Seton Hall Law Professor Andrea McDowell has been named a 2016 Fellow by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.
Awarded annually on the basis of “prior achievement and exceptional promise,” the Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the world’s most coveted awards. Since 1925, the Foundation has granted over $325 million in Fellowships to almost 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, poets laureate, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Fields Medal, and National Book Award.
“I am moved by this recognition of my research and deeply honored to receive the Guggenheim Fellowship; I am also truly grateful for the opportunity it will afford me,” said Professor McDowell.
A professor at Seton Hall since 2003, Professor McDowell specializes in legal history, property, and trusts and estates. She earned her Ph.D. in Ancient History from the University of Pennsylvania and her J.D. from Yale Law School. She has taught or held fellowships at Leiden at Leiden, Oxford, Johns Hopkins, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale.
Receiving her Guggenheim Fellowship in the category of Law, she will spend her fellowship year completing her book, We the Miners: Self-Government in the California Gold Rush, to be published by Harvard University Press. Professor McDowell explained, “The mining camps of the California gold rush from 1848 to 1853 began in an almost complete legal vacuum. In the beginning, California had no American government, but the Mexican law that had formerly governed was abolished. What little authority was left was totally unprepared for the onslaught of men, money and desperation that was the California Gold Rush. But to everyone’s surprise, the result was not chaos.”
Professor McDowell continued, “The miners were left to govern themselves – and they did, but with mixed results. They were great at democratic self-organization, passing law codes and settling property disputes, but they were dangerously over-confident in their powers to administer a system of criminal justice— or “lynch law” as they called it. Their successes, and even their failures offer a unique lens on participatory government and American law and society.”
McDowell is the second Seton Hall Law faculty member to receive a Guggenheim Fellowship in as many years, and the third Seton Hall University professor overall . In 2015, Professor Thomas Healy, author of The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mind – and Changed the History of Free Speech in America (Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2013), was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in the category of general non-fiction. In 1986, Professor of Art History and Museum Studies Petra ten-Doesschate Chu received a Guggenheim Fellowship in the area of Fine Arts Research.
Other Seton Hall recipients of Guggenheim Awards include the famed poet and author X.J. Kennedy, who received his Guggenheim Fellowship in 1973 for Poetry; and George Zabriskie, who also received his Guggenheim Fellowship for Poetry, in 1942.