The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation has awarded $250,000 to The Gotham Center to establish a fellowship program, “Writing the History of Greater New York.”
It is the center’s first such grant. Four one-year awards of $40,000 will be conferred in 2020 and 2021 on scholars with promising book manuscripts nearing completion.
“As the only university center devoted to New York City history, The Gotham Center has long been a vibrant nexus for promoting this critical field of study,” said Peter-Christian Aigner, its acting director. “With this fellowship, we are going beyond that founding mission, directly underwriting the production of knowledge with the goal of making the Center a headquarters for not just education but research on the history of the metropolitan area.”
The awards will favor projects that explore the under-researched boroughs of the city, recognizing a natural but excessive fixation on Manhattan’s role in the history of New York. Building on calls within urban and suburban history for a “metropolitan approach” that better integrates the fields, in recognition of the deep connections between such areas, the program will also favor projects that investigate the historical relationship between the urban core and Long Island, and examine the latter’s history in the development of the region.
Currently, no museum, library or university provides support explicitly for this area of study.
The awards will favor independent and early-career professionals, and provide a higher level of review than is currently available in many fellowships, with two readers assisting fellows in development of argument, and one, Pulitzer-winner and Gotham Center founder Mike Wallace, focusing on style and presentation. Fellows will be given office space at The Graduate Center and free access to CUNY’s library. They will be expected to develop public programs or workshops at the end of their fellowship year, presented at institutions with overlapping interests in the greater New York area.
In conjunction with the fellowship program, The Gotham Center will also expand its directory of major historic archives and sites in New York City with an up-to-date directory of Long Island’s historic sites and archives, open-access directories that will be housed on The Gotham Center’s highly trafficked website.
“The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation’s mission is to expand the regional study of the history of Long Island and New York,” said Kathryn M. Curran, its executive director. “We are investing in impactful projects with a focus on scholarship and outreach to our historic community. The research from the Gotham Center fellows will aid in engaging and stimulating new conversations.”
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