Six Professors Awarded 2009 Guggenheim Fellowships; CUNY Ties for First Place in Nation

Six outstanding City University of New York professors are winners of 2009 Guggenheim Fellowships. CUNY tied with Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University for first place in the nation, as the only other universities to have so many winners.

CUNY faculty chosen are playwright Thomas Bradshaw, assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College; Benjamin Carter Hett, associate professor of history at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center; Jonathan H. Shannon, associate professor of anthropology at Hunter College and the CUNY Graduate Center; Victoria Sanford, associate professor of anthropology at Lehman College and the CUNY Graduate Center; Heather Hendershot, associate professor of media studies at Queens College and the CUNY Graduate Center; and Robert Courtney Smith, associate professor in immigration studies, sociology and public affairs at Baruch College and the CUNY Graduate Center.

Thomas Bradshaw, playwright, assistant professor of English at Medgar Evers College.
Heather Hendershot, associate professor of Media Studies at Queens college and the Graduate Center.
Benjamin Carter Hett, associate professor of History a Hunter college and the Graduate Center.
Victoria Sanford, associate professor of Anthropology at Lehman college and the Graduate Center.
Jonathan H. Shannon, associate professor of Anthropology at Hunter college and the Graduate Center.
Robert Courtney Smith, associate professor in immigration studies, sociology and public affairs at Baruch College and the Graduate Center.

Guggenheim Fellowships are American grants that have been awarded annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those “who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.”

“All of us at CUNY take enormous pride in the outstanding work of these faculty members,” said CUNY Chancellor Matthew Goldstein. “Their scholarly and creative contributions advance understanding and stimulate thought across disciplines and across society, and foster lively centers of learning within CUNY’s classrooms. I offer my warmest congratulations to each of them.”

Thomas Bradshaw, who received his MFA in Mac Wellman’s playwriting program at Brooklyn College, and has also taught at Brooklyn College, has been featured as one of Time Out New York’s ten playwrights to watch. His provocative plays explore racial identification in America in humorous, disturbing and unexpected ways. His play “Strom Thurmond is Not a Racist” won the American Theater Coop’s 2005 National Playwriting contest . His other plays include “Cleansed,” “Purity” “Southern Promises,” “Dawn,”and “Prophet” which have been published and produced. His latest play is an adaptation of ‘The Book of Job,” which was commissioned by Soho Rep and will be performed next week at Stanford University. He is also Soho Rep’s 2008-2009 Streslin Fellow and a Playwriting Fellow at the Lark Play Development Center.

Benjamin Carter Hett, who earned his Ph.D. from Harvard University, is a former trial lawyer, whose research interests in criminal law in modern Germany, the history of popular culture, and the history of Berlin contributed to his prize-winning book “Crossing Hitler, the Man who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand.”

The winner of the 2007 Fraenkel Prize for an outstanding work of contemporary history, the book describes the 1931 trial of four Nazi stormtroopers, known as the Eden Dance Palace Trial.

The prosecuter Hans Litten grilled Hitler in a three-hour cross examination that infuriated him Hitler and revealed his true intentions. When the Nazis seized power two years later Litten was sent to the concentration camps where he was tortured and died five years later. The book also tells how Litten shared the money and food that was sent by his wealthy family, and taught inmates about art and literature. A biography of Litten, it also explores the turbulent years of the Weimar Republic and the terror of the Nazi rule in Germany. Dr. Hett is also the author of “A Death in the Tiergarten.”

Jonathan H. Shannon is an ethnographer who has been working in Syria on ethnomusicology, performance and popular culture. He examines how Syrian musicians and other artists “draw on their heritage to assert their modernity.” Memories of Andalusia–700 years of Moslem rule in Spain, which ended in 1492 and included a flowering of music and poetry—make an important part of that heritage, with music playing a key role in Syria’s culture. In an article in Journal of American Folklore, Prof. Shannon wrote “Analysis of musical practice and discourse about music in Syria suggests that the idea of “Andalusian” music and heritage supports pan-Arab ideologies integral to the state’s secular Ba’thist ideologies. At the same time, such practices and discourses offer sites of resistance against that regime by mining heterogenous pasts.”

Victoria Sanford , who earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Stanford University where she also received training in International Humananitarian Law and Immigration Law at Stanford Law School. She has worked with Central American refugees since 1986 when she founded and directed a refugee legal services project representing Central American asylum seekers. A human rights activist and scholar, she has conducted extensive field research with Maya communities in Guatamala, in Colombia and with indigenous peace communities in Columbia and refugee communities in Ecuador. She has been a Fulbright Fellow and Senior Research Fellow at the Institute on Violence and Survival at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. She is the author of, among other volumes, “Buried Secrets: Truth and Human Rights in Guatemala and “Violencia Y Genocidio en Guatemala” and many articles including “Learniang to Kill by Proxy: Colombian Paramilitaries and the Legacy of Central American Death Squads, Contras and Civil Patrols.” Her research focuses on collective memory, community reconstruction, human rights and international humanitarian law during internal armed conflicts.

Among her many honors and awards, Dr. Sanford has received a Bunting Peace Fellowship from Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies, a United States Institute For Peace grant, a Rockefeller Fellowship for research on violence, a MacArthur Consortium Fellowship, and an Early Career Award of the Peace Society of the American Psychological Association.

Heather Hendershot was a double major in French and Film Studies at Yale University and earned her Ph.D. at the University of Rochester. In addition to being an associate professor in the Media Studies Department at Queens College, she is coordinator of the Film Studies Certificate program at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is the author of “Saturday Morning Censors: Television Regulation Before the V-Chip” and “Shaking the World for Jesus: Media and Conservative Evangelical Culture.” She is also the editor of “Nickelodeon Nation: The History, Politics and Economics of America’s Only TV Channel for Kids.” She is currently writing a book on right-wing broadcasting of the 1950’s and 1960’s. She is the editor of Cinema Journal. She has held fellowships at Vassar College, Princeton University and New York University.

Robert Courtney Smith who earned is Ph.D from Columbia University, is the author of “Mexican New York: Transnational Lives of New Immigrants.” Based on 15 years of ethnographic research in New York City and Puebla, Mexico, it shows how transnational lives are influenced by migration decisions, assimilation patterns, gender relations among both first and second generation immigrants, religious experiences, political participation in American and Mexican communities and participation in gangs among other factors. By looking at the daily lives of Mexican migrants, he illustrates globalization in human terms and across national borders. The book won the 2006 W.I.Thomas and Florian Zaniecki Award of the International Migration Section of the American Sociological Association for the best book on migration. He has also won the American Sociological Society’s 2007 Robert Park Award, the 2008 Best Book Award of the Latino Section, and the 2008 Distinguished Book Award. He is also the author of many journal articles, and has contributed to many books and anthologies.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in New York City in 1847 as the Free Academy, the University’s 23 institutions include 11 senior colleges, six community colleges, the William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, the Graduate School and University Center, the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, the CUNY School of Law, the CUNY School of Professional Studies and the Sophie Davis School of Biomedical Education. The University serves 243,000 degree-credit students and more than 240,000 adult, continuing and professional education students. College Now, the University’s academic enrichment program for 32,500 high school students, is offered at CUNY campuses and more than 300 high schools throughout the five boroughs of New York City. The University offers online baccalaureate degrees through the School of Professional Studies and an individualized baccalaureate through the CUNY Baccalaureate Degree. More than 1 million unique visitors and 2 million page views are served each month by, the University’s website.