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Holy Cross Faculty Member Receives Guggenheim Fellowship

April 9th, 2007 by 

Leila Philip, a member of the Holy Cross English department faculty since 2003 who was recently promoted to the rank of associate professor with tenure, has received a Guggenheim Fellowship for 2007. She is among the 189 scholars and artists selected from almost 2,800 applicants for this honor.

Guggenheim fellows are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

A writer of literary nonfiction, Philip will use her Guggenheim award to continue her work on a book exploring the life of Hawaiian-born potter Toshiko Takaezu, 84. Now an internationally recognized ceramic artist, Takaezu’s career and personal life has never been documented or fully recognized in the larger art world. The daughter of Okinawan immigrants who worked in the sugar cane fields of Hawaii, Takaezu rose from her early years as a maid to become a working artist deeply influenced by the abstract expressionist painters in the 1940s and 1950s. Today her work resides in more than 40 museums and has been featured at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Kyoto.

Philip will be on leave during the 2007-08 academic year to travel, research, and write — with plans to complete her manuscript in early 2009.

“We are proud and delighted that the Guggenheim Foundation is honoring Leila Philip with one of the most prestigious fellowships available to scholars,” said Timothy Austin, vice president for academic affairs and dean of the College. “This fellowship recognizes the excellence of Leila’s prior literary accomplishments, but it also gives her the time and resources she will need if she is to achieve equally impressive results in pursuing her current project.”

Philip earned her master of fine arts degree in fiction at the Columbia University School of the Arts in New York City, where she was a writing fellow from 1989-2001. At Holy Cross, she has taught courses in fiction, nonfiction, and Asian American literature. From 2004-2005, she was acting director of the College’s Creative Writing Program, in which she continues to advise creative writing students.

She is the author of three books of nonfiction, including The Road Through Miyama, for which she received the prestigious PEN/Martha Albrand Special Citation for Nonfiction in 1990, and the award-winning memoir A Family Place: A Hudson Valley Farm, Three Centuries, Five Wars, One Family. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Bunting Institute at Radcliffe. She lives in Woodstock, Conn.

This is the 83rd year of the Guggenheim Foundation’s United States and Canadian competition. Appointments are based on the recommendations of expert advisors and are approved by the foundation’s Board of Trustees, which includes six past fellows — Joyce Carol Oates, Joel Conarroe, Richard A. Rifkind, Charles Ryskamp, Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and Edward Hirsch.

Philip is the third Holy Cross faculty member in twelve years to be honored with the sought-after fellowship: composer Osvaldo Golijov, associate professor of music, received a Guggenheim in 1995; photographer Robert ParkeHarrison, associate professor of visual arts, was a 1999 recipient.

The full list of year 2007 fellows is available at http://www.gf.org.

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