Meet the New Fellows of 2016

The New York Institute for the Humanities is delighted to announce this year's new fellows.


Chris Calhoun has been a literary agent in New York for 25 years, first with Sterling Lord and, since 2011, heading his own agency in SoHo. His client list includes poets (Billy Collins, Yusef Komunyakaa, Meghan O’Rourke), journalists (Jim Holt, James Surowiecki, Lawrence Weschler), biographers (David Levering Lewis, John Matteson) and, among many more, several NYIH fellows. He also places author’s archives with libraries and institutions. He has recently sold the papers of Gwendolyn Brooks, Max Roach, Joseph Mitchell, Victor Navasky, among others. Before becoming an agent, Calhoun was associate publisher of The Nation and deputy publisher of Granta. He lives in Greenwich Village and Bellport, Long Island.


Jelani Cobb is joining the faculty of the Columbia University School of Journalism in fall 2016. He is currently associate professor of history and director of the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of The Substance of Hope: Barack Obama & the Paradox of Progress (Bloomsbury, 2010) and To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic (NYU Press, 2007), which was a finalist for the National Award for Arts Writing. His collection, The Devil & Dave Chappelle and Other Essays (Thunder’s Mouth Press), was also published in 2007. He is editor of The Essential Harold Cruse: A Reader. A staff writer for The New Yorker, Cobb received the 2015 Sidney Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism for his columns on race, the police, and injustice.


Joy Connolly is a classicist, political theorist, and essayist.  Now the Dean for the Humanities and Professor of Classics at New York University, in August she will join the Graduate Center of the City University of New York as its Provost. Her main scholarly interests are Greek and Roman ideas about politics, rhetoric, and aesthetics and their purposive conservation in the modern world.  She is currently at work on two book projects: one on Hannah Arendt, the other on radical appropriations of Roman ideals in eighteenth century England and America.  She also writes about poetry and fiction, and is co-editing, with Nancy Worman, an Oxford volume on ancient literary theory.  Connolly is deeply interested in modern and contemporary art, and has worked as a player/interpreter with the Berlin-based artist Tino Sehgal in pieces mounted at the Marion Goodman Gallery and the New York Guggenheim.


Tim Duggan is the publisher of Tim Duggan Books, an imprint of Crown at Penguin Random House. The authors he has worked with include Daniel Mendelsohn, Annie Dillard, Michael Kinsley, William Boyd, Madeleine Albright, Timothy Snyder, Uzodinma Iweala, and Peter Hessler. His books include winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and multiple finalists for the National Book Award. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the advisory board of the London Book Fair.


Anne Heller is the author of Hannah Arendt: A Life in Dark Times and Ayn Rand and the World She Made. She is the former managing editor of The Antioch Review, fiction editor of Esquire and Redbook, and executive editor of the magazine development group at Condé Nast Publications.



Pierre Hohenberg received his PhD from Harvard University in 1962. After postdoctoral positions in Moscow and Paris he was a staff member at Bell Laboratories until 1995. During the period 1974-1977 he was also a professor of Physics at the Technical University in Munich. From 1995 to 2004 he served as Deputy Provost for Science and Technology at Yale University. In 2004 he moved to NYU as the Senior Vice Provost for Research, until 2010, when he joined the Department of Physics as professor. He became emeritus in 2013. His principal areas of scholarship include condensed matter physics, statistical physics, non-equilibrium phenomena and more recently the foundations of quantum mechanics and the philosophy of science. He is well known as one of the originators of Density Functional Theory and of the Dynamical Scaling Theory of critical phenomena.


Shamus Khan is associate professor of sociology at Columbia University, where he is the director of the graduate program. He writes on culture, inequality, and elites. He is the author of Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School (Princeton), The Practice of Research(Oxford, with Dana Fisher), the forthcoming Exceptional: The Astors, the New York Elite, and the Story of American Inequality (Princeton) andApproaches to Ethnography: Modes of Representation and Analysis in Participant Observation (Oxford). He directs the working group on the political influence of economic elites at the Russell Sage Foundation, is the series editor of “The Middle Range” at Columbia University Press, and the editor of the journal Public Culture. He writes regularly for The New Yorker, the New York Times, and Time Magazine.


Richard Kaye is Associate Professor in the Department of English at Hunter College and in the Ph.D. Program in English at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. For four years he worked in the editorial offices of The New York Review of Books. He is the author of The Flirt’s Tragedy: Desire Without End in Victorian and Edwardian Fiction. He is editing a collection of essays on Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray for Oxford University Press and is completing a book-length study of the figure of St. Sebastian in nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first century literature and art. He is also working on a book entitled The Invention of Empathy, dealing with the shift from Victorian conceptions of sympathy to more recent notions of empathy as a psychological, social, and cultural ideal.


Ben Lerner was born in Topeka, Kansas, in 1979. He has received fellowships from the Fulbright, Guggenheim, and MacArthur Foundations, among other honors. He is the author of two novels—Leaving the Atocha Station and 10:04—and he has published three books of poetry: The Lichtenberg Figures, Angle of Yaw, and Mean Free Path. His most recent book is the monograph The Hatred of Poetry. Lerner is a professor of English at Brooklyn College.


Dana Polan is the author of eight books in film and media and approximately 200 essays, reviews, and review essays. He is a former president of the Society for Cinema Studies, the professional society for film, and a former editor of its publication, Cinema Journal. He holds a Doctorat d'Etat in Letters from the Sorbonne Nouvelle and a Ph.D. in Modern Thought from Stanford.  He has been knighted by the French Ministry of Culture for contributions to cross-cultural exchange, and in 2003, was selected as one of that year's two Academy Foundation Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His recent books include Scenes of Instruction:  The Beginnings of the U.S. Study of Film (UC Press, 2007), The Sopranos (Duke University Press, 2009), and The French Chef (Duke University Press, 2011). He has done eight DVD commentaries including, most recently, In a Lonely Place (Criterion Collection).


Christine Smallwood writes the “New Books” column for Harper’s Magazine. Her reviews and essays have been published in The New YorkerBookforumT: The New York Times Style Magazine, and many other publications. Her fiction has been published in The Paris Review and n+1. She holds a PhD in English Literature from Columbia University and is a core faculty member of the Brooklyn Institute for Social Research. She is currently writing a collection of short stories.


Thomas J. Sugrue is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis and History at New York University and director of NYU’s new global urban collaborative. From 1991 to 2015, he was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania and was the founding director of the Penn Social Science and Policy Forum. Sugrue is a historian of the United States in the twentieth century who has written about urban politics and policy, civil rights, presidential politics, and race and ethnicity. His publications include These United States: The Making of a Nation, 1890 to the Present (Norton, 2015), with Glenda Gilmore; Not Even Past: Barack Obama and the Burden of Race (Princeton University Press, 2010); Sweet Land of Liberty: The Forgotten Struggle for Civil Rights in the North (Random House, 2008), and The Origins of the Urban Crisis (Princeton University Press, 1996/2014), winner of the Bancroft Prize, the Bancroft Prize, the Philip Taft Prize in Labor History, and the President’s Book Award of the Social Science History Association. Sugrue contributes to the New York TimesWashington PostLondon Review of BooksWall Street JournalThe New Yorker, and The Nation. He is currently writing a history of real estate and the making of modern America.