Award-winning author, translator and English professor Yunte Huang was recently awarded a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation to assist him in furthering his development of scholarly research.

Guggenheim fellowships are given to those who demonstrate a capacity for productive scholarship and are awarded through a selection process involving an examination by experts in the applicant’s particular field. Huang graduated with an English degree from Peking University in China and then moved to the United States to continue studying English while making ends meet by working as a restaurateur. His award-winning book Charlie Chan: The Untold Story of the Honorable Detective and His Rendezvous with American History won him selection from the Foundation.

According to Huang, the award will provide him more time to focus on his next piece of work.

“The fellowship will enable me to take one year off from UCSB and not teach for a year in order to research and write my next book, which will hopefully be published by the end of next year,” Huang said.

David Marshall, the dean of humanities and fine arts under the College of Letters and Science, said Huang’s writing style favors an interdisciplinary approach that analyzes history, literature and culture.

“His recent work has demonstrated his power as an interpreter of 20th-century American culture and his growing role as a public intellectual,” Marshall said. “He also is a poet and a literary translator.”

As a child in China, Huang began learning English by secretly listening to the “Voice of America” programs on the radio. He said the heavy workload of studying in China that he had experienced allowed him to value the time he spent writing.

“Going through school and studying English while working multiple jobs taught me … to appreciate the free time I had to write,” Huang said.

According to Huang, his passion for writing can be traced to his childhood. The Guggenheim Fellowship will provide Huang with the opportunity to pursue that passion without having teaching commitments.

“I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even when I was little,” Huang said. “Like everyone else, I had a lot of dreams and imagination. I dreamt about and imagined far away places. That’s where my love for literature started.”

Marshall said Huang’s Guggenheim Fellowship contributes to the number of distinguished Guggenheim fellows that UCSB has.

“The Guggenheim Fellowship is one of the most prestigious national awards in the arts and sciences, and it is sometimes viewed as the ‘Gold Standard’ in the humanities,” Marshall said. “This is a sign of the distinction of our faculty.”

According to Huang, although university professors have “national and international reputations as leaders in their fields,” they still continue to place a high priority on educating undergraduate students.

“Most students know their professors as teachers from lectures and seminars, and we’re proud of the fact that arts and humanities faculty dedicate so much time, imagination and energy to teaching undergraduates,” Marshall said.


A version of this story appeared on page 4 of Thursday, April 24, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.