Montana State University

MSU’s Ragain wins one-year advanced study fellowship at Harvard

May 19, 2016 -- By Carol Schmidt, MSU News Service

MSU art history professor Melissa Ragain will spend a year at Harvard University as a recipient of a 2016 Radcliffe Institute fellowship. Ragain, seen here with a lighting installation by studio art major Noah Stitt in Haynes Hall, has a particular interest in environmental aesthetics. MSU photo by Kelly Gorham.

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Melissa Ragain, a professor of art history at Montana State University’s School of Art, will spend a year at Harvard University as a recipient of a 2016 Radcliffe Institute fellowship.

Ragain is one of 54 scholars selected to the 2016–2017 fellowship class at Harvard’s Institute for Advanced Study. It is the first time that a scholar from Montana has been selected for the prestigious fellowship, which is awarded to less than 4 percent of its applicants, according to the institute.

During her year in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ragain plans to complete her book “Viewers, and Other Animals: Formalism and Environmental Aesthetics after WWII,” which tracks the development of environmental aesthetics in Cambridge during the mid-twentieth century. Ragain uses the phrase “environmental aesthetics” to refer to the aesthetic appreciation of natural environments as well as the widespread engagement of philosophies of art with ecological ideas. Ragain published and edited a collection of the new media theorist Jack Burnham’s writings with the MIT Press in 2015 and will return to his writings in her current project.

Ragain said she was honored to be selected and is looking forward to working with and learning from some of the country’s best scholars in a variety of interdisciplinary fields and at varying stages of their careers. She said she plans to relay what she learns to her students when she returns from the year-long fellowship.

“This is a significant recognition for Professor Ragain,” said William Shields, interim dean of the MSU College of Arts and Architecture. “It is richly deserved, reflective of her exceptional talent as a scholar and teacher. We in the College of Arts and Architecture are extremely proud of her and wish her every success as she pursues this unique opportunity.”

The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University is dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences and social sciences. Learn more about the people and programs of the Radcliffe Institute at www.radcliffe.harvard.edu.

Melissa Ragain, (406) 994-2164, melissa.ragain@montana.edu