Faculty Fellows 2023-24
Elizabeth Hunter (Performing Arts Department)
“In the Story: From Theatron to Augmented Reality”
In a time besieged by innovation, what is the power of a well-known story? When daily life is saturated with screens, how can the multisensory impact of immersive theatre move an audience? Hunter’s first book project, “In the Story: Enactive Spectatorship from Theatron to Augmented Reality,” explores how these questions come together in 21st-century immersive performances of culturally significant stories. “In the Story” considers physical and digital iterations of such performances to map a new model of an overlooked audience dynamic she calls “enactive spectatorship.” To date, theatre and performance studies have measured meaningful audience participation as that which allows an audience member to co-author or change the unfolding storyline. By analyzing productions of culturally significant stories that expressly prohibit altering the storyline, the book demonstrates that theatre-makers also count as meaningful another mode of participation: casting the audience in a predetermined role. To illustrate how the affordances of immersive scenography can cultivate this dynamic, “In the Story” turns to recent productions of broadly significant stories — ancient Greek tragedies and Shakespeare’s plays — staged in physical contexts such as historical replica playhouses and explorable “open world” theatre, as well as digital contexts like augmented reality and virtual reality.
Fannie Bialek (Danforth Center on Religion and Politics)
“Rereading Sabbath: Aspiration, Urgency, and Critique in Heschel’s Time and Ours”
Sabbath arrives each week to disrupt ordinary life with a wholly different way of living. Is this strictly a break from the ordinary, or also a guide to it—and to how it might require disruption, reformation, and repair? “Rereading Sabbath: Aspiration, Urgency, and Critique in Heschel’s Time and Ours” argues for a reinterpretation of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s 1951 volume The Sabbath as a source of radical political imagination resonant with struggles against racial injustice, income inequality, and climate change today. Generally read as a spiritual text distant from Heschel’s political thought and celebrated involvement in the civil rights movement, Bialek argues that the book has profound resources for democratic struggle in its concept of time. The first focused study of this highly popular work of 20th-century American Jewish thought, Bialek’s book redraws the boundaries between Heschel’s political and religious contributions and reframes his understanding of Sabbath for the urgent challenges of our days.
Anca Parvulescu (Department of English)
“Modernist Faces: Physiognomy and Facial Form”
Drawing on a transatlantic literary archive, “Modernist Faces” tells the story of the modernist struggle over form as illustrated through the human face. One might be tempted to believe that representations of faces are rarer after the waning of 19th-century realist literary impulses, but modernism is fascinated with faces. This fascination works in conjunction with literary modernism’s intermedial relation to the visual arts — painting and, increasingly, photography and cinema. One dimension of this fascination remains the ambivalent interest on the part of modernist writers in the old, disgraced pseudo-science of physiognomy. Physiognomy worked with the assumption that one can read the interiority of a person from outward appearance, centrally from the face. Extremely popular and influential, physiognomy functioned as an education in seeing and interpreting faces. Although they were aware of its pitfalls and suspicious of its methods, a range of modernist writers engaged in a revised mode of physiognomic representation. Faces, in this body of literature, divorced the soul as a source of meaning, but continued to function as sites of interpretation.
Anya Plutynski (Department of Philosophy)
“Making Mental Health”
“Making Mental Health” places in historical perspective the emergence of the concept of “mental health” as viewed through the lens of competing disciplinary perspectives in the latter half of the 20th century. As well as historicizing this concept, it is a philosophical analysis of the very idea of a science of mental health, and its promotion via psychotherapy.
Lori Watt (Department of History)
“Sadako Ogata, 1927-2019: Ambassador to the World”
In the turbulent decade from 1991-2000, the Japanese diplomat Sadako Ogata led the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the world’s largest agency mandated to aid refugees and the stateless. Renowned for her decisiveness, she expanded the narrow historical definition of a refugee to include internally displaced persons, making a million uprooted Iraqi Kurds eligible for lifesaving aid within Iraq. From 2003 to 2012, Ogata served as president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, responsible for distributing Japan’s foreign aid. Ogata’s high-profile leadership positions provide the opportunity to assess how she, as a transnational bureaucrat and Japanese national, exercised power in the world. Due to constitutional constraints, Japan does not project military power overseas, and past scholars assert that Japan uses soft power instead, through the promotion of its fine arts, cuisine and popular culture. In contrast, my biography of Ogata shows how she, and by extension Japan, shaped global affairs politically and economically through international organizations and development projects.
Hayrettin Yücesoy (Department of Jewish, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies)
“The Monarch’s Privy Council: Ibn al-Muqaffa’s Epistle on Empire-Building”
“The Monarch’s Privy Council” focuses on a concise but foundational treatise by a major figure in Umayyad and Abbasid administration known by his sobriquet Ibn al-Muqaffa (d. 757 CE), the author/translator of the celebrated fable Kalila and Dimna. The book will be a concise contextual biography of this figure and the critical edition and translation of this political tract he wrote for the newly crowned Abbasid caliph between 754-756.
Note: Karma Frierson (Department of African and African-American Studies) was orginally awarded a Faculty Fellowship for spring 2024 but declined after being awarded an ACLS Fellowship.
Faculty Fellows 2022-23
Javier García-Liendo (Department of Romance Language & Literatures)
“Schoolteachers and the Making of Popular Modernity in Peru”
As part of a larger book project on “The Children of Indigenismo,” García-Liendo’s fellowship project focuses on rural schoolteachers as culture producers and local intellectuals in the Andean provinces of Peru between 1939 and 1967. During this period, the region was shaped by three intersecting historical processes: mass migration from the countryside to the capital, peasant revolution and state expansion. On the one hand, mass migration transformed Peru into a predominantly urban country and profoundly altered indigenous ethnic identities. On the other hand, fears of a latent peasant rebellion — which materialized in the 1960s — pushed the Peruvian state to seek the assimilation of the Andean rural population by expanding access to education and health services and promoting technology and a market economy. The schoolteachers he examines arrived in peasant communities and towns as state representatives within this context. However, limited state support and oversight allowed them to maintain relative autonomy and develop an innovative educational project at a local level.
Lauren Eldridge Stewart (Department of Music)
“Recital: Classical Music and Narrative Power in Haiti”
Classical music has been a cultural mainstay in Haiti throughout the nation’s history, and is a particularly powerful vehicle for narrative negotiation in the present moment. Stewart’s project focuses on the aesthetic force of the stories deployed through this genre’s performance, particularly during summer music camp intensive sessions. It is named as such because recitals function as a marker of progress, and of the passage of time within the lives of musicians. They are unique moments of concerted curation. Several narratives are shaped during the process of curating, developing and performing a recital — narratives of personal, individual identity, of cultural, collective identities, of canons and of memory. Stewart frames this narrative activity by categorizing it into four ways of thinking about the utility of classical music in Haiti: as birthright, as social equalizer, as mission and as gift.
Lori Watson (Department of Philosophy)
The concept of domination is central to normative political theory, as it aims to describe a certain form of unjust and damaging power relations between persons, whether as individuals or as members of groups. The most prominent and sophisticated accounts of domination by republican political theorists offer a general theory of domination but fail to adequately capture and theorize the lived experience of subordinated groups, Watson argues. While feminists, too, rely on the concept of domination to call out and condemn specific forms of injustice, no feminist thinker has offered a general theory of domination. Rather, feminist theorists offer specific accounts of male domination, generally following from their analyses of the social construction of gender/sex. Moreover, these two distinct traditions in which some conception of domination is foundational for diagnosing specific forms of injustice have never been the focus of a unified study. Part of Watson’s aim in this project is to bring these two important traditions into conversation in order to highlight the strengths and weaknesses of each view and bridge the gap in their respective theories of domination.
Heather Berg (Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies)
“An Intellectual History of the Sex Worker Left”
What happens when sex workers become the producers, rather than the objects, of inquiry? “An Intellectual History of the Sex Work Left” argues that sex workers’ close encounters with racial capitalism, interpersonal and state violence, and sexual politics generate distinctive forms of anticapitalist critique. The project places interviews with leftist sex workers in conversation with sex worker cultural production (e.g., essay, memoir, poetry, digital art and agitprop) dating from the 19th century to today. Multiply marginalized by race, disability, gender, sexuality and class, sex workers’ varied paths to anticapitalist politics show that harsh conditions can generate critique as much as they do injury.
Stephanie Li (Department of English)
“Ugly White People”
Since the turn of the century, white American literary writers have been producing work that is self-consciously white. Novels as varied as Lorrie Moore’s The Gate at the Stairs (2010), Michael Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue (2013), Jonathan Franzen’s Purity (2015) and Barbara Kingsolver’s Unsheltered (2018) affirm how race is increasingly recognized as a category that is not solely assigned to people of color but instead whiteness figures as its own problematic, unstable form of identity that profoundly and inescapably structures the lives of white Americans. With white people increasingly conceiving themselves as distinctively racialized as opposed to simply American or human or beyond the categories that have long adhered to people of color, white writers are demonstrating a new understanding of white racialized behavior; far from neutral, it can span from staunch antiracism to virulent forms of xenophobic nationalism. Li’s current book project, “Ugly White People,” explores this new racial awareness by focusing on a single aspect of white identity in 21st-century literature by white American authors: displays of white hegemonic power that constitute a uniquely ugly form of racialized behavior. She aims to lay bare some of the key components of whiteness that lead to ways of being that erode not only any hope of national unity but most devastatingly, the basic humanity of others.
Samuel Shearer (Department of African & African-American Studies)
“The Kigali After: A New City for the End of the World”
“The Kigali After” is an ethnography of a city that is being destroyed so it can be rebuilt for the end of the world. It is about popular cultures and street economies where there is no public space; the production and defense of popular urbanism where the government has zero tolerance for “disorder”; and the manufacture of post-apocalyptic built environments in the service of a project called “sustainable urbanism.” Shearer follows these contradictions as they unfold during one of the 21st century’s most daring experiments with utopia, capitalism and extra-statecraft: the Kigali City Master Plan. This plan is a series of international ventures in urban design, finance and marketing that are aimed at converting Kigali, Rwanda, from a post-conflict “wounded” city into an optimized hub of global finance and tourism with a green urban metabolism. Conceived by design firms in Singapore and the United States and financed by private capital and public debt, the Kigali City Master Plan is part of the United Nations' agenda to reimagine the city as a sustainable solution to the dual crises of economic and ecological catastrophe. In this way, the Kigali City Master Plan envisions a privatized techno-futurist dis/utopia where the environment is protected, foreign investors and capital are free, but Rwandans are not.
Faculty Fellows 2021-22
Tazeen Ali (John C. Danforth Center on Religion & Politics)
FIRST BOOK FELLOW
“Authorizing Women: Islamic Authority at the Women’s Mosque of America”
Ali’s project, “Authorizing Women,” analyzes American Muslim women’s constructions of religious authority through the lens of the Women’s Mosque of America (WMA) in Los Angeles. The WMA is a multiracial, women-only mosque that has hosted Jummah services for Muslim and non-Muslim women since January 2015. At each service, a woman calls the adhan (call to prayer) while another delivers the khutbah (sermon) and leads prayer for the all-women’s congregation. Its emergence fills a need in a U.S. mosque culture that systematically marginalizes women through inadequate prayer spaces, exclusion from leadership roles, and limited access to religious learning. WMA members implicitly critique women’s subordinate status within American Muslim culture. Women’s quarters in a mosque are typically smaller and inferior to men’s, and they often do not have access to the imam leading prayer and in many cases cannot even hear the khutbah. The WMA provides an alternative to these conditions by creating a venue for women to worship and opportunities for them to cultivate their own religious authority.
Peter Kastor (History)
“Creating a Federal Government”
Kastor’s project, “Creating a Federal Government,” offers the first cohesive understanding of how the federal government operated during the half-century following ratification of the Constitution. This project consists of both a narrative monograph and a major website, which together are designed to reach both academic and public audiences. At a time when Americans regularly debate the goals and purposes of government, this project reveals how that government came into being.
Abram Van Engen (English)
“Dissent from Within: The World and Work of Anne Bradstreet”
With his current project, Van Engen is writing a new cultural and literary biography of the puritan poet Anne Bradstreet — the first woman from British North America to publish a book — that will revise our understanding of both her world and her work. The Tenth Muse made Bradstreet famous, and for almost four centuries, she has been canonized, anthologized, studied, and taught. In American culture, her role has fluctuated from pious puritan to rebellious feminist while inspiring influential modern poets like John Berryman and Adrienne Rich. Anew edition of her complete works has just appeared, and a digital project (findinganne.org) has begun searching for further material. Yet the last scholarly biography of Bradstreet appeared in 1991.
René Esparza (Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies)
FIRST BOOK FELLOW
“From Vice to Nice: Race, Sex, and the Gentrification of AIDS”
Esparza’s book manuscript, “From Vice to Nice: Race, Sex, and the Gentrification of AIDS,” rethinks the history of the U.S. AIDS epidemic in relation to the neoliberal restructuring of central cities and its attendant system of racial apartheid. Because residential segregation creates a pathway through which racial discrimination and economic impoverishment become embodied as ill health and vulnerability to disease, a viral infection like HIV found (and continues to find) the perfect host in America’s urban “ghettos.” Yet, the spatial technologies that spawn LGBT, Black, and Latinx ghettoization (e.g., white flight, deindustrialization, and subsequent gentrification) figure less prominently in epidemiological theories of HIV/AIDS. Instead, the demographic profile of the U.S. AIDS epidemic is attributed to particular practices of sex and drug use: “risk behaviors.”
Paige McGinley (Performing Arts)
“Rehearsing Civil Rights, 1932-1968”
McGinley’s project, “Rehearsing Civil Rights,” is the first in-depth examination of an ethos and culture of rehearsal embedded within the Black freedom struggle from the early 1930s to the late 1960s.While the iconic scenes of the mid-century movement students sitting at lunch counters, marchers crossing the Pettus Bridge, and Black voters determinedly facing down the Mississippi registrars are easily called to mind, most of us have no such image or understanding of the anticipatory work behind the scenes: the alternately difficult, detailed, and pleasurable embodied pre-enactment of events that are routinely commemorated. Rehearsals took a number of different forms — improvisational exercises, role-playing scenarios, and large-scale simulations — and were undertaken in a number of sites, including interracial institutes, adult education centers, citizenship schools, mass meetings, and workshops. Rehearsal techniques were deployed in diverse circumstances in order to meet varied (and sometimes contrasting) objectives, both practical and spiritual. Yet in spite of the ubiquity of such practices, no detailed study has been conducted of their use, their ideological orientations, or their aesthetic implications.
Casey O’Callaghan (Philosophy)
“The Meaning of Sensory Differences”
O’Callaghan’s project, “The Meaning of Sensory Differences,” investigates how differences in sensory capacities can impact the sources of meaning and human value. While studies of human sense perception and its significance usually focus on “normal” perception, my approach refocuses inquiry towards variation in sensory experiences and perceivers whose capacities are not statistically typical. This project explores the practical and theoretical consequences of sensory differences without marginalizing them as deficits or disorders.
Faculty Fellows 2020-21
Patrick Burke (Music)
“Sounding the Seven Seas: Norwegian Ships and ‘World Music’ at the Margins of Empire, 1850-1950”
Burke’s project examines the overlooked role of Norway’s worldwide shipping networks in the creation of Europe’s musical imaginings of the global south. While previous studies of music and empire have focused on major imperial powers such as Britain and France, Norway occupied a distinct relationship to colonialism founded less on conquest and occupation than on trade and circulation. Musical encounters reported by Norwegian travelers both shaped a nascent European understanding of “non-Western” music and provided ideological support for Norwegian involvement in colonialism. This project sheds new light on a neglected aspect of music’s colonial history and on the construction of a Eurocentric notion of “world music” that continues to reinforce imperialist ideologies today.
Colin Burnett (Film & Media Studies)
“Serial Bonds: The Multimedia Life of 007”
Burnett’s monograph will be the first to situate James Bond at a crucial hinge point in the history of modern serial culture. It argues that the Bond franchise ushered in the contemporary era of media franchising by innovating a story production regime that, for the first time, could ensure a consistent output of serialized series in multiple, high-profile media. Novelist Ian Fleming and numerous partners from the film, comics, and gaming industries modernized the franchise, laying the foundations for the current transmedia craze, even as they developed a multimedia storytelling form — until now, entirely unstudied — that differs markedly from the transmedia paradigm.
Allan Hazlett (Philosophy)
“The Wages of Authenticity”
Hazlett’s project has two main aims: to offer a novel account of authenticity and to offer an ethical and political critique of authenticity. “Authenticity,” in this context, refers to the quality of “being yourself” or “being true to yourself,” by contrast with being “fake” or “phony.” This is what we urge people to be when we advise them to “be themselves” and what we feel is lacking when we feel out of touch with our “true self.” Authenticity, in this sense, is understood as an ethical ideal — as the philosopher Charles Taylor puts it, authenticity is taken to be a “better or higher mode of life.” However, despite the centrality of this concept in everyday ethical thought, it has received relatively little attention in contemporary “analytic” philosophical ethics and epistemology — by contrast with (equally central) concepts like autonomy and virtue.
Talia Dan-Cohen (Anthropology)
“The Uses of Complexity”
“Complexity” has been simultaneously framed as the concept that will finally deliver on modernity’s technoscientific and universalist ambitions, and as a way of definitively rejecting them. Yet, crucially, in both framings, complexity is usually taken to be a good thing, a kind of intellectual bonanza that responds to the unrealized promises of modernity. “The Uses of Complexity” refracts an interest in complexity through this central tension. Situated at the intersection of anthropology and science and technology studies, the project examines the discourses and knowledge practices of those who talk about complexity and attempt to address it.
Zoe Stamatopoulou (Classics)
“Plutarch’s Symposium of the Seven Sages: A Commentary and a Translation”
The goal of Stamatopoulou’s project is to draw attention to Plutarch’s Symposium and to offer a fresh interpretation that explores previously neglected aspects of this literary work (e.g., the careful construction of its female characters), contextualizes it more broadly, and highlights its relevance to Plutarch’s era as well as our own. Ultimately, she wants to make this text accessible and interesting to as many readers as possible, and to encourage further engagement with it among both experts and nonexperts.
Faculty Fellows 2019-20
Tom Keeline (Classics)
LATIN TEXTUAL SCHOLARSHIP IN THE DIGITAL AGE: AN OPEN-ACCESS CRITICAL EDITION OF OVID'S IBIS AND ITS SCHOLIA
Using a radically new method of editing texts with significant textual variation, Keeline will complete a digital edition of the Ibis, a poem by the Latin poet Ovid, along with the ancient and medieval annotations (“scholia”) found in its manuscripts. The Ibis is a tour de force of poetic craft and erudition, steeped in intertextuality and recondite mythology. Formally modeled on Hellenistic curse poetry, the poem is an attack on the man who drove Ovid into exile. This enemy’s true identity is unknown, but Ovid calls him “Ibis” — a nod to an earlier Greek poem of that name. Thus the Ibis is an eye-catching transplant of a Greek genre onto very Roman soil, and it is central to the last phase of Ovid’s poetic career. Yet while many of Ovid’s works, like the Metamorphoses, have always been considered masterpieces, the Ibis remains almost completely unstudied. A major reason for this neglect is the lack of an appropriate edition. By providing such an edition, Keeline’s project will revitalize the study of the poem. Furthermore, by editing its scholia, he will show how this fascinating work was read from antiquity through the early modern period.
Diana Montaño (History)
ELECTRIFYING MEXICO: CULTURAL UNDERSTANDINGS OF A NEW TECHNOLOGY, 1880s-1960s
To understand Mexico’s history, particularly its embrace of technological modernity, “Electrifying Mexico” examines the relationship between electricity and society in Mexico City. Electricity played a central role in imagining and crafting the country’s path from the 1880s to the mid 20th century. Moving beyond official blueprints, Montaño’s study follows the individuals on the ground. It documents how in everyday life, businesspeople, social critics, inventors, doctors, electrical workers, domestic advisors, housewives, and ordinary citizens both sold and consumed electricity.
Akiko Tsuchiya (Romance Languages and Literatures)
SPANISH WOMEN OF LETTERS IN THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY ANTISLAVERY MOVEMENT: TRANSNATIONAL NETWORKS AND EXCHANGES
“Spanish Women of Letters in the Nineteenth-Century Antislavery Movement” centers on the role that Spanish women writers and intellectuals played in the antislavery movement, which first gained momentum in Spain in the 1830s, with the emergence of liberalism and, subsequently, in the 1860s, as a response to the U.S. Civil War. Tsuchiya explores the ways in which abolitionism remained an important movement in Spain until slavery was finally abolished in Cuba in 1886.
Christina Ramos (History)
BEDLAM IN THE NEW WORLD: MADNESS, COLONIALISM, AND A MEXICAN MADHOUSE
“Bedlam in the New World: Madness, Colonialism, and a Mexican Madhouse” is a social, cultural, and institutional history of madness, or locura, in colonial Mexico, compromising the first study of the New World’s earliest “mental hospital” and the patients who occupied its wards. Founded in 1567 by a penitent conquistador, it holds a surprising claim to being the first hospital of the western hemisphere to specialize in the care and confinement of the mentally disturbed. Its precocious appearance and centuries of operation encourage us to reconsider conventional histories of madness and its institutions, and to rethink the geography of the rise of modern medicine more broadly.
Jessica Rosenfeld (English)
ENVIOUS CHARITY: THEORIZING EMOTIONS IN THE LATER MIDDLE AGES
Scholars pursuing the history of emotions across disciplines are increasingly turning to affect theory both to explore historical embodied experiences and to discover what the historical archive might be able to illuminate for affect theory. In doing so, they reinvigorate what have long been core questions about the relationship between thoughts and feelings, the ethical role of emotions, the cultural specificity of emotions, and the value of their naming or enumeration. “Envious Charity” does not simply add a chapter to the history of ideas about certain emotions, but argues that medieval literature — written in a time of extraordinary systematic attention to emotional experience — should inform our contemporary understandings of how emotions operate.
Rachel Brown (Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies)
FOUR YEARS, THREE MONTHS: MIGRANT CAREGIVERS IN PALESTINE/ISRAEL
Contributing to feminist theories of care, political theory and settler colonial studies, this project reaches beyond the settler/native binary, demonstrating how the labor of an often-overlooked population — that of migrant caregivers — is essential to the reproduction of the settler state. Using ethnographic interviews with migrant caregivers and their employers, and narrative analyses of public statements about which bodies deserve care, Brown demonstrates how the nation is constructed from the bottom up in relation to migrant caregivers.
Faculty Fellows 2018–19
Douglas Flowe (History)
“TELL THE WHOLE WHITE WORLD": CRIME, VIOLENCE, AND BLACK MEN IN NEW YORK CITY, 1890–1930
Flowe’s book project is the first monograph to analyze black crime within the prism of masculine identity, migration, the varied uses of urban public space, and racialized supervision. With this in mind, the book has two principal goals. First, it registers illegality in the lives of black men as a response to the authoritative gaze of white progressives, civic leaders, and police, and to the restrictions of joblessness, violence, and discrimination they experienced in the North. As white New Yorkers ramped up surveillance and spatial boundaries, black men often reacted by reconfiguring their relationship with the law, and his work interrogates the prosaic yet unpredictable interplay between these two groups. Second, it seeks to understand how changes in notions of black manhood connect to criminal, or criminalized, behaviors, and delineates a streaming contest between white and black men on the conceptual terrain of manliness.
Tim Moore (Classics)
UNHEARD MELODIES: MUSIC AND MEANING IN ANCIENT GREEK AND ROMAN THEATER
Virtually all theater in the Greco-Roman world was musical. Both tragedy and comedy were accompanied by a double-piped wind instrument called the aulos, and actors and choruses sang and danced during long portions of performances. A performance of an ancient play was thus more like a performance of Sondheim than a performance of Ibsen. This fact, which changes entirely how one envisions ancient theater, has been ignored because of the limitations of our evidence. In this project, Moore will extend to Roman tragedy and to Greek tragedy and comedy metrical analyses he has already done on Roman comedy, allowing him to observe the typical musical patterns that occur throughout ancient theater and the effects produced by exceptions to those patterns.
Tabea Linhard (Romance Languages & Literatures)
UNEXPECTED ROUTES: EXILE, GEOGRAPHY, AND MEMORY
Linhard’s monograph looks at a number of exiled intellectuals and writers and their itineraries across the Mediterranean and the Atlantic. An examination of their stories of displacement makes it possible to show how the migratory movements that resulted from the Spanish Civil War and World War II created new patterns of exclusion and inclusion, forms of cultural memory, and intellectual affinities, even in parts of the world considered to be marginal to the history of the conflicts. The book project’s title underscores the importance of actual geographies of exile and migration, as it refers to the different paths refugees followed and to the places (partially or wholly unknown before the refugees were forced to leave their home countries) that they discovered. The study examines how these geographies shaped the authors’ experiences and engages with the multiple and often contradictory meanings that places and landscapes attain in works that include chronicles, fiction, memoirs, and poems.
Julie Singer (Romance Languages & Literatures)
OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES: CHILDREN'S VOICES IN MEDIEVAL FRENCH LITERATURE
In the western European Middle Ages, early childhood is constructed as a period of voicelessness. The English infant and the French enfant (“child”) both derive from the Latin infans, literally meaning “unable to speak”; and the proverb that “children should be seen and not heard” is attested from at least the 15th century. What, then, are we to make of those moments in medieval literary texts where small children, infants, and even fetuses speak? When those who are etymologically and axiomatically mute are endowed with speech, what can these voices tell us? Singer’s book project explores the ways in which 13th- through 15th-century French authors represent small children’s speech. Far from being trivial episodes, these often charming literary portrayals of infant communication are tied to deeper questions of personhood, ability, and the origins and symbolic logic of human language.
Alexander Stefaniak (Music)
HEARING CLARA SCHUMANN: PERFORMANCE, AESTHETICS, AND LISTENING IN THE CULTURE OF THE MUSICAL CANON
Stefaniak’s monograph explores the performances of one of the 19th century’s most prominent concert pianists, Clara Schumann, who attained international success in a field dominated by male performers and overseen by male critics and administrators. She played more than 1,300 concerts in a career ranging across Western and Central Europe and extending from the 1820s into the 1880s. This period saw the formation of performance aesthetics and practices foundational to the culture of “classical” music. In contrast to earlier works on Clara Schumann, who was married to the composer Robert Schumann, Stefaniak’s monograph foregrounds Clara Schumann's public activities: the complete run of Schumann’s concert programs, her compositions, music she programmed by other composers, and detailed, often illuminatingly contradictory accounts of her playing.
Luis Salas (Classics)
CUTTING WORDS: POLEMICAL DIMENSIONS OF GALEN'S ANATOMICAL EXPERIMENTS
In his voluminous work, the 2nd-century CE physician and philosopher Galen of Pergamum describes a vigorous and often combative culture of public medical experimentation, whose intellectual sophistication was matched by its lurid appeal: theoretical debates on natural teleology played out in the dissection of an elephant's heart on a Roman street corner; the public vivisection of a pig’s larynx aimed to settle the nature and location of the mind. What is the function of this detailed anatomical knowledge in a premodern medical context where it lacked therapeutic benefit? Salas’ book project argues that Galen’s experimental narratives engage in an elite intellectual discourse that combines 2nd-century display culture with polemical features already present in Greek intellectual prose traditions.
Faculty Fellows 2017–18
Jeffrey McCune (WGSS, AFAS)
“READ! AN EXPERIMENT IN SEEING BLACK”
McCune’s project is a monograph that utilizes black gay men’s vernacular use of “reading” — an interpretation/critique of embodied performance that is centered in one’s love and/or proximity to a black object — as a new way to theorize and analyze blackness. Reading “against the grain,” this manuscript engages hetero-patriarchy in neo-slave narratives, homophobia in hip-hop and the black church, and the queerness of anti-black police and state violence — in ways that suggest that aspects of each, which have been deemed wholly destructive, may also be generative. Reading against the canon of black thought — living in blackness as always already queerness — forges a space that may help recalibrate theoretical and political analyses of black life, illuminating “other” significant black performances.
Sowande’ Mustakeem (AFAS, History)
“BLOOD ON THE CONCRETE: RACE, SEX, AND CRIME IN AMERICA’S CARCERAL HEARTLAND”
Mustakeem’s book project explores the lives women, black and white, convicted of violence and sometimes even forced to face execution for their crimes. Shifting the public gaze and historiographic trend of historically reading race, gender, incarceration and execution from the confine of the East Coast, this book will be the first of many kinds. It will alter the predominate centering of historical narratives interlinking prisons, crime and violence within urban familiars such as New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, and turn attention to a century of time within a far less traditional space of Jefferson City, Missouri within the Missouri State Penitentiary through the lives of women.
Christopher Stark (Music)
“SANGUINE” AND “PITTURA METAFISICA”
During his fellowship, Stark will work on two original projects: a commissioned chamber opera, “Sanguine,” and an orchestral composition, “Pittura metafisica.” For “Sanguine,” Stark is constructing the libretto (or text) as well as composing the music, which will engage with historical images and literature about the American West and will develop his research with building new instruments. His innovative orchestral composition, “Pittura metafisica,” explores the possibilities of non-narrative form, as influenced by the Italian metaphysical painters Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carra. His plan to extrapolate de Chirico and Carra’s concepts into music involves the use of technology — primarily, the digital manipulation of samples.
Caroline Kita (GLL)
“BORDER TERRITORIES: THE EMANCIPATORY SOUNDSCAPES OF POST-WAR GERMAN RADIO”
Kita’s project examines the critical role that narrative radio drama, or Horspiel, played in shaping public discourse in Germany in the two decades following the Second World War. Film vividly portrayed the rubble of German cities, yet radio was freed from the fetters of the visual to explore the rubble of the German psyche. Thus, the invisibility of the radio drama’s stage did not hinder but rather inspired authors and producers to imagine new relationships between the temporal and spatial, the real and the imaginary, the past and the present. German radio’s checkered history provides a compelling case study to explore the emancipatory potential of this medium. This book traces how this ubiquitous medium made its uneasy transition from propaganda tool of fascism to pluralist space of democratic ideals by analyzing text and sound in narrative radio dramas.
Long Le-Khac (English)
“TRANSNARRATIVE: GIVING FORM TO ASIAN AND LATINX AMERICA”
Le-Khac’s project advances the emerging comparative scholarship on Asian American and Latinx literatures. He traces their mutual development of a narrative form that helps rethink the political tensions troubling these communities. Since 1965, Asian American and Latinx coalitions have formed even as immigration reforms, economic restructuring and Cold War conflicts resulted in migrations and stratifications that unsettled these groups. As Juan Flores and Kandice Chuh observe, transnational relations and diversity challenge the organization of these political projects and the idea of panethnic community. Increasingly, writers respond with a narrative paradigm that, she argues, offers conceptual form and political imagination to the ideas of Asian American and Latinx, at a moment when many scholars question their coherence and efficacy.
Anika Walke (History)
“BONES, ASHES, AND DIRT: THE LONG AFTERMATH OF THE NAZI GENOCIDE IN BELARUS, 1941–2008”
Walke’s book project seeks to answer the question, How might, or should, we remember and live with the aftermath of genocide? Using Belarus as a test case, she questions how people re-made life in a space where violence is witnessed first of all by absence. Two million Jewish and non-Jewish lives ended violently, with most Jews buried in hard-to-find mass graves on the edge of town. Furthermore, the German occupation had pitted locals against one another in a struggle for survival and for ideological supremacy. Analyzing how community reconstruction colludes with individual and material damage, a history of complicity in the assault on a minority, and the inability to remember and mourn, allows Walke to assess the long-term effects of war and genocide in Belarus.
Faculty Fellows 2016–17
"STAGING FRONTIERS: THE MAKING OF MODERN POPULAR CULTURE IN ARGENTINA & URUGUAY”
Theater in Uruguay and Argentina, which together comprise the Plata river region of Latin America, has been a predominant form of entertainment since the 19th century. Theaters abound in Montevideo, while its sister city Buenos Aires has its own Broadway in the famed Corrientes street. In the age of digital culture, the theater remains a mainstay of cultural life for Argentines and Uruguayans, from the wealthiest to the most economically challenged. This theater culture has origins in shows presented by traveling Creole circus troupes in the late 1800s and early 1900s. This book project addresses how these circus performances intersected with economic modernization and powerful strains of nationalism to produce a theater-going public, a proliferation of new modes of sociability and the roots of an enduring popular culture industry.
"THE BIRTH OF POETRY FROM THE SPIRIT OF THE MACHINE": NEW MEDIA IN GERMAN POETRY, 1916-1968"
In his book project, Kurt Beals argues that the poetics of 20th-century German avant-gardes were profoundly shaped by modern theories and technologies of communication, such as the telegraph, information theory and the digital computer. Each of these technological and theoretical breakthroughs occasioned a fundamental re-examination of the relationship between language and human subjectivity, and experimental poetry was one key venue in which this re-examination took place. Focusing on three experimental developments in 20th-century German poetry — Dada, Concrete poetry and early computer-generated poetry — Beals demonstrates that each of these can only be properly understood in its media-historical context, as a poetic processing of new media phenomena.
"ENERGY AND EMPIRE: BOLIVIA IN THE AGE OF GAS"
Bret Gustafson’s book project examines the historical and contemporary cultural politics of Bolivia’s troubled relationship with fossil fuels — of late, natural gas. Bolivian gas — and the quest to extract and export it from this land-locked country — has long been entangled with the imperial adventures of foreign countries, most notably the United States. From the bullying of Standard Oil and the rise of nationalist fever in the 1920s, to a bloody fratricidal war with Paraguay in the 1930s, to nationalizations and privatizations in the 1950s and 1960s, and through the neoliberal turn and popular resistance known as the “war of gas” in the early 2000s, fossil fuels have been at the heart of the conflictive process of state and nation-making in Bolivia. Despite being seen as occupying a marginal place in Latin American politics, Bolivia’s energy resources and its histories of popular and indigenous struggle are increasingly the epicenter of a wider Latin American struggle against internal colonialism and the politics of empire, first from Spain, then Britain and the United States, of late, and increasingly Brazil with China on the horizon.
Melanie Micir (English)
“BIOGRAPHY BETWEEN WOMEN: QUEER FEMINIST LIVES AT MIDCENTURY”
Melanie Micir’s book project reassesses the importance of biography for late modernist women writers by drawing together a diverse archive of biographical acts: books, short stories, drafts, outlines, letters, annotations, collections, ephemera. Some of these biographical acts were published immediately, some were published only after a substantial delay, and some remain unpublished today. She argues that, for these writers, this genre — however adapted, reinvented or unfinished — lies at the nexus of what we might now consider feminist and queer politics. Each of these women take up biography in order to engage in “generic activism” on behalf of marginalized sexual subjects. During the same midcentury moment that the first histories of modernism were published — histories which established the overwhelmingly masculine modernist canon that, despite our best efforts, still persists today—these biographical acts demonstrate women’s resistance to their own impending marginalization and even exclusion from the dominant narratives of late 20th-century literary history.
Jonathan Fenderson (AFAS)
"ADVANCING BLACKNESS: HOYT FULLER AND THE BLACK ARTS MOVEMENT”
This book project explores African-American art, politics and intellectual history in the 1960s through the experiences of activist and organizer Hoyt W. Fuller. It is the first book to document and analyze Fuller’s profound influence on the Black Arts and Black Power movements. Although Fuller’s canonical essay “Toward a Black Aesthetic” has been reproduced in all of the major anthologies on black literature and has become synonymous with the black literary criticism of the 1960s, very little is known about his life. Ubiquitous in African-American literature, criticism and intellectual history, the notion of the “black aesthetic” now functions as a stand-in, overshadowing Fuller’s broader work and his substantive impact on black culture in the 1960s. As editor-in-chief of the most broadly circulating black intellectual magazine in the United States in Negro Digest (later renamed Black World), co‐founder of Chicago’s pivotal Organization of Black American Culture (OBAC), organizer of several international festivals — including FESTAC, the world’s largest gathering of African-descendant artists ever — Fuller was one of the most eminent movers and shakers of the Black Arts Movement. How is it that the period’s luminaries understood Fuller to be a towering, central figure, and a guiding light among his peers, yet very little is known about him among contemporary historians, cultural critics and literary scholars working on the African-American experience?
Diane Lewis (FMS)
"BEYOND THE SCREEN: CINEMA AND POLITICAL ART IN INTERWAR JAPAN”
“Beyond the Screen: Cinema and Political Art in Interwar Japan” is the first integrated history of cinema and proletarian culture in interwar Japan. It provides an in-depth survey of leftist film production and critical debates of this era, focusing ontensions between the political avant-garde and documentary realist factions of the proletarian movement. It is only by analyzing the political avant-garde together with Prokino that we can map the relationship between film, art and leftwing culture in modernizing Japan. Moreover, the political avant-garde theater productions that she analyzes used film in ways that are not conventionally understood as “cinema.” As a result, these experiments have been omitted from film histories, despite what they tell us about the impact of cinema on other aesthetic forms. These works were informed by contemporary German and Soviet experiments and constitute an important link between Japanese modernism and the international avant-garde. As in Germany and the USSR, Japanese artists regarded cinema as a political weapon as well as a cutting-edge media form. This fact is virtually unknown in Japanese film studies, since the history of film in Japan is generally studied from the perspective of the film industry, while historians of leftist culture focus on literature and fine arts, paying little attention to the left’s urgent embrace of film.
Julia Staffel (Philosophy)
"UNSETTLED THOUGHTS: REASONING, UNCERTAINTY AND EPISTEMOLOGY"
We’re not always good at reasoning. We draw inaccurate conclusions and make bad decisions, sometimes with disastrous consequences for our jobs, relationships, health and happiness. Learning critical thinking is supposed to help people reason better, but what exactly this skill amounts to is hard to elucidate. A systematic investigation of how we can become better reasoners requires an understanding of two more basic philosophical questions: First, what is reasoning, and second, what makes for better and worse reasoning? Staffel aims to answer these questions in her book project “Unsettled Thoughts: Reasoning, Uncertainty, and Epistemology.” While these questions date back to the origins of philosophy — Plato and Aristotle offered answers to them — she addresses them using an innovative approach integrating empirical resources from cognitive science and theoretical resources from epistemology.
Faculty Fellows 2015–16
Shefali Chandra (History, IAS, WGSS)
“INDIA IS INDIRA: GENDER PRODUCTION AS 20TH-CENTURY CULTURAL REVOLUTION”
“India is Indira” examines how world-wide conceptions of gender stabilized an otherwise precarious state formation at a time of vigorous transnational consolidation. The book assesses how between 1966 and 1984 the wider world, the national public, and Gandhi herself mobilized gender to merge the role of India's prime minister with the identity of the nation. Ideas of womanhood infused Cold War state power and compelled a staggering array of people to participate in the production of a distinct and lasting Indian identity. India became Indira, domestic and international power aligned with the consensus of the world's largest voting public.
Denise Gill (Music, JINELC, WGSS) *First Book Fellowship
“MELANCHOLIC MODALITIES: AFFECT AND TURKISH CLASSICAL MUSIC”
“Melancholic Modalities: Affect and Contemporary Turkish Classical Musicians” will be the first book-length ethnography of Turkish classical musicians. Turkish classical music — a contemporary music genre substantially rooted in the musics of the Ottoman court and elite Mevlevi Sufi lodges — emerges in present-day Turkish public life as a sonic crossroads of divergent ideologies of history and memory, selfhood and citizenry. Previous scholarship has tended to gloss the emotional or affective qualities of this music as residual Ottoman nostalgia. This perfunctory gesture neither considers the crucial opportunities for analyzing how and why particular pasts are brought in to comment on the politics of the present, nor interrogates how affect is circulated and shared between individuals through artistic, sonic processes. Turkish classical musicians occupy a critical and hitherto unstudied position as privileged circulators of melancholy.
Stephanie Kirk (RLL)
“TRANSLATION AND CRITICAL EDITION OF CARLOS DE SIGÜENZA Y GÓNGORA’S WESTERN PARADISE [PARAYSO OCCIDENTAL] (1684)”
Kirk will translate this unique and multi-faceted 17th-century text, making it available in English for the first time for scholars and teachers interested in gender, religion, race, and empire. Western Paradise is a chronicle of the foundation and first 100 years of Mexico City’s convent of Jesús María written by the colonial creole polymath Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora (1645–1700). Sigüenza y Góngora relates much about Mexico’s highly-developed convent culture but also goes beyond the cloister to detail the complexities of life in the great colonial city. Western Paradise stands as a foundational literary text and cultural document of the Mexican canon. Sigüenza y Góngora attempts to rewrite` history by replacing the conquistador’s European past with the creole’s American beginnings, and in this way articulates an incipient Mexican patriotism
Jennifer Kapczynski (GLL) *Mid-career Fellowship
“MEN OF ACTION”
This book proposes an alternative reading of 1950s West German culture through an examination of its most popular art form: the cinema. Drawing on examples from the major genres of the 1950s, it argues that dueling models of masculinity emerged during this era. Alongside depictions of a chastened postwar manhood, we find the specter of uncontained male force and aggression. These contrasting yet complementary representations, Kapczynski argues, pit the image of a modern, democratic manhood against the brutal masculinity of the nation’s recent past, navigating between models of male agency alternately restrained and violent, soft and hard. In tracing these dueling masculinities, “Men of Action” illuminates a pervasive anxiety in 1950s West German culture about the savagery of war and its aftermath — fueled not only by the horrors of the recent past but also by the widening division of the two Germanys and the emergence of the Cold War as a full-blown global conflict.
Steven Miles (History)
“CITY SEASONS: THE PULSE OF URBAN LIFE IN NINETEENTH-CENTURY CHINA”
“City Seasons” is a new book project in that explores the seasonality of urban life, that is, the ways in which movement through urban space before the advent of electricity and mechanized industry was patterned by seasonal fluctuations. Some movement was “orderly” in the sense that it was controlled in a predictable way by nature, social conventions, or the state. The annual cycle of constructing [in the fall] and abandoning [in the spring] bamboo houses in Chongqing is one example. Others include seasonal cycles of yamen (government office) business, legal commerce and labor, literati outings, and authorized ritual activities. Some movement was “disorderly” in the sense that it was less predictable and beyond the control of urban residents and state agents. “City Seasons” explores the seasonal patterns of movement across urban space in three Chinese cities: Hangzhou, Guangzhou, and Chongqing. By analyzing three cities that shared much in common as river ports while having unique characteristics, this study will allow for more general conclusions about how pre-industrialized cities worked in China and beyond.
Faculty Fellows 2014–15
Paul Steinbeck (Music)
"Message to Our Folks: The Art Ensemble of Chicago, Improvisation, and Great Black Music"
Ma Zhao (EALC)
"Seditious Talk in Revolutionary China During the Korean War Era: Beijing, 1950-1953"
Robert Henke (Comparative Literature & PAD)
"Transnational Networks in the Production of Early Modern Theatre"
Ignacio Sánchez Prado (Spanish and IAS)
"Networks of Strategic Cosmopolitanism: Mexican Anglophilia in the Transnational Literary Field"
Erin McGlothlin (German)
"Constructing the Mind of the Holocaust Perpetrator in Fictional and Documentary Discourse"
Corinna Treitel (History)
"Eating Nature: Food, Agriculture, and Environment in Modern Germany"
Faculty Fellows 2013–14
Rebecca Messbarger (RLL)
An ancient trope of the visual and literary arts, Venus signifies beauty, desire and fecundity and is a predominant symbol of art itself. In the early modern Florentine context in which images of the mythic figure proliferated, the symbolism of the Venus is amplified and particularized through its associations with the Medici Dynasty. Professor Messbarger’s book project, “The Re-birth of Venus: Conquest of the Renaissance in Enlightenment Florence,” explores the displacement of this icon in the eighteenth century with a more publicly useful Venus featured at the heart of the Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History. The young Habsburg Archduke of Tuscany Peter Leopold founded the Florentine science museum in 1775 as a means to overthrow the regressive cultural authority of the Medici and launch a new era of Enlightenment. The first public museum in the modern sense of the term, it was open to all, free of charge, and summoned Tuscans from every rank to a direct encounter with the natural order of the world and their own intricately ordered nature. The most powerful magnet and featured attraction at the heart of the museum was the spectacular, life-size, demountable Anatomical Venus that epitomized a novel epistemology of the body at the intersection of art and science. Evocatively positioned in a state of passionate abandon on a silken bed, the idealized female figure uniquely demonstrated the anatomy of the torso, from the surface musculature to the remote organs of the lower abdomen, through parts that could be systematically dismantled and held in the hand. Professor Messbarger’s research will focus on the real and symbolic links and ruptures between the wax Venus and the Venuses de Medici it served to displace, and between the Royal Museum and the reorganized Uffizi in the context of Peter Leopold’s program of enlightened political and cultural reforms.
Professor Messbarger was awarded the 2012-13 James L Clifford Prize by The American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies.
Julia A. Walker (English and Performing Arts)
In theater studies, conventional histories of acting tend to focus on legendary actors and directors, attributing stylistic innovations to artistic will. Professor Walker’s book project, “Modernity & Performance,” expands and complicates this traditional narrative, broadening its lens to consider performance in relation to deeper, impersonal forces of sociocultural change. Innovations in styles of acting, she argues, represent the processes of sociocultural change in their very form, functioning as “liminal rituals” by which actors and audiences accommodate themselves to new social realities.
Professor Walker's plan for the book’s third chapter on modernist performance considers two distinct manifestations of it in relation to urban planning and contemporary social scientific discourses of “social control.” As she demonstrates, the early 20th-century phenomenon of civic pageantry — such as Percy MacKaye’s The Masque and Pageant of St. Louis (1914) — explicitly aimed to produce citizen-subjects for the modern city through a performative enactment of citizenship. Analyzing its formal conventions in relation to the seemingly nonsensical performance practices of Futurism, Dadaism, Surrealism, etc., Professor Walker argues that avant-garde artists adopted a deliberate strategy of alogic in every element of performance in order to challenge and/or exploit the performative protocols of social control. In this way, the social processes embedded in performance became newly visible in the modern moment, laid bare by the self-reflexive practices of modernist artists and their critics.
Tili Boon Cuillé (French and Comparative Literature)
Professor Cuillé’s book project, “Divining Nature: French Ventures in Fiction, Imagery, and Stagecraft,” examines the impact of the natural and the occult sciences on the fine arts (specifically opera, painting, and the novel) in eighteenth-century France. Beginning with the medical interest in sensibility of the 1740s, Professor Cuillé investigates natural historians, philosophers, novelists, artists and composers who theorized a range of affective responses to the spectacle of nature and sought to induce similar responses in their listeners, viewers and readers. Whether these sentiments — including pity, terror, melancholy, enthusiasm and the mixed emotions of “happy melancholy,” “negative happiness” and the uncanny — were deemed socially beneficial or deleterious informed contemporary debates about the role of literature in the modern republic. "Divining Nature" reveals that the empirical study of nature, which inevitably led to aesthetic experimentation, resulted in an unexpected turn towards religion, spirituality or fantasy that has traditionally been considered antithetical to Enlightenment thought. Professor Cuillé intends to draft the final chapter on the rise of fantastic fiction in France, a genre that linked the material and spiritual realms and whose emergence is attributed to the scientific inquiry of the Enlightenment and the ravages of the French Revolution.
Charlie Kurth (Philosophy)
How much should I give to charity? Is it okay for me to break this promise? As a Catholic, can I vote for the pro-choice candidate? As Professor Kurth investigates in his project, when we face difficult moral decisions like these, we feel a distinctive unease — we must make a choice but we are unsure what the correct thing to do is. Yet despite the pervasiveness of this phenomenon, surprisingly little work has been done to either characterize this emotion — this moral anxiety — or explain its role in moral decision-making. Given that moral anxiety is a pervasive feature of our moral lives, it is important that we understand what it is. Moreover, given the many ways in which our emotions can inform and distort moral judgment, it is also important that we understand the role that moral anxiety plays in our moral decision-making. Professor Kurth’s book project, “Moral Anxiety: What It Is and Why It Matters,” addresses these issues. First, he develops an empirically informed account of what moral anxiety is. He then use this account to sharpen our understanding of how emotion and reason do — and should — interact in moral thought.
Faculty Fellows 2012–13
Fall 2012 and Spring 2013
Steven Zwicker (English)
Professor Zwicker’s broad subject is the role of gossip, rumor and scandal in the fashioning of early modern literary lives. His particular focus is the rich archive of materials relating to the life and writings of John Dryden — the most important, the most prolific, and certainly the most reviled literary figure of the second half of the seventeenth century, an age that specialized in literary abuse and insult. “Gossip, Rumor and Scandal” will examine how and why Dryden attracted the admiration but also the envy and dismissive slurs that distinguish his presence in the literary culture of Restoration London. Beyond Dryden, the aim of Zwicker’s work is to interpret the meaning and the role of gossip and scandal in the project of writing a literary life: what gossip and scandal tell us of the private and public identity of literary figures.
J. Dillon Brown (English)
Professor Brown’s book project, “The United States, Under West Indian Eyes,” will examine Anglophone Caribbean literary representations of the region’s powerful northern neighbor. The project aims to unsettle the received view of the interchange between America and the West Indies as one of unchanging, unilateral oppression. Brown will argue that the United States represented far more than simply a repellent and alien cultural force either before or after the English-speaking islands achieved national independence. The project’s investigation of Caribbean literature will show that America — as image and material reality — was a far more discordant concept in the eyes of the Caribbean populace, embodying not only a terrifyingly racist, expanding imperial power, but also a rich source of anti-British cultural resistance, pan-African solidarity, and, perhaps most importantly, economic mobility.
Cathy Keane (Classics)
“The Poetics of Anger in Juvenal’s Satires”
Yuko Miki (History)
Professor Miki’s book project, “Insurgent Geographies: Blacks, Indians, and Conquest in Postcolonial Brazil,” will demonstrate that popular imagination and scholarly works alike associate conquest and colonization with early colonial Latin America. But Miki contends that they were also fundamental to modern Brazilian history. Her project places black and indigenous people at the center of a nation-building process that was based on territorial consolidation, slavery and violent indigenous conquest. Scholarship on Latin America treats Indians and blacks as separate subaltern populations, divided geographically into indigenous Spanish America and African Brazil. By considering modern Brazilian history through the interrelated lives of black and indigenous people, Miki's work helps reconceptualize the relationship between race and nation-building in 19-century Latin America. Mobility and rootedness help explain the shared experiences of African diasporic and indigenous Latin American people.
Faculty Fellows 2011–12
Fall 2011 and Spring 2012
Ji-Eun Lee (EALC)
Ji-Eun Lee (Washington University’s first tenure-line Koreanist) will work on a book project entitled “Women Pre-scripted: Reading Women’s Issues in Pre-Colonial and Colonial Korea.” This work will examine prescriptive reading and writing between the 1890s and 1930s by focusing on the sudden and simultaneous rise of discourses on women, the emergence of the novel as a modern genre, and the birth of Korean modern literature. Late 19th century and colonial Korea, the period highlighted in this project, had unique characteristics that distinguish Korea from other colonies. Not only was Korea the only independent country colonized by a non-European empire (Japan), but the depth of penetration by the colonizer far exceeded that of French or British colonies—the basis of most theorizing about colonial mechanisms and identity. With this historical backdrop, Lee follows discourses on the “modern woman” from virgin savior to mother of the nation, to manager of a modern family, and finally, to the embodiment of the capitalist West, fully armed with sexuality and glamour. By parsing the various agendas and agents behind these constructions, Lee aims to illuminate the complex asymmetries at work in creating modern, national, and colonial Korean literature at this critical nexus, influenced by Korean tradition on one hand, and responsive to imperialist, capitalist influences from Japan and the West on the other.
William J. Maxwell (English)
William J. Maxwell's ongoing book project is entitled "FB Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African-American Literature." Inspired by the post-9/11 return of state surveillance, Maxwell examines how federal law enforcement surveyed and stirred up twentieth-century African-American literature. He argues that both the production and reception of "Afro-modernist" writing grappled with the FBI, the charismatic bureaucracy where J. Edgar Hoover reigned as critic-in-chief for half a century. Maxwell demonstrates that Hoover's Bureau moonlighted as a menacing would-be censor from the dawn of the Harlem Renaissance in 1919 to the height of the Black Arts movement in 1972. However, he also maintains that the FBI's paranoid style could elicit valuable literary scholarship from Hoover's file-stuffing "ghostreaders," and he shows how this style could serve its writer-targets as creative inspiration. In the process, "FB Eyes" offers an unprecedented account of a minority literature intimately molded by U.S. intelligence. It hopes to remedy the generally scant attention to state influence in recent studies of transnational cultures and aims to fertilize the close interpretation of texts with the reassessment of state sovereignty and "securitization" the War on Terror has provoked in branches of history, sociology, and political science. "FB Eyes" is composed of five chapters, and Maxwell will use the Faculty Fellowship to complete chapter five, which details the inventive reaction of African-American authors to FBI interference. Bureau ghostreading, the chapter will suggest, informs a surprisingly deep vein of classic and obscure Afro-modernist writing.
Elzbieta Sklodowska (Spanish)
Elzbieta Sklodowska’s book project, “Still Lives: Cuban Literary and Cultural Production at the Edge of the Millenium,” addresses the widespread fascination with Cuba. It analyzes the ways in which cultural production in post-1991 Cuba reflects upon the dramatic changes experienced by its people after the collapse of the Soviet system and is divided into five chapters. Chapter one (“Zones of Silence: Searching for You, Oriente”) focuses on the representation of Oriente and orientales in Cuban literature and film. Chapter two (“Between the Raw and the Cooked: Food in Cuban Imaginary of the Special Period”) encompasses topics such as food taboos and abjection, as well as the interface between food, on the one hand, and power, gender, and religion, on the other. Chapter three (“Under Surveillance: Repression and Dissent in post-Soviet Cuba”) focuses on the interplay between various forms of control exercised by the Cuban government and diverse manifestations of resistance and dissent. Chapter four (“Orwell in the Tropics: A Study in Cuban Newspeak”) examines the pervasive presence of jargon and the manipulative use of language for political purposes in today’s Cuba. Chapter five (“In the Eye of the Beholder: On the Endurance of Stereotypes”) studies books by documentary photographers whose renderings of life in post-Soviet Cuba continue to reinforce some of the stereotypes about the island.
Faculty Fellows 2010–11
Fall 2010 and Spring 2011
Todd Decker (Music)
Todd Decker's project "Show Boat: Making and Re-making a Twentieth-Century Musical" considers the interracial character of this formative work of the American musical theater and asks two as yet unanswered questions. First, why did Show Boat, written by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, based on the best-selling 1926 novel by journalist Edna Ferber, and premiering on Broadway in 1927, appear when it did? Second, how did a work so completely shaped by the segregated imagination of "Jim Crow" America manage to hold a place in the active musical theater repertory until the end of the twentieth century despite larger changes in musical style, dramatic conventions, racial representation, and race relations? Stretching from the 1920s to the 1990s, the chronicle of Show Boat's making and re-making combines the history of the American stage and screen musical with an instructive, often cautionary tale of interracial show-making as lived by performers and behind-the-scenes creators.
Lutz Koepnick (German, Comparative Literature, Film & Media Studies)
Lutz Koepnick's "On Slowness: Towards a Contemporary Aesthetic of Deceleration" proposes a new understanding of modern culture and aesthetic practice based on a critical engagement with a contemporary desire to slow down the pace of progress and reflect on the interplay of past, present, and future. As a result of the dominant conceptualization of modern culture as a culture of velocity, discourses on slowness have often been considered as rhetorical weapons of unbending conservatives and anti-modern fundamentalists. "On Slowness" explores the viability of a different framing of slowness. The project investigates paradigmatic positions in late twentieth and early twenty-first century art, music, literature, photography and film that decelerate the passing of time, not to halt the course of history, but to intensify our temporal and spatial experience and to enable a special receptiveness for the multiple layers of time and motion that constitute the present. Slowness in the work of the artists and authors under discussion is an effect of a deliberate exploration of the temporal logic of their respective media. It unlocks a space within the heart of modern acceleration from which one can reflect on the future as one different from present and past.
Linda Nicholson (History, WGSS)
Linda Nicholson's "Identity in a Complex Time" is motivated by the desire to explain and help us move beyond confusion in contemporary U.S. discourse about the continued salience of race and gender. Contemporary discourse seems to uphold two very contradictory positions: on the one hand, that race and gender are still very salient social categories, with many effects in social life, and, on the other hand, that the nation has arrived at a point where these social categories are no longer socially salient. One of the purposes of this project is to elaborate on this contradictory stance, on its causes and its content. Another purpose is to propose ways for moving beyond it. Nicholson will argue that we need to stop thinking about race and gender as describing properties of individuals and instead focus on both categories as symbolic means by which bodies and behaviors are interpreted in diverse contexts. An emphasis on context will help us reconcile the awareness that in some situations we have become more "post racial" and "post gender" than we were forty years ago while in others we have not.
Anca Parvulescu (English)
Anca Parvulescu's "1989: The Televised Revolution" revisits the year 1989 in Eastern Europe, with a focus on Romania. At that time and for a few years after that, Romanians referred to the events of 1989 as "the Revolution." Political theorists in the Western world saw in the same events patterns of a coup d'état: members of the existing political elites took and maintained power for more than ten years. Beyond this tension of interpretation, however, 1989 marked a turning point in European and international politics: the end of the Cold War opened the door of European Union expansion and of globalization, with its promises and risks. Parvulescu's book project focuses on the relation between the last historical event to have been called a "revolution" and the visual media, television in particular. If prior to 1989, our belief was that, as African American poet/singer Gil-Scott Heron's lyric expressed it, "the revolution will not be televised," the events in Romania in 1989 became a televised revolution. This meant not only that the events were caught on camera but also that their stake was access to the national television station. The subject of the revolution was at the same time "in the streets" and in front of a TV set. Contrary to the conclusions usually drawn from these circumstances (the illusory dimension of the revolution), the project tests the hypothesis that 1989 inaugurated an era in which the revolution is necessarily televised.
Faculty Fellows 2009–10
Fall 2009 and Spring 2010
Asad Ahmed (Arabic and Religious Studies)
Asad Ahmed’s book project is tentatively entitled, “Empire and Periphery: A Social Network Analysis of the Hijazi Elite in the Early Islamic Period.” This work aims to reconstruct the sociopolitical history of the elite of the Hijaz, a province in the Arabian Peninsula, for the entirety of the first and part of the second Islamic dynasty (661-833CE). The work consists of two parts: the first explores the nature of the sources, supplies a basic demographical and geographical mapping of the area and gathers the available fragmentary information on the economic and administrative history of the region. The second part utilizes quantitative and social network analysis methods to explore the social structure and sociopolitical history of the most prominent elite families. Taken together, these two divisions not only constitute a detailed provincial history, but they also bring to light the ways in which the central authorities managed a vast empire in the early history of Islam.
Angela Miller (Art History)
The working title of Angela Miller’s book project is: “Homeless in America: Alternative Modernisms, 1900-1940.” Miller’s point of departure is a 1937 observation by writer and critic Elizabeth McCausland about the sense of homelessness or metaphysical dispossession that paradoxically drove the native search for roots in American modernism of the early 20th century. Miller’s project situates ‘homegrown’ or native modernism in the U.S. in relation to a longer intellectual history that reaches from 19th century literature to ideas about nation, place, space, and identity in the arts of the early twentieth century. Her project will map the expressive, iconographic, and ideological dimensions of native modernism in relation to the very different impulse behind ‘cosmopolitan’ or nomadic modernism. Native and cosmopolitan modernisms turn on strikingly different philosophical, aesthetic, and cultural positions, but both respond to a generalized condition of spiritual displacement that would come to be a defining feature of American culture in the eyes of American and European intellectuals, and more broadly, a central element of modernity itself.
Robert W. Sussman (Anthropology)
Robert W. Sussman’s project entails the research, writing, and publication of a book entitled “Essays on Race and Culture.” The book will contain two separate but interrelated essays: “The history of race and racism in Western science and society” and “The importance of the concept of culture in anthropology, science, and society.” In these essays, Sussman will trace the history of two views of race (polygenic vs. monogenic) from the Spanish Inquisition of the 15th century, to Darwin’s time, and into the early 20th century. He then will show how these two views were instrumental in the development of Social Darwinism, Eugenics, and Nazism on the one hand and to the development of the concept of Culture on the other. He will conclude with a discussion of how modern biology provides evidence that human races do not exist biologically and, therefore, that modern concepts of race have been historically and culturally determined.
Faculty Fellows 2008-09
Fall 2008 and Spring 2009
Guinn Batten (English)
Batten's project, "English Romanticism and the Ethics of Contemporary Irish Poetry," is the first book-length study to relate two periods of literary revival-English Romanticism and the current revival of Irish poetry in response to the Ulster Crisis of the late nineteenth century. Specific, she addresses how living Irish poets have interpreted, and put into practice, the questions that Romantic poets have been credited with introducing into our conception of the ethical role of literature during a time of political upheaval for which "woman" is at once a symptom and a symbol.
Andrea Friedman (History and WGSS)
Friedman’s project, "Democracy in (Cold War) America: Gender, Race, and the Problem of Citizenship at Mid-Century," explores the ways those longstanding contradictions in the contours of American democracy and the practices of American citizenship were sharpened during the early cold war era. She will use a series of biographical studies to investigate the racial and gender tensions in cold war era citizenship to illustrate the ways that the boundaries of postwar citizenship were being tested, defended, and sometimes redrawn.
Jennifer Kapczynski (German)
Kapczynski’s book project is entitled "Leading Men: Remaking Masculinity in 1950s West German Cinema." She aims to show that the men of 1950s cinema do not so much lead as they are led. By examining a wide range of filmic production of the 1950s, Kapczynski will argue that the films of the early Federal Republic privilege a masculinity that receives, rather than takes, one that is borne along by history, rather than actively shaping it, constructing the ideal postwar democratic male subject as an armchair onlooker in the course of world events.
Faculty Fellows 2007-08
Fall 2007 and Spring 2008
Garland Allen (Biology)
Professor Garland Allen will finish a book on eugenics that emphasizes its social, political, and cultural context in order to explore how such movements get started, are propagated, and evolve over time. Based on over thirty years of research, Allen's project de-couples the major emphasis of the Eugenics movement from the Nazis, the most notorious participants in it, because such emphasis "has tended to obscure the far less dramatic factors that led to the proliferation of eugenic ideas in a wide variety of countries, especially the United States between 1900 and 1940." A larger theme in Allen's work is generally how modern society has used and abused "science, specifically genetics, to promote seemingly rational solution to large-scale social problems," particularly movements to eradicate "social pathologies."
Marilyn Friedman (Philosophy)
Professor Marilyn Friedman's book project explores the meanings, motivations, and moral import of terrorist acts by women. The project draws on historical and biographical accounts of female terrorists from diverse social contexts and time periods, as well as philosophical literatures dealing with relevant normative concepts such as responsibility, moral justification, and social epistemology. Friedman will be working on the question of whether female terrorists should be held to the same standards of moral and legal responsibility as men who commit similar actions. She anticipates finishing two chapters during her fellowship period. The first will explore the abstract concept of moral responsibility and consider whether there are moral analogies to certain defenses now used in criminal law to deny legal responsibility for criminal acts. The second chapter will apply the preceding conclusions about moral responsibility to various cases of female terrorists.
Joseph Scraibman (Spanish)
Professor Schraibman's intention is to write a book in English on the subject of the Iberian Inquisition, its history and literature. No such study exists to date, and only one in Spanish dealing with medieval and Golden age texts. Schraibman's plan is to give a synthetic overview of research on the Inquisition, then, to study chronologically eight to ten key novels, from Cornelia Bororquia (1799) to works by Borges and Fuentes, explicating their historical and structural components by putting them in the context of other literatures in Spain and abroad.
Faculty Fellows 2006-07
Fall 2006 and Spring 2007
Patrick Burke (Music)
Professor Patrick Burke will conduct research for Come In and Hear the Truth: Jazz and Race on Manhattan's 52nd Street, 1930-1950, an examination of New York's 52nd Street nightclub district from the Great Depression into the postwar era. Burke argues that jazz of the period both reflected and helped to create U.S. notions of racial identity and proposes a new model of jazz history, one that addresses music's power to inform and subvert racial ideology.
Gerald Izenberg (History)
Gerald Izenberg's project will involve researching and writing a history of the concept of identity, tentatively titled Identity: From Individual Crisis to Collective Politics. It will be an essay in cultural and intellectual history, covering the period from the 1920â€™s to the present in both European and American thought.
Akiko Tsuchiya (Spanish)
Professor Akiko Tsuchiya's Gender and Deviance in Nineteenth-Century Spain will scrutinize the cultural meanings and anxieties underlying the obsessive fin-de-siècle interest in "gender trouble." In particular, Tsuchiya will examine literary and visual representations--as well as medical, anthropological and political writings on women--to contextualize female deviance and explain how social deviance of any type was often characterized as "feminine" in discourses of the period.
Faculty Fellows 2005-06
Fall 2005 and Spring 2006
Peter Kastor (History)
Professor Kastor’s project, “An Accurate Empire: Rendering America, 1776-1830,” poses the question, how do you describe a continent, a vital concern in North America during the late-eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, as he studies how Americans wrote, drew, governed, and in the end understood the world around them.
Erin McGlothlin (German Language and Literature)
Professor McGlothlin's project entitled "Restoring the Story: Fiction and History in Contemporary Jewish Holocaust Literature," investigates diverse works of literature, both fiction and non-fiction, by contemporary Jewish writers dealing with the memory of the Holocaust in a way to create a new Jewish literature.
Harriet Stone (RLL)
Professor Stone's "Objects for the Table: The Art of Science in Early Modern Europe" uses Dutch genre painting during the early modern period to illustrate the way the discrete orderings of things in the world of art relates to the scientific practice of assembling specimens and organizing data.