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C.V. Starr Center for the


Study of the American Experience

Current Fellows

Through its fellowship programs, the Starr Center supports innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to the American past – especially by fostering the art of written history.

Patrick Henry Writing Fellow

Benjamin H. Irvin will take residence in Chestertown as the 2015-16 Patrick Henry Writing Fellow. Irwin’s work as a social and cultural historian focuses primarily on the Revolutionary period. During his yearlong fellowship at the Starr Center, he will work to complete his new book, tentatively entitled I Still Have an Independent Spirit, exploring the topics of masculinity, disability, class, and citizenship among veterans of the Revolutionary War.

Dr. Irvin comes to us from the University of Arizona, where his course offerings have included “The Era of the American Revolution,” and “Manhood and Masculinity in the United States.” He will teach a course in the spring semester of this year as part of his Washington College residency.  

His first book, Clothed in the Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors (Oxford University Press, 2011), was a finalist for the 2012 George Washington Book Prize. An examination of material culture and ceremonies of state used by Congress to promote armed resistance and independence among the populace, it was described by Jim Cullen of the History News Network as “a carefully researched and elegantly executed book.” Another of Irvin’s publications is a book for young people, Samuel Adams: Son of Liberty, Father of Revolution (Oxford University Press, 2002),tracing the life of Samuel Adams.

To see Dr. Irvin’s presentation on Invalids and Independence at Charlottesville, VA City Council Chambers, please follow this link.

For more on Benjamin Irvin and the Patrick Henry Fellowship, please follow this link.

Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellow

Gretchen E. Henderson has been awarded the 2015-2016 Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Fellowship. Gretchen E. Henderson writes across genres and the arts to invigorate her critical and creative practices. Her books include two novels, The House Enters the Street (shortlisted for the AWP Award Series) and Galerie de Difformité (winner of the Madeleine Plonsker Prize), along with a work of music criticism, On Marvellous Things Heard, and a poetry chapbook, Wreckage: By Land & By Sea. Her writings have been published in a wide range of journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon ReviewThe Iowa ReviewThe Southern ReviewPloughsharesThe &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing, and Performance Research. Gretchen’s new book,Ugliness: A Cultural History (for Reaktion Books of London/University of Chicago Press) will be published in November of 2015. Among other awards, her fellowships include a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities from MIT. Gretchen is currently a Lecturer in English at Georgetown University and Affiliated Scholar in Art History at Kenyon College, where she also teaches in the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop. 

Actively involved in artistic collaborations, Gretchen’s fellowship project, “Crafting the Bonds,” is a narrative and libretto for an opera framing the survival and recovery of The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts (pseudonym for Hannah Bond): the earliest known novel written by an African American woman. The opera raises questions about the lives and afterlives of stories and will be composed by Elena Ruehr, a Guggenheim-winning composer on faculty at MIT. Gretchen’s first opera narrative and libretto,Cassandra in the Temples, also written for Elena Ruehr, premiered at MIT in 2014.