Dancer in the middle of a performance, on their knees bent over at the waist. People sit along the walls watching.
Choreographer Will Rawls ’00

Four Williams alumni were awarded Guggenheim fellowships this year: Robin Broad ’76, a professor at American University’s School of International Service; novelist Fiona Maazel ’97; poet and MacArthur fellow Claudia Rankine ’86; and choreographer Will Rawls ’00.

The grants are made freely and with no conditions, allowing the fellows—a total of 173 scholars, artists and scientists this year—“blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible,” according to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Selections are made “on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.”

Each of the Williams fellows is using the award to further current projects. Broad, a professor of international development, is conducting research on a project that debunks the myth that “people in poorer countries don’t care about the environment,” she says. She plans to publish a book based on her findings.

Maazel, whose novel A Little More Human came out in the spring, says the fellowship will allow her to step away from other commitments and focus on writing a new novel, her fourth. “I couldn’t be more thrilled or grateful,” she says.

Rawls, who describes himself as a creator of “solo and group works that engage and attenuate relationships between language and dance,” says he is committed to expressing “the nature of multiple selves within socially inscripted constructs.”

He and Rankine, who recently collaborated on a performance called What Remains, are both using their Guggenheim Fellowships to continue their creative work.

Rankine, the author of two plays and five collections of poetry, co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute, described on its website as “a cultural laboratory in which the racial imaginaries of our time and place are engaged, read, countered, contextualized and demystified.”