On Wednesday, the MacArthur Foundation announced its newest class of fellows — "geniuses" who have made remarkable contributions to their fields. We wanted to know what happens to a "genius" after the fellowship is over, so we spoke with Ramón Gutiérrez, a Preston and Sterling Morton Distinguished Service Professor in U.S. history at the University of Chicago, and one of the MacArthur fellows in 1983.

He told us about research in Chicano studies that fascinates him, what questions he asks in his own research, and what holes he sees in ethnic studies. During his time as a fellow, Gutiérrez wrote When Jesus Came the Corn Mothers Went Away, a monograph on marriage, sexuality and power in New Mexico.

Interview with Ramón Gutiérrez

How'd you react when you heard the news when you were a MacArthur fellow?

It was the second group of MacArthur fellows. I had read something about it, but I didn't know much about it. You know, when someone calls you up — I think the amount of money I had was something like $352,000 by 1982...