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Weinberg professors John Alba Cutler and Leslie M. Harris named Radcliffe Institute Fellows

John Alba Cutler and Leslie M. Harris, both professors in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, were selected as 2020-2021 Radcliffe Institute Fellows, joining a class whose work will span the sciences, social sciences, humanities and arts.

Based at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars and has rapidly become one of the most competitive programs of its kind in the world. The acceptance rate for the incoming class was 2.8 percent, from a pool of nearly 1,400 applicants. The group represents six countries and a wide range of disciplines.

“This fellowship class, taking shape amid a devastating pandemic, reflects our conviction that the cross-disciplinary exchange and deep exploration that Radcliffe enables are critically important for Harvard and for the wider world — especially in times like these, when we must confront unprecedented challenges,” said Radcliffe Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, also the Daniel P. S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and a professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

The 2020–2021 fellowship year will be virtual, with the possibility of a residential component, pending decisions on Harvard-wide policies regarding COVID-19. The Radcliffe Institute has awarded more than 900 fellowships since its founding in 1999. 

John Alba Cutler 

John Alba Cutler

Cutler, associate professor of English and Latina/o Studies and interim director, Latina and Latino Studies Program, specializes in U.S. Latino/a literatures, multiethnic American poetry, contemporary American literature and print culture studies. 

Cutler’s project examines how Spanish-language periodicals in the early 20th century acted as literary institutions for Latinx communities, publishing thousands of texts that constitute an archive of Latinx modernism. These texts show how Latinx writers and editors participated in and transformed hemispheric intellectual and aesthetic movements. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity to be a Radcliffe fellow next year not only for the time and resources it will afford me to advance my research, but also to learn from a group of scholars doing such dynamic, compelling work,” Cutler said. “I look forward to learning and growing from my interactions with the other scholars, and I hope that doing so will help me refine my ideas and learn to communicate them to a broader audience.” 

Leslie M. Harris 

Leslie Harris

Harris is a professor of history and African American studies. Her first body of work on New York City challenged the prevailing view of slavery as a phenomenon of the southern United States, with little impact or importance in the North. More recently, she has been involved with public history projects that have expanded our understanding of slavery in the northern United States, in higher education and in urban areas.  

As the 2020–2021 Beatrice Shepherd Blane Fellow, Harris will pursue an individual project in a community dedicated to exploration and inquiry. Her book project, “Leaving New Orleans: A Personal Urban History,” connects family history, Hurricane Katrina and the growing threat of climate change.

“‘Leaving New Orleans’ takes me into new historical territory and a new set of narrative challenges in evoking the lives of African-Americans in the U.S.,” Harris said. “Being part of such a rich and varied group of scholars, artists and experts is an invaluable opportunity for me as I seek to engage a broad audience on issues of race, history, the environment and our common future.”