UH creative writing professor named recipient of 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, will receive $625,000 grant

HOUSTON – A University of Houston creative writing professor has joined 20 others in being named as a recipient of the 2020 MacArthur Fellowship and will receive $625,000 over a five-year span.

Cristina Rivera Garza, founder and director of the UH doctoral program in Hispanic Studies with a concentration in creative writing in Spanish, joins Rick Lowe, a UH professor of art who earned the fellowship in 2014, as the two MacArthur Fellows on faculty at UH.

The MacArthur Fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” is one of the most prestigious and generous awards given to those who have demonstrated extraordinary talent and dedication in academia, writing, music, film and other creative fields, according to a release.

The 21 awarded individuals will receive the hefty grant with “no-strings-attached support” from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

“This is an incredible — and quite unexpected — honor. I am suddenly short of words,” Garza said. “The MacArthur Fellowship will be instrumental in furthering ongoing projects: a series of geological writings exploring the relationship between territory and body on the borderlands and throughout the Americas. I am immensely grateful.”

Nominees for the fellowship are chosen from a variety of areas of interest and evaluated by a committee in the arts, sciences and humanities for their creative work.

“Dr. Rivera Garza’s outstanding scholarship and its undeniable impact certainly exemplifies the ideals of a MacArthur Fellow, which is one of the most prestigious honors a university professor can attain,” said Daniel P. O’Connor, Ph.D., interim dean of CLASS. “I congratulate her. We are very honored to have her among our faculty, and I look forward to her continuing leadership and accomplishments.”

Garza has been with UH since 2016, specializing in bilingual cross-genre creative writing.

“We live in the second-largest Spanish-speaking country in the world,” Garza said. “A program in creative writing in Spanish not only makes sense, but it is also urgent.”

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