Four Columbians Win Guggenheim Fellowships

Their proposed projects include a novel about literature and technology, a cultural investigation of listening, a multi-genre book focused on mining, and a theory of what it is to hear emotions in music. 

Kim Martineau
April 13, 2022

Four Columbia professors will receive Guggenheim Fellowships this year to pursue​ an independent​ project​​ of their choice. They are among 80 American and Canadian scientists, scholars, writers, and artists selected from 2,500 applicants for a 2022 fellowship.

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has given nearly $400 million in fellowships to over 18,000 individuals; more than 125 of its alumni are Nobel laureates, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize, and National Book Award, among other top honors. 

Here’s what the Columbians plan to accomplish in the next year:

Hernan Diaz, associate director of Columbia’s Hispanic Institute, will work on his third novel, The Generation, which reflects on technology’s place in the American literary canon, examines the role of exploration and conquest in U.S. literary history, and puts it all in the context of our current environmental crisis.

Stathis Gourgouris, a professor in the classics department, will examine the many facets of listening: from the philosophical tradition of acoustics; to the development of music appreciation; to listening’s relationship to sound technologies; and to its significance as a metaphor for the worldly encounter and democratic politics.

Rosalind Morris, a professor in the anthropology department, will complete a multi-genre book, Anatomy Lessons of a Miner, that reflects on the lived experience of natural resource extractionism, alternating between the mining town of her childhood and the South Africa goldmines she has spent more than two decades studying as an anthropologist.

Christopher Peacocke, the Johnsonian Professor of Philosophy and director of graduate studies, will develop a theory of what it is to hear emotions and other states in a perceived piece of music. He will be applying ideas from current philosophy of mind to explain the power of music, why it goes beyond what is verbally expressible, and its social and political significance. ​