Williams College Honors Three as Gaius Charles Bolin Fellows

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WILLIAMSTOWN - Williams College has appointed three graduate students as Gaius Charles Bolin Fellows for 2008-09. Established in 1985 in honor of the college's first black graduate, the Gaius Charles Bolin Dissertation Fellowships are awarded to members of under-represented groups in the final stages of finishing their Ph.D. requirements.

Bolin Fellows join the college's academic community as faculty members but, in addition to teaching one course each year, devote the bulk of their time to the completion of their dissertation work. The program was enhanced this year so that fellows are now appointed to two-year residencies rather than one.

"The Bolin program has always provided advanced graduate students with a valuable introduction to a faculty career," said Associate Dean of the Faculty John Gerry. "But even with the time allowed for dissertation writing, many former fellows have felt the pressure of searching for a tenure-track faculty job at the same time. Now that the Bolin Fellows can stay for two full years, we expect that they will more easily complete their degrees in the first year, leaving the second year more open for career development. And given that we aim to appoint three fellows each year, the size of the Bolin cohort on campus will increase to six starting in 2009-10. We are very pleased with the scholarly accomplishments and prior teaching experience of the first three Fellows to kick off this enhanced program."

A doctoral candidate in history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Devyn Spence Benson, has been appointed Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Africana Studies and History. She is completing a dissertation titled "Not Blacks, but Citizens: Racial Politics in Revolutionary Cuba, 1959-1961," following her research interest in Latin American/Caribbean history, with a focus on Cuba and African Diaspora studies. Benson has taught Latin American history, American history, the history of the modern Muslim world, and English as a second language. This fall she is teaching History of the Caribbean: Race, Nation, and Politics. She received her B.A. in Spanish and international studies and her M.A. in history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Claremont Graduate University's Ph.D. candidate Jacqueline Hidalgo has been appointed Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Religion. Hidalgo's dissertation examines scriptures, utopias, and empires as imagined in a variety of biblical, historical, and modern contexts. Her work also considers apocalypticism, ethnicities and identities, postcolonial and feminist theories, and U.S. and U.S. Latino/a popular and political engagements of biblical ideas. She has taught at the San Francisco Theological Seminary and Harvey Mudd College. This coming spring she will teach Utopias and Americas. Hidalgo received her A.B. in religion from Columbia University and her M.A. in New Testament from Union Theological Seminary.

A Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University, Richard Jean So has been appointed Gaius Charles Bolin Fellow in Comparative Literature. So is a Ph.D. candidate at Columbia University. His dissertation is titled "Coolie Democracy: U.S.-Sino Social and Literary Reform, 1929-1955." Fluent in Chinese and German, he has taught modern American and Chinese literature courses at Columbia and Qinghua University and a university writing seminar at Columbia College. His research interests focus on modern American, Chinese, and Asian American literatures, as well as cultural transnationalism, literary realism and naturalism, critical translation studies, and democratic theory. This fall he is teaching U.S.-China Foreign Cultural Relations 1900-1950. He received his B.A. in English literature from Brown University and his M.A. in Chinese literature from National Taiwan University.

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