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Pitt’s Adam Lowenstein is a 2023 Guggenheim Fellow

Adam Lowenstein in a grey suit and black shirt in front of a bookshelf

Adam Lowenstein, a professor of English and film and media studies at Pitt, is among the latest class of Guggenheim Fellows.

Lowenstein, who is the director of Pitt’s Horror Studies Working Group, is known for his research on horror films and their cultural impact. As a board member of the George A. Romero Foundation, he played a critical role in the University of Pittsburgh Library System’s acquisition of the George A. Romero Archival Collection.

“It's a really spectacular feeling to be recognized by an organization like the Guggenheim Foundation for work that is about my whole career,” Lowenstein said. “It's a special sort of honor because it's recognizing things I've been working on for many years with the idea that what I've built up looks promising to them going forward. It’s a great honor to be included with such a stellar company of scholars and artists who've received this fellowship, not just this year, but in previous years.”

[Meet Pitt’s 2022 Guggenheim Fellows]

The fellowship, created in 1925, has awarded more than $400 million in funding to over 18,000 people. This year’s 171 fellowship recipients represent 72 different academic institutions and 48 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields.

Lowenstein said the support from the fellowship will help with his work on his upcoming book, tentatively titled “The Jewish Horror Film: Taboo and Redemption.” The project, he said, builds on his career of exploring the genre’s social and cultural significance.

It’s also an extension of his most recent book, “Horror Film and Otherness.”

“In that book, I analyze the horror film’s significance for questions and issues of social difference,” Lowenstein said. “And one kind of difference that I explored in that book that seemed that called out for my continued attention is Jewishness as difference. That's how this current project was born. And that's what I’ll be working on.”

His latest book is inspired by the work of Siegfried Kracauer, a German Jewish film theorist and cultural critic who also received a Guggenheim Fellowship.

“For me, it feels especially meaningful to work on a project like the book I'm working on through a fellowship that directly supported a figure I admire and look up to as much as Siegfried Kracauer,” Lowenstein said.

[Read more: University of Pittsburgh Library System acquires George A. Romero collection]

Gayle Rogers, Andrew W. Mellon Professor and chair of English in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences’ literature program, said Lowenstein and his work highlight the value of the horror film genre.

“I am thrilled to see Adam Lowenstein selected as a Guggenheim Fellow. For over two decades, he has been recognized as a leading scholar in film and media studies, and especially in the genre of horror movies,” Rogers said. “These films were once dismissed as cheap and sensationalistic, but Lowenstein has shown us that they are powerful commentaries on social problems and vehicles for processing large-scale ethnic traumas. He has helped us understand how figures like Pittsburgh’s own George Romero — whose collection of papers he helped our library acquire — used the techniques of horror in cinema to think seriously about how to reshape the world we inhabit every day.”


— Donovan Harrell, photo by Irina Reyn