Willson Center Fellows are selected by an interdisciplinary UGA committee of distinguished artists and scholars. Fellowships support excellence in the humanities and arts by providing faculty with time to engage in research and creative activity.
Willson Center Fellows are selected by an interdisciplinary UGA committee of distinguished artists and scholars. Fellowships support excellence in the humanities and arts by providing faculty with time to engage in research and creative activity.
Yuri Balashov is Professor of Philosophy. His research interests include metaphysics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of language.
Project Title: Time and the Self
I seek teaching release to work on a new book project. In a 2005 article I argued that the highly popular B-theory of time (on which different moments of time – past, present and future – are similar to different places) is inconsistent with our experience of the present unless the theory is supplemented with a highly controversial view of persistence, known as the stage theory. My argument has since come under criticism, which is partly justified. I intend to revisit and strengthen the argument and set it in a broader context taking into account influential work published in 2007–2015.
Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin is Assistant Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies and the Institute for African American Studies. Her research interests include research/creative work that combines academic historical methodologies with performance (e.g. theatre, film, television, etc.), the African diaspora, performance studies, performing history, performative archival research methods, U.S. performance history (late 19th/early 20th centuries), and blackness in popular culture.
Project Title: Laughing after Slavery: The Performances and Times of Laughing Ben Ellington
The manuscript, Laughing after Slavery: The Performances and Times of Laughing Ben Ellington, brings to light the unknown but significant story of “Laughing Ben”, an African-American former slave who at the 1901 world’s fair gained national and international fame because of the stories he told about his slave experience and his extraordinary ability to laugh loudly for long periods of time thereafter. Examining the production and impact of Ben’s laughing act using performative enactments and theories from trauma studies, slave narrative, and scientific investigations of laughter, the manuscript considers the connections of laughter and humor to the slave experience and the literal role laughter played in fomenting national acceptance of the trauma of American slavery. During the Willson Fellowship, I expect to devote my full time to completing the manuscript and book proposal in Spring 2017 for submission to a university press by the start of Fall semester 2017.
LeAnne Howe is Eidson Distinguished Professor in American Literature in the Department of English. Her research interests include creative writing, Native literatures, Native performance, and filmmaking,
Project Title: Searching For Sequoyah
Today Americans only vaguely know that Sequoyah was a man. While the film is about Cherokees, the full story reveals deeply held family connections, the creation of kinship, and courage in the face of extinction. The film presents the story of a natural genius, Sequoyah, a Native man who created the only indigenous writing system for a Native language north of Mexico. Sequoyah lived at the most turbulent times for Cherokee people and helped navigate those difficulties. His life is central to the Cherokees, and Native American history and Global Georgia. Searching for Sequoyah, a documentary co-produced and written by LeAnne Howe, with Native filmmaker James M. Fortier is set in three locations, in, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Mexico. Our intended audience is a national one, Native and non-Native. It’s historical but told through the lineal descendants of Sequoyah. Project completion is set for summer 2017.”
Kevin Jones is Assistant Professor of History. His research interests include history, Middle East, Iraq, nationalism, anti-colonialism, social history, cultural history, and poetry.
Project Title: The Poetics of Revolution: Culture, Politics, and Modernity in Iraq, 1914-1963
This project is a social history of anti-colonial politics and radical culture in Iraq. The project is structured around the historical argument that Iraqi poets played a central role in the creation and consolidation of national identity and the long political struggle against colonialism. I use Iraqi poetry, memoirs, and newspapers alongside British and American archival documents to analyze the cultural dynamics of popular opposition to foreign hegemony between 1914 and 1963. I argue that the varied instances of political revolution during this period were rooted in a shared commitment to an evolving concept of anti-colonialism that linked political liberation, social reform, and cultural revolution. I illustrate the historical contingency of the ideological and sectarian conflicts that have been used to frame these events as fragmentary expressions of local grievances and instead demonstrate the way in which global dynamics shaped the evolution of these revolutionary currents.
Peter Lane is Assistant Professor of Composition. His research interests include music composition, electronic music, analysis of contemporary music, and music of the Renaissance.
Project Title: Trombone Concerto: Commissioned by American Chamber Winds for trombonist Joseph Alessi
Over the course of the 2016-17 academic year, I will be focusing my creative/research efforts towards the composition of a new Trombone Concerto for American Chamber Winds and New York Philharmonic Principal Trombonist, Joseph Alessi. This commission was proposed by David Waybright, music director of American Chamber Winds (a nationally touring and recording wind ensemble made up of professional players –mostly recent graduates– in the United States). This new work is slated for premiere at the World Association for Symphony Bands and Ensembles international conference in June, 2017, to be held in Utrecht, Netherlands.
John Wharton Lowe is Barbara Methvin Professor of English. His research interests include Southern, African American, Caribbean, and Multiethnic literatures; American Studies; Comparative Transnational literature and culture; humor; and Louisiana culture.
Project Title: The Man Who Came Home: The Life and Fiction of Ernest J. Gaines
The Man Who Came Home: The Life and Works of Ernest J. Gaines will be an authorized biography of one of our nation’s most important living writers. Gaines, born into a poor but culturally rich African American community in rural Louisiana, migrated to California as a teenager, where he acquired a fine education, including an MFA from Stanford. His novels and stories focus on the complex interplay between Louisiana’s ethnically mixed people, with a special focus on African American struggles for racial and social justice. His presentations of gender, Southern history, and folk humor are a precious repository of one of our nation’s most unique cultures, while offering a probing examination of enduring questions of human identity. This critical biography will link Gaines’s fiction with the fascinating details of his life, which offers a compelling example of individual and group fulfillment.
Barbara McCaskill is Associate Professor of English. Her research interests include African American literature and culture, Civil Rights Movement literature and film, Post-Bellum, Pre Harlem literature (1877-1919), African American women’s literature, autobiographies of slavery and freedom, and black feminism / womanism.
Project Title: Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford (1860-1909) and the Transatlantic Anti-Lynching Campaign
My research project focuses on the involvement of Rev. Peter Thomas Stanford (1860-1909), a textbook writer, orator, and newspaper editor, in the development of a transatlantic anti-lynching campaign that connected activists in England, the United States, and Canada. Born into American slavery and raised by Native Americans, Stanford became Birmingham, England’s first black minister. My project will participate in new directions in African American literary studies by pivoting focus on nineteenth-century literature away from Eastern U.S. writers, and by thinking about how productions other than single-authored, bound books, which constitute a preponderance of early African American printed productions, helped determine thematic content and aesthetic practices that influenced future generations. This project reflects my ongoing interest in how early African American writers consciously fashioned transnational communities for artistic inspiration and to enact social change.
Cecilia Rodrigues is Assistant Professor of Portuguese. Her research interests include contemporary Brazilian literature; prose fiction of the 21st century; narratives of displacement; urban literature and representations of violence; (re)construction of national identities; new media in foreign language learning and study abroad programs
Project Title: Beyond the Ruins: A Reparative Reading of Milton Hatoum
Originally from the Amazon region, contemporary novelist Milton Hatoum is the first Lebanese-Brazilian writer to gain national and international acclaim. Unlike critical studies that situate his work within a paradigm of regional and national collapse following Brazil’s uneven modernization under the military dictatorship, I argue that theses analyses of disintegration limit the importance of Hatoum’s contribution. In contrast, I propose a reparative reading in which the refashioning of personal identity, reconciliation with nature, and the search for continuity through history shape pathways to recovery and healing beyond the ruins of the nation. My book will be the first to examine all of Hatoum’s four novels together and provide a complete picture of this prominent author’s social criticism.
Amy Ross is Associate Professor of Geography. Her research interests include human rights and transitional justice. Her work engages with theories of violence, power, and conflict, with specific empirical focus on institutions of truth and justice, and the so-called crimes of international concern (genocide, crimes against humanity). Her epistemological orientation is towards a critical approach of human rights with a regional focus on Central America, and increased interest in US military relations with the region, past and future.
Project Title: Civilian Casualties in Battle: Identifying Innocents in Contemporary Conflicts
A century ago, nine out of ten casualties of war were armed combatants. Today, however, 90% of the casualties of war are civilians. The proposed research project investigates how US service personnel are trained to distinguish between civilians and combatants in today’s complex conflicts. The project involves fieldwork with the United States Army Reserve Officers Training Core (US Army ROTC) in Ft. Knox, Kentucky, in order to 1) observe contemporary training of junior officers, and 2) interview senior officers (colonels and generals) involved in developing the ROTC curriculum for the next generation of officers. My long-term research agenda concerning the laws of war and human rights provides a historical and theoretical framework with which to evaluate the data collected in the study of the US Army’s contemporary training. The empirical data from the research portion in ROTC at Ft. Knox will inform my analysis of the epistemological foundations of the laws of war.
Christopher Sieving is Associate Professor of Theatre and Film Studies. His research interests include film history, American history, African American cinema, the 1960s, and avant-garde cinema.
Project Title: Bill Gunn’s GANJA & HESS
This book analyzes and historicizes Bill Gunn’s landmark independent film GANJA & HESS (1973), a film that has across the last four decades attained a sizable cult following among devotees of African American cinema, art house aficionados, and horror fans thanks to its formal complexity and rich allegory. My aim is to explore the ways in which the film accomplishes these effects, and I also examine how the contradictory market pressures placed on black-oriented films in the early seventies, the period of “blaxploitation” and the “Black Movie Boom,” shaped production practices and distribution and exhibition strategies. In broader terms, this project uses GANJA & HESS to open up an inquiry into Bill Gunn’s career and, ultimately, into the horizons of possibility for producing black cinema at a particular (and particularly meaningful) historical moment.
Steven Soper is Assistant Professor of History. His research interests include modern European history, modern Italian history, criminal justice, human rights, and international affairs.
Project Title: The 66: A Story of Revolution, Suffering, and Rescue at Sea on the eve of Italian Unification
In 1851, William Gladstone’s published a blistering exposé of squalid prison conditions in southern Italy, triggering what may be the first international human rights campaign aimed at the release of prisoners. For the sake of a few dozen gentleman prisoners, British officials plotted multiple prison breaks, broke diplomatic relations with the government in Naples, and thwarted its ruler’s successive plans to ship the prisoners to Argentina and the United States. The final act took place at sea, in early 1859: sixty-six political prisoners en route from Naples to New York hijacked their ship and forced the captain to land the vessel in Ireland. They received a hero’s welcome in England, before returning to Italy to fight for Italian independence. At a time when real and fictional prison narratives thrilled European and American readers, the men who escaped the “dungeons” of Naples left behind an extraordinary record of their suffering and escape.
Winner, Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research
Elizabeth Wright is Professor of Spanish. Her research interest include early-modern Spanish literature and literature, and culture of the early-modern Atlantic world.
Project Title: Stages of Servitude: Representing the Atlantic Slave Trade in Early Modern Iberia (ca. 1441-1640)
“Stages of Servitude: Representing the Atlantic Slave Trade in Early Modern Iberia” is a book that considers how a new mode of slave trafficking became integrated into the fabric of daily life. Portugal and Spain were the primary destinations of the earliest voyages (1441- ca. 1600) and thus the first places where the Atlantic slave trade was debated. While outright abolitionism did not emerge until the eighteenth century, many early observers objected to the obvious cruelty of the emerging slave trade and others worried about how it veered from traditions of “just-war” slavery. My book asks how this notorious sin became banal, scrutinizing the first Iberian representations of slave trafficking. Part I (Chapters 1 and 2) illuminates the historical, legal, and economic background; Part II (Chapters 3 to 5) hones analysis on the places where slave trading and the mistreatment of black Africans were represented, rehearsed, and in time, made commonplace.
Joshua Barkan is Associate Professor of Geography. His research interests include geography (legal, political, and economic), social and political theory, critical legal studies, and the historical geography of capitalism.
Project Title: Corporate Nationality: Legal Politics and the Geography of Capitalism in a Global Age
My book project examines the legal politics of “corporate nationality.” Nationality establishes the ability of corporations to legally transact business in a jurisdiction and their location for purposes of regulation and taxation. Yet we know little about the ways corporate nationality is constituted in different municipal legal systems or in the daily practice of global corporations, much less the history of this variegation or its effects on corporate power today. My goal is to formulate a competitive proposal for national fellowships addressing these issues and an article outlining the argument.
Marla Carlson is Associate Professor of Theatre & Film Studies. Her research interests include spectator response theory, gender theory, medieval performance, theatre and performance studies, and interspecies performance.
Project Title: Affect, Animals, and Autists: Feeling Around the Edges of the “Human” in Performance
This book asks how and to what ends recent performances centering on human-animal relations or with autism spectrum disorders affect their audiences. My aim is to show how theatre and related performing arts both reflect and contribute to a redefinition of the category “human” that is more inclusive of human difference and less hierarchical in relation to other species. Case studies include spectacular puppets playing animals; actual animals present on stage in theatre, performance art, and dance; realist and post-realist representations of autism in the theatre; and collaborations between autistic and neurotypical theatre makers.
Oscar Chamosa is Associate Professor of History. His research interests include history, folklore, Latin American studies, twentieth-century Argentina, cultural history, and romantic nationalism.
Project Title: Neoliberal Folklore: Tourism and the Consumption of Tradition in Northwestern Argentina, 1960 to Present
This project seeks to understand how rural communities in Northwestern Argentina have appealed to folk traditions and tourism to promote development amidst deep political and economic changes brought by military dictatorship in the 1970s and structural reforms in the 1980s and 90s. I focus my research on the phenomenon of folk festivals, large happenings that attract thousands of visitors to small rural communities during the summer and winter vacation season. My hypothesis is that, despite resistance from progressive sectors, Argentine folk festivals helped establish and justify neoliberal notions of economic development by bowing to the logic of the market and allowing the commodification of intangible goods such as folk music and local traditions.
Emily Frey is Assistant Professor of Music. Her primary research interests are musicology, opera, and Russian literature.
Project Title: Russian Opera in the Age of Psychological Prose
In contrast to previous studies of Russian opera, which have focused overwhelmingly on questions of nationalism, my book project puts the operas of Musorgsky and Tchaikovsky in dialogue with the psychological prose of Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky. I argue that late nineteenth-century Russian opera, drawing on and acting out the debates central to contemporary literature, served as a public staging ground for the exploration of individual subjectivity in Europe’s only autocracy.
Allan Kulikoff is Professor of History. His primary research interests are American social and cultural history, history and economics of global capitalism, and slavery in the western world.
Project Title: The Many Masks of Benjamin Franklin
Using Franklin’s voluminous writings and his many portraits, and building on theoretical works in the history of capitalism, The Many Masks of Benjamin Franklin examines Franklin’s character, his “moral and mental qualities.” Rubbery, slippery, a master of disguises, a taker of pseudonyms, Franklin metaphorically wore many masks, often at the same time: moralist and satirist, scientist and diplomat, patriot and ward heeler, English gentleman and wild American, slaveholder and abolitionist, leather apron man and exemplar of wealth. Chapters, arranged chronologically, will cover his entire life, from his Silence Dogood character to the meaning of the fur cap he wore in Paris. The book frames its analysis on Defoe’s idea of writing as performance, Habermas’ theory of the public sphere, Anderson’s imagined communities, and Thompson’s vision of class relations under early capitalism.
Susan Mattern is Professor of History. Her research interests include ancient Mediterranean history, world history, transcultural psychiatry, history of medicine, history of disease, and demographic history.
Project Title: Psychotic Disorders and Psychotic Symptoms in Greek and Roman Antiquity
This study will use the modern transcultural psychiatry and psychiatric anthropology of schizophrenia, other psychotic disorders, and psychotic phenomena to interpret evidence from ancient sources about hallucinations, delusions, and disorganized speech. When severe and persistent these phenomena are often pathological symptoms of psychotic disorders. This study will address the role of these behaviors in ancient society, their phenomenology, and the circumstances under which ancient observers saw them as dysfunctional. It takes no position on the validity of the schizophrenia diagnosis, but it will investigate ancient diagnostic classifications of psychotic disorders. This study will illuminate the experience of mental illness in the ancient world, and the role of anomalous cognitive and perceptual phenomena in ancient society. It will also contribute to the study of the influence of cultural factors on psychotic disorders and psychotic symptoms.
Akinloye Ojo is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature. His research interests include Yoruba language, culture and society; and applied linguistics.
Project Title: Yoruba Anthroponomy: A Sociolinguistic and Gendered Analysis of Yoruba Personal Names
The proposed multifaceted project will provide a comprehensive sociolinguistic and gendered analysis of the naming system and personal names of the Yoruba people within Nigeria and the Diaspora in West Africa, the Caribbean, the Americas and Europe. The study will be an evocative exploration of Yorùbá personal names, including their importance, types, structure, selection, meaning, application, and the gendered markings. The structural analysis of the names will be dependent on Yoruba grammar while the sociolinguistic and gendered analysis of the names will be focused on the meanings, contents, and applications of the names centering on their semantic and pragmatic fields. The volume produced from this project will become the definitive work on Yoruba anthroponomy and the standard reference for an enduring and mounting aspect of Yoruba culture and society.
Adam Parkes is Professor of English. His research examines modern British and Irish literature in the context of social, political, and cultural developments in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Project Title: Aristocracy Complex
I am working on a book about literary modernism and the aristocracy. The project as a whole considers a wide range of examples of a widespread modernist fascination with aristocracy – real or imagined – in the age of modern democracy. The two chapters to be written during the period of the grant will examine two under-read and under-studied modern novelists who were also members of the aristocracy: Elizabeth Bowen and Henry Green. In particular, I will explore how these writers – one Anglo-Irish, the other English – challenged representations of masters and servants found in such precursors as E.M. Forster and D.H. Lawrence in order to imagine alternative democratic futures.
Channette Romero is Associate Professor of English. Her research interests include American Indian literature and film, multiethnic literature and film, gender and feminist theory, and theories of the novel.
Project Title: In-forming Native Film: Genre and American Indian Cinema
My book manuscript, “In-forming Native Film,” explores the complex relationship between Native American cinema and Hollywood. It examines the growing body of films produced by Native filmmakers that seek to replace Hollywood’s false stereotypes of Natives with more accurate portrayals. However, my manuscript reveals the complex dynamics that arise when contemporary Native films appropriate familiar Hollywood genres (comedy, horror, animation, science fiction films, etc.) in ways that might appeal to mainstream viewers, but ultimately downplay Native concerns and worldviews.
Alex Spektor is Assistant Professor of Germanic and Slavic Studies. His research interests include Russian literature, Polish literature, American literature, comparative literature, philosophy, and literary theory.
Project Title: The Reader as Accomplice: Narrative Ethics in Dostoevsky, Gombrowicz, and Nabokov
My project is a book-length study of the complex ways in which literature forms our ethical character. I seek to analyze literature’s humanistic significance without sacrificing its particularities as a specific art form. Both as a student and a professor of literature, I have become increasingly concerned with the value of the humanities in our higher education. Hence, in the project, my task is to show that a serious study of art—and literature in particular—is instrumental in making us responsible and responsive human beings. In the project I investigate the importance of ethics in the prose of three major 19th- and 20th-century authors—Fyodor Dostoevsky, Vladimir Nabokov, and Witold Gombrowicz—in order to show the range of literature’s response to an inquiry in the moral sphere.
Piers Stephens is Associate Professor of Philosophy. His research interests include environmental philosophy, ethics, political philosophy, history of ideas, and literature and philosophy.
Project Title: Nature, Liberty and Dystopia: On the Moral Significance of Nature for Human Freedom
In this book project, I will develop an account of the value of nonhuman nature for human freedom, construed both psychologically and politically, establishing three theses. Firstly, that two pre-modern traditions exist that can enrich the contemporary debate between liberalism and environmentalism. Secondly, these traditions were philosophically marginalized in modernity, but intellectually survived in a new form, dystopian literature. Thirdly, I demonstrate via readings of dystopian texts that modernized aspects of these traditions’ insights can establish nature protection as a key liberal value. The completed project will integrate results from philosophy, literature, history and political theory.
Winner, Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research
Beth Tobin is Professor of English and Women’s Studies. Her primary research interest include eighteenth-century British literature and art, cultural history of the British Empire, women and material culture, the history of the book, the cultural history of natural history, and science studies.
Project Title: John Abbot’s Art and the Material Practices of Transatlantic Natural History
My project is to complete a book on John Abbot (1751-1840), an artist-naturalist, who produced over 5,000 watercolor drawings of Georgia’s birds and insects, which he sent to European and American patrons. He also shipped thousands of Georgia’s insect and bird specimens, many of which found their way into Europe’s great natural history museums. My book will recover the importance of Abbot as an artist and naturalist by placing his artwork in the context of cultures of collecting, the material practices of transatlantic natural history, and the global networks of exchange that undergirded scientific praxis in his era.
Frans Weiser is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature. His research interests include hemispheric American studies, twentieth-century Luso-Hispanic narratives, historical fiction and film, and adaptation studies.
Project Title: False Documents: The Politics of Historical Fiction in the Americas
My project analyzes contemporary novels in English, Spanish, and Portuguese that imitate the conventions of documents such as diaries and archival texts. In doing so, I explore an alternative to historiographic metafiction, the dominant political model of historical fiction that claims to revise history by distorting the historical record. By reexamining recent developments in historiography, literary studies, and Inter-American studies, this project seeks to reaffirm literature and history as complementary means of exploring the past. I demonstrate that contemporary American authors, despite political and national differences, share important writing strategies that help readers reconceptualize how narrative history is constructed.
Magdalena Zurawski is Assistant Professor of English. Her research interests include creative writing, American literature 1776-1865, modern and contemporary literature, aesthetics, poetics, and genre theory.
Project Title: The Curse of the Sub-Sub Librarian and Other Stories
My project involves completing my fiction collection, “The Curse of the Sub-Sub Librarian and Other Stories.” The narratives in this collection explore the limits of art and literature as tools for navigating contemporary political and social life through fabulist scenarios in which various protagonists refuse to differentiate between imaginary landscapes and “real life.” Drawing on the work of Kleist, Hawthorne, and Melville, as well as contemporary fabulist fiction, this collection furthers my earlier critical and creative investigations of the relationship between being an artist and being a “good” citizen.
Mark Abbe is Assistant Professor in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. His primary interests are Art History, Classics, Archaeology, Polychromy, Conservation and Restoration, Scientific Analysis of Artworks.
Project Title: Colorful Materialities: Polychromy on Roman Marble Sculpture, 100 BC-AD 235
This project analyzes the ancient painting and gilding that defined the original appearance of Roman marble sculpture. Combining art history, archaeology, and scientific materials analysis, this interdisciplinary study significantly expands our appreciation of the semantic languages of color and materiality in Roman statuary and reveals new insights into the ancient craft of marble polychromy. A Willson Fellowship will allow me (1) to finish the publication the first comprehensive, contextualized study of Roman sculptural polychromy (from Corinth in mainland Greece), and (2) to complete archival research for my forthcoming monographic study on the Venus Lovatelli, the most important painted sculpture to survive from Pompeii.
Joshua Bousquette is Assistant Professor in the Department of Germanic and Slavic Studies. His primary interest is linguistics.
Project Title: C-Agreement in Modern Varieties of West Germanic: Unexpected complexity in heritage and non-standard languages
This book-length project treats complementizer agreement – a common, non-standard linguistic phenomenon in varieties of German – as evidence of unexpected complexity in heritage language communities. Long relegated to second-class status, non-standard or heritage varieties are often regarded as ‘incompletely acquired’ or lacking in ‘complexity’ relative to codified standard languages. Drawing on data from both isolated ‘language islands’ in Continental Europe as well as heritage communities in North America, my completed manuscript will analyze this complex linguistic phenomenon to counter the ideology that codified standard languages are maximally complex, arguing instead for an ideologically neutral account of language use and language change.
Valerie Boyd is Associate Professor in the College of Journalism and Mass Communications. Her primary interests are narrative nonfiction, the intersection of literature, journalism and culture, and black women’s biography/autobiography, as well as race and gender issues in media.
Co-winner, Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research.
Project Title: Gathering Blossoms Under Fire: The Journals of Alice Walker
Across five decades of journal entries—1962 to the present—Alice Walker offers a passionate, intimate record of her development as an artist, human rights activist and intellectual. Gathering Blossoms Under Fire will be an intimate self-portrait of a key literary figure of the 20th century, as well as an extraordinary book of social history, told through the lens of one remarkable life.
Husseina Dinani is Assistant Professor of History. Her primary interests include history of late colonial and early postcolonial Tanzania, citizenship and development, and gender and women.
Project Title: En-gendering the Postcolony: Women, Citizenship and Development in Tanzania, 1945-1985
My book project is a history of the early African postcolony driven by the perspectives of rural women in Tanzania. It uses women’s personal narratives collected from Lindi district, (Lindi region, located in the southeast of Tanzania), to examine citizenship and development politics from 1945 to 1985. By paying attention to gender and experience—in particular women’s daily lives—I argue that the complex and different ways in which women organized and imagined their worlds powerfully shaped the making of Tanzania in Lindi District. My research points out that in their ongoing pursuits to achieve security and well-being, women altered the Tanzanian government’s nation-building efforts and shaped processes of citizenship and development.
William Finlay is a Josiah Meigs Distinguished Teaching Professor and serves as Head of the Department of Sociology. His primary research interests are organizations, economic sociology, and networks and markets.
Project Title: Creating Reputations by Managing Networks: South African Wines in the U.S. Market
I intend to work on a book that will develop the idea that reputation—in this case the reputation of a wine and a winery—is constructed through a sequence of inter-organizational transactions and that “taste” is the outcome of these transactions. Drawing on interviews with winemakers, importers, distributors, and retailers, I will document in detail how the taste for a particular cultural product—South African wine—is being created and constructed through the networks that link these different organizational actors. My study will show that organizational processes matter far more than price or quality in this market.
Shane Hamilton is Associate Professor of History. His research interests include 20th-century U.S. history, agriculture and rural life, history of technology, and history of capitalism.
Co-winner, Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research
Project Title: Supermarket USA: Food and Power in the Cold War Farms Race
Recounting for the first time the “Farms Race” that underpinned the economic conflict at the heart of the Cold War, my book examines the American supermarket as a concrete embodiment of efforts to promote American-style industrial agriculture on a global stage. Rather than merely treating supermarkets as a form of consumer-oriented Cold War propaganda exported around the world, my study breaks new ground by exploring the supply chains and production practices that allowed supermarketing to transform global food chains in the mid-twentieth century. The book will fundamentally transform our understanding of the economic impacts of the Cold War, offering a fresh and expansive reinterpretation of the rise of American agribusiness in the twentieth century.
Miriam Jacobson is Assistant Professor of English. Her primary research interests include English literature, Renaissance studies, history, classics, and material culture.
Project Title: Renaissance Undead: Reanimating the Past in Early Modern England
This book argues that for English writers, the rehabilitation of classical antiquity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was not a rebirth or Renaissance, but rather a raising of the dead. Drawing on classical and contemporary materialist readings of the past, I uncover the vexed relationship that writers of the early modern period had with classical antiquity. The book’s five chapters reveal the circulation and reanimation of corpses in several genres: Ovidian metamorphosis (Medea’s resurrection of Aeson); stage romance and epic (mummies in Pericles and Tamburlaine); Turk plays (eunuchs); lyric poetry (hair bracelets and corporeal resurrection in Donne’s poems); and Complaint poetry (weeping, bleeding, lactating female ghosts).
Project Title: Experiencing Pictures: The Philosophy, Psychology, and Aesthetics of Pictorial Experience
In this monograph, I will develop an account of pictorial experience that explains how pictures can represent objects and scenes in a way that is able to incite a viewer’s aesthetic interest. My project establishes two main theses. First, I argue that what a picture represents is largely determined by the specific ways in which it engages ordinary perceptual mechanisms; and second, I show how this account of pictorial experience explains the phenomenal characteristics of those aspects of pictorial experiences that are particularly relevant to our aesthetic interest. The completed project will integrate results from phenomenology, philosophy, and psychology of visual perception.
Betina Kaplan is Associate Professor of Spanish. Her research interests include contemporary Latin American literature, gender and violence, Argentine film, and memory studies.
Project Title: Imagining the ‘Disappeared:’ Memory, Film, and Photography in Argentina’s Post-Dictatorship
This book length project analyzes cultural artifacts, particularly film and photographs but also literature, monuments, and memorials to examine how Argentine victims of state violence during the 70’s are visualized in the present. Drawing on recent work in memory studies which attends to the relationship between individual and collective historical experiences, my study analyzes the technologies through which cultural memory is articulated and the ways in which performative practices and representational media depict the figure of the “disappeared.”
Cody Marrs is Assistant Professor of English. His primary research interests are U.S. Literature to 1900, the American Civil War, poetry, and aesthetic theory.
Project Title: Transbellum America: Literature, Time, and the Long Civil War
This study remaps American literary history through later writings of Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Frederick Douglass, and Emily Dickinson. Although these authors are typically read as “antebellum” figures, they are in fact interperiodic writers. After peace was sealed at Appomattox, Melville composed thousands of pages of poetry; Whitman repeatedly revised and reissued Leaves of Grass; Douglass delivered some of his most far-ranging lectures; and Dickinson penned more than 560 new poems. These texts, I argue, reveal a different trajectory not only for these particular authors, but for nineteenth-century American literature itself, which is often divided, both scholastically and curricularly, into “antebellum” and “postbellum” halves.
Diane Batts Morrow is Associate Professor of History. Her research interests are history and African American studies.
Project Title: “A Group of Race Women Have Made of Themselves a Living Sacrifice to the Cause of Christianity and Service”: The Oblate Sisters of Providence, 1860-1955
My research focuses on the Oblate Sisters of Providence, the first black Roman Catholic sisterhood in the United States. More comprehensive in scope than an institutional study, it remains the only research to utilize the experiences of a community of black women religious as a lens through which to analyze significant issues in United States history from the Civil War through the mid-twentieth century. It also contributes substantively to the burgeoning field of scholarship acknowledging the seminal roles women religious have played historically in the formation of American culture and society. The University of North Carolina Press, which published my first book, has expressed interest in publishing this current book-length project.
Rielle Navitski is Assistant Professor in the Department of Theatre and Film Studies. Her primary interests are film studies, Latin American studies, and visual culture.
Project Title: Criminal Modernities: Sensational Cinema and Journalism in Mexico and Brazil, 1906-1930
My manuscript traces the parallel emergence of public cultures of violence in early-twentieth century Mexico and Brazil, examining how early cinema and the illustrated press capitalized on new visual technologies to stage the social tensions of industrialization and urbanization. In two nations with divergent political trajectories but shared experiences of uneven modernization, sensationalism framed criminal violence, bodily peril, and technological breakdown as ambivalent signs of progress. Even as it registered modernization’s social costs, sensational visual culture traded on the topicality and authenticity attributed to photography and cinema, incorporating local spaces into a uniquely modern temporality marked by eventfulness and chance.
John Short is Associate Professor of History. His research interests are the social and cultural history of Europe in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the history of European imperialism.
Project Title: The Limits of Global Consciousness: A Critical Prehistory of Globalization and Its Cultural Effects in Europe, 1870-1930
The project explores the idea of global consciousness, a convention of globalization theory and world history, by historicizing it, tracing its development in Europe from 1870 to the First World War. It reframes global consciousness with the techniques of cultural history, visual culture and the history of experience, arguing that global consciousness––the play of scales, proximities, distances and vantage points––was not some automatic effect of the globalizing technologies of communications or production or transportation, epiphenomenal and given, but rather the complex and problematic outcome of certain techniques of seeing, elements of commodification, cultural forms and modes of experience.
Sarah Wright is Associate Professor of Philosophy. Her research interests are philosophy, epistemology, virtue theories, and environmental ethics.
Project Title: A Comprehensive Neo-Stoic Virtue Epistemology
The goal of this project is to compose a book proposal, the topic of which will fill a gap the range of approaches to virtue epistemology that are currently being discussed in the literature. The dominant approaches in the field either focus too heavily on the reliability of the virtues or take a historical approach to virtue that focuses only on Aristotle. My own neo-Stoic alternative shifts the focus from reliability and broadens the debate by looking at an approach to the virtues developed in a philosophical school that spanned centuries. In addition to its historical interest, this novel neo-Stoic approach can also be used to address general problems in contemporary epistemology.
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.
Co-winner, 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.
Co-winner, 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.
Mark D. Anderson is Associate Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture. His research focuses on the relationships between literature and the environment in Latin America.
Project Title: Writing Nature in Latin America: A Literary History
The Willson fellowship has been invaluable for me at this critical juncture in the development of my book project on Writing Nature in Latin America. It allowed me to concentrate fully on my research during the spring semester of 2013. In reality, I am working on two books at once: the Writing Nature book and the Crisis Narrative in Mexico book. I have been researching both book projects intermittently over the last several years as I worked on other projects, and I have completed one chapter and a good chunk of the introduction of each of them. I plan to finish the introductions this summer and fall, and then submit proposals for both books to respected university presses. I also plan to use the progress I have made on these book projects during my tenure as a Willson fellow to apply for additional residential fellowships at the Library of Congress and the Research Triangle, as well as research grants from the NEH and the ACLS.
Cynthia Turner Camp is Assistant Professor of English Literature. She specializes in Middle English literature, particularly fifteenth-century history and hagiography.
Co-winner, Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research
Project Title: Imagining the Holy Past in Fifteenth-Century England
The support of the Willson Center’s Research Fellowship has been pivotal to my research program, both in the 2012-2013 academic year and into the future. The fellowship permitted me to accept a Non-Stipendiary Visiting Research Fellowship at the University of London, which in turn enabled me to secure the Sarah H. Moss Fellowship that supported three months of archival research in London, Oxford, and Cambridge. Since I write frequently about unpublished medieval manuscripts, significant time in the archives that hold those manuscripts is essential. The Willson Center Fellowship directly contributed to the completion of my first monograph, two conference papers (and counting), three invited talks, and two peer-reviewed articles that I will be writing in the coming months. Without Willson Center support, none of that would have been possible, and I am very grateful.
Adriane Colburn is Assistant Professor of Art. She is an installation artist.
Project Title: Hyperspectrics, Exhibition Production
The Wilson Center Fellowship proved to be an invaluable contribution to my research. It helped to support several exhibitions and enabled me to participate in projects that I would not have been able to engage in while simultaneously teaching. By providing the course release, I was able to be in New York for several months to install and facilitate my exhibition there, to travel to San Francisco three times for an exhibition and the design of two public artworks, and to travel to Marfa, Texas for an exhibition and symposium. My participation in these events has also led to further opportunities including exhibitions in Munich, China, Los Angeles, several public art opportunities and the inclusion in an upcoming publication. In addition, I was awarded the best exhibition prize at the Dumbo Arts Festival. In all, this fellowship has been remarkably fruitful.
Sujata Iyengar, Professor of English, studies and teaches the ways in which different historical and cultural settings transform and employ the works of Shakespeare.
Project Title: Artistic and Artisanal Print Appropriations of Shakespeare in a Supposedly Post-print World
My Willson Center research fellowship allowed me to explore a hitherto under-investigated archive at the Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscript Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the Library of Congress: “artist’s books,” or editions of Shakespeare’s plays and poems made by writers, binders, printers, painters and sculptors who use the book – its covers, typography, page layout, and paper texture as well as, of course, the textual or illustrated content upon its pages – as their preferred aesthetic medium. Shakespearean artist’s books such as Jan Kellett’s miniature herbals, Sue Doggett’s unique, collage, print, and hand-illustrated The Tempest, Leonard Baskin’s enormous lithographic Titus Andronicus and MacArthur-award winning book artist Claire Van Vliet’s monumental woodcut-illustrated King Lear use the form of the book to help readers understand Shakespeare’s words in fresh and sometimes challenging ways. Thanks to my Willson Center fellowship, I was able to consult these books first-hand and to experience their effect as physical, material objects in space, rather than as disembodied objects upon a screen. Turning the heavy, cream-colored pages of Van Vliet’s Lear, or unfolding the accordion fans of Kellett’s tiny masterpieces, helped me to understand that book artists turn Shakespeare’s words into exquisite or provocative mobile sculptures (books!) that make art through a performance – a reading – produced and delivered by reader, artist, and author. Such insights about Book Arts and Book History can help us navigate the rapidly changing terrain of emerging digital publication and performance in our own era.
Ari Daniel Levine is Associate Professor of History. He is a cultural historian of early modern China.
Project Title: Dislocated Memories: Urban Space and Diasporic Nostalgia in Song China
Receiving the Willson Center Research Fellowship enabled me to pursue full-time writing during the fall semester. In that time, I was able to complete two additional chapters of my book manuscript on cultural memory and urban space in Song-dynasty Kaifeng: one on the city’s gardens and another on the imperial palace. I was invited to present early versions of these chapters at a lecture sponsored by Princeton University’s Tang Center for Asian Art in October 2012, and invited talks at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv University, and National Tsinghua University in Taiwan. I also published a chapter in a Chinese-language edited volume, published by Peking University Press. Two other chapters have been accepted for publication in East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine and the leading European sinological journal, T’oung Pao.
Dorothea Link is Professor of Musicology. Her research focuses on late eighteenth-century Vienna.
Project Title: Arias for Stefano Mandini, Mozart’s First Conte Almaviva
I am extremely grateful to the Willson Center for providing precious research time, which I applied to writing the book Arias for Stefano Mandini, Mozart’s First Conte Almaviva. As one of four case studies on Mozart’s singers, it constitutes the last big chunk of preparatory work needed to writing the book, The Italian Singers in Mozart’s Vienna: Their Voices and Roles. In gestation since 1991, the book aims to shed light both on the kinds of voices heard on the operatic stage in the late eighteenth century and on casting practices of the time in order to give singers and directors today a better sense of how to perform Mozart’s great operas in an historically aware way. Because of my workload during the academic year, the only chance I have for sustained writing is during the summers, which is not enough to maintain momentum in developing ideas to say nothing of producing a respectable publication record. Consequently the Willson Center Research Fellowship, which I have now received two times, has been critical to my progress as a scholar.
Michael Oliveri is Associate Professor of Art in the Lamar Dodd School of Art.
Co-winner, Virginia Mary Macagnoni Prize for Innovative Research
Project Title: Inner and Outer Space Images from the Micro to the Macro
This project involves creation of Inner and Outer space images. The Inner-space series are large-scale images using an electron microscope. The Outer-space series are images of the night sky.
Peter D. O’Neill is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature. His interests include state theory, transnationalism, comparative racialization, cultural studies, and ethnic American literature.
Project Title: The Transatlantic Irish and the Racial State
I am delighted to report that the Willson Center Fellowship, awarded to me for Spring Semester 2013, has been a resounding success. The break from teaching allowed me the time to conduct the research necessary to write the introductory chapter to my first book project, provisionally titled The American Racial State and the Transatlantic Famine Irish. I am confident that I will have at least two other chapters completed, and certainly enough to send out to publishers, by this coming July. I could not have achieved this goal in such a timely manner without the Willson Fellowship. Sincere thanks are due to all at the Willson Center for this wonderful opportunity to advance my career.
Jennifer L. Palmer is Assistant Professor of History. She is interested in the social and cultural history of eighteenth-century France and its colonies.
Project Title: An Ocean Between Them: Race, Gender, and the Family in France and its Colonies
The Willson Center Faculty Research Fellowship has been instrumental in moving my research and writing forward this semester. As a junior faculty member, it is so important to have the opportunity to devote myself to writing. During most semesters this is difficult, and even few fellowships in the humanities allow for full-time writing support. Because of the Willson Center Fellowship, I have made considerable progress towards fulfilling my department’s expectations for tenure, and I have also made great strides towards completing a manuscript that I think will make an important contribution to scholarship in my field.
The Willson Center Faculty Research Fellowship has proven instrumental in driving my scholarship forward. Without this fellowship, I likely would have completed my manuscript in time for my tenure review—but the manuscript would not be nearly as strong. Having the opportunity to really focus on the overall argument of the manuscript—an unglamorous but extremely necessary part of a scholar’s craft—has made my project a much more important contribution to knowledge.
Akela Reason is Assistant Professor of History. She is a cultural historian with interests in American material culture and urban history.
Project Title: Politics and Memory: Civil War Monuments in Gilded Age New York
While on research leave funded by the Willson Center for the Humanities in the fall of 2012, I completed research for my book project, Politics and Memory: Civil War Monuments in Gilded Age New York. My research campaign began during the summer in New York City, where I completed work in several archives, including the New-York Historical Society, Columbia University’s Avery Architectural Library, New York Public Library, and the city’s Muncipal Archives. During this trip, I also visited and photographed all of the monuments that will be included in my book. My research continued into the fall as I consulted several nineteenth-century newspapers for additional historical information for my project. I also began writing one chapter based on research from my summer trip to New York archives. I presented a paper titled, “The Disappearance of Iconography from New York’s Civil War Monuments, 1864-1902” at the Southeastern College Art Conference in Durham, NC. This paper addressed one of the overarching themes of the book and will provide the basis for at least two book chapters. Early this spring I gave my Willson Center talk, which summarized the state of my work so far.
A Willson Center Fellowship in the fall of 2012 provided me with the opportunity to move my project forward substantially. The gift of time is perhaps the most important thing for advancing publication of scholarly projects. Without this fellowship I would not have been able to gain traction on my project in order to move towards publication.
Jon Swindler is Assistant Professor of Art.
Project Title: Pressure-Sensitive Project and Artist Residencies
The time off provided through the Willson Center Research Fellowship enabled me to concentrate my efforts two ongoing creative projects. In January, during a three-week residency at Scuola di Grafica International I engaged in a project that employed multiple printmaking processes, including relief, plate lithography and monotype. My approach to the residency and the work created therein was open-ended. Upon arriving I immediately looked to the environment surrounding me for ideas. The result was an abstract accumulation of marks and imagery, which were literally and figuratively drawn from Venice. I viewed Venice as an accumulation of components – a strange built environment in which the interstitial spaces revealed as much about the city as its colossal landmarks. My approach to pulling the prints was in many ways analogous to the city itself, in that they were some-what structured, somewhat randomized substrates for the accumulation of information. I embraced the inherent (natural) tendencies of printmaking processes, i.e. decay. These monoprints became raw material to be scavenged for the creation of a series of collages. Once again, the place imparted itself on the work. The spaces in between, which intersect the various components, provide (like mortar) structure and support.
Upcoming projects and opportunities include a solo exhibition at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte and a two-person exhibition at Washington State University in Pullman. I will be showing work executed during the residencies in Venice and Canada In both of these exhibitions. This summer I will be traveling to the University of Minnesota to engage students in a “Pressure Sensitive” workshop similar the one I led in Canada. I am currently in the process of submitting the work created during my Willson Center Fellowship to multiple exhibition opportunities on the national and international level.
Martijn van Wagtendonk is Associate Professor of Art, and Chair of the Art X: Expanded Forms area. Most recently he claims to be a kinetic sculptor, even though the room-filling, interactive environments that he constructs are as much engineering and theater endeavors as they are sculptural installations.
Project Title: Song of Lift
The Willson Center Research Fellowship allowed me to finish a large project named “Song of Lift.” This is a room-filling kinetic art installation. It was shown at the Urban Institute for Contemporary Art in the show “Somewhere Else,” during the international art competition “ArtPrize.” It won second place and a lot of publicity and exposure.
This fellowship has allowed me not just the room to successfully finish the above-mentioned artwork, but to experiment and research the next step. With a university system that does not provide sabbaticals, the Willson Center Fellowship provides a much welcomed opportunity to create a window in which to put the nose on the grinding stone and get some real work done on our mandated research.
Andrew Zawacki is Associate Professor of English and director of creative writing. His new poetry book,Videotape, is due in spring, while his translation of Sébastien Smirou, My Lorenzo, has just appeared.
Project title: See About: Translating Sébastien Smirou’s Beau voir
Thanks to a 2012-13 Willson Center Research Fellowship, I completed a revised draft of French poet Sébastien Smirou’s second poetry volume, Beau voir, which I’m calling See About. Together he and I will finalize the translation this summer, when I’ll return to Paris for two months. Thereafter I will set about seeking an appropriate publisher in the US. I have had preliminary offers from several American houses, including Counterpath Press and La Presse, to publish the book, but I’d like to wait until the manuscript is finished to my satisfaction before committing anywhere. Ideally, I would place the volume with a slightly more visible house; that, in turn, will involve waiting a few months on two national translation fellowships for which I have applied. Meantime, my translations of two of the book’s eight chapters have appeared in the American literary journals Aufgabe and Paperbag, and I have just sent a third to Conjunctions, which is preparing a feature on “menageries.”
Willson Center Research Fellowships – and this was my second such grant – have been integral, irreplaceable aids to me in finishing translating Smirou’s two books. Even more important, however, is the time, funding, and permission these grants have provided to allow my mind to wander –with the kind of extreme concentration that’s only possible when unfettered by other obligations – into unpredictable domains. An example. In July 2012, when the five photo-essays on Paris graffiti that The Poetry Foundation had asked me to write over summer concluded, I assumed that was the end of that. The series of photographs accompanied by my reflections on French graff were just a discrete, one-off endeavor. Once school started again, though, and the Willson grant coaxed me back into translating Smirou, I started becoming aware of how my formal Willson project was calling the graffiti venture back into play. It began dawning on me that examining graffiti, especially in French, implicates a hermeneutics less of reading or critical interpretation than of translation. Following that hunch, I delivered a Willson Center Fellows Lecture titled, “Paris Photo Graff: Reflections on Shooting Graffiti in the City of Light.” Presenting this other project of mine was, for me anyway, a compelling way to articulate my ideas about translating, and “Paris Photo Graff” has since moved into the forefront of my creative research. So I am indebted to this fellowship that supported me as I made significant progress on the project I set out to do. But I am more grateful for how the grant provided me an opening to elaborate one project in light of another obsession I hadn’t realized—and wouldn’t have realized, without the Willson—was so related.
Project title: 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.
Project title: 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.
Project title: 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.
Project title: 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.
Project title: 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.
Project title: Jazzbandism
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.
Project title: 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.
Project title: 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.
Project title: 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.