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Faculty Member and Two Alumnae Win 2016 Guggenheim Fellowships

Amanda Petrusich, Jennifer Clement (BA ’82), and Michelle Ellsworth (BA ’90) Honored

May 5, 2016

Amanda Petrusich

Amanda Petrusich ©Joanna Eldredge Morrissey

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation announced in April that faculty member Amanda Petrusich, who teaches courses on pop culture, criticism, and musical subcultures at Gallatin, has received a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship in Nonfiction. Gallatin alumna and President of PEN International, Jennifer Clement (BA '82), won a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship for Fiction to pursue a novel about gun violence in America. Michelle Ellsworth (BA '90), an Associate Professor of Dance at the University of Colorado Boulder, was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship for Choreography.  

The Guggenheim Foundation awards annual fellowships to “men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

Petrusich’s fellowship will support her work on a collection of essays based loosely on the notion of epiphany. The collection will be anchored by a long essay about the poet and monk Thomas Merton.

“As a concept, epiphany has religious origins—the Christian Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the revelation of God the Son as Jesus Christ,” says Petrusich, “but the word and its attendant notions have long been applied expansively, employed as a literary device (most famously, perhaps, by James Joyce) or, more often, used to describe a dramatic transformation of any kind. It is, at heart, a terrifically optimistic idea: that everything can change. That tremendous insight can be granted and received instantaneously. I love that idea, even as I’m skeptical of it.”

Petrusich is the author of three books about music: Pink Moon, an installment in Continuum/Bloomsbury’s acclaimed 33 1/3 series (2007), It Still Moves: Lost Songs, Lost Highways, and the Search for the Next American Music (Faber & Faber; 2008), and Do Not Sell At Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World's Rarest 78rpm Records (Scribner; 2014), an in-depth exploration of the rarefied world of obsessive collectors of 78rpm discs. In 2016, Petrusich was named one of four commissioning series editors for the 33 1/3 series and was cited as one of the 100 most influential people in Brooklyn culture by Brooklyn Magazine.