From the Director:
1 April 2013
Dear Humanities and Arts Faculty,
It gives me great pleasure to announce the winners of this year’s faculty fellowship competition. They were selected by a panel of external reviewers from 29 applicants. The reviewers were unanimous in their praise for the high quality of the applications. I very much hope that those of you who were not successful this year will consider applying again next year.
2013-14 Faculty Fellowships:
Thomas Andrews, Associate Professor, Department of History
"An Animals' History of the United States probes the origins and evolution of the complex and often contradictory ideas, institutions, and practices through which contemporary Americans interact with animals. The ultimate outcome of this research will be a book (under contract with Harvard University Press) that reaches out to a broad audience through a combination of incisive scholarship, probing inquiry, and compelling prose. I will also disseminate my findings through conference presentations, journal articles, and public talks. Together, this work will show that human-animal relationships have long occupied a central place in the lives of America's diverse peoples. More provocatively, An Animals' History will argue that we can better understand the course of US history by adopting an animal-focused view of such crucial processes as colonization, industrialization, and consumerism."
David Ciarlo, Assistant Professor, Department of History
"This research project looks at those tumultuous decades of German history around the First World War by tracing representations of German-ness, of militarism, and of masculinity in visual culture. Selling War focuses on advertising, commercial imagery, postcards, and other forms of consumer ephemera to show how such images helped lead up to the outbreak of the war, and steered public views of the war thereafter, by "selling" an appealing vision of war to German consumers. Ultimately, I seek to show how an aesthetic of "fascism" -- of Germanness as a hardened, militarized, and purified masculinity, emerged first in this commercial imagery of wartime Germany, circulated in the consumer realm."
Adam Hosein, Assistant Professor, Department of Philosophy
"My project concerns the treatment of immigrants. Existing philosophical work on immigration has focused almost exclusively on the "open borders" question -- whether states may control entry to their territory at all. It has thus ignored many of the central issues in our political debates about immigration. These include: what rights should immigrants who have already been admitted to the territory receive? Are there constraints on the deportation of unauthorized immigrants? And, how should we select immigrants for admission? In my project, I address these important political issues by developing a unified Kantian approach to immigration. In contrast to existing communitarian approaches, I will argue that the state should be concerned with reflecting or promoting any particular community. Instead, the role of the state is just to secure individual freedom. This approach yields plausible answers about welfare rights, amnesties, ethnic selection policies, and so on."
Amma Ghartey-Tagoe Kootin, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance
The Musical: At Buffalo
"A reconstruction and investigation of African and African-American performance in the 1901 World's Fair at Buffalo, NY, At Buffalo is a new historical musical that wrestles with a critical moment in the construction of race and American national identity. My collaborators and I are currently completing the script of At Buffalo and will further develop it during the summer and fall of 2013 before pitching the project to theatre owners and producers who could invest in it for a commercial run."
The Manuscrips: Laughing About Slavery
"Laughing About 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 through the lens of performance studies, 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 of laughter played in fomenting national acceptance of the trauma of American slavery."
Catherine Labio, Associate Professor, Department of English
"The formal analysis of comics has understandably privileged their two-dimentional elements: the panel, the strip, the page, the gutter. Unfortunately, this approach has not yielded a compelling explanation for the global success of the genre. The House of Comics draws on the fundamental insight that a parallel exists between the basic format of the comics page and the facade or cross-section of a typical residential building and that the readability and emotive charge of comics stem in no small measure from their ability to evoke the meme of home. One does not just read a comic book. One nests in it. Moreover, the structure of the comics page betrays a latent memory of architecturally based forms of narrative art such as stained glass windows, frescoes, and polyptychs, which accounts for the readability and rapid formal maturity of comics in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century. The kinship between architecture and comics further explains why architects have turned to comics in their works on paper as well in their buildings. More broadly, it points to the three-dimensionality of comics and to parallels between the experience of reading a comic and moving in a building.
Elias Sacks, Assistant Professor, Department of Religious Studies
"My book, The "Living Script": Moses Mendelssohn's Philosophy of Judaism, explores the conception of Jewish practice developed in the writings of Moses Mendelssohn (1729-1786). Although this eighteenth-century figure is often described as the “founder” of modern Jewish thought and as a leading philosopher of the late Enlightenment, considerable uncertainty continues to surround basic questions relating to his work. Such uncertainty is especially pronounced with respect to his treatment of Jewish practice, with influential readers expressing confusion regarding, and even doubting the possibility of reconstructing, the details of his views on Jewish law. Against this backdrop, I propose a new reading of Mendelssohn’s work, arguing that we can better grasp his approach to Jewish practice if we attend to his conception of history—to his views on historical change and historical knowledge. More specifically, drawing on his well-known German writings, on his little-known Hebrew works, and on neglected developments in early modern thought, I argue that we should read Mendelssohn’s conception of Jewish practice as a response to his views on the nature of history, and that such a reading can contribute to ongoing conversations about modernity and religion. One of Mendelssohn’s central goals, I show, is to develop an account of Jewish practice capable of addressing perils grounded in history. His treatment of Jewish practice is animated by an effort to address an epistemological danger grounded in philosophical history, an ethico-political danger grounded in social history, and a textual danger grounded in the study of history—the danger that we will distort our religious beliefs as we confront the rise and fall of philosophical systems, the danger that a society will evolve in ways that threaten human flourishing and political harmony, and the danger that developments in biblical scholarship will undermine belief in the scriptural basis of Jewish law. Moreover, I suggest, this reading not only offers a new understanding of a foundational figure in modern Judaism, but also contributes to broader conversations in a variety of fields—to discussions in the study of history about the emergence of Jewish modernity, and to debates in contemporary religious thought about practice, tradition, and social life."
Suyoung Son, Assistant Professor, Department of Asian Languages and Civilizations
"This book project, Publish or Perish: Literati and Print Culture in Late Imperial China, examines the shift in emphasis from writing to publishing from the late sixteenth to the nineteenth century, and explores the ways in which the larger dispositions of cultural, economic, and political factors determined the choice of publishing. In contrast to most current scholarship which emphasizes the predominance of print over manuscript due to its advanced technology, my research sheds light on the complex interplay between manuscript and print culture, and argues that print was defined as a way of restructuring the connection between text production and consumption as it related to the literati’s urgent need to seek financial security, sustain elite status, and exercise cultural influence in a time of increasing social instability and blurring class hierarchy in late imperial Chinese society."
We will celebrate these announcements and other news at our year-end party on May 1, 2013 from 3:30-5:00 in Macky 201. Please stop by!
Director, Center for Humanities and the Arts
Eaton Professor of Humanities and Arts
Professor of German, Courtesy Professor of English