Jennifer Cognard-Black, English Department Chair and professor, has been granted a Fulbright Scholarship and will be spending the Spring 2020 semester teaching at the University of Amsterdam. Fulbright Scholarships are extremely prestigious awards which grant recipients funding to travel abroad to teach and collect research.
In 2012, Cognard-Black was granted a Fulbright Scholarship which took her to the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia. She and her husband, Visiting Associate Professor of Sociology Andrew Cognard-Black, traveled together to Slovenia after receiving encouragement from former SMCM English Professor Robin Bates. Cognard-Black explained that she has maintained her relationships with her Slovenian students and collaborated with Bates to establish an exchange program between the University of Ljubljana and SMCM; a Slovenian student now studies at SMCM in each fall semester.
Cognard-Black will be focusing on food writing in her teaching in Amsterdam, and has titled her course “Just Food: American Food Writing and Social Justice.” Cognard-Black will also be drawing from her book, Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal, which is comprised of different pieces of American literature with a common theme of food. She remarked that the traces of influence from the Netherlands in America is extremely prominent, especially regarding food.
Her course will be offered to graduate students, and the Fulbright Program has asked that she work individually with each student on their theses projects. She will also be featured in various lectures across campus, and plans on sending some of her graduate students to the Ph.D. Student Conferences at the University.
Cognard-Black also intends to consider the American side of the topic, and hopes to study the echoes of American influence in Dutch culture. She will bring a number of American novels containing recipes to consider how the American food culture is revealed through literature, while bringing in theory of food and the American culture. Cognard-Black mentioned that “Food is very attached to the nature of its culture itself,” explaining the importance of food and the influence it has over culture.
Along with teaching, Cognard-Black also hopes to piece together another anthology of food writing to follow up Books that Cook: The Making of a Literary Meal. She is extremely interested in collecting essays on the topic of ethical eating, and hopes to have a call during her time in Amsterdam to provide international writers with the opportunity to contribute to the second anthology.
There have been many SMCM professors in the past who have been granted Fulbright Scholarships, but there are only a select few who have applied and been granted multiple Fulbrights. Cognard-Black stated that the news of her joining this select number of SMCM faculty was “Humbling. [She] was just grateful because [she knew] that [she is] at an institution with colleagues who are doing all kinds of tremendous work in all kinds of fields.”
In addition to composing a second anthology and teaching graduate students, Cognard-Black views this scholarship as an opportunity to establish a relationship with students and faculty at the University of Amsterdam, and mentioned that she would love to set up a foreign exchange program of some sort with her new colleagues in the Netherlands.