Inside USD

History Professor Awarded Major Fellowship to Study in Rome

Monday, May 11, 2009

jonathan-conantAnyone looking for University of San Diego assistant professor Jonathan Conant next fall will have to wait almost a year to have one-on-one time with him.

But it will be well worth the wait. Conant will spend 11 months in Rome as a recipient of the Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome.

“It is a tremendous honor to have been selected to receive a Rome Prize,” Conant says. “This is one of the most prestigious fellowships that I could receive at this point in my career, and everyone I know who has received one in the past has told me that their year in Rome was among the most rewarding in their life.”

During his time in Rome, he will finish a book and explore the ancient city to strengthen the way he teaches courses on history of the ancient world, Greece, Rome, the later Roman Empire, medieval Europe and historical methodology.

Conant is an assistant professor in USD’s Department of History. He was awarded the Andrew Heiskell Post-Doctoral Rome Prize fellowship for 2009-2010. He will spend the time at the American Academy completing his book, Staying Roman: Conquest and Identity in Africa and the Mediterranean, 439-700 (Cambridge University Press). His work examines Roman identities in the region of modern Tunisia and Algeria after the collapse there of Roman power, from the Vandal invasion in the early fifth century down to the Islamic conquests of the late seventh.

Conant said the academy’s library will provide access to some of the critical resources that are unavailable to him here in San Diego but are needed to finish the book’s revisions. He added that the fellowship will also provide him with the time to focus on research and writing.

“Just as important, I will be able to make connections with and bounce ideas off of the other scholars and artists who will be in residence at the academy, both within my own field and outside of it,” Conant said.

The professor also hopes to make trips to Tunisia and perhaps Algeria to revisit some of the archaeological sites discussed in his book.

Conant received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 2004 and has taught at USD since 2005. As a graduate student, he won a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship and a Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellowship in Byzantine Studies. He has also been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship and an Erasmus Institute Postdoctoral Residential Fellowship.

Established in 1894 and chartered by an Act of Congress in 1905, the American Academy in Rome is one of the leading American overseas centers for independent study and advanced research in the arts and humanities. Each year, through a national competition, the academy awards fellowships to 15 emerging artists and 15 scholars working in the humanities. A jury of experts reviews both the past work and the proposed project of each applicant.

— Denise T. Ward

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