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Professors Awarded Grants

Hanover — When Susannah Heschel saw an email from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation appear in her inbox several weeks ago, she hesitated.

“I didn’t want to open it, because I knew it wasn’t going to be good news,” said Heschel, a Dartmouth professor of Jewish studies.

But she did, and her reservations turned out to be wrong — the first-time applicant was getting one of Guggenheim’s prestigious grants. As it turned out, Heschel was one of two Dartmouth professors to be named a 2013 Guggeinheim fellow, joining nearly 200 other recipients from the United States and Canada.

Heschel, a professor of Jewish Studies, and Cleopatra Mathis, a creative writing professor, have eached received grants from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation that will be used for research and writing over the course of a year.

Mathis, a poet who lives in Post Mills, Vt., plans to travel as far as the Greek island of Mitilene and Ayvali, Turkey to research and write about her family history — her grandmother’s family lived in Turkey for three generations before fleeing the Armenian Genocide in the 1910s.

She also said she wants to travel to her home state of Louisiana, a subject she hasn’t written about as much as she’d like, and to a destination synonomous with New England.

“Much of my work is inspired by, and takes place on, Cape Cod,” said Mathis. “And I’m deeply, deeply attached to Cape Cod.”

The professors were two of the 175 grant recipients in North America. Fellows usually work in the arts, humanities and sciences — for every choreographer or composer, there’s a biologist or chemist — and receive the awards based on the strength of their recent work.

Heschel, an Etna resident and 15-year Dartmouth professor, said she’s planning on writing a book on the history of Jewish scholarship on Islam, which would include traveling to destinations including Pakistan, England and Germany. Heschel also teaches a class on the Jewish views of Islam, she said, and her research, which she’ll complete in two six-month chunks split with teaching, will inform the course she instructs.

“It’s just like anyone making a scientific discovery, and telling the students even before it’s published,” said Heschel, who has also received grants from the Ford, Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations.

Major Jackson, a poet and professor at the University of Vermont, rounded out the Twin State fellowship recipients. Jackson is the poetry editor of the Harvard Review.

Jon Wolper can be reached at or 603-727-3248.