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Three Berkeley faculty are new Guggenheim fellows

| 21 April 2004

Three professors in the College of Letters & Science are among the 185 scholars, artists, and scientists who are winners of the 2004 Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowship. They are Neil Fligstein, the Class of 1939 Chancellor’s Professor in the sociology department; Lorna Hutson, professor of English literature; and Niklaus Largier, professor of German literature.

The Guggenheim is awarded to recipients in the United States and Canada based on distinguished achievement and exceptional promise. This year’s winners, chosen from more than 3,200 applicants, will share awards totaling almost $7 million.

With his award, Fligstein will finish researching and writing a book about the economic, social, and other ramifications of the political integration of individual nations occurring since the European Union’s formation in 1992.

“Most literature about Europeanization deals with politics,” Fligstein said. “I want to see how it has played out on the ground, how it is influencing travel, work, trade, culture ,and identities.”

“The people most involved in the construction of European-wide economic, political and social fields are, not surprisingly, the educated, professionals, managers and the young,” he said. “These are the people who are the most likely to report speaking a second language, traveling to another European country in the past 12 months, and sometimes thinking of themselves as European.”

Hutson will use her Guggenheim funding to continue writing a book in which she will try to answer in a historical way why Shakespearean dramatic characters are so believable and compelling.

In writing the book, which will be called Invention of Suspicion: Forensic Realism in English Renaissance Drama, Hutson is tracing the causes and consequences for drama of new forensic techniques for reflecting and evaluating suspicion and guilt. “The dramatists, in fact, oriented their plays toward an audience conceived as a kind of jury,” she said.

It began with the Reformation, Hutson said, with its abolition of secret penance and the idea of settling accounts in a purgatorial afterlife. That meant that new and imaginative pressure was applied to trial by jury, a secular process that was evolving from a group of witnesses to an assembly responsible for assessing evidence.

“Much of what we think of as modern about the drama of this period comes from the overlap of poetic invention with the rhetorical ‘invention of suspicion,’ in which the justices of the peace and jurors increasingly engaged,” Hutson said.

Largier will complete his research on the history of the stimulation of taste and touch in literature from the medieval days to the 20th century, and is centering his work primarily on the earlier period. He aims to show how the stimulation of all senses has played a role in literature, triggering imagination and intensifying emotion.

Largier said his project highlights a subject largely ignored in modern times, when visual culture and images seem to take research precedence.

A recognized expert on mystical traditions in German literature, Largier said he will examine how visual culture works in conjunction with taste and touch to produce artificial fields of experience.

Largier’s 2004 Guggenheim fellowship is the sixth for current faculty in Berkeley’s German department and the only selection for German literature in 2004.

Fligstein is one of only three sociologists among the Guggenheim winners this year.

Three alumni of the College of Environmental Design also received the Guggenheim award. They are Gwendolyn Wright, a professor of architecture at Columbia University and a host of the Public Broadcasting Service’s “History Detectives” series; Zeynep Celik, professor of architecture at the New Jersey Institute of Technology; and Howell S. Baum, professor of urban studies and planning at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Wright will research modern housing in America, while Celik will focus her work on architecture and the city in the Middle East and North Africa from 1830-1914. Baum will research racial beliefs, liberalism, and school civil-rights policy.