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American Studies Prof Wins Guggenheim

After completing his undergraduate degree in American studies at Yale University, Daniel Horowitz decided to switch his scholarship for graduate school at Harvard, pursuing history instead. No jobs in American studies, his professors had told him.

Fortunately, Horowitz didn’t take their advice in his career pursuit.

Horowitz, the Mary Huggins Gamble Professor of American Studies at Smith, is one of 190 Guggenheim Fellows chosen this year from more than 2,600 applicants to receive the award – considered among the top honors in academia.

Horowitz, who joined the Smith faculty in 1989, is the third member of the college’s faculty to have received the prestigious award in as many years. Michael Gorra, the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature, received the fellowship last year, and Daisy Fried, Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence, in 2006. (Additional Smith winners listed below.)

Throughout his career Horowitz has focused on how writers have responded to affluence and consumer culture. Having published his first book at age 47, he refers to himself as a “late bloomer.” Horowitz has since published numerous, award-winning tomes.

Not surprisingly for someone who earned a graduate degree in history, many of Horowitz’s books offer an analysis of a subject during a specific time period. They include “The Morality of Spending: Attitudes Toward the Consumer Society in America, 1875-1940,” “The Anxieties of Affluence: Critiques of American Consumer Culture, 1939-1979,” and “Jimmy Carter and the Energy Crisis of the 1970.”

“My new project shifts from how writers saw consumer culture as a source of moral degradation to how they envisioned it as a focus of pleasure and social communication,” said Horowitz. Of particular interest is the consumer response to the war in Iraq, as opposed to previous wars. Past presidents often called upon the nation to sacrifice and ration in a time of war; the current commander-in-chief urged shopping and a return to “business as usual,” Horowitz points out.

Before coming to Smith, Horowitz taught at Harvard University and the University of Michigan, and at Wellesley, Skidmore, Scripps and Carleton colleges.

In addition to the Guggenheim, Horowitz has won fellowships from the National Humanities Center and the National Endowment for the Humanities. His book about a prominent Smith alumna from the Class 1942, “Betty Friedan and the Making of the Feminine Mystique,” won the annual book prize from the North East Popular Culture Association and the Constance Rourke Prize from the American Studies Association (ASA).

After receiving a career award from the ASA in 2003 for achievements in teaching, advising and program development, Horowitz led a discussion about his scholarship at the association’s annual meeting.

“For me, listening and responding [at the meeting] was like eating rich chocolate cake (and not getting sick), then waking up the next morning ready to do what my education in American studies at Yale first taught me to love: using research to write intellectual history that patiently and boldly explores how writers use ideas to transform how we understand the world,” Horowitz said.

Guggenheim Fellows at Smith
A number of Smith faculty members have received Guggenheim fellowships throughout the last half-century. They are:







Michael Gorra, the Mary Augusta Jordan Professor of English Language and Literature
Daisy Fried, Grace Hazard Conkling Writer-in-Residence
Katy Schneider, Lecturer in Art
Douglas Lane Patey, Professor of English
Joseph O’Rourke, Olin Professor of Computer Science
Lester K. Little, Dwight W. Morrow Professor of History
Edith Kern, Doris Silbert Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature
Donald F. Wheelock, Associate Professor of Music
Stanley Maurice Elkins, Sydenham Clark Parsons Professor of History
George E. Dimock, Professor Emeritus of Classical Languages and Literature
James Holderbaum, Professor Emeritus of Art
Robert Torsten Petersson, Professor of English Language and Literature
Klemens von Klemperer, L. Clark Seelye Professor Emeritus of History
Phyllis Williams Lehmann, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor Emeritus of Art

Established in 1925 by United States Senator Simon Guggenheim and his wife as a memorial to their late son, The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation offers fellowships to further the development of scholars and artists by assisting them to engage in research in any field of knowledge and creation in any of the arts, under the freest possible conditions and irrespective of race, color, or creed.

4/4/08   By Kristen Cole
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