She and 180 other fellowship recipients nationwide were selected from a group of nearly 3,000 scholars, artists and scientists on the basis of "prior achievement and exceptional promise," according to an announcement by the foundation.
Murat, UCLA’s sole Guggenheim Fellow this year, plans to use the fellowship grant to spend a year in Europe conducting research for a new book. Tentatively titled "Women as Symptoms, or Madness at Work," the book will explore "how madness and creativity together are at work inside a family with a member who is succumbing to mental illness," she said. Cases to be examined include James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, Victor Hugo’s daughter Adèle and Auguste Rodin’s associate, protégé and lover Camille Claudel. Murat’s work during the fellowship period will take her to archives in France, the United Kingdom and Belgium.
"I am especially honored to be awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship and very appreciative about the American system in general for its great tradition to encourage innovative research," said Murat, who was educated in France.ã€€
Murat’s research interests include 19th- and 20th-century French literature, French cultural history and the history of psychiatry. She came to UCLA in 2006 as an assistant professor and received tenure in 2009.
Her most recent book, "L’Homme qui se prenait pour Napoléon" (The Man Who Mistook Himself for Napoleon), was published in French by Gallimard in 2011. Based on previously unpublished archival materials from the 19th century, it explores the relationship between ideology and pathology in an attempt to understand how political events such as revolutions and the advent of new systems of government affect mental health. The book was awarded France’s prestigious Femina Prize for non-fiction.