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Fellowships focus on undergrad instruction

The University’s Public Goods Council has awarded the first fellowships through its Postdoctoral Fellowship Program: Teaching with Research Collections.

The first three fellows of the Postdoctoral Fellowship Program are Kent Kleinman, Donald Davis and John McGuigan.

Funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the new program seeks to promote the teaching of undergraduates through research resources on campus. The grant supports faculty fellows who engage in original research based on the rich and varied archives, manuscripts, books and other printed materials of the University’s libraries. The fellows will create and teach undergraduate research seminars that engage students in serious scholarship based on the collections.

“I am very excited that the Mellon Foundation has chosen to fund this particular program,” says Francis X. Blouin Jr., director of the Bentley Historical Library and principal investigator of the program. “The concept behind the fellowships is that the great collections housed at U-M as well as at select other universities should be more fully integrated into the educational experience of undergraduates. These collections are an intellectual strength of great universities that, used properly, can challenge young minds through the experience of doing research at a very serious level.”

Consistently rated among the top 10 academic research libraries in the nation, the University’s 24 libraries hold 7.3 million volumes. They also offer access to thousands of journals and newspapers, microform units, maps, films and videos, and electronic materials. Many of the libraries’ collections are world-renowned.

Kleinman, senior fellow, is professor of architecture and chair of the Department of Architecture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. While at U-M in 2002-03, he will work with the architectural collections of the Bentley Historical Library, which holds both the official archives of the University and extensive holdings on the history of the state going back to the time of exploration.


One of two seminar courses developed by Kleinman will explore the work of the avant-garde in the mid-20th century, with a focus on the work of architect and former U-M Prof. William Muschenheim. Using this modernist’s original drawings and photographs, students will be introduced to “the ethos of the inventor/architect that emerged in the mid-1950s by tracking the emergence of novel mass-market materials that found aesthetic expression in Muschenheim’s work,” Kleinman says. He also will teach “Labcoats in the Studio: Technology Meets Design” that he says will “offer a broad-based review of the cultural, technological and ideological character of architectural research in the post-World War II period as exemplified by the work of select Michigan faculty and affiliated individuals.” Kleinman’s courses will be listed in the A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning catalog. Registration may also be made through the History of Art Department.

Davis is an assistant professor in the Department of Religion at Bucknell University. How the organization of knowledge affects the production of knowledge is the basis for his examination of the construction over time of the extensive South Asia collection at the University Library. The collection consists of 300,000 titles and many notable holdings.

One course under development by Davis will examine the collections of sacred texts and history in India. The other will allow students to explore sources on the history of Hinduism and examine the shaping of western perceptions of Hinduism. “As a result,” Davis says, “students can listen directly to the voices of the stacks and the archives without so much interference.” As a Public Goods junior fellow, Davis will offer his courses in the Department of Asian Languages and Culture with a cross listing in the Department of History catalog.

McGuigan recently completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a thesis entitled “A Salomonic Key: Radical Art and Politics in American Literary Modernism.” With his award of a junior fellowship, he will be a visiting assistant professor of English in the Department of English Language and Literature. In furthering his teaching and research interests in the interactions of aesthetics, politics, commerce and culture, McGuigan intends to use the library’s Labadie Collection of social protest materials “to examine and document groups’ deployment of art in the service of political ideology and gauge reactions to it.” He notes that “the early 20th century is a particularly rich period for studying the function of art in political action and the political ideology that underlies any aesthetic program.

“Using primary documents from radical political movements offers students the chance to examine not just relationships between specific art trends and specific political positions of the past, but also to examine the politics of identifying and analyzing such relationships,” McGuigan says. His courses will be listed under the Department of English Language and Literature and American Culture.

“This program is terrifically exciting,” says Paul Courant, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “To combine excellent scholarly collections with undergraduate education is something that can only be done by a handful of universities, and is exactly the sort of thing we had in mind when we established the Public Goods Council. Thanks to the generosity of the Mellon Foundation, and the hard work of the Public Goods Council members, we are able to enhance the undergraduate experience and bring three wonderful scholars to Ann Arbor.”

The Public Goods Council is comprised of the academic units that advance scholarship and culture for the University and the public community. The units report centrally, have a particular relevance to the academic work of the University and are characterized by their collections or other assets, or by their roles as facilitators. The council includes the Arts of Citizenship Program, Arts at Michigan Program, Bentley Historical Library, Clements Library, Museum of Art, Nichols Arboretum, University Musical Society and the University Library.

For further information about the fellowship program, visit

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