Marla Stone to Be AAR’s Next Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Professor

Color photograph of the face of Marla Stone
Marla Stone (photograph by Scarlett Freund)

Marla Stone, a professor of modern European history at Occidental College in Los Angeles and a 1996 Rome Prize Fellow in Post-Classical Humanistic Studies, has been appointed the next Andrew W. Mellon Humanities Professor at the American Academy in Rome. The appointment was announced by AAR President Mark Robbins (1997 Fellow), based on the recommendation of a national search committee. Succeeding Lynne Lancaster (2002 Fellow), who has served in the role since 2018, Stone begins her three-year term in late August.

“We are delighted to welcome Marla Stone whose expertise in modern Italian studies is a timely addition to the Academy community,” said Robbins. “Her critical reading of recent history inflects our understanding of the past, while helping shape our thoughts about the future.”

Stone began her career at Occidental College in 1994, after earning a BA in history from Pomona College in 1982 and a PhD in history from Princeton University in 1990. Her interdisciplinary scholarship on Fascism, Nazism, and authoritarianism blends political history, the history of ideology, and cultural history. Stone has held residential fellowships at Princeton University’s Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies (2007), Stanford University’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (2011–12), and the European University in Florence, where she was a Fernand Braudel Fellow in 2017. She currently serves as the board chair of the American Civil Liberties Foundation of Southern California, as well as the president of the Society for Italian Historical Studies.
“Marla is a distinguished historian of the modern Mediterranean and is widely known for her mentoring of young scholars,” said AAR Director Avinoam Shalem (2016 Resident). “Her appointment will enrich our community’s understanding of the evolving nature of the humanities—from the ancient world, to Renaissance, to modern times—by juxtaposing it against our critical, yet conflicted, gaze of the last century.”

Stone’s 1998 book, The Patron State: Culture and Politics in Fascist Italy, which she developed during her Rome Prize Fellowship, analyzed the relationship among the Fascist state, cultural producers, and audiences. It revised previous understandings of the character of official arts patronage in Fascist Italy, as well as the role of modernism and exhibitionary culture. The Patron State won the Marraro Prize of the Society of Italian Historical Studies. Stone’s other books include When the Wall Came Down: Responses to German Reunification (1992), edited with Harold James, and The Fascist Revolution in Italy (2012). Her twenty-two articles and book chapters engage a wide range of critical and historical questions, from Italian Fascist culture to global national populism, and from Holocaust memory to the relationship between the classical tradition and Italian Fascism.

Her current book project, The Enemy: The Politics and Propaganda of Anti-communism in Italy, is a study of anti-communism as an ideology and practice in Italy from Fascism through Christian Democracy, as well as the role played by crusades against internal and external political enemies in Italian political culture during the tumultuous twentieth century.

“As the Mellon Humanities Professor, I envision fulfilling three critical roles,” Stone said. “First, as a mentor to the Academy’s community of scholars; second, as an ambassador between the community and the wonders of the Roman past and present; and third, as a member of a leadership team that ensures effective administration, engaging programming, an environment of intellectual and artistic exchange, and a flourishing creative community. I look forward to returning to the Academy in this new position.”

American Academy in Rome

Established in 1894, the American Academy in Rome (AAR) is America’s oldest overseas center for independent studies and advanced research in the arts and humanities. The Academy has since evolved to become a more global and diverse base for artists and scholars to live and work in Rome. The residential community includes a wide range of scholarly and artistic disciplines, which is representative of the United States and is fully engaged with Italy and contemporary international exchange. The support provided by the Academy to Rome Prize and Italian Fellows, and invited Residents, helps strengthen the arts and humanities.

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