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Professor wins two prestigious fellowships in one month

  • A banner year
    A banner year  Susan Verdi Webster selected for fellowships by the Guggenheim Foundation and National Humanities Center.  Photo by Stephen Salpukas
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It’s been quite a celebratory month for Susan Verdi Webster, the Jane Williams Mahoney Professor of Art History and American Studies at the College of William & Mary.

Hard on the heels of her prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship in early April, Webster has been chosen for a second fellowship – from the National Humanities Center (NHC).

Webster’s accolade from the NHC is one of two awards given this year in the area of art history research.  In total, 32 fellowships were awarded to scholars representing more than 12 fields: history, literature, philosophy, American studies, anthropology, art history, Asian studies, classics, French, Islamic studies, religion and Slavic languages.  Webster was selected from among 404 applicants from the U.S., South Africa and the United Kingdom.

“Professor Susan Webster is a very distinguished scholar and highly valued faculty member at William & Mary,” said Provost Michael R. Halleran. “Receiving two such prestigious fellowships is truly an honor and I am delighted at these recognitions of her achievements and ongoing scholarship."

Webster, a leading scholar in the art and architecture of colonial Latin America, focuses primarily on the indigenous architects, builders and artists who constructed colonial Quito, Ecuador.  Twice a former Fulbright Fellow, Webster is regarded internationally as an expert in confraternities—lay religious organizations—and their artistic patronage in Spain and Latin America.   She is the author of numerous scholarly articles, as well as two books, “Arquitectura y empresa en el Quito colonial: José Jaime Ortiz, alarife mayor” (Abya Yala, 2002), and “Art and ritual in Golden-Age Spain: Sevillian confraternities and the processional sculpture of Holy Week” (Princeton, 1998).

Webster will conduct a 9-month residency at the National Humanities Center in North Carolina’s Research Triangle, where she will continue the research and writing of her book manuscript, “The conquest of European architecture: Andean masters and the construction of colonial Quito.” She will also have the opportunity to share ideas in seminars, lectures and conferences at the Center.

“This has certainly been a banner year,” said Webster. “I am deeply honored by both the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Humanities Center fellowships. I am grateful for the time to dedicate to research and writing and for the opportunity to engage with the community of scholars at the NHC.”

Webster is the sixth professor to win a National Humanities Center fellowship while on faculty at the College of William & Mary. Former recipients are Professors Katherine Preston (Musicology, 2009); Talbot J. Taylor (English, 2006); Brad Weiss (Anthropology, 2003); Paula Blank (English, 2001); and Norman Fiering (History, 1978).

The NHC, a privately incorporated independent institute, is the only independent entity of its kind in the world dedicated solely to advanced studies in the humanities. Since 1978 the Center has awarded fellowships to leading scholars in the humanities, whose work there has resulted in the publication of more than 1,300 books in all fields of humanistic study.