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Published May 13, 2019
An assistant professor in the University of Wyoming Honors College has been selected for a prestigious fellowship program at Harvard University.
Nina McConigley, an award-winning author who has taught creative writing at UW for a decade, recently was named the Walter Jackson Bate Fellow in Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The 2019-2020 fellowship class includes 55 scholars who will direct their creative and intellectual energy to producing solutions to some of the most complex and urgent challenges of our time.
During her year at Harvard, McConigley will work on a novel about the rural immigrant experience in the American West.
“It is such an opportunity to be selected, and I can’t wait to represent the University of Wyoming at Harvard,” McConigley says. “To have a year to research and work with some of the top minds in the world is a dream. I hope to not only finish my book, but to be sparked for future work by the research and work of other scholars. I teach in the Honors College at UW, and being in this interdisciplinary fellowship feels like I get to be a kind of honors student for a year.”
The acceptance rate for the highly competitive fellowships was 3.7 percent, with an impressive variety of literary and visual artists, along with sociologists, physicists and historians, among the 2019-2020 class. The incoming fellows represent 10 countries and were selected from a group of more than 1,000 applicants.
“This is a remarkable class of fellows,” said Radcliffe Institute Dean Tomiko Brown-Nagin, the Daniel P. S. Paul Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard Law School and professor of history in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. “Radcliffe’s Fellowship Program -- a microcosm of the institute -- is a laboratory of ideas where scholars, artists, scientists and practitioners draw insights from one another and generate new knowledge that spans disciplinary boundaries. I am extraordinarily excited to see what emerges from this incredible group of individuals in the year ahead.”
Born in Singapore to Irish and Indian parents, McConigley grew up in Casper. She holds a master’s degree in English from UW; a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing from the University of Houston; and a bachelor’s degree in literature from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.
In 2009, a short story she wrote, titled “Curating Your Life,” originally published in the fall 2009 issue of American Short Fiction, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, which honors the best new literature of the year. The story went on to be featured in her collection of short stories, “Cowboys and East Indians” (2013), winner of the International PEN Open Book Award and the High Plains Book Award for Best Short Stories, which also was named one of Oprah Winfrey’s O magazine’s Best Prize Winning Books in 2014. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction and the Asian American Literary Review, among others.
McConigley is a fellow with the Bread Loaf and Sewanee writers’ conferences, and has served on the faculty of the Warren Wilson Program for Writers. An in-demand speaker and reader, she has been the featured author at international, national and regional conferences, and frequently lectures across UW. As an award-winning creative writer, one who focuses on global perspectives and diversity, McConigley’s classes for the Honors College include the first-year colloquium, “Indian Short Story,” “the Empire Writes Back” and “Art and Cultural Identity.”
Meredith Quinn, who is wrapping up her first academic year as executive director of the Radcliffe Institute Fellowship Program, is looking forward to watching members of the incoming class connect and thrive during their time at Harvard.
“I am thrilled to welcome these extraordinary individuals to the Radcliffe community,” she said. “Our fellows dive deeply into their projects, challenge one another’s ideas and support one another’s ambitions. We can’t wait to see what they’ll accomplish next year.”