Meet Guggenheim Fellow Nick Bromell

Often characterized as “midcareer” awards, Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. The Foundation receives between 3,500 and 4,000 applications each year. Approximately 200 Fellowships are awarded each year.

Bromell 14Nick Bromell received a B.A. in Classics and Philosophy from Amherst College and a Ph.D. in English and American Literature from Stanford University. He was the founding editor of The Boston Review, where he continues to be a contributing editor; he also serves on the editorial board of The Sixties and as an advisory editor to the Class: Culture series published by the University of Michigan Press. He has been President of the New England American Studies Association, and he is the principal convener of Democratic Vistas: An Interdisciplinary Seminar in Political Theory and Cultural Studies. Nick Bromell’s primary research seeks to reconfigure conventional understanding of U.S. intellectual history by demonstrating that works of literature and popular culture can be expressions of philosophy and political theory. His publications reflect his particular interest in bridging the gap between academic discourse and public debate.

How has the Guggenheim Fellows Program impacted your research and overall career?

Bromell: A John Solomon Guggenheim Fellowship will allow me to spend considerably more time researching my next book than I would have had otherwise. This will make it much better – much richer and more historically textured.

What topics in research do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

Bromell: The book deals with the political philosophy of Frederick Douglass, which is a topic political theorists Nicholas Buccola and Peter Meyers have already written fine books about. So have intellectual historians David Blight and Waldo Martin. What will make mine different (this is my hope anyway) is its interdisciplinarity — its interest in four distinct fields: political theory, Black philosophy, African-American literature, and nineteenth-century U.S. history. As well, I’m a literature professor, so I bring the particular reading techniques of my home discipline to Douglass’s work, looking not just at what he says but also how he says it.  All this makes for a ton of research across multiple fields, not to mention the challenge of reaching readers in four quite different disciplines. This is why I simply couldn’t write this book  without a Guggenheim.

People will be able to read the book when it is published (by Duke University Press) in about two years.

What would be one piece of advice you would give aspiring social science and humanities students?

Bromell: My advice for aspiring students? Do your work, as Emerson said. Focus on what truly interests you, even if it’s not a “hot topic” in your field or looks crazy to your teachers. Then persist, persist, persist.

Read more here about Nick Bromell’s work.