Professors Michael Helm and Mark Jurdjevic awarded Guggenheim Fellowships

Two York University faculty members are among the 168 scholars, artists and writers in Canada and the United States to be awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship. The announcement was made April 9, and included Professor Michael Helm in the Fiction category and Professor Mark Jurdjevic in the Medieval and Renaissance History category.

Appointed based on prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were approved by the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the foundation’s 95th competition.

“It’s exceptionally satisfying to name 168 new Guggenheim Fellows,” said Edward Hirsch, president of the foundation. “These artists and writers, scholars and scientists represent the best of the best. Each year since 1925, the Guggenheim Foundation has bet everything on the individual, and we’re thrilled to continue to do so with this wonderfully talented and diverse group. It’s an honour to be able to support these individuals to do the work they were meant to do.”

Michael Helm

Michael Helm
Michael Helm

Michael Helm is an associate professor of English at York University. He is the author of four novels, all national or international award finalists, as well as personal essays and writings on fiction, poetry and visual arts.

His first novel, The Projectionist, was a Giller Prize finalist. In the Place of Last Things, a North American road novel about grief, grace and the dead authorities of the west and western culture, was a Globe and Mail Book of the Year and a finalist for the regional Commonwealth Prize, Best Book and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Cities of Refuge addresses the role of the imagination in the making and commemoration of histories, global and personal. It was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and a Globe and Mail Best Book. A novel in three parts, After James was named a Book of the Year by the Globe and Mail and Now magazine and was a finalist for the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. His work has appeared in many anthologies and magazines, including Tin House, Literary Hub, The Millions and Brick, where he serves as an editor.

“The Guggenheim buys me time to write, and in real, practical ways, York supports the Fellowship by helping me use the award for my research,” said Helm.

Mark Jurdjevic

Mark Jurdjevic
Mark Jurdjevic

Mark Jurdjevic is a professor of early modern history at York University’s Glendon Campus.

Jurdjevic is writing a book about Niccolò Machiavelli, the genre of Renaissance letter-writing, and the realist turn in the political and historical writing of the late Renaissance. At the centre of his study lies the friendship between Machiavelli and Francesco Guicciardini – who was also a significant political philosopher, historian and important politician in the Florentine and Roman governments – and their literary circle. The book traces the origins of major developments in Renaissance intellectual history from the period to the dialog and debates in their personal correspondence.

“I’m thrilled and grateful to be included in this year’s cohort of Fellows,” said Jurdjevic. “I’m fortunate to have great students and colleagues at Glendon and generous scholars writing on my behalf and helping me so much over the years.”

About the Guggenheim Fellowship

Since its establishment in 1925, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation has granted more than $360 million in Fellowships to more than 18,000 individuals, among whom are scores of Nobel laureates, Fields Medallists, poets laureate, members of the various national academies, and winners of the Pulitzer Prize, Turing Award, National Book Award and other significant, internationally recognized honours.

The Guggenheim Fellowship program remains a significant source of support for artists, writers and scholars in the humanities and social sciences, and scientific researchers. New and continuing donations from friends, trustees, former Fellows and other foundations have ensured that the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation will be able to continue to carry out its historic mission.

The great variety of backgrounds, fields of study and accomplishments of Guggenheim Fellows is one of the unique characteristics of the Fellowship program. In all, 49 scholarly disciplines and artistic fields, 75 different academic institutions, 28 states and the District of Columbia, and two Canadian provinces are represented in this year’s class of Fellows, who range in age from 29 to 85. Forty-nine Fellows have no academic affiliation or hold adjunct or part-time positions.

For more information on the Fellows and their projects, visit the foundation’s website at