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USC Profs Named Guggenheim Fellows

Law scholar Mary L. Dudziak and history professor Philippa Levine plan to write books on evolution and war.

By Eddie North-Hager and Lori Stuenkel
April 1, 2007

USC Profs Named Guggenheim Fellows

Two USC professors have earned Guggenheim Fellowships by focusing on two of the day’s most talked-about topics — evolution and war.fe

Mary L. Dudziak of the USC Gould School of Law will use the fellowship to support her book, How War Made America: A Twentieth Century History.

Philippa Levine, history professor in USC College, will use the fellowship to work on a book about the debates that have swirled around the theory of evolution.

The professors are two of 189 scholars and artists — 2,800 applied — to receive the awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. The fellows, announced on April 6, are appointed on the basis of distinguished achievement in the past and exceptional promise for future accomplishment.

Teaching evolution has been a hot-button issue for politicians and parents longer than most are aware. Levine found the philosophical division has been entrenched for more than two centuries around the world.

“This is a much bigger debate than people realize,” said Levine, also a professor of English and gender studies who has been at USC for 15 years. “But there doesn’t have to be an ugly divide. You don’t have to be anti-evolution to be Christian. And you can believe in God and Darwin. There are tons and tons of ways to look at it.”

The divisions have resulted in states trying to force schools to teach creationism, while some Muslim countries are trying to ban evolution teachings in universities.

“There may never be a resolution,” said Levine, who taught a general education class called "The Evolution Debates" last semester.

“I knew if I could teach this course to first-year students, I could write a book,” Levine said. “They had to write papers in support of both arguments to force them to think intelligently and not dismiss the ideas of others.”

It is the fourth fellowship this year for Levine, who is on her way to England to be the Derek Brewer Visiting Fellow at Emmanuel College, part of the University of Cambridge, where she is planning to study Darwin's papers, the largest such collection in the world.

Dudziak’s How War Made America, to be published by Oxford University Press, will show that the last century cannot be neatly divided into times of war and times of peace, contrary to the traditional historical views. The book will examine war’s impact on state and government programs, the role of technology in law and war, and the ebb and flow of civil rights during war and peacetime.

“Post-9/11, we still speak of wartime as a break, or an exception, to regular time, so that policies pursued during ‘wartimes’ are conceptualized as ephemeral, even though they have long-standing impacts,” Dudziak said. “My project will look instead at the persistent impact of war and national security on American democracy across the century.”

Dudziak, the Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political Science at USC, was the only law professor to win a Guggenheim this year.

The Institute for Advanced Study also announced that Dudziak will be part of its School of Social Science 2007 focus on “The Rule of Law Under Pressure.”

Dudziak has been on the USC Law faculty since 1998, specializing in 20th century American legal history.

She currently is on leave for a fellowship she received last year from the American Council of Learned Studies to work on another upcoming book, Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall’s African Journey.