2011–2012 Fellows

nell andrewNell Andrew (Lamar Dodd School of Art)

The Medium is a Muscle: Dance, Film and the Origins of Modern Art

The Willson Center Research Fellowship has allowed real strides in my research. As a junior faculty member completing my first book, the fellowship term has provided precious time and focus for my book project.

I am grateful for this extremely productive term during which I have discovered new material in foreign archives, collaborated or consulted with faculty in my field from around the globe, and completed a large portion of my book manuscript for publication. Along the way, my work in archives also produced the unexpected seeds of a future research project, so that the fellowship will help me to complete my first book and even lead me on toward a second.

Read more

Sarah E. Blackwell (Romance Languages)sarah blackwell

Framing, Causality, and Evaluation in Spanish: How Cognitive Structures Shape the Discourse

Receiving the Willson Center Research Fellowship is a great honor and has been truly invaluable to me. By removing the constant pressure of preparing and teaching classes this semester, it has enabled me to lay the groundwork for a new book.

It brings together three topics—framing, causality, and evaluation—which have been widely studied in various areas of linguistic inquiry, including semantics, pragmatics, and cognitive linguistics. Through the analysis of naturally occurring Spanish discourse, the study aims to show how expressions of causality (e.g. relations of cause and consequence/effect and of justification and claim/conclusion/inference) are inextricably tied to speakers’ “framing” of the situation, both in terms of Gregory Bateson’s notion of framing, or how a speaker’s statement is intended to be interpreted, and Irving Goffman’s definition as the “activity” the speaker is participating in when speaking. Attributions of causality in the Spanish discourse will also be linked to the cognitive notion of knowledge frames (or schemata), originating from the work of Federick Bartlett, which captures the notion that our understanding and evaluation of experiences, including visual scenes and verbal texts, are “expectation-driven” and derived from previous experiences.

The Willson Center Research Fellowship has allowed me to develop these topics into the initial chapters of my book project, along with a tentative outline for the subsequent four chapters, forming a proposal to send to potential publishers of the book, as well as a more narrowly focused research article that closely examines the expression of semantic versus pragmatic causality in the retelling of a film by native Spanish speakers.

Read more

Lorgia Garcia-PeñaLorgia Garcia-Peña (Romance Languages)

Reframing the Past: A Re-Vision of the 1937 Haitian Massacre

As a junior faculty member I cannot even begin to express what an incredibly positive impact this fellowship has already had on my young career. Having a semester to devote to research and writing allowed me to travel to conduct research overseas, meet with mentors and dedicate time to writing and editing.

I spent several months in Mexico City researching a series of recently declassified documents. My findings enriched my book manuscript and allowed me to produce a new article forthcoming next summer in the Latino Studies Journal. In addition I have been invited to various institutions including Rutgers University, Harvard and Amherst to present my work with faculty and students, given that this research is, thanks to the Willson Center, new and groundbreaking.

This fellowship is extremely important for the advancement of research at UGA and I am just thrilled to have had the honor of receiving one.

Read more

Imi Hwangbo (Lamar Dodd School of Art)Imi Hwangbo

The Sanctuary Series: New Work in Three-Dimensional Drawing

My creative research explores the notion of three-dimensional drawings. My work is constructed with translucent mylar that is printed, hand-cut, and layered in such quantity that sculptural forms are created. In the past, the imagery in my work has been based on the iconography of Korean decorative art traditions.

As a professor in the University of Georgia Studies Abroad Program in Cortona in spring 2011, I had the opportunity to research the decorative patterns of cathedrals in Italy. In the fall of 2011, with the research focus provided by the Willson Center Research Fellowship, I began a series of artworks based on the frescoes of the Cathedral of San Rufino in Assisi.

This new body of work, entitled “The Lens Series,” explores the notion of thresholds onto a transcendent space. A lens, which sharpens or alters vision, can transform the act of perception. The works in this series are scaled to suggest a window onto a private meditative space. The imagery, which is colored by hand on a translucent substrate, has the visual effect of stained glass. Fabricated with numerous layers of lasercut mylar, the artworks create a visual statement that is both pictorial and volumetric.

My work has been enormously enriched by the research focus provided by the fellowship. It was essential to the development of an innovative direction in my creative research in the visual arts. It also allowed me to introduce new technical processes such as rapid prototyping in my work.

Read more

Stefanie S. Jackson (Lamar Dodd School of Art)

Orpheus Soul Brother, Paintings of Love and Loss

Christopher PizzinoChristopher Pizzino (English)

Graphic Novels and the History of Censorship

Thus far in the term of my fellowship, I’ve appeared at the annual international meeting of the Modern Language Association to give a talk related to my book on contemporary U.S. comics. While at the MLA in Seattle in January, I and a fellow panelist were interviewed live on NPR concerning the status and history of comics in the U.S.

My book, Arrested Development: Comics at the Boundaries of Literature, and several of its key topics were mentioned during the interview. The broadcast generated considerable local interest in Seattle’s comics scene, and some comics publishers based in the area subsequently attended the talk. Also in January, an article related to the book was confirmed for publication in ImageTexT, a peer-reviewed journal of comics studies. The article will be entitled “Autoclastic Icons: Bloodletting and Burning in Gilbert Hernandez’s Palomar,” and will appear later this year.

The Willson Center Research Fellowship has had a powerful impact on my research into U.S. comics. To begin with, it allowed time for substantial revisions to the ImageTexT article, which were requested very suddenly in mid-January. Of course, the main impact has been the benefit to the book project. My project seeks to correct a number of common misconceptions about the development of comics, and to understand how they have been affected by a traumatic history of censorship and suppression.

The Fellowship (in addition to allowing time for assembling the manuscript) will allow me to take two crucial research trips. The first will be to the Comic Art Collection at Michigan State University, one of the largest comics archives in the nation, where I will be examining a number of rare horror comics that were more or less censored out of existence in the 1950s. I’ll also be examining the early cultural history of these comics as told in fanzines. The second trip will be to the Library of Congress, which has recently made available the papers of Dr. Frederic Wertham, one of the key crusaders against comics in the 1950s and the most well-known opponent of horror comics. I will be examining his papers in the hope of better understanding the theories of art that allowed Wertham to appreciate violent, disturbing material when presented in modern print literature while condemning very similar material when presented in comics. Neither of these trips would be possible without the support of the Willson Center, nor would the strong intervention I am attempting to make into the study of U.S. comics.

Read more

Jed Rasula (English)jed rasula


This fellowship has made it possible for me to sustain a high level of productivity going back to last summer. One of the advantages of being notified, last spring, that I was a Fellowship recipient, is that I was able to design the whole year for maximum yield.

I therefore spent the summer working exclusively on my book Oblique Modernism, anticipating (correctly, as it turned out) that I could complete it around the end of the year, freeing me up to launch into a new project once the Fellowship began in spring term. Although I was teaching in the fall, a great boon of a Fellowship is that it permits light to shine through the looming window of a cleared space, as it were.

Read more

Julie Velásquez Runk (Anthropology)Julie Velásquez Runk

Ethics and Engagement: Reflections on the Process of Collaborative Research on an Indigenous Language of Panama

I would like to take this opportunity to express my support for the Willson Center Research Fellowship. The Fellowship provides an uncommon opportunity for UGA professors to be released from teaching, and therefore dedicate time to conducting and writing up research. This is particularly important in the arts, humanities, and related disciplines, in which opportunities for support are limited, even with large grants.

Given that I do research internationally in Panama, I have found my research and writing opportunities are stymied by the relatively little time I have available in the summer (and recently that time has been entirely dominated by grant administration). Given that UGA is a research university that does not support research sabbaticals, the role of the Willson Center is incredibly important for the research potential and retention of faculty.

For me personally, my Willson Center Research Fellowship has allowed me the time to work with colleagues in Panama to carry out and reflect on our collaborative linguistic project. In so doing, it has furthered the collaborative potential of our research and its theoretical contribution to the literature. In addition, the teaching release of the Fellowship has permitted me to take advantage of diverse opportunities. These include writing a supplemental proposal to the National Science Foundation, participation in Willson Fellow Fausto Sarmiento’s upcoming conference, and an invited talk at Columbia University.

Read more

Esra Santesso (English)Esra Santesso

Disorientations: Islamic Identity in Anglophone Literature

I used this time primarily to work on my manuscript (Disorientation: Islamic Identity in Anglophone Literature. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). This project explores the literary representation of Muslim immigrants and the challenges they face as they try to negotiate their religious identity in the secular states of the West.

I argue that a number of novels written after September 11 highlight the predicament of the devout Muslim woman living in diasporic communities in England; these works pay particular attention to the identity crisis experienced by the Muslim woman, a process which I term “disorientation,” a temporary disruption of identity that challenges the fixity of one’s allegiances.

Without the support I received from the Willson Center it would not have been possible to finish the full draft of the manuscript. Having some time away from teaching allowed me to focus fully on my research, and to have a quick turnaround with my correspondence with the publisher.

Read more

fausto sarmientoFausto O. Sarmiento (Geography)

Farmscape Transformation in Neotropical Mountains: The Political Ecology of Andean Grasslands Conservation

I was very enthusiastic with the prospect of applying to the Wilson Center Research Fellowship, due to an upcoming emphasis on ecocriticism and the inclusion of environmental tropes in the humanities at large, mainly from landscape onomastics and political ecology of agrobiodiversity conservation.

My Willson Center Fellowship had a very positive outcome, as my research productivity increased, reflected with published books and articles, visits to research institutes, and guest lectures, which solidified my professional stance on mountain studies.

Read more