Alan Koenig holds a double B.A. in politics and modern literature (honors) from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an M.A. in political science from the New School for Social Research. His master’s thesis provided a comparative examination of the intertwined evolutions of organized crime and post-Soviet state reformation in Russia, the Yakuza and right-wing parties in post-WWII Japan, and triads and the Kuomintang in China during the ’20s and ’30s. He is working on a political theory dissertation exploring apocalypticism in American conservative thought, focusing on the exemplary works of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Herman Kahn, and Ayn Rand. He has written for the Believer, 3QuarksDaily, Radical Society, and the GC Advocate and served as a coeditor for OldTownReview.
My experience this year as a Mellon Dissertation Fellow for the Committee for the Study of Religion has been fantastic, and I feel tremendously fortunate to have been accepted and provided the opportunity to work with amazing scholars in diverse fields – all of them focused on a topic aligned with my research. I get to both contribute to a scholarly community and engage in my particular field as if this seminar were designed for me personally. For all its cross-disciplinary potential, the GC can be as compartmentalized as any other university if you don’t make the effort, and the fellowship has introduced me to very generous and accomplished faculty and talented fellow students, who’ve provided superb feedback on my work . . . as well as exposing me to pertinent literatures I was unfamiliar with. A dissertation committee has only three to five faculty members, and academic conferences can be of mixed value, but this broader exposure and very helpful critique have been invaluable. This seminar has really lived up to the term “fellowship.” In addition, the reward has been great for funding child care for my toddler. For all the benefits I derive from teaching, the greater financial freedom and seminar work relevant to my topic has allowed for faster progress and a greater depth of development on my dissertation.