Penn classical studies professor Emily Wilson has been named a 2019 MacArthur Foundation Fellow, as one of 26 recipients of the fellowship, commonly referred to as the "genius grant."
The grant, formally known as the MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, is awarded based on three criteria — exceptional creativity, record of significant accomplishments, and potential for future creative work, according to the foundation's website. Wilson will receive a $625,000 stipend paid in quarterly installments over five years by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
The foundation's website highlighted Wilson's "thorough knowledge of classical sources" and "rigorously researched works of scholarship and translation."
Wilson, who is chair of the Comparative Literature and Literary Theory program, has taught at Penn since 2002. In 2017, Wilson received widespread recognition when she published an English translation of Homer's Odyssey, becoming the first woman to do so. She is currently translating Homer’s Iliad, the predecessor to the Odyssey, and has also translated the works of Seneca and Euripides.
Wilson admitted to still processing the news, in an interview with The Philadelphia Inquirer.
“I heard about it a month ago and I still don’t really believe it,” Wilson told the Inquirer. “I’m excited about the publicity it potentially brings — not to me personally, but to the fields of translation, poetics, history."
Other Penn faculty members have also been awarded the no-strings-attached grant. Mary Reid Kelley, a senior critic in the School of Design’s Master of Fine Arts program, received the award in 2016. In 2014, bioengineering professor Danielle Bassett, won the grant. In 2013, psychology professor Angela Duckworth became a MacArthur Fellow.
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