Dr. Thomas J. Travisano

Hartwick’s Travisano Named 2013 Guggenheim Fellow

April 12, 2013

Dr. Thomas J. Travisano, professor of English at Hartwick College, has been named a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow in the category of "Creative Arts - Biography." Now in its 89th year, the annual award given by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, is among the most distinctive and prestigious honors an artist or a scholar can achieve.

Recommended by peer scholars throughout his field, Travisano is among a diverse group of 175 scholars, artists, and scientists in the United States and Canada who have been awarded a 2013 Guggenheim fellowship. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, Travisano was selected from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants.

"This is very exciting," said Travisano. "To be included in this rarified atmosphere of scholars and creative artists is very special for me, and for Hartwick." Speaking of the Fellowship, Travisano said,  "This is a confirmation of the quality of my previous work, and of the interest it has generated to date. It is also encouraging of the upcoming biography of Bishop that I plan to undertake."   

According to the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the award is "intended for men and women who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship and creative ability in the arts." This year's Guggenheim Fellows represent 56 disciplines from 85 different academic institutions.

"Dr. Travisano continues to distinguish himself, and Hartwick College, through his excellent scholarship on Elizabeth Bishop," said Hartwick College President Dr. Margaret L. Drugovich. "We are very pleased for Tom that his work has, once again, been recognized through the award of such a prestigious and highly competitive honor."

Travisano specializes in modern and contemporary American literature and in American poetry. He is particularly well known for his critical and editorial work on the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979), Robert Lowell (1917-1977), and the poets of their generation. Along with many articles, Professor Travisano has published such books as Elizabeth Bishop: Her Artistic Development (Virginia, 1988) and Midcentury Quartet: Bishop, Lowell, Jarrell, Berryman and the Making of a Postmodern Aesthetic (Virginia, 1999). He is co-editor of Gendered Modernisms: American Women Poets and Their Readers (Pennsylvania, 1996).

His Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010) was a critical triumph that made significant strides in illuminating the lives and work of both poets. Travisano is co-founder and first president of the Elizabeth Bishop Society. The most recent of his eight previous books are the co-edited New Anthology of American Poetry, volume 3: Postmodernisms and the co-edited Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century: Reading the New Editions, both of which were issued in spring of 2012.Volume One of The New Anthology appeared in 2003 and was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice.

Travisano is the first Hartwick Faculty member to ever receive a Guggenheim Fellowship. "As one of the most notable fellowships that you can receive in the humanities, this award is certainly a career highlight for Tom," said Hartwick College Director of Corporate, Foundation & Government Relations Margaret Arthurs. "This prestigious honor is exceptional for him and very well deserved."

According to the Guggenheim Foundation website "Travisano's work on Midcentury Quartet led directly to the creation of the internationally acclaimed Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, which he completed with Guggenheim Fellow Saskia Hamilton in 2008. Travisano aims, in his new biography, to integrate the array of recently emerging critical, cultural, and biographical insights that have revolutionized our understanding of Bishop's work with original research into newly discovered documentary evidence. This integrated reading of a subtle and elusive yet curiously intimate poet will offer fresh and surprising avenues into Bishop's life and worlds."

Words in Air was reviewed with high praise in the print, broadcast, and electronic media (including National Public RadioThe NY Times Book Review, The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, Oprah magazine, and elsewhere). In the Boston Globe, William H. Pritchard wrote, "The task of assembling and editing [these letters] has been filled in an exemplary manner by Thomas Travisano, author of an excellent critical study of Elizabeth Bishop." Travisano and several Hartwick students worked for years to transcribe and order the letters, each of which is extensively annotated.

Thanks to the fellowship, Travisano plans to take a research leave in the spring of 2014 in order to continue his work on a biography of Bishop. In the meantime, Travisano plans to offer a seminar for Hartwick students next fall, sharing with them the opportunity for collaborative research.

"The involvement of Hartwick students in my research is experiential learning at its core," said Travisano. "Over the past ten years, I couldn't have completed the volume and level of work that I have achieved without the support of my students and of Hartwick College." 

The Guggenheim Foundation has granted more than $306 million in fellowships to more than 17,500 individuals in its 89 years, including Nobel laureates, poets laureate, winners of Pulitzer Prizes, Fields Medals and other important, internationally-recognized honors. For more on Travisano's achievement, visit For additional information, visit

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Hartwick College is a private liberal arts and sciences college of 1,500 students, located in Oneonta, NY, in the northern foothills of the Catskill Mountains. Hartwick's expansive curriculum emphasizes an experiential approach to the liberal arts. Through personalized teaching, collaborative research, a distinctive January Term, a wide range of internships, and vast study-abroad opportunities, Hartwick ensures that students are prepared for not just their first jobs, but for the world ahead. A Three-Year Bachelor's Degree Program and strong financial aid and scholarship offerings keep a Hartwick education affordable.

Contact: Valerie Capullo
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