fosters an atmosphere of creative and scholarly collaboration both within the Library and in the larger cultural environment of New York, through informal lunch-time talks and public Conversations from the Cullman Center, a series of free evening programs that focus on the books Fellows worked on while in residence at the Library.

Cullman Center Fellows regularly receive distinguished honors and awards for these books.  Prize-winning and prominent past Fellows include: André Aciman, Elif Batuman, David Blight, Ian Buruma, Jennifer Egan, Nathan Englander, Alvaro Enrigue, Hal Foster, Ian Frazier, Rivka Galchen, Annette Gordon-Reed, Anthony Grafton, Stephen Kotkin, Nicole Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, Hermione Lee, Larissa MacFarquhar, Megan Marshall, Ayana Mathis, Colum McCann, Richard McGuire, Pankaj Mishra, C.E. Morgan, Joseph O'Neill, Téa Obreht, Darryl Pinckney, Lauren Redniss, Karen Russell, Stacy Schiff, James Shapiro, Dash Shaw, Mark Stevens, T.J. Stiles, John Jeremiah Sullivan, Colm Tóibín, Wells Tower, Rosanna Warren, Colson Whitehead, and Alejandro Zambra.

For more information about the Center, its current and former Fellows, and its programs for teachers and the general public, visit

About the 2018-2019 Fellows at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers


The John and Constance Birkelund Fellow
The Idols of the Age of Revolution: Charisma and Power in the Atlantic World, 1750–1830

David Bell, Lapidus Professor in the Department of History at Princeton, is a historian of modern Europe. Among his books are The First Total War: Napoleon’s Europe and the Making of Warfare as We Know It and Shadows of Revolution: Reflections on France, Past and Present. He writes regularly for publications including the Nation, the New York Review of Books, and the London Review of Books. While at the Cullman Center he will be completing a book tentatively titled The Idols of the Age of Revolution: Charisma and Power in the Atlantic World, 1750–1830.

Translation from Polish of Olga Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob 

Jennifer Croft is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Fulbright Program, PEN America, the MacDowell Colony, and the National Endowment for the Arts; as well as the inaugural Michael Henry Heim Prize for Translation and a Tin House Scholarship for her novel Homesick, originally written in Spanish. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, BOMB, VICE, n+1, Electric Literature, Lit Hub, Guernica, the New Republic, the Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, and elsewhere. Her translation from Polish of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights is forthcoming in the United States from Riverhead. At the Cullman Center she will be working on a translation of Tokarczuk’s The Books of Jacob.


Biography of Carson McCullers

Mary Dearborn, an independent scholar and past Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at Columbia University, is the author of seven books, six of them biographies; her subjects have included Norman Mailer, Henry Miller, and Peggy Guggenheim. Her latest book, Ernest Hemingway: A Biography, was published by Knopf in May 2017. At the Cullman Center she will continue work on a biography of the writer Carson McCullers.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellow
Cuba: An American History

Ada Ferrer is Julius Silver Professor of History and Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University. She is the author of two award-winning books: Insurgent Cuba: Race, Nation, and Revolution, 1868–1898 and Freedom’s Mirror: Cuba and Haiti in the Age of Revolution. Based on over thirty years of research in Cuban, Spanish, and US archives, the book she will be working on at the Cullman Center is tentatively titled Cuba: An American History, to be published by Scribner. 

The Printed Word

Vona Groarke has published seven collections of poetry with Gallery Press, most recently X (2014) and Selected Poems, awarded the Pigott Prize for the best Irish book of poetry in 2016. Her book-length essay on art-frames, Four Sides Full, was also published in 2016. Her poems have recently appeared in the New Yorker, Ploughshares, the New York Review of Books, and the Threepenny Review. Former editor of Poetry Ireland Review, she is a senior lecturer in poetry at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom. At the Cullman Center, she will be writing poems in response to the Library’s collection of letterpress-printed, contemporary poetry.


The Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellow
Divine and the Joy of Black Fellowship

francine j. harris is the author of play dead, winner of the 2017 Lambda Literary and Audre Lorde Awards and a finalist for the 2017 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her first collection, allegiance, was a finalist for the 2013 Kate Tufts Discovery and PEN Open Book Awards. She is a Cave Canem poet and has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Most recently, she was writer in residence at Washington University in St. Louis. harris will research black fellowship at the Cullman Center, both artistic and spiritual, communing and traveling; with a particular interest in charismatic black leadership, social agreements and ecstatic ceremony.

Europe’s Russian Colonies: Tsarist Émigrés and the Quest for Freedom in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Faith Hillis is associate professor of history at the University of Chicago. She is the author of Children of Rus': Right Bank Ukraine and the Invention of a Russian Nation. The recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities and American Council of Learned Societies grants, she has also held fellowships at Columbia and Harvard. She will spend her time at the Cullman Center finishing a book on Russian émigré communities in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Europe. 

Hostage in the Desert: An Inquiry into History and Memory

Martha Hodes is professor of history at New York University and the author of three award-winning books, including, most recently, Mourning Lincoln. Her honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Charles Warren Center at Harvard University, and the Fulbright Foundation. At the Cullman Center, she will be writing a book exploring history and memory through a 1970 airplane hijacking, in which she was a twelve-year-old passenger held hostage in the Jordan desert for a week.

The Tissue of the World: Sympathy and the Nature of Nature in Greco-Roman Antiquity

Brooke Holmes is the Robert F. Goheen Professor in the Humanities and professor of classics at Princeton University; from 2015 to 2018 she directed the Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities. She is the author of The Symptom and the Subject: The Emergence of the Physical Body in Ancient Greece (2010) and Gender: Antiquity and its Legacy (2012). She has been awarded fellowships from the Institute for Advanced Study, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Endowment for the Humanities; and she recently held a three-year Mellon New Directions Fellowship. At the Cullman Center, she will be working on a project on sympathy in the human and non-human worlds in Greco-Roman natural philosophy, medicine, natural history, and pastoral poetry.

The Enigma of Clarence Thomas: Race, Capitalism, and the Constitution

Corey Robin is a professor of political science at Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Fear: The History of a Political Idea and The Reactionary Mind: Conservatism from Edmund Burke to Donald Trump. He has written for the New York Times, Harper’s, n+1, and the London Review of Books. At the Cullman Center, he will be working on an intellectual biography of Clarence Thomas.

Colony: A Novel

Karan Mahajan, an assistant professor at Brown, is the author of Family Planning, a finalist for the International Dylan Thomas Prize, and The Association of Small Bombs, which was shortlisted for the 2016 National Book Award, won the 2017 Young Lions Fiction Award from the NYPL, and was named one of the New York Times Book Review’s ten best books of 2016. In 2017, he was selected as one of Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists. His essays and criticism have appeared in the New York Times, the New Yorker Online, n+1, and other venues. At the Cullman Center, he will be working on a novel about return-migration to India titled Colony.


The Mary Ellen von der Heyden Fellow
The Mysteries: A Novel

Marisa Silver is the author of four novels, including Little Nothing and Mary Coin, and two collections of short stories. In 2017, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her work has received the Ohioana Book Prize, the Southern California Independent Bookseller Award, and the O. Henry Award. Her short fiction has been published in the New Yorker, as well as other journals, and has been included in The Best American Short Stories and other anthologies. She will be working at the Cullman Center on a new novel titled The Mysteries.

The Book She Writes: A Novel

Kirmen Uribe is a Basque language writer. He won the National Prize for Literature in Spain in 2009 for his first novel, Bilbao–New York–Bilbao. His poetry collection Meanwhile Take My Hand (Graywolf, 2007), translated into English by Elizabeth Macklin, was a finalist for the 2008 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. At the Cullman Center he will conduct research in the papers of Edith Wynner for his novel titled The Book She Writes.


Biography of the Schuyler Sisters

Amanda Vaill is the author of Everybody Was So Young: Gerald and Sara Murphy—A Lost Generation Love Story; Somewhere: The Life of Jerome Robbins; and Hotel Florida: Truth, Love, and Death in the Spanish Civil War. She wrote the screenplay for the Emmy- and Peabody Award–winning documentary, Jerome Robbins: Something to Dance About, and her journalism and criticism have appeared in numerous periodicals. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a Guggenheim Fellow, and a Fellow of the Center for Ballet and the Arts at New York University, she will be working on a dual biography of the Schuyler sisters, Angelica Schuyler Church and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.


The Jean Strouse Fellow
Burning Man: The Trials of D.H. Lawrence

Frances Wilson is a biographer and critic. Her book Guilty Thing: A Life of Thomas De Quincey, was shortlisted for the National Books Critics Circle Award in nonfiction, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Biographers International Organization’s Plutarch Award. She teaches creative writing at Goldsmith’s College, University of London. As a Cullman Center Fellow, she will be completing a biography of D.H. Lawrence. 

The Cullman Center is made possible by a generous endowment from Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman in honor of Brooke Russell Astor, with major support provided by Mrs. John L. Weinberg, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Estate of Charles J. Liebman, The von der Heyden Family Foundation, John and Constance Birkelund, and The Samuel I. Newhouse Foundation, and with additional gifts from The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, Helen and Roger Alcaly, The Rona Jaffe Foundation, William W. Karatz, Merilee and Roy Bostock, and Cullman Center Fellows.

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