The Hilton Kramer Fellowship
In 2013, we inaugurated the Hilton Kramer Fellowship, honoring the extraordinary life and career of our founding Editor, to give one recent college graduate the chance to join our editorial staff and apprentice as a cultural critic for one year. This salaried program—which appears to be unique in the world of cultural criticism—has been a boon to our staff, and it has launched a number of promising careers. Previous Fellows have gone on to work in such prestigious news organizations as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, City Journal, and other venues. We also have three alumni of the program on our own editorial staff: Benjamin Riley (2015–16 Fellow), Managing Editor; Andrew L. Shea (2017–18 Fellow), Associate Editor; and Isaac Sligh (2020–21 Fellow), Assistant Editor. The current Fellow is Jane Coombs, a graduate of the University of Cambridge and the Courtauld Institute of Art.
The Hilton Kramer Fellowship has been an enormous success in replenishing the ranks of young conservative writers, and it has been funded entirely through your contributions.
Current and past Hilton Kramer Fellows discuss The New Criterion’s Hilton Kramer Fellowship with Executive Editor James Panero in a podcast embedded below.
Meet the current and previous Hilton Kramer fellows
Jane Coombs is the ninth and current Hilton Kramer Fellow at The New Criterion. She studied medieval history and literature at the University of Cambridge and earned an MA from the Courtauld Institute of Art, focusing on nineteenth-century British art. After returning home to Canada, she participated in the Emerging Arts Critics program in Toronto and contributed to a number of arts magazines.
Isaac Sligh, the eighth Hilton Kramer Fellow, currently works as The New Criterion’s Assistant Editor. He studied English literature at Sewanee: The University of the South and wrote a thesis on the works of the seventeenth-century Royalist poet Robert Herrick. After graduating, Isaac served as the head curator of the Ralston Listening Library and Archive in Sewanee, TN, one of the nation’s largest collections of recorded classical music and a charitably endowed venue for audiophile listening. He is currently translating a novel with his wife by the bestselling Russian author Viktor Pelevin, for which they received a 2020 RusTrans Award for Russian-to-English Translation from the University of Exeter. Isaac has lived and traveled in the Caucasus and usually writes on classical music, Renaissance poetry, and Eastern European culture.
Robert Erickson, the seventh Hilton Kramer Fellow, graduated in 2018 from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Classics and Literary Studies. At Middlebury, he completed Honors work on Ovid’s Metamorphoses and Proust’s Swann’s Way, as well as independent study on Chinese Literature. Proficient in French, Latin, and Ancient Greek, Robert spent the 2018–19 academic year teaching English at the South Bronx Classical Charter School.
Hannah Niemeier, the sixth Hilton Kramer Fellow, graduated in 2018 from Hillsdale College, where she studied English and journalism. She was the Culture editor of the campus newspaper and editor of the campus literary journal, as well as the co-president of the college’s honors program and the director of the writing center. She previously interned at the Orange County Register and at Humanities magazine.
About her time in New York and at The New Criterion, Hannah says,
“Coming from a small town in Nebraska with a population of thirty-five, working at a magazine in a big city is the perfect combination: I get to explore a new part of the world and see firsthand the way The New Criterion reads, writes, and edits fine cultural criticism about it.”
Andrew L. Shea
Andrew joined The New Criterion as the fifth Hilton Kramer Fellow after graduating from Dartmouth College in June 2017 with a B.A. in English and Studio Art. At Dartmouth, he played double bass in The Barbary Coast Jazz Ensemble and completed an honors thesis in oil painting. In his English major, he concentrated on literature of the American frontier, and he counts Faulkner, Thoreau, and Joyce among his favorite writers. Now Associate Editor of The New Criterion, Andrew credits the Fellowship with expanding his cultural horizons and honing his critical voice:
“As a writer and painter, the opportunity to enmesh myself in New York’s cultural scene—and to do so as part of my job right out of college—was extraordinary. The wooded campus of Dartmouth was a wonderful setting in which to develop my painting practice and critical thinking skills, but working for The New Criterion in New York as Hilton Kramer Fellow enabled me to see in person the art I had until then seen only in reproduction, and to submit my writing for the first time to the public sphere. Learning critical writing at a magazine so singularly committed to precision and clarity was an edifying experience, one made even more so by The New Criterion’s focus on the cultural and artistic subjects about which I am most passionate. In short, the Fellowship was a fantastic experience, and I am delighted to continue working at The New Criterion as Assistant Editor.”
Mene Ukueberuwa joined The New Criterion as the fourth Hilton Kramer Fellow in June 2016. Prior to that he served as Editor of The Dartmouth Review. Following his time at The New Criterion, Mene secured a coveted Bartley Fellowship at The Wall Street Journal, where he currently serves as an editorial page writer.
“When I served as an editorial intern at The New Criterion in 2012, I’d had only hints of exposure to high culture. My weeks at The New Criterion were invaluably enriching. In that short time I developed the context to appreciate the best of our culture. When I returned to the magazine for the Fellowship in 2016, those seedlings of understanding planted four years earlier started to bear fruit. Having continued to cultivate a taste for the art and ideas discussed in the magazine, I found myself able to approach these topics with judgment in addition to appreciation—a disposition that is rare in the contemporary world. Today’s entire intellectual climate tends to stifle rather than strengthen our willingness to discriminate—that is, to recognize what’s good and what’s bad, and then utter our opinions out loud. Thankfully, The New Criterion remains up to the task of educating us in this most human of tasks. I’m sincerely grateful for my time at TNC, which not only improved my critical faculties, but also prepared me to exercise them as I continue my career.”
Benjamin Riley, the third Hilton Kramer Fellow, is now Managing Editor of The New Criterion. After a successful Fellowship year at the magazine he decamped for the Courtauld Institute of Art, University of London, to pursue his M.A. in the History of Art, writing his dissertation on the masonry bridges of the Scottish architect Robert Adam (1728–92). At The New Criterion he has written widely on architecture and art in general, with a specific focus on the eighteenth century. Prior to joining The New Criterion, Ben graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013, where he served as President and Publisher of The Dartmouth Review. His undergraduate thesis in Art History examined Robert Adam’s role in the construction of Edinburgh’s New Town.
“My time as the Hilton Kramer Fellow was not only highly enjoyable but also exceptionally fruitful. I was given the chance to refine my voice and learn the critical art of editing, skills not easily acquired otherwise. It’s an honor to be back at the magazine in a permanent position.”
Christine Emba served as our second Hilton Kramer Fellow. For her undergraduate studies, Christine earned an A.B. in public and international affairs from Princeton University. After graduating, she worked for two years as a strategy analyst at SAP before beginning a career in editorial journalism. Christine served as a deputy editor at The Economist’s Intelligence Unit for two more years, and then accepted the Hilton Kramer Fellowship in 2014. While with us at The New Criterion, Christine contributed to In The Arena, a weekly radio and television talk show series that explores Catholic news stories and issues. After her year at The New Criterion, Christine moved on to The Washington Post, where she currently contributes to the Opinion section and serves as the editor of In Theory, the Post’s idea blog.
“The Hilton Kramer Fellowship was a delightful foray into the world of culture and the hands-on work of its preservation. My time at The New Criterion was formative, and the range of experience the Fellowship allowed—editing, writing, and interacting with some of criticism’s brightest minds—will influence my own journalism for years to come.”
Eric C. Simpson
Eric C. Simpson joined The New Criterion as the inaugural Hilton Kramer Fellow in 2013. An accomplished violinist who has studied music since age four, Eric has become an established music critic in New York, appearing in the Wall Street Journal and the Hopkins Review and contributing regularly to The New York Classical Review. After five years on The New Criterion’s Editorial staff, Eric left to join the Paideia Institute, where he is currently Chief Development Officer. Prior to joining The New Criterion, he earned a B.A. in Classics from Yale College, where he specialized in the histories of ancient Greece and the Roman Republic and worked closely with the eminent scholar and New Criterion contributor Donald Kagan.
“When I came to The New Criterion, first as an intern, and then as Hilton Kramer Fellow, I had little inkling of what it really meant to be a cultural critic. Music had been the greatest passion of my life for as long as I could remember, but approaching it from the angle of a discerning and opinionated observer, rather than a performer, was a new and refreshing experience. The Hilton Kramer Fellowship gave me a home base, a chance to work closely with some of the finest writers and editors in the cultural arena, and an opportunity to build a meaningful career as an arts critic. Reading and editing articles for The New Criterion was and is an education in itself—I am enormously grateful for the opportunity the Hilton Kramer Fellowship gave me, and I am thrilled to see that it continues to thrive.”