Hector Tobar and Roland Betancourt

University of California, Irvine writers and scholars Roland Betancourt and Héctor Tobar have been awarded 2023 Guggenheim Fellowships. They join 169 other American and Canadian scientists and scholars in the social sciences and humanities, as well as writers and artists of all kinds, receiving the prestigious grants this year.

Guggenheim Fellowships have been bestowed annually since 1925 by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to those who have demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts.

Betancourt is a professor of art history who studies the Byzantine Empire. He is the author of three books, including Byzantine Intersectionality: Sexuality, Gender and Race in the Middle Ages (Princeton University Press, 2020). His ongoing work looks at the uses of the medieval past in the modern world, from its abuses by white supremacists to its representations in art and popular culture, including Disneyland and Las Vegas. The fellowship will support his “Queer, Byzantine: Camp, Excess, Aesthetics” project, which will result in a book that explores the ways in which queer artists and authors have deployed the art and culture of the Byzantine Empire across the 20th and 21st centuries to imagine a queer alternative to the Western Middle Ages.

Tobar is a professor of English and Chicano/Latino studies. He is the author of six books published in 15 languages, including the critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller Deep Down Dark: The Untold Stories of 33 Men Buried in a Chilean Mine, and the Miracle That Set Them Free. The fellowship will support a project he’s calling “The Los Angeles Novellas,” a series of works of short fiction about the history of the Los Angeles metropolis and its future.

“I am pleased to congratulate professors Betancourt and Tobar on being awarded 2023 Guggenheim Fellowships,” said Hal Stern, UCI provost and executive vice chancellor. “The writing projects that these grants will support exemplify the creative and academic excellence of our faculty.”

The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has bestowed nearly $400 million in fellowships on over 18,000 individuals, including more than 125 Nobel laureates; members of all the National Academies; winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, Turing Award, Bancroft Prize and National Book Award; and recipients of other internationally recognized honors.

UCI now has 58 Guggenheim Fellows from various backgrounds and fields of study.

-Tom Vasich, UCI
-pictured: Héctor Tobar (left) and Roland Betancourt are among 58 Guggenheim Fellows at UCI from various backgrounds and fields of study. Steve Zylius / UCI

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