Two Columbia Faculty Members Awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

April 06, 2016
Peter Bearman

Two Columbia faculty members won prestigious Guggenheim Fellowships, which are awarded to mid-career scholars and scientists whose work demonstrates “prior achievement and exceptional promise.”

Peter Bearman, the Jonathan R. Cole Professor of the Social Sciences, and Adam Kirsch, a poet and literary critic who directs Columbia’s master’s program in Jewish Studies, are among 178 scholars, artists and scientists who were named 2016 Guggenheim fellows.

“I was thrilled and surprised,” said Bearman. “Obviously it’s a great honor to be awarded a Guggenheim.” The fellowship will allow him to work on his latest project, a cultural and social history of the U.S. over the last century.

In addition to his teaching and research in sociology, Bearman has investigated the social determinants of the autism epidemic and is the principal investigator of the Understanding Autism Project, a Columbia project that looks at patterns in the prevalence of autism. He also is the director of Columbia's Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics and co-directs the Oral History Master of Arts Program, the Mellon Interdisciplinary Graduate Training Program and the Robert Wood Johnson Health & Society Scholars Program.

A specialist in network analysis, Bearman co-designed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which last week won the Golden Goose Award, which goes to federally-funded research that leads to major breakthroughs and societal impact. He won the National Institute of Health Director’s Pioneer Award 2007.

Adam Kirsch

Kirsch has been at Columbia since 2010, when he began teaching in the American Studies program. Last year, he became program coordinator of the Institute of Israel and Jewish Studies. He has published three collections of poetry and five books of criticism and biography. His book reviews appear regularly in The New Yorker, the New York Review of Books, and many other publications.

“I am very honored by the news,” Kirsch said. “There are so many wonderful writers and scholars whose work has been supported by the Guggenheim, and I'm proud to be among them.”

Kirsch is currently working on an edition of the letters of Lionel Trilling (CC’25, GSAS ’26, Ph.D. ’38) the noted literary critic and former Columbia professor who died in 1975. “The fellowship will help me devote the necessary time to research in Butler Library and other archives where Trilling's letters are held,” he said.

This would be his second book on Trilling. In 2011, Kirsch published Why Trilling Matters (Yale University Press), which was reviewed in The Wall Street Journal by historian Jacques Barzun (CC’27, GSAS’28, Ph.D.’32) who was then 103. Barzun, who taught at Columbia for more than 50 years and was its provost, described the volume as “an attractive account of a powerful critic.”

Kirsch is currently a contributing editor of Tablet, a daily online magazine of Jewish news, ideas and culture. His editor there, Matthew Fishbane, said, “Away from Twitter and the shoddy distractions of the internet, Adam Kirsch reads.” He added that Kirsch’s writing is “a bastion of considered thought -- eloquent, erudite, and generous."