Walter L. Adamson

Walter L. Adamson

Fellow: Awarded 2011
Field of Study: Italian History

Competition: US & Canada

Emory University

Walter L. Adamson earned his B.A. with High Honors from Swarthmore College in 1968 and his Ph.D. in the History of Ideas from Brandeis University in 1976. He taught two years at Whitman College in Washington state and then, after a year as a Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at Harvard University (1977-78), joined the Emory University faculty in the fall of 1978. Here he rose to the rank of Full Professor by 1986 and was named Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Intellectual History in 1987.

In his Guggenheim project, Dr. Adamson is studying the religious politics of the Italian fascist regime. He envisions a book-length set of essays exploring the connections and interrelationships among four kinds of “religion” in interwar Italy: the official Catholicism of the institutional church; popular Catholicism centered on the cult of the saints; syncretic forms of personal piety created by intellectuals; and the sacralized politics of the fascism regime typically understood as a “political religion.”

Dr. Adamson is the author of four earlier books: Hegemony and Revolution: A Study of Antonio Gramsci’s Political and Cultural Theory (1980), which won the Society for Italian History’s Howard Marraro Prize for the best book in Italian history (1981); Marx and the Disillusionment of Marxism (1985); Avant-garde Florence: From Modernism to Fascism (1993), which won the American Historical Association’s Howard Marraro Prize for the best book in Italian history (1995); and Embattled Avant-gardes: Modernism’s Resistance to Commodity Culture in Europe (2007). In the last of these books, Dr. Adamson seeks to show how modernist avant-gardes such as the Italian futurists, French surrealists, and participants in the German Bauhaus resisted the threat consumer culture posed to European art during the first half of the twentieth century.

Dr. Adamson has also written thirty-seven articles and chapters. He serves on two editorial boards and as a grant reviewer for the National Endowment for the Humanities (summer 2010).

Over the years Dr. Adamson has received extensive research support including fellowships from the George A. and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation of Brown University (1984-85 academic year) and the American Council of Learned Societies (1991-92 academic year). He held a summer stipend in 1991 from the National Endowment for the Humanities and received a travel award from the NEH in 1990.

At Emory he teaches a variety of courses in modern European intellectual history and Italian history from the Risorgimento forward, with particular attention to fascism, nationalism, and imperialism. He was Director of the Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts from 1986 to 1989 and, more recently, served as Chair of the History Department from 1998 to 2001 and from 2003 to 2005.


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