English professor receives creative fellowship

September 22, 2008 |

Jean Harper, assistant professor of English, has received the Goldfarb Family Fellowship for Non-Fiction Writers from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, located in Mt. San Angelo, Va. The fellowship was established by former board member Ronald Goldfarb, an author and literary agent.

Jean Harper
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Under the fellowship, Harper will receive a fully funded residency that will allow her to concentrate on her creative work. She will work on a book manuscript related to the 1968 Richmond downtown explosion. She recently served as writer and director for the documentary film 1:47 which premiered at IU East on April 4, 2008. The DVD will be released sometime this fall.

TJ Rivard, dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, said the fellowship is a valuable experience for Harper and her students.

“Activities such as this are extremely important to faculty, because they deepen and strengthen the quality of their creative or scholarly work. In Jean’s case, this will allow her to explore and expand on her creative projects. This, in turn, will deepen and strengthen the experience for students in her courses as well,” Rivard said.

The competitive fellowship is awarded annually to one nonfiction writer during the fall. Recipients are chosen through an application process and final selections are made by jurors – including in the past internationally known jurors Joel Agee, Naomi Wolf and Rob Nixon.

For 35 years the VCCA has attracted renowned artists working at the top of their powers, along with talented younger artists at the beginning of their professional careers. Admission is highly competitive. Each year VCCA supports the work of more than 300 artists in music, literature, sculpture, and visual arts. There are typically 22 Fellows in residence at one time. Recent Fellows include Pulitzer Prize winners, Guggenheim Fellows, recipients of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the American Academy in Rome, the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, as well as winners of National Book Awards, Pulitzer Prizes, and MacArthur genius awards and luminaries such as Cy Twombly, David Del Tredici, and Naomi Wolf.. More than 3,000 artists have benefited from residencies at the VCCA over the years, making it, in the words of a former Fellow, “one of the most important sources of art in the world.”

The 450-acre estate in Amherst County is located approximately 160 miles southwest of Washington, DC and is adjacent to the campus of Sweet Briar College.