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January 4, 2021

UChicago Medievalist among Trump’s Intended Appointees for Administration Positions


Courtesy of University of Chicago

President Donald Trump named professor Rachel Fulton Brown as an intended appointee to the Cultural Property Advisory Committee, according to a White House list released on December 22.

The Cultural Property Advisory Committee, to which Fulton Brown was appointed, is listed under the Cultural Heritage Center, an initiative administered by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). The committee advises the President on requests from foreign governments for cultural properties. Currently, the committee has six members, who make recommendations for the appropriate response to the requests.

“I am very honored, and it’s certainty an important appointment to be able to contribute to the conversation about the significance of cultural property,” Fulton Brown commented on the appointment. “It will be very interesting to me if I’m appointed to be involved in these kinds of discussions because each country is going to have different cultural concerns, and that’s why the committee needs to do the work that it does. We don’t think about each country or each nation just in a blanket way, that each one is going to have a different question and trade agreement with the United States, so I certainly hope that I am able to serve.”

According to Fulton Brown, she was invited to apply for the three-year position, and she learned about the announcement through the news. As of her conversation with The Maroon on December 26, she hasn’t received any further correspondence regarding the position.

Fulton Brown is an associate professor in the history department and a faculty of the medieval studies program at the University, specializing in the study of medieval European history, devotion, prayer, and the works of J. R. R. Tolkien. Some of Fulton Brown’s writing has generated controversy, specifically her association with and defense of former Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulos resigned from the outlet in 2017 after accusations that he had condoned pedophilia.

In various articles and in her 2019 book Milo Chronicles: Devotions 2016–2019, Fulton Brown defended Yiannopoulos, spurring controversy among the University community. 

Fulton Brown has reflected more generally on her experiences as a conservative in academia in a series of articles on her blog, Fencing Bear at Prayer. One of her oldest blog posts, “Three Cheers for White Men,” received particular opposition from Brandeis University professor Dorothy Kim, who claimed that the article “valorizes the supposed whiteness of the Middle Ages.”

Trump’s latest list of appointees primarily consists of roles within state departments in charge of arts, culture, and education. It includes nominees for positions in national establishments such as the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Board of Trustees of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the Smithsonian Institution, and the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board, another flagship program of ECA.

The appointments were part of a raft of more than 200 appointments that Trump has issued since November 3. According to Newsweek, “roughly half hold personal connections to Trump, as…professionals who built careers outside of politics and have written articles, published books or otherwise voiced public support for his presidency.”