smallest hero image

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.

Ezra GreenspanPatrick Henry Fellow

Ezra Greenspan is the 2019-2020 Patrick Henry Fellow. 

Ezra Greenspan is a literary and cultural historian who studies and teaches the history of written communications and media in the United States - from manuscript and print to digitalia. His interests include the history of writing, printing, and publishing; of institutions of letters such as libraries and schools; of the interplay between letters and visual images; of archives and archiving; and of the historic uses of written communications, especially by ethnic groups such as African Americans and Jews. Those interests underlie his practice of writing biography.  His most recent books are comprehensive biographies of the publisher G. P. Putnam and of the writer-activist William Wells Brown.   

Hodson Trust - John Carter Brown Library Fellow

Tara Bynum is the 2018-19 Hodson Trust-John Carter Brown Library Fellow

A scholar of early American history, in particular African American literary history, Tara A. Bynum is an Assistant Professor of African American literature and culture at Hampshire College in Amherst, MA. Her research and writing examine the many ways that people experience blackness as a racial identity, as a cultural category or as mark upon the skin. Bynum’s essays have appeared in Common-Place, Legacy, J19, Criticism, and American Periodicals.   While in residence as a Hodson-Brown fellow, Bynum will be revising her book project, Reading Pleasures (under contract, University of Illinois Press’ New Black Studies series) and mining the many primary sources for those stories that contextualize this literary history. Reading Pleasures parses the archive to interrogate the many ways that people experience blackness as a racial identity, as a cultural category, or as a mark upon the skin. It moves beyond “black” as a category of resistance in order to historicize racialized materiality in the everyday lives of revolutionary-era black people. At a time when Twitter responds to the deaths of unarmed black men and women with #blacklivesmatter, this work charts a “historiography of experience” and a historiography of the ways in which black lives have always mattered to black people. It questions, very specifically, what makes life matter in the writings of Phillis Wheatley, John Marrant, James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, and David Walker. And, what matters in their sermons, letters, or narratives—namely, friendship, faith, love or activism—oftentimes feels good, and this good feeling happens in those inside spaces where they can and do feel freely.

Bynum has received generous financial support from Hampshire College, the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Antiquarian Society, Library Company of Philadelphia and the Program in African American History, Rutgers University and the Postdoctoral Fellowship in African American Literature, University of Pennsylvania’s McNeil Center for Early American Studies, College of Charleston, and Towson University.

Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow

Jason Patterson is the 2019 Frederick Douglass Visiting Fellow Jason Patterson

Jason Patterson is a visual artist whose work focuses on African American history. His artwork is based in portraiture, wood working, and the fabrication, and aesthetically reimagining, of historical documents. During his fellowship at the Starr Center Patterson will work with students on creating a historical account of African American life in Chestertown and Kent County, with special attention to the history of Washington College, from the late 18th century through the 20th century. This narrative is represented through the recreation of images and documents, housed in stylized wood frames, made for the Custom House’s Hubbard Room.