I’m tempted to write that my brother Brian is an academic rockstar, but that wouldn't fairly capture his most recent success. He’s more of a crossover act, a scholar with appeal that blurs genre lines.
This week he was informed he’s been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for next year. This is a big deal. The fact that he’s a sociologist makes this an even bigger deal. The agency formerly run by the likes of Lynn Cheney and Bill Bennett is underwriting my brother’s research on sex. Who’d a thunk?
Brian’s received funding to work on his second book, tentatively titled:
Trials of the First Sexual Revolution: Consent and Coercion in New York City
New York City
Thousands of scholars apply for these fellowships, but few are chosen. Last year only one sociologist got the nod. If you haven’t been immersed in academe, the boundaries between disciplines may strike you as silly or arbitrary. One the one hand, well, they are. On the other hand, “the disciplines” provide community and structure for the development of specialized knowledge. Moving across or between disciplines can be attractive to voracious minds, but it’s not usually encouraged or rewarded by the powers that bestow grants and rule on tenure.
Which is why Brian’s achievement is so bad ass. He’s been ratified as an interdisciplinary scholar in a world where such ratification is rare and this creates more opportunities for him to do the things he loves. He got a round of applause at his faculty meeting for cryin’ out loud. My brother is crossover talent and if he starts dressing in monochrome, who knows, he could turn into Johnny Cash.