R. Lanier Anderson Awarded Guggenheim Fellowship
BY MELISSA DE WITTE
Seven Stanford University scholars have been awarded 2021 Guggenheim Fellowships. This prestigious honor recognizes mid-career scholars, artists and scientists who have demonstrated a previous capacity for outstanding work and continue to show exceptional promise.
This year’s fellows from Stanford are R. Lanier Anderson, Vincent Barletta, Enrique Chagoya, Lochlann Jain, Amalia D. Kessler, Daniel Mason and Jonathan A. Rodden.
R. Lanier Anderson is the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor in the Humanities, a professor of philosophy and senior associate dean for humanities and arts in the Stanford School of Humanities and Sciences.
Anderson’s scholarship examines the history of late modern philosophy and connections between philosophy and literature.
As a fellow, Lanier plans to write a book about Michel de Montaigne, the Renaissance French philosopher, and show how he engaged in philosophy not just as a theoretical enterprise but as a way of life.
“Montaigne lived through a time of intense polarization and civic conflict, and the equanimity he managed to achieve in the midst of that seems to me to have a lot to teach us in our own situation today,” Lanier said.
In particular, Lanier will focus on how Montaigne – the inventor of the modern essay – used this new format to practice philosophy. As Anderson described further: “Montaigne invented the form of writing known as the essay, and he used this ‘try-out’ mode of writing as a way of cultivating in himself the curious, questioning and reflective mode of living he associated with philosophy.”
Lanier, who has served in the dean’s office in the School of Humanities and Sciences for the past four years, said he looks forward to devoting his time to writing.
“I am really looking forward to retreating from that service – just as Montaigne did when he started to write – for a year of thinking and writing about what makes a life good and worth living,” Anderson said.