Adam Begley, for many years the books editor of The New York Observer, is the author, with Ed Sorel, of Certitude: A Profusely Illustrated Guide to Blockheads and Bullheads, Past and Present; and with Laura Miller he edited The Salon.com Reader's Guide to Contemporary Authors. In the 1990s he was a frequent contributor to The New York Times Magazine; Mirabella, where he wrote a monthly book column; and Lingua Franca, where he was a contributing editor. He is currently a Guggenheim Fellow.
Madison Smartt Bell
Madison Smartt Bell is the author of some twenty books, including All Souls' Rising, Devil's Dream, Toussaint L'ouverture: A Biography, and (most recently) The Color of Night. He is a Professor of English at Goucher College and co-founder of Goucher's undergraduate creative writing program. In 2008 he was a recipient of a Strauss Living from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Elizabeth Kendall is the author of two cultural histories (Where She Danced, the Birth of American Art Dance, and The Runaway Bride: Hollywood Romantic Comedy of the 1930s) and two memoirs (American Daughter and Autobiography of a Wardrobe). She is a professor at The New School's Eugene Lang College and its Liberal Studies Program, and a contributing editor for Dance Magazine.
D.T. Max is a staff writer for The New Yorker. His previous book, The Family That Couldn't Sleep, was a scientific and cultural study of prion diseases, published in 2006.
Michael Massing is the author of The Fix, a critical study of the US war on drugs, and Now They Tell Us: The American Press and Iraq. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Review of Books, a contributing editor at the Columbia Journalism Review, and a co-founder of the Committee to Protect Journalists. In 1992, he was named a MacArthur Fellow. While at the Leon Levy Center, he be worked on his biography of Luther and Erasmus, to be published by HarperCollins.
Jed Perl is the art critic for The New Republic and the author of a number of books, including New Art City: Manhattan at Mid-Century, Antoine's Alphabet: Watteau and His World, and Eyewitness: Reports from an Art World in Crisis. He is a visiting professor in the Liberal Studies Program at The New School and is currently working on the first full-length biography of Alexander Calder, to be published by Knopf.
Claudia Roth Pierpont
Claudia Roth Pierpont is a staff writer for The New Yorker, where she has written some three dozen essays ranging in subject from Nietzsche to Mae West to contemporary Arabic fiction. A collection of her essays on women writers, Passionate Minds: Women Rewriting the World, was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. At the Leon Levy Center, she will be working on a cultural history of twentieth-century New York in the form of juxtaposed biographies, considering six individuals and four partnerships – including Alfred Barr at the Museum of Modern Art, George Balanchine and Lincoln Kirstein at New York City Ballet, and W. H. Auden – whose overlapping ideals, both moral and aesthetic, helped to make the city the cultural center of the world.
Mitchell Cohen is professor of political science at Baruch College and the Graduate Center of CUNY. He was co-editor of Dissent Magazine from 1991-2009 and serves now on its editorial board and that of Jewish Social Studies. While at the Center he will be writing a political biography of Richard Wagner, especially examining the controversial composer in his times and the roles of anarchism, nationalism and anti-Semitism in his operas. Professor Cohen's past books include The Wager of Lucien Goldmann, Zion and State, and, as co-editor, Princeton Readings in Political Thought. His articles have appeared in The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Times Book Review, Common Knowledge, and Musik und Asthetik.
Mary Lisa Gavenas
Mary Lisa Gavenas was a columnist at ELLE and served as senior editor at Glamour, In Style, and Mirabella; she writes for the academic and popular press. Following publication of Color Stories: Behind the Scenes in America's Billion-Dollar Beauty Industry, she became a consultant on the beauty industry. Gavenas' biography of Mary Kay Ash had its genesis in her writing the Mary Kay Ash entry for the American National Biography published by Oxford University Press.
Wendy Lesser is the founding editor of The Threepenny Review and is the author of eight books, including one novel, The Pagoda in the Garden, and seven works of nonfiction, the most recent of which is Room for Doubt. Besides writing for Threepenny about dance, music, theater, and other cultural subjects, she occasionally reviews books for Bookforum, The New York Times Book Review, and other publications. She has received fellowships and awards from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers, the American Academy in Berlin, the Dedalus Foundation, and many other institutions and organizations. Her current project is a biography of Dmitri Shostakovich that focuses on his 15 string quartets.
On the Web
Website: The Lesser Blog »
Vanda Krefft's articles on the entertainment industry and social issues have been published in magazines and newspapers, including ELLE, Redbook, Woman's Day, and the Los Angeles Times. She is currently at work on her first book, a biography of Twentieth Century Fox founder William Fox, to be published by HarperCollins. Krefft has received a Helm Fellowship from Indiana University's Lilly Library and a grant from the Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation. Her project explores the life and times of the forgotten movie mogul whose contributions to the art, technology, and business of film laid the foundation for today's global popular culture.
John Matteson is an Associate Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY. His scholarship in 19th-century American literature includes articles published in Leviathan, Streams of William James, and The New England Quarterly. His first book, Eden's Outcasts: The Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Father, was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Biography. During his residency, Matteson will continue his work on The Lives of Margaret Fuller.
On the Web
Website: John Matteson »
Thulani Davis is a journalist, playwright, and author of several books. Her most recent book, My Confederate Kinfolk, explores her black and white ancestors' lives around the time of the Civil War. Her other works include two novels, 1959 and Maker of Saints, several plays and the scripts for the films Paid in Full and Maker of Saints. She has also written several award-winning PBS documentaries. She is a past recipient of a Lila Acheson Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers Award, a PEW Foundation National Theatre Artist Residency, and a Charles H. Revson Fellowship. She is a Grammy winner and is a 2007-2008 NYU Gallatin Newington-Cropsey Foundation Fellow. Davis was educated at Barnard College, Columbia University, and New York University and taught at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts.
Thulani Davis has begun a biography of four blues queens: Ma Rainey, Ethel Waters, Alberta Hunter and Bessie Smith.
On the Web
Website: Thulani Davis »
Mary Anne Weaver
Mary Anne Weaver, author of Pakistan: In the Shadow of Jihad and Afghanistan and A Portrait of Egypt: A Journey Through the World of Militant Islam, was at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in 2007. She was the Edward R. Murrow Press Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Guggenheim Fellow for 2004-2005. A longtime foreign correspondent for The New Yorker magazine, she has also published in The Atlantic Monthly and The New York Times Magazine. A specialist in South Asian and Middle Eastern affairs, and political and militant Islam, she has reported from some thirty countries over the last twenty-five years, based in New Delhi, Cairo, Athens, and Bangkok.
The Strange Journey of Ziad Jarrah: The Story of a Terrorist is the biography on the most improbable of the September 11th pilots. It gleans lessons on the way in which the profile of a terrorist has changed.
Molly Peacock has published six volumes of poetry, including The Second Blush and Cornucopia: New and Selected Poems, and a memoir, Paradise Piece by Piece, and is the writer/actor of a one-woman show in poems, "The Shimmering Verge." Her poems are widely anthologized, appearing in The Best of the Best American Poetry and The Oxford Book of American Poetry. She edited The Private I: Privacy in a Public World, and her essay about Mary Granville Delany, "Passion Flowers in Winter," appears in The Best American Essays 2007. She teaches in the M.F.A. program in Writing at Spalding University.
Molly Peacock's project, Passion Flowers in Winter: A Woman Begins Her Life's Work at the Age of 73, is an impressionistic biography examining the late-life artistic coming-of-age of Mrs. Mary Granville Delany, the 18th-century cut-paper botanical artist.
On the Web
Website: Molly Peacock »
James Davis is an Associate Professor of English at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where he also teaches in the American Studies program. He received his B.A. from Oberlin College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Indiana University. His publications include essays on Henry James and Ida B. Wells and a book about the intersection of race and emergent U.S. consumer culture entitled Commerce in Color (University of Michigan Press, 2007). He is on the executive board of the Brooklyn College Center for Teaching and a member of the editorial collective of the journal Radical Teacher.
He will continue work on a meditation on the life and work of Eric Walrond, a fiction writer and journalist born in Guyana and raised in Barbados and Panama, who rose to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance before moving to England.
On the Web
Website: James Davis »