Cristina Rivera Garza Named 2020 MacArthur Fellow

rivera-garza_2020_macarthur-fellow.jpg Cristina Rivera Garza
Fiction Writer
Exploring culturally constructed notions of language, memory, and gender from a transnational perspective.

Photo: John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation

The University of Houston College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) is proud to announce that Cristina Rivera Garza, Ph.D., founder and director of the UH doctoral program in Hispanic Studies with a concentration in creative writing in Spanish, has received a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship. As a recipient of this prestigious award, commonly known as a “genius grant,” Rivera Garza is among a distinguished group of 21 individuals who will receive $625,000 of no-strings-attached support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation over a five-year period. MacArthur Fellowships are among 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.

“Congratulations to Dr. Cristina Rivera Garza on her appointment as a 2020 MacArthur Fellow,” said Paula Myrick Short, UH provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “The MacArthur Fellows Program encourages people of outstanding talent and extraordinary accomplishments to pursue their own creative, intellectual, and professional inclinations. I am pleased to share her excitement about the new opportunities this fellowship will bring.”

Rivera Garza joined the University of Houston in 2016 and has pursued scholarly interests in bilingual cross-genre creative writing.

“This is an incredible--and quite unexpected--honor. I am suddenly short of words,” said Rivera Garza. “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.”

MacArthur Fellowship nominees are chosen from a broad a range of fields and areas of interest for evaluation by a committee of leaders in the arts, sciences, and humanities. Nominees take part in a competitive selection process that considers their individual creative output alongside the selection committee’s evaluations.

“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.”

The MacArthur Fellowship recognizes Rivera Garza’s unique capacity for self-direction and will grant her the freedom to take her pursuits in exciting new directions. Rivera Garza put her initiative and creativity into action when she came to UH, one of the most diverse campuses in the United States, to launch a unique and quite innovative Ph.D. program.

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

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