David Nasaw: New CUNY Center to Focus on the Art of the Biography





Hoping to elevate the art and scholarship of biography, the Graduate Center of the City University of New York is setting up a center where its practitioners can meet, trade ideas and work.

Financed by a $3.7 million gift from the Leon Levy Foundation, the new center will offer four fellowships for this fall to academics and others who are working on biographies, as well as two fellowships to graduate students at CUNY who are writing biographical dissertations. Next year the center will add two more fellowship slots.

David Nasaw, a professor of history at the Graduate Center who will serve as the faculty director of what is to be named the Leon Levy Center for Biography, said he had been mulling such a project for “a gazillion years.” But, he said, the idea finally crystallized last year when he met Nancy Milford, the author of “Zelda: A Biography” and “Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay” and now a distinguished lecturer at Hunter College.

The two talked about wanting to combine scholarly rigor with literary quality and how it would help to be able to talk regularly with other biographers....


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