Friday, May 1, 2020

Eric Baron, who will receive an MFA in creative writing from the University of Iowa this May, is the winner of a Fulbright Study/Research Arts grant in Creative Writing to Germany for 2020-21

Hometown: Bucks County, Pennsylvania
Award: 2020-21 Fulbright Study/Research Arts grant in Creative Writing to Germany
Degree: MFA in creative writing (fiction)

Baron is also the recipient of the Fulbright Young Professional Journalist Award to Germany, a program created in 1996 to allow U.S. journalists to come to Germany for a research and practice-oriented experience.

Could you give us a brief synopsis of what you'll be doing with your Fulbright?  
I will be researching and writing a novel titled The Lost And The Missing. It is set between 1945 and 1947 in postwar Berlin and follows the lives of Jewish survivors, East European asylum-seekers, and Germans living in Berlin at that time, under military occupation. 

What drew you to this field of study?
I'd taken a trip to Berlin and was struck by this exhibit in the Jewish Museum. Some of it was letters smuggled out of the camps during the Holocaust, but also pieces of life before: homemade calendars, report cards, hand towels. Eventually, I thought there was probably not a clear “before” for the owners. The objects seemed to suggest that. It became important to me to explore the question of how someone could possibly make sense of the aftermath, what survival would look like if they survived, and in the context of intergenerational trauma and forced migration (i.e. living in postwar Berlin). And of course, the project is important to me as a Jewish writer, as I see the recent mainstreaming of anti-immigration sentiment, resurgent anti-Semitism, and radical right politics.  

How do you envision this will influence your future career?
Beyond the opportunity to fully dedicate myself to writing this novel, do research with professional scholars, and get involved in Berlin’s literary scene, there’s something tremendously encouraging about getting the Fulbright. I mean, sometimes you’re working on a deadline to complete something that doesn’t feel quite ready, and here I’ve proposed a project that I’m super-excited about, and someone else is too. That feels like a valuable step in my writing career.

What advice do you have for future students interested in applying for a Fulbright?
Consider why you need to undertake this project in your host country. I was pretty clear on that from the beginning. It was helpful—kept me motivated, gave me a sense of direction—as I completed the application, and went through the many drafts of my proposal.

Are there individuals you'd like to thank for their investment in this process?  
Thank you to Dr. Karen Wachsmuth and Professor Kathleen Newman for their ongoing advice and hard questions; to Professor Elizabeth Heineman, for her mentorship and research assistance; in the German department, Bruce Nottingham-Spencer, Kirsten Kumpf Baele and Glenn Ehrstine, for their incredible teaching and enthusiasm; at the Writers' Workshop, Lan Samantha Chang and Charles D'Ambrosio, for their recommendations and brilliance; and to Don Lee, for his recommendation and encouragement early on. 

explore the many funding opportunities available to UI students and alumni 

Students are encouraged to begin their funding searches and applications at least six months to one year in advance.  Schedule an advising appointment with Karen Wachsmuth to discuss your interest in an international fellowship or begin an application (as a UI undergraduate student, graduate student, or alumna/us).