Press Release: Leon Levy Center for Biography Announces 2011-2012 Biography Fellows

The Leon Levy Center for Biography at the CUNY Graduate Center is pleased to announce its 2011-2012 Biography Fellows. Each fellow will receive a generous grant, writing space, and library privileges, and they will be participating in the public events at the Graduate Center and the Leon Levy Center.

The 2010-2011 Biography Fellows are: Adam Begley, former books editor of the New York Observer, who is working on a biography of John Updike, to be published by HarperCollins; Madison Smartt Bell, professor of English at Goucher College, who is writing the first English-language biography of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, a leader of the Haitian Revolution; Elizabeth Kendall, professor at the Eugene Lang College of The New School, for a biography of George Balanchine and the ballerina Lidiia Ivanova, who died suspiciously in 1924; and D. T. Max, a staff writer at the New Yorker, who is working on a biography of David Foster Wallace.
2011-2012 Biography Fellows:

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 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 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 Award 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 to 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. At the Leon Levy Center, he will be working on a biography of David Foster Wallace, to be published by Viking Press.

The Leon Levy Center for Biography

Established by a generous gift from the Leon Levy Foundation and envisioned as a hub for writers, scholars, students and readers of biography, the Leon Levy Center for Biography seeks to build connections between independent and university-affiliated biographers across the disciplines and to cultivate lively discussions about the art and craft of biography historically and in our time.

The Center sponsors such events as the Annual Biography Lecture (in the fall), the annual conference on biography (spring), and a number of public presentations and programs throughout the year to provide a forum for the public to appreciate the breadth and variety of biographical narratives and the intellectual issues fueling them. The Center also offers four resident fellowships annually to fund the research and writing of outstanding biographies and two fellowships to CUNY dissertation students writing biography.

The Leon Levy Center is currently under the leadership of Distinguished Writer-in-Residence, Brenda Wineapple, as Director. David Nasaw, the Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Professor of History at the Graduate Center, serves as Chair of the Center’s Advisory Board, and the staff includes Caitlin Delohery, Project Coordinator, and Alyssa Varner, Senior Office Manager.
The Graduate Center

The Graduate Center is the primary doctorate-granting institution of the City University of New York (CUNY). The school offers more than 30 doctoral programs, as well as a number of master's programs. The Graduate Center is also home to more than 30 interdisciplinary research centers and institutes and offers an extensive array of public lectures, exhibitions, concerts, and theatrical events. Further information on the Graduate Center and its programs can be found at

The Leon Levy Foundation

The Leon Levy Foundation, founded in 2004, is a private, not-for-profit foundation created from the estate of Leon Levy. The Foundation endeavors to continue his philanthropic legacy and to build on his vision, encouraging and supporting excellence in six broad areas: Understanding the Ancient World; Arts and Humanities; Preservation of Nature and Gardens; Brain Research and Science; Human Rights; and Jewish Culture.

Submitted on: MAR 1, 2011

Category: Centers & Institutes | Leon Levy Center for Biography | Press Room