A current Faculty Fellow, Geography Department Assistant Professor Christian Lentz has been using his time away from teaching to concentrate on his book manuscript. He describes the project as “a story of territory as it is experienced and constructed in the Vietnamese revolution when they were fighting for independence from the French in the 1940s and ’50s.”
Lentz is grateful for his time away from the classroom. Just before beginning his Fall 2016 fellowship, he attended a writing group at the Center for Faculty Excellence.
“It’s continued to immerse me in a scholarly community,” says Lentz. “The Institute for the Arts and Humanities has picked up right where that summertime writing group left off.”
This has brought him to the manuscript’s last chapter.
When he is not reading and writing to meet the demands of research, Lentz enjoys reading fiction to “wash his brain a little bit” as a scholar, especially before going to bed. It also helps improve his prose.
He also uses fiction as a way to teach about the culture of Southeast Asia.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen is the 2016 Pulitzer Prize Winner for Fiction, and was also the IAH staff seasonal book club pick of the summer. Lentz said “it’s quite a good book. It tells that story of the Vietnamese diaspora in a very unique way.”
Currently, he is focusing on fiction in the Caribbean region, which like Vietnam, was colonized by European nations. A few books he has recently enjoyed are Marlon James’s A Brief History of Seven Killings, about the near-assassination of Bob Marley. Another book is Madison Smartt Bell’s All Souls Rising, part of a trilogy on the Haitian Revolution.
When asked about advice he would give to faculty applying for the IAH’s Faculty Fellows Program, Lentz offered this: “Read the instructions very, very carefully… More broadly, what the instructions really emphasize is thinking carefully what you will do with this time. Therefore, the task of the proposal is not just to present what might be a brilliant idea but then how you are going to make it happen. Having written three proposals before I finally got it, any proposal takes a lot of work.
He also suggested having scholars outside of one’s field read the proposal and get that feedback because “it’s going to be read by people who don’t know you and don’t know your work.”