Bill Cohen's Residential Fellowship

February 3, 2015

Department Chair Bill Cohen spent time in Cassis, France and Los Angeles, California on residential fellowships.
 

 

Bill Cohen Residential Fellowship

 

In the fall of 2000, Bill Cohen received a semester residential fellowship from the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France. The Camargo Foundation is situated in a fishing village overlooking sea cliffs and the Mediterranean Sea; it lies near Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, and other treasures of Southern France.

Camargo Foundation

 

According to the Camargo Foundation's website, the Foundation accepts applications from scholars working in French cultures, as well as visual artists, creative writers, film directors, playwrights, composers, choreographers, and multidisciplinary artists from all countries, nationalities, and career levels.

At the time, Cohen was working on a comparative project about the body and the senses in nineteenth-century French and British culture. This work eventually split into two books: one, an edited anthology on filth in Paris and London; the other, a monograph on bodily materiality in the Victorian era.

For Cohen, the trip abroad served as a productive time for thinking and writing.

"Interaction with a dozen other fellows provided stimulating conversation and an opportunity to exchange work and develop new ideas," said Cohen. 

"In the years since, I have kept in touch with and collaborated with several of the people I met. The most surprising connection was with a painter and sculptor, whose work on the relationship between body and landscape overlapped with my interests; she and I have had an ongoing exchange ever since. Because my residency coincided with the highpoint of the strong dollar, I had the opportunity for extensive travel throughout Provence, the Ariège, and the Côte d’Azur (as well as in Paris and Morocco), which profoundly influenced my understanding of French and European culture and has long been a touchstone, both intellectual and aesthetic, for me."

In addition to his time in France, Cohen also held residencies at two archival collections in Los Angeles. Cohen worked at the William Andrews Clark Library at UCLA (pictured below) in 2007 and 2010, and at the Huntington Library in 2010. The library fellowships and support from an NEH summer seminar that Cohen received was essential to the advancement of his research project.

Clark Library

The Clark Library has the largest collection of archival materials on Oscar Wilde and the fin-de-siècle, which enabled Cohen to make discoveries about Wilde’s knowledge of French and his composition of Salomé that would otherwise have been impossible. Very few of the materials in the collection are available digitally, making the fellowship and travel all the more valuable. The Huntington library's small collection of nineteenth-century primary materials provided Cohen context for the work he was doing on the period. At both institutions, Cohen benefited from the scholarly communities.