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Fellows 2009-2010

Sepia toned portrait image of Richard Avramenko
Richard Avramenko
Political Science, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2009-2010)
The Fullness of Time: Tocqueville and the Democratic Moment

This project examines the concept of time in Tocqueville’s thought through the lens of the philosophy of internal time-consciousness. While Tocqueville himself offers no systematic analysis of time consciousness, his descriptive observations present a rich, comparative account. Tocqueville’s way of thinking, it will be argued, is colored by his an aristocratic epistemology. His remarks on the depth and shape of democratic time-consciousness arise precisely when he is struck by real difference. His comments are thus begotten by the wonder, amusement, and dread he experiences when staring in the face of the democratic understanding of time.

Richard Avramenko has taught both Political Science and Integrated Liberal Studies at the University of Wisconsin since the Fall of 2005. His main areas of interest are ancient and continental political thought, though he tends to pursue themes rather than specific thinkers or eras. He teaches courses on the History of Western Political Thought, Plato, Thucydides, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, politics and literature, the history of political economy, the romance of war, Nietzsche, Methods of Political Theory, or whatever strikes him as interesting. Avramenko has written articles on topics such as Plato, Dostoevsky, St. Augustine, Tocqueville, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Canadian identity politics. He has completed a book manuscript called Manly Courage: The Politics of Life and Limb, has co-edited a book on friendship (Friendship and Politics: Essays in Political Thought), and is currently writing about Alexis de Tocqueville and the shape of the democratic mind.

Portrait image of Mary Beltrán
Mary Beltrán
Communication Arts and Chicana/o and Latino/a Studies, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2009-2010)
Post-Race Pop? Interrogating Strategies for Ethnic Diversity in Millennial Media Culture

This book manuscript in progress illuminates contemporary trends in ethnic and racial representation in Hollywood film and U.S. entertainment television, particularly with respect to claims by some that we have entered an era of equal opportunity and post-racial media representation and as media producers aim to appeal to the shifting demographics and interests of the younger generation. Case studies that ultimately contradict but occasionally confirm these claims will be explored in the book’s chapters, which focus on such topics as the history of "diversity" development strategies on the part of the major television networks, the experiences of writers and producers of color in the media industries, narrative strategies employed by creative producers of ensemble cast television shows and of comedic series which treat race in a satirical manner, and contemporary children’s and tween programming that emphasizes ethnic ambiguity.

Mary Beltrán is an associate professor of Communication Arts and Chicana/o and Latino/a Studies and an affiliate of Gender and Women’s Studies. Her work is focused on the production and narration of race, ethnicity, gender, and class in U.S. film, television, and celebrity culture, and the ways in which media texts, producers, and consumers articulate social hierarchies and group and national identities. She is the author of Latina/o Stars in U.S. Eyes: The Making and Meanings of Film and TV Stardom (University of Illinois Press, 2009), which explores the construction and promotion of Latina and Latino film and television stars in relation to the evolving status of Latinos in the U.S. since the 1920s. She also is the co-editor, with Camilla Fojas, of Mixed Race Hollywood (NYU Press, 2008), an anthology of scholarship on mixed-race representation in film and television. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Beltrán was a social worker, working primarily with youth and families of color.

Portrait of Florence Bernault
Florence Bernault
History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2009-2010)
Struggles for the Sacred

This book project, currently under completion, attempts to explain why, at the twentieth century's end, witchcraft and the traffic in body parts constitute the most powerful ways of taking of power, politics and personal affliction in equatorial Africa. To do so, the book endeavors to bridge the gap between contemporary manifestations of witchcraft and the long, intricate battles that took place over the spiritual realm during the colonial and postcolonial period in Gabon (c. 1880-present). The book approaches the colonial encounter between European and African as a circulation of artifacts, ideas and anxieties that went beyond witchcraft itself, and triggered broader mutations in popular representations and practices of public authority, social survival, ethnic identities, material goods and the human body. It shows that colonialism was, as much as a relation of power, an inter-racial discussion about the divides between the sacred and the profane, the material and the immaterial, and the nature of the physical vs. the symbolic.

Florence Bernault is professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her most recent work looks into the political, intellectual and cultural history of Equatorial Africa, and French colonialism. She has been awarded a J. S. Simon Guggenheim Fellowship for her research on witchcraft. She is serving on the editorial board of the American Historical Review, and on the advisory board of the Journal of African History. She is the author of Démocraties ambigües en Afrique centrale (Paris, Karthala, 1996), the editor of A History of Prisons and Confinement in Africa (Portsmouth, NJ., 2003), and Enfermement, prison et châtiments en Afrique du XIXe siècle à nos jours (Paris: Karthala, 1999), and the co-editor, together with Nicolas Bancel, Ahmed Boubeker, Achille Mbembe and Françoise Vergès, of Ruptures postcoloniales. Les nouveaux visages de la société française (Paris, La Découverte, 2010). Her articles have been published in the Journal of African History, Africa Today, Politique africaine, Cahiers d’études africaines, and Vingtième siècle. She has also guest-edited several issues for scholarly journals inAfrican Studies. The book she is currently completing is entitled Struggles For the Sacred: Colonialism, Witchcraft and Power in Equatorial Africa.

Portrait Image of Susan David Bernstein
Susan David Bernstein
English, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2009-2010)
Roomscape: Reading Space in the British Museum

This project investigates the Reading Room of the British Museum in relation to the emergence of modern women writers in Victorian and early twentieth-century London. Drawing on archival materials, Roomscape integrates indexical, theoretical, historical, and literary sources to examine the significance of this public interior space for women writers and their treatment of reading and writing spaces in literary texts. Roomscape challenges an assessment of the Reading Room of the British Museum as a bastion of class and gender privilege, an image firmly established by Virginia Woolf’s 1929 A Room of One’s Own and the legions of feminist scholarship that uphold this spatial conceit. This study also questions the overdetermined value of privacy and autonomy in constructions of authorship. Rather than viewing reading and writing as solitary, individual events, Roomscape considers the meaning of exteriority and the public and social and gendered dimensions of literary production. Looking at the Reading Room of the British Museum as a networking site for international readers, this study examines both writers who worked as global correspondents and political radicals who found a transnational community in this London public space.

Susan David Bernstein, Sally Mead Hands Professor of English, is also a faculty affiliate with the Center for Jewish Studies and the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies. Her teaching and research interests include Victorian material and print culture, the serial novel, transatlantic studies, gender and Jewishness in Victorian literature, science and literature. Her most recent publication is a co-edited collection of essays, Victorian Vulgarity: Taste in Verbal and Visual Culture (Ashgate 2009) which includes her own essay, "Too Common Readers at the British Museum." At the Institute she is working on a book about gender and the Reading Room of the British Museum.

Portrait Image of Daniel Birkholz in front of a bookcase
Daniel Birkholz
English, University of Texas at Austin
Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)
We Have to Invent Him: Harley Lyrics, Hereford Maps, and the Life of Roger de Breynton, c. 1290-1351

This interdisciplinary study brings together two major documents of a forgotten period and a backwater region—the Hereford Cathedral Mappamundi ["map of the world"] (c.1305), and British Library Manuscript Harley 2253 (c.1340), a trilingual literary anthology—and reads them alongside a contemporary life that has been reassembled from archival traces. We Have to Invent Him takes as its historical vantage point a mobile and well-connected but now obscure Hereford clerk who knew both map and manuscript well; he appears to have had a custodial relationship to each. The book I am constructing is a biography, but an unconventional one. My chapters stage conversations between a multifarious image, a multi-genre manuscript, and a reconstructed medieval “man,” using the first two items to breathe life into the third. Interpretive lines run both ways, however, for I will also use my subject’s biographical particulars and institutional milieus to animate my critical readings of the map and the anthology.

Daniel Birkholz is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin, where he received the President's Associates Award for Teaching Excellence in 2008. In 2002 he received Pomona College (Claremont, CA)’s Wig Distinguished Professorship Award. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota, his M.A. from the University of Toronto, and his B.A. from Carleton College (Northfield, MN). His first book, The King’s Two Maps: Cartography and Culture in Thirteenth-Century England (Routledge, 2004), was awarded the Nebenzahl Prize from the Newberrry Library (Chicago)’s Hermon Dunlap Smith Center for the History of Cartography. His essays on cartography and medieval literary history have appeared in New Medieval Literatures, The Journal of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Imago Mundi, Studies in the Age of Chaucer, and The Post Historical Middle Ages (Palgrave Macmillan).

Costica Bradatan
Philosophy, Texas Tech University
Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)
Philosophy as an Art of Dying

There are limit-situations when philosophers need something stronger than words to express themselves. Under such radical circumstances, when words and arguments irremediably fail, these philosophers (Socrates, Hypatia, Thomas More, Giordano Bruno, Edith Stein) are still left, paradoxically, with a very effective persuasive tool: namely, with the spectacle of their dying bodies. Socrates’ death was the most effective means of persuasion he ever used, and over the centuries he has come to be venerated in many circles not so much for what he did when he was alive, but precisely for the way he died. This interdisciplinary project aims at mapping out – conceptually and historically – the limit-situation in which these philosophers find themselves when the only means of persuasion they have access to is their own body and the use they can make of it by dying a martyr’s death. Drawing on developments in religious studies (martyrology), the project combines a philosophical approach (phenomenology of death/dying) with intellectual history (examining individual cases of martyr’s deaths).

Costica Bradatan received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Durham (England) in 2004 and is currently Assistant Professor of Honors at Texas Tech University. He also taught at Cornell University, Miami University, as well as at several universities in Europe (England, Germany, Hungary and Romania). His research interests include Continental philosophy, history of philosophy, East-European philosophy, and philosophy of literature. His work has appeared in English, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch and Polish. Bradatan’s most recent book The Other Bishop Berkeley. An Exercise in Reenchantment was published with Fordham University Press in 2006. He is also the author of two other books (in Romanian): An Introduction to the History of Romanian Philosophy in the 20th Century (Bucharest, 2000) and Isaac Bernstein’s Diary (Bucharest, 2001; New York/Nijmegen, 2002), as well as of several dozens of scholarly papers, essays, encyclopedia entries, book translations and book reviews. He has guest-edited a special journal issue on "Philosophy as Literature" for The European Legacy (Summer 2009) and another on "Philosophy in Eastern Europe" for Angelaki (forthcoming 2010).

Portrait image of Cindy I-Fen Cheng in front of bookcase
Cindy I-Fen Cheng
History and Asian American Studies, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2009-2010)
Locating Race in Cold War America

This project develops how the effectiveness of U.S. cold war policies to contain communism and promote democracy abroad depended on creating a racially integrated America following the onslaught of communist propaganda deriding U.S. racism during the early cold war years from 1946 to 1965. I argue that the link established between the fight against racism and the fight against communism, or cold war democracy, not only supplied a convincing rationale prompting the government to support legislative reforms that curbed segregation; it also functioned to guide how popular press as well as sociological, historical, and literary studies developed the need to examine and report on the status of racial minorities. Additionally, it operated to shape public interest. As a world view, cold war democracy worked to displace the image of the U.S. as a segregated nation with a competing vision of an integrated America. But since winning the cold war was tied to the vision of racial equality, stories on desegregation emphasized the ability of American democracy to overcome racism and blocked accounts that undermined its credibility. As a result, even as cold war democracy promoted a vision of America that was on its way to eradicating racial injustice, it nevertheless sanctioned the persistence of racism to limit the formation of a socially equitable society.

Cindy I-Fen Cheng is an assistant professor in the Department of History and the Program in Asian American Studies at UW-Madison. Her research and teaching interest include Asian American history and culture, cold war culture, and urban studies. She is working on her first book manuscript, Locating Race in Cold War America, at the IRH.

Black and white portrait image of Preeti Chopra
Preeti Chopra
Languages and Cultures of Asia; Design Studies, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2009-2010)
The City and its Fragments: Colonial Bombay, 1854-1918

This book project is a study of the role of native communities in the physical transformation of Bombay between 1854 and1918. Exploring the impact of encounters between different racial, religious, ethnic, and socio-economic groups, the focus of the monograph is on the distinct ways in which cultural changes altered the urban fabric. During this dynamic period, colonial Bombay was not simply the result of ideas emanating from Britain. Instead, it was the product of a cultural encounter between Indians and the British colonial regime. Here, the city was shaped by the spatial interventions of a variety of groups in a context of unequal power relations. By emphasizing the role of native communities in the construction of colonial Bombay, this project builds on my first book, A Joint Enterprise: The Indian Making of British Bombay, 1854-1918. However, in contrast to the former’s emphasis on the role of elites, particularly wealthy native philanthropists and formal processes of planning, my current project foregrounds everyday life and informal processes by which various communities and groups (defined by race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, and occupation) constructed and remade the city in their interaction with the colonial state. The title of my monograph The City and its Fragments, acknowledges that the city was both fragmented (spatially by race, religion, and community) and yet came together from time to time as an intellectual idea and as a spatial arena. I argue that these processes of coming together contributed to a sense of a singular city that different communities felt they had a stake in, thus suggesting the existence of a common ground at the urban level.

Preeti Chopra is Assistant Professor of Visual Culture Studies in the Department of Languages and Cultures of Asia and Design Studies Department. Her research concentrates on architecture and urbanism in South Asia, with a focus on western and more recently, northern India in the colonial and postcolonial context. Chopra’s work has addressed such diverse themes as the practices of naming, charity and philanthropy, the place of religion in the secular public realm, architectural style and its meaning, and the heritage movement in postcolonial Bombay. Chopra teaches classes on taste, colonial spaces, the visual cultures of South Asia, and the cities of Asia. Her forthcoming publications include A Joint Enterprise: The Indian Making of British Bombay, 1854-1918 (University of Minnesota Press, in press). At the IRH she is working on her second book manuscript The City and its Fragments: Colonial Bombay, 1854-1918.

Portrait image of Leslie DeBauche in an office
Leslie Midkiff DeBauche
Communication Arts, UW-Stevens Point
UW System Fellow (2009-2010)
History of the American Girl

I am investigating the ways that movies, movie stars, and movie-going fit into the lives of American teenage girls in the 1910s and 1920s. My research is based on a study of the ephemera that girls from different regions of the United States collected, arranged, and pasted into the friendship books, high school memory books, and scrapbooks they assembled the year they graduated from high school or during the time they attended college. This work constitutes the fourth chapter of a book-in-progress, The American Girl, Movies, Movie Stars, and Consumer Goods in the 1910s. The American Girl was a popular character in the film, fiction, and advertising of the 1910s. Her character traits expressed traditional American values. Most significantly, she possessed a sense of justice founded on a belief in the permeability of social boundaries regardless of how they were drawn. Personifying such fundamental egalitarianism also made the Girl and those actresses who portrayed her, effective salespersons for fashion and other consumer items.

Leslie Midkiff DeBauche is a professor in the Division of Communication at the UW-Stevens Point. A film historian, she focuses on American film and American culture in the 1910s and 1920s. DeBauche is the author of Reel Patriotism, the U.S. Film Industry and WWI and currently she is researching and writing about a character type in movies of the 1910s called the American Girl. This work is interdisciplinary, and, so far, has woven fashion and advertising with movies and movie stars. DeBauche has received research grants from UWSP, the Schlesinger Library, and the John W. Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising and Marketing History at Duke University.

Portrait image of Kristen Ehrhardt
Kristen Ehrhardt
Classics, UW-Madison
Robert J. Reinhold Dissertation Fellow (2009-2010)
Drinking Alfresco: The Erotics of the Pastoral Sympotic Mode

Drinking Alfresco: The Erotics of the Pastoral Sympotic Mode is a study of the collision of two common motifs in Greek and Latin literature and art: the symposium and the locus amoenus of pastoral. The institution of private drinking parties, symposia, played an important part in the cultural and political lives of Greek men in the archaic and classical periods (eighth through fourth centuries BCE). Depictions of symposia, both in art and literature, routinely depict symposiasts in the same way-reclining, drinking wine, reciting poetry-activities that become shorthand for the event itself in later eras. As opposed to the interior locale of the symposium, customary representations of the lush landscapes of pastoral provide a wholly different, and often dangerously sexualized, setting and set of meanings. I argue that later Greek and Roman artists and poets combine the two motifs by setting sympotic drinking in a locus amoenus, which creates a new setting with mixed expectations for its participants. I aim to show how poets and artists played with this mixed mode, which often shifted the menacing eroticism lurking in pastoral into the (arguably) safer world of the symposium.

Kristen Ehrhardt is a doctoral candidate in Classics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with a Ph.D. minor in Art History. Her research interests include Greek and Latin poetry, the interplay between art and text, and representations of symposia from the eastern influences on early Greek symposia to later Roman adaptations of feast scenes.

Portrait image of David Goldstein outdoors
David Goldstein
English, York University
Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)
Eating Otherwise: Food, Ethics, and Rhetoric in Early Modern England

This project explores the meanings and functions of food in early modern English culture, arguing that for the Renaissance writer, the rhetoric of eating functions preeminently as a language of ethics that links or collapses the treatment of the food on one’s plate with that of other human beings. This rhetoric appears in an array of contexts, from the drama of Shakespeare and Jonson, to the genre of the cookbook and household manual, to the poetry of Spenser and Milton. Rather than viewing food as one among many metaphors to address moral questions, this book shows that Renaissance ideas of otherness frequently emerge from, and in turn shape, beliefs and theories about eating in literary, religious, philosophical, and political contexts. While the project focuses on early modern literature, it raises questions that are relevant across the humanities: Where do our bodies meet the world; where does the material meet the metaphysical? Why are eating, speaking, and reading so intertwined? When do we move from eating the other to being obliged to the other? Why speak of an ethics of eating?

David B. Goldstein is Assistant Professor of English at York University in Toronto. His teaching and research interests include early modern English literature, book history and theory, food studies, and contemporary poetry.  He has published scholarly articles on Shakespeare, Robert Duncan, and Martha Stewart, while his food journalism has appeared in Saveur, The New York Sun, Time Out New York, and other publications. David’s poetry has appeared in numerous magazines, and he is the author of a poetry chapbook, Been Raw Diction (Dusie, 2006), as well as a founding member of the Wakow art collective. During his stay at the IRH, he is completing Eating Otherwise, a monograph about food, rhetoric, and ethics in early modern England.

Portrait image of Rob Harper outdoors in the winter
Rob Harper
History, UW-Stevens Point
ACLS Residency Fellow (2009-2010)
Revolution and Conquest: Violence and State Formation in the Ohio Valley

Professor Harper's current project reassesses the Anglo-American conquest of the trans-Appalachian west by examining the relationships between local politics, frontier violence, and state formation. It argues that the United States achieved effective sovereignty over the region less because of its inherent might than because of revolutions in the politics of the region’s American Indian and white settler communities. This paper illustrates these political transformations by discussing the work of political brokers who sought to link Ohio Valley inhabitants and colonial states in tenuous coalitions. These coalitions arose and thrived because of the weakness of formal political institutions, but they ultimately formed the foundation of state authority.

Rob Harper is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation/ACLS Recent Doctoral Recipients Fellow for 2009-2010 at the Institute for Research in the Humanities. In 2008, he completed his PhD at UW-Madison under the direction of the late Jeanne Boydston. His work has appeared in the William and Mary Quarterly and the Journal for Genocide Research. His book-in-progress is tentatively entitled Revolution and Conquest: Violence and State Formation in the Ohio Valley.

Douglas Howland
History, UW-Milwaukee
UW System Fellow (2009-2010)
Laws of Land and Sea: State-Building in Modern Japan

How did Japanese leaders make the transition from discussing concepts such as law and sovereignty to actualizing the sovereign state of Japan? This project examines the Japanese state in the context of the spread of international law in the nineteenth century and the international conditions that fostered the growth of treaty making and national will in East Asia. Rather than reinterpret Japanese diplomacy or the jurisprudence of international law, this historical analysis of sovereignty seeks to explain processes internal to the Japanese adoption of international law as Japan joined the international system–from the encounter with an idea to its working out in practice. I emphasize the constructive nature of international law upon processes internal to the Japanese state–as it simultaneously interpreted legal information arriving from abroad and began to refashion itself as a sovereign agent in the very terms of the new understanding.

Douglas Howland is the David D. Buck Professor of Chinese History at the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee. Courses taught include Chinese and Japanese history, historiography, westernization in East Asia, and international processes in globalization. He is the author, most recently, of Personal Liberty and Public Good: The Introduction of John Stuart Mill to Japan and China (2005), and co-editor, with Luise White, of The State of Sovereignty: Territories, Laws, Populations (2009).

Portrait image of Kristina Kosnick
Kristina Kosnick
French and Italian, UW-Madison
Germaine Brée Dissertation Fellow (2009-2010)
Queer Writing Matters: Literary Performativity in Contemporary Queer Women's Writing in French

Queer-centered literary criticism has primarily concerned itself with questions of representation. Moreover, recent scholarship in French studies promoted as "queer" has often elided women's writing altogether, focusing instead on "queer" new readings of already canonical (and predominantly white male-authored) literary works. This dissertation responds to both of these preoccupations by foregrounding the politico-literary contributions of contemporary women writers of French expression, while also advocating a critical approach that values the performative force of literary texts over their mimetic capacities. Combining aspects of formalism and reader-response criticism - two schools of literary theory typically viewed in opposition - this study considers the ways in which linguistic and narrative innovations in literature might incite active reading such that the reader's relationship to language - especially as it is wielded to articulate "identity," to negotiate "difference" and to conceptualize agency in the world - is transformed. The significance of literary texts by writers including Nina Bouraoui, Monique Wittig, Nicole Brossard, and Anne F. Garréta is placed in dialogue with theoretical debates in an endeavor to literarily bridge the gap between academic discourses and lived experiences - between being queer in theory and being queer on the streets.

Kristina Kosnick is a doctoral candidate in French at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a PhD minor in Gender and Women’s Studies. Her interests include contemporary women’s writing (especially self-identified lesbian and queer women’s writing), experimental literature, feminisms, queer theory, literary theory, lesbian cultural productions, LGBTQ activism and issues of social justice—not to mention her love of 17th-century French theater. Kristina is also currently a Humanities Exposed (HEX) public scholar and facilitates a workshop entitled Reading, Writing and Relating LGBTQ Narratives—a project she is implementing in collaboration with OutReach, Madison’s LGBT Community Center, and with support from UW-Madison’s Center for the Humanities.

Robert André Lafleur
History and Anthropology, Beloit College
Honorary Fellow
Heaven is Round, Earth is Square: Calendars and Cosmology on China’s Sacred Mountains

During his fellowship year, LaFleur is working on a study of China's five cardinal peaks (Mt. Tai in the east, Mt. Heng in the south, Mt. Song in the center, Mt. Hua in the west, and another Mt. Heng in the north). Laid out in powerful "cosmic-architectural" fashion, the great Chinese mountains framed political and historical discourse in early China. Since early times, the Chinese imagined heaven as round and earth as square, and their linkage has played a prominent role in three thousand years of political and historical writings. To this day, the mountains remain important as cultural sites and pilgrimage centers. LaFleur's research has combined fieldwork on and around all five mountains with study of each mountain's textual tradition—the most prominent fragments of which are carved (by travelers and poets over the millennia) into the mountainsides themselves. Several photographs of the mountains can be seen on LaFleur's homepage (see link, below).

Robert André LaFleur is a historian and anthropologist who focuses on the intersection of text and culture in Chinese life. His work has included studies of the Chinese almanac and its role in popular religion, the "exilic imagination" in Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) China, and the role of literary borrowing in Chinese historiography. He is the author of China: Global Studies (ABC-Clio, 2003), and a substantially revised second edition due out in late-2009. LaFleur received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago's Committee on Social Thought. He is professor of history and anthropology at Beloit College, where he chairs the Asian Studies program and teaches a wide variety of courses on East Asian history and culture. His research project is supported by a Millicent C. McIntosh Fellowship from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

Jean B. Lee
History, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2005-2010)
Beth Lew-Williams
History, Stanford University
Honorary Fellow
To Exclude and Expel: Chinese Immigration and Anti-Chinese Violence in the Pacific Northwest, 1882-1892

At the institute, Beth Lew-Williams is completing her dissertation on Chinese immigration across the United States-Canada boundary in the late nineteenth century. The project examines both legal and extra-legal forms of border control; specifically, how U.S. immigration policies that barred Chinese laborers intersected with grassroots movements that sought to drive them out. Beginning with the Chinese Restriction Act in 1882, the dissertation traces the formation of Chinese Exclusion through immigration law, transnational mobility, racial violence, and diplomacy.

Beth Lew-Williams is a doctoral candidate in the department of History at Stanford University. Her interests include Asian American history, immigration, race and the American West. Her work has been funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Shultz Grant in Canadian Studies.

Mara Loveman
Sociology, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2009-2010)
The Naturalization of Social Divides: Towards a New Sociology Race

Mara Loveman is Associate Professor of Sociology (UW-Madison) and a Resident Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities. She is a comparative and historical sociologist whose recent publications include "How Puerto Rico Became White: Boundary Dynamics and Intercensus Racial Reclassification" (American Sociological Review, 2007) and "The Race to Progress: Census-Taking and Nation-Making in Brazil (1870-1920)" (Hispanic American Historical Review, 2009). Her current research examines the political, scientific, and legal construction of racial boundaries in the Americas in comparative and historical perspective.

Portrait image of Kate Merz
Kate Merz
English, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2009-2010)
Imperial India on Trial: Crime, Punishment, and Colonialism, 1880-1940

In the last decades of the British Raj, anti-colonial writers staged scenes of crime and punishment, trial and testimony, in order to interrogate the legitimacy of imperialism itself. This project examines questions of imperial justice in both British and Indian writers of the early twentieth century-from E.M. Forster, George Orwell, and Virginia Woolf, to Rabindranath Tagore and Mulk Raj Anand. Far from hegemonic, the arena of legal discipline was a contested space of encounter between the “Anglo” and the "Indian" subject, custom, and law. For the Raj gave birth to the same legal, penal, and academic policies that undergird the modern state—from fingerprinting to anthropology, "English literature" to Benthamite prisons—as well as the bastard genre of detective fiction. Why this fixation on crime and justice, I ask, even from writers in divergent positions within or against the imperial state? What does this pattern reveal about the anxieties of imperial power, or the tactics and voices of dissent? Even as modern discipline would forge a docile, efficient, self-monitoring subject, anti-imperialists and modernists alike work to challenge, evade, or disrupt a disciplinary gaze. Indeed, if the imperial state aims to surveill the public—and solicit citizens to scrutinize each other—the many-eyed, many-voiced publics of modernist texts may in turn scrutinize—and undiscipline—the state.

Kate Merz is a doctoral candidate in English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests are in British modernism, postcolonial studies (especially the South Asian diaspora), and the law, science, and material culture of empire. Her interdisciplinary minor (in Colonial and Postcolonial Studies) includes courses in Anthropology, History of Medicine, Art History, and Film. She has taught a variety of courses, ranging from Shakespeare to postcolonial literature; was named a University Fellow and department writing prize winner; and is a member of the Modernisms/Modernities Colloquium.

Portrait image of Julia Mickenberg in front of book shelves
Julia Mickenberg
American Studies, University of Texas at Austin
Honorary Fellow (2009-2010)
The New Woman Tries on Red: Russia in the American Feminist Imagination, 1905-1945

Both the "New Woman" and the "New Russia" were lenses through which Americans grappled with and understood the idea of the modern. These concepts were also mutually constitutive in the American imagination, seen simultaneously as subversive to the existing order and yet also deeply intriguing. Revolutionary Russia generated tremendous interest from outstanding figures of early twentieth century American feminism—and a larger group of female suffragists, artists, educators, social workers, journalists, and adventurers—informing their thinking and writing about love, work, citizenship, motherhood, creativity, and the ideal society."The New Woman Tries on Red: Russia in the American Feminist Imagination, 1905-1945" seeks to understand Russia's place in the imagination and self-fashioning of financially independent, sexually liberated, and socially conscious American women, particularly in the 1920s and 1930s. While Soviet Russia's violent history makes it an unlikely site for a "usable" feminist past, with historical distance and political disinterest from cold war paradigms that have informed much of the scholarship on U.S.-Russian relations, this work recovers the significant but forgotten "Russian chapter" in U.S. feminism.

Julia Mickenberg is Associate Professor of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and an affiliate of the Center for Women and Gender Studies, the Center for Russian and Eastern European Studies, and the Center for European Studies. She is the author of Learning from the Left: Children's Literature, the Cold War, and Radical Politics in the United States (Oxford, 2006), which won several awards, and co-editor (with Philip Nel) of Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children's Literature (NYU: 2008). In addition to the IRH project, she is currently co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Children's Literature with Lynne Vallone. Mickenberg teaches courses on the 1960s, the 1930s, the Cold War, children's literature, childhood studies, women's history, and radicalism in the United States.

David Morgan
History, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2005-2010)
Portrait image of Mark Netzloff in front of book shelves
Mark Netzloff
English, UW-Milwaukee
UW System Fellow (2009-2010)
Beyond the State: The Writings of English State Agents in Early Modern Europe

At the Institute for Research in the Humanities, Netzloff will complete his book manuscript, Beyond the State: The Writings of English State Agents in Early Modern Europe. In the early modern period, political agency did not necessarily cohere to state bodies or follow licensed channels; indeed, states possessed a tenuous hold over extraterritorial agents -- such as travelers, spies, mercenaries, and ambassadors -- who were instrumental in extending state authority beyond the territorial boundaries of the nation. The state agents discussed in this project were also among the earliest professional writers in early modern England: as they entered the realm of print and addressed a reading public, they transformed models of the state, rendering its administration and theoretical preconditions as subject matter for public analysis. Each chapter examines a specific cultural and institutional context in which the early modern state was written: travel narratives and intelligence gathering networks (Chapter 1); the textual production of the seminaries established by English Catholic exiles on the Continent (Chapter 2); poetry and pamphlets stemming from England’s illicit military interventions in the Low Countries (Chapter 3); and the domestic life and intersubjective modes of writing that characterized the early modern embassy (Chapter 4).

Mark Netzloff is an Associate Professor of English and Literary Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of England’s Internal Colonies: Class, Capital, and the Literature of Early Modern of English Colonialism (Palgrave, 2003) and the editor of John Norden’s The Surveyor’s Dialogue (1618): A Critical Edition (Ashgate, forthcoming). A specialist in Renaissance/early modern English literature and culture, his research is broadly concerned with the interconnections between state formation, nationhood, and colonialism. He has previously received fellowships from the Huntington Library, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Center for 21st Century Studies.

Barbara Obrist
Honorary Fellow (2009-2010)
Jonathan Z. S. Pollack
History, Madison Area Technical College
Madison Area Technical College Fellow
Prosperity and Transience: Jewish Life in Madison, Wisconsin, 1850-2000

At the Institute, Pollack is working on Prosperity and Transience: Jewish Life in Madison, Wisconsin, 1850-2000, his history of Madison’s Jewish community. This work is a case study of American Jewish occupational and social mobility. Like their counterparts in many Midwestern cities, Madison’s Jews concentrated in retail trade in the late 19th century, scrap metal and grocery businesses in the early 20th century, and professional and academic fields in the mid-to-late 20th century. The presence of the University of Wisconsin in Madison served dual purposes in the Jewish community; at the same time that Jews came to Madison to attend or work for the University, the University sent its Jewish graduates far afield in search of professional employment opportunities. The solidly middle-class nature of Madison Jewish life, coupled with the migration patterns associated with smaller Jewish communities and professional career ladders, constitute the "prosperity and transience" of the title.

Pollack is Instructor in History and Chair of the Humanities Department at Madison Area Technical College. He is also the Project Director for Life During Wartime, a professional-development program for history teachers in grades 5-12, funded by the Teaching American History initiative of the U. S. Department of Education. Pollack’s publications include "’Is This We Have among Us Here a Jew’: The Hillel Review and Jewish Identity at the University of Wisconsin, 1925-31," in Charles Lloyd Cohen and Paul S. Boyer, eds. Religion and the Culture of Print in Modern America (University of Wisconsin Press, 2008); The Voice of the People: Primary Sources on the History of American Labor, Industrial Relations, and Working-Class Culture (co-editor) (Harlan Davidson, 2004); and "Jewish Problems: Eastern and Western Jewish Identities in Conflict at the University of Wisconsin, 1919-1941," American Jewish History 89:2 (June, 2001). Pollack earned his M A. and Ph. D. in History at the University of Wisconsin, and his A.B. in History at the University of Michigan.

V. Narayana Rao
Languages and Cultures of Asia, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2005-2010)
Portrait image of Brian Sandberg in front of book shelves
Brian Sandberg
History, Northern Illinois University
Solmsen Fellow (2009-2010)
'Martial Acts Virtuously Enacted by Women': Gender and Violence in the French Wars of Religion

My project concerns the gendered nature of violence and political culture in early modern French history. Religious identities and animosities sharply divided France along confessional (or sectarian) boundaries between a Catholic majority and Calvinist minority in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Gender boundaries also strongly influenced French society, defining women’s and men’s positions in religious, political, military, and cultural spheres. Women’s abilities to challenge and transgress both gender and confessional boundaries were especially apparent at the royal court and in the religiously mixed areas of southern France during the religious wars. This study aims to bridge the gap between gender studies and the history of warfare in order to discover the ways in which violence and subjectivity were gendered in the French Wars of Religion. A comprehensive approach to gender and violence can contribute to both fields by reassessing Natalie Zemon Davis’s "rites of violence" and John A. Lynn’s “campaign communities.” Gender studies that consider violence have often focused usefully on state breakdowns, social ruptures, and political transformations as key periods of change in gendered discourses. The French Wars of Religion of 1562-1629 represent a similar period of chaotic social disruption and cataclysmic violence that significantly altered associations between gender and violence. The unique aspects of confessional division and sectarian violence in these conflicts provide an excellent case for examining both the limitations and possibilities confronting women during a period of severe disruption and changing gender relations.

Brian Sandberg is an Assistant Professor of History at Northern Illinois University who is interested in the intersections of religion, violence, and political culture during the European Wars of Religion. Sandberg completed his doctoral studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2001, and held teaching positions at Simpson College and Millikin University before coming to Northern Illinois University, where he teaches courses on The European Wars of Religion, The Mediterranean World, The Renaissance, Early Modern France, and Early Modern Globalization. He previously served as a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow at the Medici Archive Project, and held a Jean Monnet Fellowship at the European University Institute. His first monograph entitled, Warrior Pursuits: Noble Culture and Civil Conflict in Early Modern France (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, forthcoming) examines provincial nobles’ orchestration of civil violence in southern France in the early seventeenth century. He has published a number of articles and book chapters on religious violence, gender relations, and noble culture in early modern France, and is currently working on a new book project on Gender and Violence in the French Wars of Religion, 1562-1629.

Black and White portrait photography of Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
English, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2009-2010)
Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color

This project examines the life and writing of the enigmatic Harlem Renaissance writer in a way that enables our understanding of the particular intersecting geographies of class and race in American culture. My approach to West’s writing life rethinks the genre of feminist biography. I examine her public and private life in order to reveal what her multi-genre mythmaking tell us about class, gender and regional fault lines within African American culture over the twentieth century. By situating my analysis in a specific place, the black enclave on the island of Martha’s Vineyard that was West’s chosen retreat, I weave literary history and criticism into a social history of the island community of Oak Bluffs, which West figures as a both a separatist refuge and an interracial sanctuary. This book will be the first full-length biographical treatment of the author and will be published by Rutgers University Press.

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is an Associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies and feminist theory. She earned her B.A. in English and American Studies at U.C.L.A. and her doctorate in English at Cornell University. Her research is primarily focused on black female representation in mid-nineteenth to early twentieth American literature and visual culture. She is the author of the Portraits of the New Negro Woman: Visual and Literary Culture in the Harlem Renaissance (Rutgers University Press, 2007). Additional publications include numerous journal articles, short stories, and poems. Her most recent work includes the editing and annotating of a new edition of Jessie Redmon Fauset’s last novel Comedy: American Style (Rutgers University Press, 2009).

Portrait image of Stephanie Spadaro
Stephanie Spadaro
French and Italian, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2009-2010)
Sentimental Literature: Directing the Flows of Sympathy in Enlightenment and Francophone Texts

This dissertation examines the extent to which literature (and by extension language) can bridge psychic, geographical, cultural, and ideological distance to evoke readerly sympathy without inviting the reader to over-identify (or promiscuously identify, in Susan Bernstein's terms) with the alterity of a character’s suffering. One facet of this study is the exploration of the role of sympathy in sentimental works of the French abolitionist movement—both as a technique to influence the reader’s political beliefs, and as a means of subverting social and racial hierarchies on the plantation. This dissertation also explores the role and questionable efficacy of travel literature in engaging the French reader in the suffering of those in the colonies, as well as 18th-century concerns that sympathy destabilizes identity, as revealed in 18th-century French and contemporary Caribbean epistolary novels and autobiographies. A final area of investigation is the inherent difficulty of describing physical pain and emotional trauma, which is a major impediment to sympathizing with another person’s invisible suffering.

Stephanie Spadaro is a graduate student in the French department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research interests include Enlightenment philosophy and literature, Caribbean studies, cosmopolitanism, theories of language and pain, and narratology. Stephanie graduated summa cum laude from Northwestern University in 2003 with a BA in comparative literature.

Portrait image of Claire Wendland in front of a white wall
Claire Wendland
Anthropology; Obstetrics and Gynecology; Medical History and Bioethics, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2009-2010)
Giving Birth to Death: African Mothers’ Bodies and Expert Imaginations

This research project looks at changing concepts and loci of risk in childbirth in southeast Africa, in a setting in which very high maternal mortality rates force professionals and laypeople alike to develop explanations for the link between birth and death. Practitioners who care for women as they labor, birth, and all too often die in Malawi include traditional birth attendants and healers, nurse-midwives, doctors, herbalists and others. I am exploring how the narratives of maternal death they produce reflect experiences of a rapidly changing social, economic, and biomedical context. Their descriptions and prescriptions write upon dead mothers’ bodies their beliefs about the perils and potentials of women’s "empowerment" and the trauma of bearing witness to the lethal combination of poverty, pressure to bear children, and epidemic disease. I supplement their stories with ethnographic material including my encounters with mothers’ deaths in Malawi since 1990, and with historical accounts of interventions into African reproductive bodies.

Claire Wendland, who is an anthropologist and an obstetrician, is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison with appointments in the Departments of Anthropology, Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Medical History and Bioethics. Her areas of active research and teaching center on the anthropology of reproduction, sexuality and the body, and the impact of contemporary global health movements in Africa. Her first book (in press, U. of Chicago) is A Heart for the Work: Journeys Through an African Medical School. At the IRH she will be working on her second book manuscript.

Portrait image of Andrea Westlund in front of book shelves
Andrea Westlund
Philosophy, UW-Milwaukee
UW System Fellow (2009-2010)
Autonomy in Relation

In recent years feminist philosophers have offered trenchant critiques of traditional, individualistic ideals of autonomy and have developed alternative relational conceptions that highlight social dimensions of agency and the self. This work has deepened and enriched philosophical thought about the conditions of individual agency and has opened up a point of fruitful contact and exchange between feminist thought and analytic moral psychology more generally. Andrea's project at the Institute is to further develop this exchange, in part by showing how a relational conception of autonomy can help us to understand an important form of shared agency. She argues that autonomy is constitutively relational in the sense that it depends upon a dialogical disposition to hold oneself answerable to external, critical perspectives. In holding oneself answerable, one implicitly treats oneself as "one's own representative"in critical normative discourse. Though such treatment does not require the agent to hold particular substantive values or to be free from all social domination, it is nonetheless intimately tied to a capacity for what she calls symmetrically shared agency. When we engage in symmetrically shared decision-making and planning, the disposition to hold ourselves answerable to one another constitutes us not only as autonomous but also as equal participants in a shared deliberation.

Andrea Westlund is an assistant professor of philosophy and women's studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research and teaching interests are mainly in ethics and feminist philosophy, and her work focuses primarily on autonomy and shared agency in relationships of friendship and love. Her papers have been published (or are forthcoming) in Hypatia, The Monist, Philosophers' Imprint, The Philosophical Review, and Signs.

Shannon Withycombe
History of Science, UW-Madison
William Coleman Dissertation Fellow (2009-2010)
All Was Going Wrong: Pregnancy Loss in Nineteenth-Century America

This project aims to explore the much-neglected field of the history of pregnancy loss. I will investigate both how physicians described the phenomenon and how they understood their own place in its prevention, treatment, and documentation. To complete the picture, I will also search through personal papers to attain women's descriptions of their own pregnancy loss experiences or those of friends and family. My dissertation traces the evolving relationship between American women and their physicians over what could be both a personal tragedy and a scientific enterprise. This project will not only serve as a chronicle of an important arm of the ongoing medicalization of reproductive processes, it will also address the construction of death, the influence of biology on clinical practice in the early nineteenth century, and the creation of scientific specimens.

Shannon Withycombe is a graduate student in the History of Science Department at UW. Her areas of interest include the history of women's health, sex and sexuality, nineteenth-century women's history and the creation of medical knowledge. She has also spent much of her time at Wisconsin teaching in the History of Science, Medical History and Bioethics, and Gender and Women's Studies departments. She has received the Maurice L. Richardson Fellowship in the History of Medicine, the William Coleman Dissertation Fellowship, the Countway Library Fellowship in the History of Medicine, and the Bain Scholar-in-Residence Fellowship at the Sophia Smith Archives. She is currently finishing her dissertation on the history of pregnancy loss and also spends much of her time searching for a job.