The Huntington and UC Riverside Name First Two Faculty Fellows for Program to Boost Humanities

New scholars in history and English selected from more than 350 applicants

photos of the two scholars

Alejandra Dubcovsky and Fuson Wang are the inaugural fellows in the Program for the Advancement of the Humanities, a partnership of The Huntington and UC Riverside that aims to support the future of the humanities.

By Kevin Durkin

RIVERSIDE, Calif. – The Huntington and UC Riverside have named the two inaugural fellows for their highly competitive collaborative Program for the Advancement of the Humanities—a partnership that serves as a national model for supporting the future of the humanities.

Alejandra Dubcovsky, assistant professor of history at Yale University, and Fuson Wang, assistant professor of English at the City University of New York, will join the UC Riverside faculty in fall 2016 and conduct independent research in The Huntington’s collections as part of a bold new partnership to increase the number of humanities faculty at public research universities.

Dubcovsky and Wang, who were selected from a pool of more than 350 applicants, will receive financial support from The Huntington for two full years of onsite research during their five years in the program.

“The day I signed the memorandum of understanding for this program was my happiest day on the job,” said Steve Hindle, The Huntington’s W. M. Keck Foundation Director of Research. “This shows we are not just making a statement about the importance of the humanities but making a real difference for the future of the field. We hope the program serves as a model for partnerships between The Huntington and other public research universities in Southern California.”

Funding from both The Huntington and UCR underwrites the program, providing the grantees with salary support, office space, and access to The Huntington’s collections.

“This is the essence of collaboration, where we are strengthening both institutions, providing fantastic opportunities for emerging scholars in the humanities, and sharing the cost,” said UCR Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Paul D’Anieri.  “It’s an important step in the effort to ensure a robust corps of humanities faculty for coming generations of students.”

The point of the program, said Hindle, is to help place talented young scholars in faculty positions at a time when humanities departments are shrinking and jobs are extremely scarce.

“This is a regional idea with national implications,” Laura Skandera Trombley, Huntington president, said when the program was announced last fall. “The Huntington is one of only a few cultural institutions focused wholly on humanities research, and we believe that it is not only our mission but our responsibility to take action to support humanities scholars going forward.”

The program currently supports scholars whose research areas are focused on 18th century studies and on the history and culture of science—collection areas that are among The Huntington’s greatest strengths.

Dubcovsky will hold an appointment in the UCR Department of History, while Wang’s appointment will be in the university’s English department.

“Our students will greatly benefit from being taught by scholars conducting original research on The Huntington’s world-class collections.” said Milagros Peña, dean of UCR’s College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences.

Dubcovsky, whose scholarly interests center on the relations among the peoples of North America in the so-called long 18th century (roughly 1680 to 1830), published her first book, “Informed Power: Communication in the Early American South,” with Harvard University press in March. The book explores how people in the colonial world got news in a region that lacked a regular mail system or a printing press until the 1730s.

Wang is working on a book titled “Romantic Disease Discourse: A Radical Literary History of Smallpox Inoculation,” which tracks the literary, historical, and scientific uses of inoculation from its botanical origins to controversies about its safety, its potential to manage global plague, and its mid-19th century contraction into clinical propaganda.

Wang will be a fellow at The Huntington during his first and fourth years of the program. Dubcovsky will teach at UC Riverside during her first year and then serve as a Huntington fellow during her second and fourth years.

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