Willson Center Research Fellowship applicants are selected by an interdisciplinary UGA committee of distinguished artists and scholars. Fellowships provide course release from two normally assigned courses in one academic year. Fellowship recipients participate in one of the Willson Center’s two Virginia Mary Macagnoni Fellows Symposia on campus during the academic year. The first is November 7; the second is March 25.
2013-2014 Research Fellows
Rachel Gabara is Associate Professor of Romance Languages. She specializes in twentieth and twenty-first century Francophone African and European literature and film, literary theory, film history and theory, autobiography, and postcolonial studies. She is a co-winner of this year’s Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research.
Project Title: Reclaiming Realism: From Documentary Film in Africa to African Documentary Film
This book-length project analyzes contemporary African documentary film in relation to the history of French colonial cinema in West and Central Africa. After independence, African filmmakers experimented with documentary content and style, challenging the so-called realism of colonial newsreels and ethnographies as they worked to reclaim the cinema and their cinematic image from their former colonizers. My finished manuscript will provide the historical context and filmic analysis necessary for an understanding both of the importance of documentary to the French colonial project and the significance of African documentary to world cinema today.
Simon Gatrell is Professor of English. He conducts research on nineteenth-century British and Irish writing and culture, twentieth-century Irish writing and culture, South African writing and culture, textual criticism, and dress theory.
Project Title: A Scholarly Edition of Thomas Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree
The completion of a scholarly edition of Thomas Hardy’s novel Under the Greenwood Tree that will include every alteration to the work made by Hardy and by others over Hardy’s lifetime, an introduction that will include description and analysis of the composition and publication of the novel and analysis of the alterations made by Hardy at each successive stage in the novel’s progress through time, and illustrative and explanatory annotation. The edition has been commissioned as part of Cambridge University Press’s complete scholarly edition of Thomas Hardy’s fiction.
Kelly Happe is Assistant Professor of Communication Studies and Women’s Studies. Her current research interests include feminist theories of biocapital and biopower, race and performative theory, and new environmental health movements.
Project Title: Occupy, the Body, and the Possibilities for Economic Radicalism
This project examines Occupy Wall Street and other Occupy groups as part of a larger project on the body, capitalism, and social movements. Occupy is important for two reasons. First, it is a social movement for which the goal of direct action is not greater participation in existing political forms, such as political parties, labor unions, legislative assemblies, or the courts. Second, and related to this, Occupy is guided by a utopian impulse to disrupt the workings of capitalism and enact alternatives to it. Occupy’s calls for radical economic alternatives are possible, I argue, because of the bodily experience of occupation as a type of rhetorical representation of global capitalism and of one’s place within it.
Jamie Kreiner is Assistant Professor of History. She researches and teaches the history of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages.
Project Title: The Premodern Pig
The project is a social and semiotic history of the pig: how it was raised, managed, consumed, and represented throughout Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, and why it was such a recurrent feature of social definition and difference.
Pablo Lapegna is Assistant Professor of Sociology. He specializes in social movements, Latin American studies, ethnography and qualitative methods, environmental sociology, rural sociology, and political sociology.
Project Title: The Dark Side of the Boom: Transgenic Crops, Pesticide Drifts, and Popular (De)Mobilization in Contemporary Argentina.
I am applying to the Willson Center Research Fellowship to complete a book manuscript during fall 2013. Based on ethnography and discursive analysis and drawing on the Argentine case, my book seeks to understand the adoption and expansion of genetically modified (GM) crops, and the ways in which people think, feel, and act (or fail to act) when affected by environmental problems. The Fellowship will allow me to revise the ethnographic chapters of my PhD dissertation (focused on specific rural communities), and write new chapters on the national context, based on the analysis of recently collected newspaper data.
Chana Lee is Associate Professor of History and African American Studies. Her areas of specialization are African‑American history, women’s history, biography, and historical memory.
Project Title: Medical Racism and Political Death: The Case of Juliette Derricotte
This project examines a fatal automobile accident and its political consequences. The most well-known victim was Juliette Derricotte, an international reformer and university dean. On November 7, 1931, she died from survivable injuries after local hospitals refused treatment. What happened was not unusual in the Jim Crow South, where facilities routinely denied blacks emergency medical care. However, the public outrage that followed was unprecedented. Activists, educators, artists and journalists turned her death into a national cause, and supporters from afar wrote letters and held memorials across India, China, Japan and England, where she had spent years campaigning against women’s oppression.
Casie Legette is Assistant Professor of English. Her Teaching interests are Romantic poetry and prose, nineteenth-century British literature, Victorian poetry, the Victorian novel, poetics, eighteenth-century British literature, nineteenth-century periodical culture, radical culture, gender studies, and social history.
Project Title: The Past Jumps Up: British Radicals and the Remaking of Literary History, 1790-1870
Throughout the nineteenth century, British radical and working-class papers regularly reprinted the (now) canonical poetry and novels of their recent past. By excerpting, re-contextualizing, and remaking this often elite literature, radical editors and publishers made these texts serve entirely new purposes. I argue that these editors and publishers transformed literary history, hauling the texts of the recent past directly into the present and undoing literary chronology in the service of political change. My project demonstrates the ways in which particularly working-class practices of printing, publishing, and excerpting changed both literary history and the history of reading.
Stephen Mihm is Associate Professor of History. His primary research interest is in the economic, business, and cultural history of the United States, with special interests in the history of counterfeiting, money, banking, and financial speculation.
Project Title: The Measure of Modernity: Standards and Standardization in the United States, 1785-1918
In the late eighteenth century, standards did not exist in the United States. Weights and measures varied widely from place to place, as did monetary units, timekeeping practices, and product specifications governing everything from screw threads to railroad track. Over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a curious coalition of modernizers launched innumerable campaigns aimed at imposing national standards. This project traces the history of these campaigns, as well as the resistance they often aroused. It will focus in particular on the integral relationship between standardization, modernization, and the making of the modern nation state.
Nicolas Morrissey is Assistant Professor of Asian Art. His fields of interest include the history of Asian art and visual culture, Buddhist studies, and the social and religious history of South, Southeast and Central Asia.
Project Title: The Buddhist Caves at Pitalkhora, Western India
My project provides the first comprehensive documentation and analysis of the art, architecture and epigraphy extant at the Buddhist rock-cut monastic complex of Pitalkhora in Western India. This study, the first of its kind, will extend considerably the current understanding of the artistic and religious milieu of Western India during the first five centuries of the Common Era. This book-length project examines the many unique – and previously unrecognized – architectural features of the Buddhist excavations at Pitalkhora while connecting them to broader processes of patronage and Buddhist ritual and doctrinal changes.
Thomas Peterson is Professor of Italian. He specializes in Italian lyric and epic poetry, modern and contemporary fiction, women writers, literary theory, film studies, and philosophy of education.
Project Title: Italian Representations of America (1935-1965)
This is a study of views of the United States of prominent Italian writers during the period 1935-1965. The writings include cultural and literary essays, travelogues, letters and memoirs. As a heterogeneous group of texts representing the American reality–in the arts as well as the cultural and social institutions–the works lend themselves to a study by means of literary anthropology. The project aligns itself with the work of those cultural historians who focus on the relations between national literatures, identities and traditions, rather than viewing them in isolation.
Charles Platter is Professor of Classics. His research interests include comedy and literary theory, with a specific interest in Plato.
Project Title: Tracking Orestes: Aristophanes and the Poetic Past
This is a proposal for a book about the comic playwright Aristophanes and his relationship with the Greek literary tradition. In it I argue that Aristophanes creates a strong and antagonistic link with the other authors of the Greek poetic tradition, beginning with Homer, continuing through Lyric Poetry and Tragedy, all the way through to his fellow-writers of comedy. By so doing Aristophanes uses his comedy as a way of shaping the reputations of his rivals and asserting the superiority of his own work
Patricia Richards is Associate Professor of Sociology and Women’s Studies. Her specialty areas include sociology of gender; global sociology; race, class and gender; social movements; and qualitative methodology.
Project Title: Epistemological Decolonization and the Life Histories of Mapuche Women Elders
I propose to collect and analyze life histories with Mapuche women elders in southern Chile and Argentina, shedding light on the unique epistemological position reflected in their knowledge stores and life experiences. An exploration of indigenous women elders’ contributions to collective memory and the meanings they hold for broader efforts to decolonize knowledge and theorize autonomy, this project will center the mutual constitution of gender, race, and coloniality and contribute to feminist interventions on decolonial modernities.
Daniel Rood is Assistant Professor of History. His research and teaching interests include slavery in the Atlantic world, Antebellum South, Latin America and the Caribbean, science and technology, and capitalism. He is a co-winner of this year’s Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research.
Project Title: Plantation Technocrats: Slavery, Science, and Expertise in the Atlantic World, 1830-1860
I will use the support provided by the Willson Center to complete my book manuscript, Plantation Technocrats. An interdisciplinary study that renews the history of Atlantic slavery by analyzing it through the lens of science and technology, Plantation Technocrats insists that the slaveholding world be incorporated into the mainstream narrative of the Industrial Revolution. The book shows how chemists, engineers, machinists, and other experts, working with big-money, global commodities like sugar, cotton, and flour, placed themselves on the cutting edge of the new sciences of capitalist commodity production in the nineteenth century.
Susan Rosenbaum is Associate Professor of English. She specializes in twentieth-century American poetry, with research and teaching interests in American literature, modern poetry and poetics, literature and the visual arts, autobiography and confession, women writers, and cultural and gender studies.
Project Title: Imaginary Museums: Surrealism, American Poetry, and the Visual Arts in New York, 1920-1970
The technology of mechanical reproduction profoundly transformed the American public’s relationship to art. Instead of visiting art museums, the public could simply look at photos of art in books or on the internet, and could even make their own virtual collections from reproductions. For modern artists and poets, the invitation to transform the public experience and potential meanings of art by reimagining the museum proved irresistible. My book explores the history of the “imaginary museums” American poets and artists created: these visual, conceptual, and poetic collections reimagined the museum’s scale, materials, and democratic aims, and in doing so, made the role of the imagination central to the museum experience.
Emily Sahakian is Assistant Professor of Theatre and French. Her research interests include French Caribbean theatre, literature, and cultures; post-colonial and intercultural theatre; theatre of the African diaspora; and French-language theatre.
Project Title: Dramatic Disconnects: Slavery’s Legacy in French Caribbean Theatre by Women
My book project examines the legacy of slavery in French Caribbean women’s theatre. I argue that eight key plays juxtapose words with performances to unmask—and imagine an end to—four ongoing practices of subjection stemming from the time of slavery. My research into their production and reception histories in the Caribbean, France, and the U.S. has revealed how the performances sparked dialogue and disagreements over how to define race, gender, and Caribbean culture. My study shows Caribbean theatre as working in disconnects—between past and present, African-derived and Western epistemologies, and text and performance—which are emblematic of slavery’s legacy, and which reflect Caribbean culture at large.