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Pitt’s Keisha N. Blain and Yona Harvey are 2022 Guggenheim Fellows

  • Arts and Humanities
  • Faculty
  • Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences

Two University of Pittsburgh professors in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences have been named 2022 Guggenheim Fellows.

Historian Keisha N. Blain, an associate professor in the Department of History, and poet Yona Harvey, an associate professor in the Department of English, are among 180 individuals chosen from nearly 2,500 applicants for the prestigious award, which recognizes “prior achievement and exceptional promise” among its broad selection of scientists, writers and artists across 51 fields of expertise.

The Guggenheim signifies excellence, thought leadership and innovation of craft among its recipients. Grants from the fellowship vary between $35,000 and $45,000 to use as the recipients choose.

Blain is an accomplished historian and writer focusing on African American history, the modern African diaspora and women’s and gender studies. A two-term former president of the African American Intellectual History Society, Blain has received wide praise for her writing: her book “Set the World on Fire” won the 2019 Darlene Clark Hine Award from the Organization of American Historians, and her recent book “Until I am Free: Fannie Lou Hamer’s Enduring Message to America” was recognized by Smithsonian Magazine as among the best history books of 2021.

“Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019,” which she co-edited with Ibram X. Kendi, garnered significant media attention and debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Best Sellers list.

In addition to her research and book writing, Blain holds fellowships at New America, Harvard University’s Carr Center for Human Rights and the Institute for Advanced Studies, as well as being an opinion columnist for MSNBC. Blain has been on the faculty at Pitt since 2017, having received a bachelor’s of history and Africana studies from Binghamton University and her doctorate in history from Princeton University.

Harvey is the author of the poetry collections “You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love,” which won the Believer Book Award for Poetry and “Hemming the Water,” winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She co-wrote with professor and essayist Roxane Gay “Marvel’s World of Wakanda” and co-wrote with author and MacArthur “genius grant” winner Ta-Nehisi Coates “Black Panther & the Crew.” She has also worked with teenagers writing about mental health issues in collaboration with Creative Nonfiction magazine. In addition, she is the recipient of the inaugural Lucille Clifton Legacy Award in poetry from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.

Harvey earned her undergraduate degree from Howard University, a Master of Fine Arts from The Ohio State University, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Pittsburgh.

“I’m honored. I’m thrilled. I think I’ve accepted it as real now,” Harvey wrote on Twitter in reaction to the announcement. “Congratulations to all Fellows. Thank you thank you thank you.”


— Ervin Dyer and Patrick Monahan