​Two WUSTL scholars named 2013 Guggenheim Fellows​​​



Susan Rotroff, PhD, a classical archaeologist, and Leigh Schmidt, PhD, a historian of American religion, are the latest Washington University in St. Louis scholars to be selected for prestigious fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.

Rotroff and Schmidt were among 175 Guggenheim Fellows chosen in 2013 from nearly 3,000 applicants in the United States and Canada, including scholars, artists and scientists. The Guggenheim fellowship is awarded based on prior achievement and exceptional promise.

Rotroff, the Jarvis Thurston and Mona Van Duyn Professor in the Humanities and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Classics in Arts & Sciences, said being selected for the fellowship was a humbling honor.

“I feel extremely lucky to have been chosen from among a group of very accomplished, smart and creative applicants,” she said.

Her project is “The Introduction of the Red-figure Style and the Ceramic Chronology of Late Archaic Athens (ca. 530-480 BCE).”

“My project centers around the early history of the red-figure style of ancient Athenian pottery, probably the most intensively studied of all ancient Greek ceramics,” Rotroff said. “I am interested in the precise date when the style was introduced, its development in its early years and how long it took this innovation to become visible in the archaeological record.

“The style was introduced shortly before the establishment of a democratic form of government in Athens, and thus took shape in a period of dramatic political developments.”

Rotroff’s research interests are Greek art and archaeology, ancient ceramics and ancient Athens. Rotroff is the author of several books, and since 1970 she has been associated with the Agora Excavations, in Athens, where archaeologists have been investigating the civic center of the ancient town and the domestic and industrial neighborhoods that surrounded it. For more information on Rotroff, visit here.

Schmidt, the Edward Mallinckrodt University Professor in Arts & Sciences and professor of humanities, said he was gratified to receive the fellowship.

“Scholarly projects take a lot of time,” he said. “They move forward slowly; sometimes they lag. So to get a vote of confidence like this along the way is energizing.

“It is also daunting; I feel like the expectations for the project just got that much higher.”

Schmidt is studying how atheists, free thinkers and nonbelievers have fared in American public life.

“I’m interested in how and why religious belief has been privileged over unbelief in American politics, courtrooms and social life,” he said.

The working title of his project is “Public Atheism: An American History.”

Schmidt joined the John C. Danforth Center on Religion and Politics in 2011. His research centers on American religious history, and religion and American politics. Schmidt is the author of numerous books, including Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion and the American Enlightenment (Harvard University Press, 2000), which won the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in Historical Studies and the John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association. For more information on Schmidt, visit here.

Since its establishment in 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $306 million in fellowships to more than 17,500 individuals, including Nobel laureates, poets laureate, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medals and other important, internationally recognized honors.