My project examines extraterritoriality and legal pluralism in the context of imperial trade, focusing on the Eurasian silk routes from Safavid Central Asia to Istanbul and Venice in 16th and 17th centuries. It investigates comparatively the fluid legal status of diplomats and merchants in the Iranian Armenian community of Esfahan, the Ottoman Latin-rite community of Istanbul, and the Jewish communities of Istanbul and Crete. One of the central questions this project asks is why Safavid, Ottoman, and Venetian political administrators took different positions on questions of extraterritoriality and legal pluralism in a prolonged negotiation of early modern political and commercial boundaries.
Ali Humayun Akhtar is an Assistant Professor at Bates College and is an historian of government, religion, and economy. His research focuses on networks of diplomats, scholars, and merchants who connected Mediterranean Europe with the Middle East and Central Asia in the medieval and early modern eras. His first book traces the political debates over Graeco-Arabic philosophy and Sufism from Cordoba to Cairo (10th-12th centuries) as a larger window into the contested nature of political and religious authority in the medieval world. He is currently working on a new book on law and economy along the Safavid and Ottoman silk routes to Venice (16th-17th centuries). Before arriving at Bates College in 2012, he taught at Bard College and New York University. He earned a Ph.D. and M.A. at New York University in History and Middle Eastern Studies and a B.A. at Cornell University.
My current project explores how Christianity made its remarkable voyage from the Roman Mediterranean to the Indian subcontinent, and it examines the social relations that made such movement possible. It also analyzes how the narrative tradition regarding the apostle Judas Thomas, which originated in Upper Mesopotamia and accredited him with evangelizing India, traveled among the social networks of an interconnected late antique world. In this way, the book probes how the Thomas narrative shaped Mediterranean Christian beliefs regarding co-religionists in central Asia and India, impacted local Christian cultures, and experienced transformation as it traveled from the Mediterranean to India, and back again.
Nathanael Andrade is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oregon. His past research has principally focused on topics relating to the Roman and late Roman Near East and its broader Mediterranean context. Since receiving his PhD at the University of Michigan in 2009, he has written Syrian Identity in the Greco-Roman World (Greek Culture in the Roman World; Cambridge University Press, 2013) and has conducted research as a regular member at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ (2012-2013). His research has also appeared in the Journal of Near Eastern Studies, The Journal of Early Christian Studies, and many other journals and edited collections. He is at work on a project entitled "From the Roman Mediterranean to India: The Early Movement of Christianity through the Afro-Eurasian World System."
This book project examines the representation of clothing in early modern plays set in London. Plays by Ben Jonson, George Chapman, Thomas Middleton, and other writers of city comedy offered audiences queer forms of male embodiment and eroticism. By tracing early modern theater’s relationship to humoral psychology, to the cloth trade, and to urbanization, I reassess the historical value of superficiality for a time period commonly associated with interest in the inner life and psychological depth. I also attend to the potential political value of dissident style, as these plays provoke us to reimagine modes of being and social relations outside of the frameworks of subculture and identity that dominate current politics of sexuality and urban space.
James M. Bromley is an Associate Professor of English at Miami University. In 2014-2015, he was a Solmsen Fellow at the IRH. He is the author of Intimacy and Sexuality in the Age of Shakespeare (Cambridge, 2012) and the co-editor of Sex before Sex: Figuring the Act in Early Modern England (Minnesota, 2013). He won the 2011 Martin Stevens Award for the Best New Essay in Early Drama Studies from the Medieval and Renaissance Drama Society. He is currently working on a book project entitled Style, Subjectivity, and Male Sexuality in Early Modern Drama.
Toward a Natural History of the Book: Animals, Vegetables, and Media in Renaissance England, my in-process first book, explores the rhetorical interplay of words and matter in media, particularly sixteenth- and seventeenth-century printed books and manuscripts on paper and parchment. Made of recycled clothes, slaughtered animals, and felled trees, media in Renaissance England are filled with visible traces of ecological matter. The project traces the natural history of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century media objects while asking broader questions—questions that often go unasked in media scholarship—about ecology, poetics, and the "raw materials" that fund the history of book making. The period-focused research of this book offers just one example of the intriguing, poetic, and vital stories a natural history of media can reveal. The questions I ask of paper and parchment might be just as productively asked of millennia-old Eastern palm-leaf books or the newest iPhone.
Joshua Calhoun is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who specializes in Shakespeare, sixteenth- and seventeenth-century poetry, and the history of media. As a Faculty Affiliate at the Nelson Institute’s Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE), he also teaches courses in the environmental humanities. His work has been published in PMLA, Shakespeare Studies, and Environmental Philosophy. He is currently writing a book about poetry, papermaking, and ecology titled The Nature of the Page in Renaissance England. Drawing on original archival research, environmental history, and the poetry of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, the book tells a vibrant natural history of the ecological negotiations and technological contrivances used to store and transmit human ideas.
Urban migration in Africa in the second half of the twentieth century has been one of the most dramatic demographic shifts in history. Yet in the midst of this urban revolution, many African nationalist intellectuals and political leaders portrayed Africans as a rural people. Nowhere was this directive taken more seriously than in Tanzania, where from 1967 through 1985 president Julius Nyerere launched a campaign to relocate citizens into collective rural villages as the central policy of African socialism, or "Ujamaa." Despite official policies, youth from throughout East Africa made their lives in Tanzania's largest city of Dar es Salaam during the socialist era. Drawing together a range of unconventional sources, or "street archives," this project reveals a concurrent world of cultural innovation, literary production, and the elaboration of a distinctly urban subjectivity among migrants and refugees in Dar es Salaam.
Emily Callaci is an Assistant Professor of modern African history at UW-Madison. Her research and teaching interests include global cities, African popular cultures, comparative socialisms and the global history of reproductive politics. Her work has appeared in the Journal of African History and Urban History. Building on her work on urban cultural and sexual politics in Africa in the 1960s and 1970s, she has recently begun preliminary research for a second project on the transnational history of the family planning movement in Africa. She is spending her semester at the IRH working on a book that explores popular forms of urbanism in Tanzania during its socialist era, from 1967 through 1985.
AIDS Knows No Borders shows how activists constructed diverse coalitions to confront and alter U.S. health and immigration policy and politics as well as to engage and strategize with afflicted immigrant and migrant communities from the start of AIDS in 1981 until the lifting of the ban on HIV positive immigration to the U.S. in 2010. This monograph will offer a perspective on AIDS activism in the U.S. that does not center the experiences of white, gay, citizen men, and it will intervene in the racialized ways narratives of AIDS activism are recounted in historical, media and rhetorical research, which has focused only on either U.S. citizen communities of color or non- U.S. contexts such as Africa, Haiti or Latin America. This book will illuminate how activists interceded and participated in the racist, nationalist, and xenophobic discourses that impacted those immigrants living with HIV/AIDS in the U.S.
Karma R. Chávez is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Arts and affiliate in the Program in Chican@ and Latin@ Studies and the Department of Gender and Women's Studies at UW-Madison. She is co-editor of Standing in the Intersection: Feminist Voices, Feminist Practices (with Cindy L. Griffin, SUNY Press, 2012), and author of Queer Migration Politics: Activist Rhetoric and Coalitional Possibilities (University of Illinois Press, 2013). Karma is also a member of the radical queer collective Against Equality, an organizer for LGBT Books to Prisoners, and a host of the radio program, "A Public Affair" on Madison's community radio station, 89.9 FM WORT. She is at work on a project entitled AIDS Knows No Borders: AIDS Activism and the Rhetoric of Immigration.
Northern Germany's conversion to Christianity is one of the most infamous episodes of medieval history. Through a series of brutal wars that lasted from 772 to 804, the Carolingians subdued the pagan Saxons, converting them by fire and steel. This is the standard narrative, at least. In this project I regard conversion not as a simple process of 'Christians' converting 'pagans'. Rather, Christianity was a shared 'symbolic resource' in the messy middle ground of cultural and political interaction that characterised Carolingian expansion, and no one party had a monopoly of it. Different bishops and missionary groups could have conflicting aims; the Carolingian military sought to use religion for its own ends; some Saxons were more than willing to convert; and even diehard pagans used Christianity as a means of redefining their own pagan identity. Through analysing these interactions I will reveal the full complexity and ambiguity of the conversion process.
John-Henry Clay is a Lecturer in Medieval History at Durham University (UK). There, his teaching focuses on the history of western Europe from the end of the Roman empire to 1000 AD. His particular interests include the end of Roman Gaul, the origins of monasticism and Europe's conversion to Christianity. His first monograph, In the Shadow of Death: Saint Boniface and the Conversion of Hessia, 721-754 (Brepols, 2010) drew together history, archaeology, and landscape studies in a detailed exploration of an early medieval missionary community in Hessia, and he has published numerous articles and book chapters in related areas. A secondary interest is the relationship between academic history and the creative imagination, especially with respect to wider public engagement and education, which has led to two published historical novels: The Lion and the Lamb (Hodder & Stoughton, 2013) and At the Ruin of the World (Hodder & Stoughton, 2015). He is at work on a project entitled "Bringers of Light: The Christianisation of Early Medieval Germany under the Carolingians."
Daniel Elam's project connects the aesthetic experiments of anti-imperial writers to their vision for an egalitarian postcolonial society. Central to the anticolonial literary project was an effort to undermine the hierarchical logic of colonialism by reimagining the social relationship between the author and the reader. To upend this hierarchical and colonial configuration, Indian anticolonial writers disavowed their own authorial position and, in its place, advocated practices of communal reading and textual interpretation. By altering the literary and political relationship between "the author" and "the reader," anticolonial thought also offered new forms of political subjectivity well beyond the boundaries of liberalism. The project opens out from close readings of Dhan Gopal Mukerji, Lala Har Dayal, B.R. Ambedkar, and Bhagat Singh to account for a "world republic of anticolonial letters" as a debate about reading, postcolonial theory, diaspora, and world literature.
Daniel Elam is the Postdoctoral Fellow for the Mellon Sawyer Seminar in "Bibliomigrancy: World Literature in the Public Sphere," co-organized by B. Venkat Mani and Caroline Levine. He earned his Ph.D. from the interdisciplinary program in Rhetoric and Public Culture at Northwestern University in 2015. His research and teaching focus on anticolonial thought, postcolonial theory, transnational and diaspora studies, and current debates in world literature. He has published essays in Interventions, American Quarterly, Postcolonial Studies, and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, and contributes to the Los Angeles Review of Books and the South Asian American Digital Archive. He is at work on a project entitled "The Republic of Anticolonial Letters."
In India, the Protestant Reformation never took place. Must India mimic the rise of secularism in the Western world for us to speak of such a thing as Indian early modernity? As a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, I aim to question the inherent relationship between secularism and modernity across continents, rethinking in particular the nature of publicity and the “public sphere” in early modern India. Contrary to Western models of publicity, the public in early modern India did not consist of a common dialogical space free from sectarian interests; rather, the Indian public was, more accurately, publics in the plural: spatially overlapping but institutionally distinct networks in which each community generated its own internal conversations. In fact, it is due to the colonial encounter with Western publicity, I argue, that sectarianism gives way to communalism, as formerly discrete public domains are collapsed into a shared public space.
Elaine Fisher is a historian of south Asian religions and an enthusiast of Indian intellectual history and philology. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2013, and her M.A. in the History of Religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School in 2007. Her dissertation examines the historical emergence of Hindu sectarianism in the centuries prior to British colonialism, an era that defined the shape of Hindu religious communities in India through the present day. Drawing on unpublished manuscript and archival sources in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, and Marathi, she documents the origins of the Smārta-Śaiva Hindu tradition—or Smārta Brahminism—in south India, mediated through the writings of leading Śaiva public theologians. She is at work on a project entitled "Renaissance Without Reformation: Hinduism and the Public Sphere in Early Modern South India."
Folklore and literature would seem to be separate—one a product of age-old tradition, the other original artistic creation. Naturally, most studies of folklore and literature consider how writers use folkloric content like songs, proverbs, or traditional plots in their literary production. My project, however, looks at folklore in a larger context, namely considering how interest in folklore study in nineteenth-century France overlaps with questions central to literature. I contend that notions of folklore and literature mutually redefine each other as writers respond to circumstances like government-sponsored folklore collecting and an increase in literacy among the masses. This project traces key moments of this evolution and maps concrete influence on literary production, especially the short story. Ultimately, the enduring conviction that tradition is about to disappear not only fuels folklore collecting but shapes and is shaped by debates about modern literature and its status as a national archive of tradition or contemptuous successor to the storyteller.
Jennifer Gipson is Assistant Professor of French at UW-Madison. She holds a Ph.D. in French (2011) with a Designated Emphasis in Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on literature and folklore in nineteenth-century France as well as French in the United States, especially Louisiana and the Upper Midwest. Her article "'A Strange, Ventriloquous Voice': Louisiana Creole, Whiteness, and the Racial Politics of Writing Orality" is forthcoming in the Journal of American Folklore. She is currently preparing a book-length manuscript entitled "Phantom Storytellers: A Literary History of Folklore in Nineteenth-Century France."
Scholars in medical humanities have produced volumes of literature documenting the pernicious effects of industry influence on pharmaceuticals marketing, physician prescription practices, and health policy. Yet, unfortunately, this work has had minimal impact on those involved. It is widely believed in medical and health policy communities that there is no evidence of harm arising from financial conflicts of interests. To address this perceived paucity of information, new research must be conducted and presented in ways that are more persuasive to regulators and the medical community. To that end, I am using a combination of humanistic, statistical, and big data methodologies to investigate the prevalence of conflicts of interest and the impact of those conflicts on pharmaceuticals policy. In combining the insights of humanistic scholarship with the forms of quantitative evidence more likely to have an impact in policy spheres, I hope to be able to bridge the communicative gap between critical/cultural inquiry and the medical community.
S. Scott Graham is an Associate Professor in the Department of English and Director of the Scientific and Medical Communications Laboratory at the UW-Milwaukee. His work is primarily devoted to investigating the role of argument and communication in scientific and medical boundary spaces (e.g., interdisciplinary science and science-policy). Graham's The Politics of Pain Medicine: A Rhetorical-Ontological Inquiry (Chicago, 2015) chronicles the work of interdisciplinary pain management specialists to found a new science of pain and a new approach to pain medicine grounded in a more comprehensive biopsychosocial model. He is currently working on a second book entitled Conflicted: Tracing Industry Influence in Federal Pharmaceuticals Policy.
In 1974, Joan Little, a young, impoverished Black woman, fatally stabbed her white male jailer after he sexually assaulted her in a North Carolina jail. If convicted, she would face a mandatory death sentence. The case quickly became a national and even international cause célèbre, attracting a wide array of Black Power, civil rights, feminist and prisoner rights activists. Based on archival research as well as recent interviews with both Joan Little and her attorneys, I use the rape-murder case, the Free Joan Little campaign, and Joan Little's story to probe larger questions surrounding the history of African American women, 1970s social movements and mass incarceration politics.
Christina Greene is an Associate Professor in the Department of Afro-American Studies, UW-Madison. She is the author of the award-winning book, Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina, 1940-1970 (University of North Carolina Press, 2005). She has been published in Frontiers: A Journal of Women's Studies, Feminist Studies, Journal of Southern History, and Journal of African American History. She has also been published in several edited collections: Hidden Histories of Women in the New South (1994); From the Grass Roots to the Supreme Court: Brown v. Board of Education and American Democracy (2004); and The War on Poverty: A New Grassroots History, 1964-1980 (2011). Greene is also a contributor to Civil Rights in the United States (2000) and Oxford Research Encyclopedia in American History (forthcoming), and a contributor and subject editor for African American National Biography (2008). She is currently working on a book-length monograph of the 1970s Free Joan Little Rape-Murder Campaign.
The widespread usage of digital cameras and smart phones has transformed photographic practice and its role in the study of individual lives. Traditional chemical photography and digital photography are produced, compiled, and shared in significant different contexts, and these differences have a profound impact on the relationship between photography and the auto/biographical representation. My project explores how the changing materiality of digital photography affects women's auto/biographical photo practices, and the opportunities and challenges this brings to the study of women's lives. In particular, I will compare the representation of the gendered self in personal digital photography and traditional photography, based on the personal photo albums I collected in China from women who lived through the Mao era. This research is part of a larger project entitled "The Taming of the Maoist Women: Changing Representations of Gender In China in Personal Photo Albums", which analyzes the visual/bodily manifestation of gender as recorded in personal photo albums and women’s narratives about them.
Xin Huang is an Assistant Professor in Women's and Gender Studies at UW-Milwaukee. Huang received her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in Women's and Gender Studies in 2010. Her main area of research is gender and sexuality in contemporary China, particularly the representation of gender and sexuality in oral narrative and visual forms. Her work has been published in the Frontier of History in China, Ethnologies, as well as in edited volumes. She has recently finished a book project entitled "The Gendered Legacy of Mao: A Study of Women's Live Stories in Contemporary China," and is at work on a project entitled "Gendered Self in the Digital Era: Digital Photography and Auto/biographic Representation."
Fear is one of the most salient political emotions, and is of particular importance to political theory. Many theorists argue that fear's prominence is modern and that this prominence is bad for political life. Few figures are as central to fear's modernity as Hobbes. Hobbes explains religion’s origins, why humans exit the state of nature, and why humans obey an earthly sovereign through fear. Hobbes systematizes fear's political role, deploys fear to buttress political rule, and lowers politics from the pursuit of a summum bonum to avoiding a summum malum. I focus on the individual level moral psychology of fear, comparing and analyzing fear in Hobbes's Leviathan and Lucretius' On the Nature of Things. Given Lucretius' influence on Hobbes, the similarity of their thought, and their skepticism, a comparison lets me hone in on similarities and differences in their theories. These differences are a function of the ends fear serves, and not of the way they understand fear itself.
Daniel Kapust is Associate Professor of Political Science, and affiliated with the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies and the Center for Early Modern Studies. A political theorist, he centers his research on rhetoric and republicanism, themes he explores in Roman, early modern, 18th century, and contemporary political thought. His work includes Republicanism, Rhetoric, and Roman Political Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2011), and he has published or had accepted for publication articles and chapters on Cicero, Sallust, Livy, Tacitus, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Adam Smith. His research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Political Theory, History of Political Thought, European Journal of Political Theory, Political Studies, and Journal of the History of Ideas. Currently, he is working on a book project on flattery and political theory, and articles on Hobbes and Lucretius and deliberative democracy and the justification of war.
My project analyzes the United States-led counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan and Pakistan from 2001. By focusing on this node of war, part of the larger U.S. led overseas contingency operations, I demonstrate how war is indissociable from, and indeed becomes, every day life for all involved. I put forth that nowhere more than in the capacity to sleep—the dreams and nightmares it enables, its relation to the body and to the soul, its interruptions by trauma and sometimes its failure to be interrupted by conscience, its categorization as a military logistic, and its manipulation as such—is the complexity of war’s effects illuminated. And, yet, it has been overlooked as such.
Helen M. Kinsella is an Associate Professor in the Political Science Department at UW-Madison. Her research and teaching interests include contemporary political theory, feminist theories, international law, especially international humanitarian and human rights, armed conflict, and gender and armed conflict. She is a graduate of University of Minnesota-Minneapolis and, prior to her appointment at Wisconsin, held pre and post doctoral fellowships at, respectively, Harvard University and Stanford University. Her first book, The Image Before the Weapon: A Critical History of the Distinction Between Combatant and Civilian (Cornell UP, April 2011), received the 2012 Sussex International Theory Prize (The Centre for Advanced International Theory, University of Sussex) and Honorable Mention for the 2012 Lepgold Book Prize (The Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Mortara Center for International Studies, Georgetown University).
This project is an intellectual history of dietetics in the nineteenth century. I focus on a trans-Atlantic network of chemists, physiologists, physicians, and social reformers who created a new conceptual underpinning for dietetics and, in the course of doing so, formed a new consensus about the social value of scientific ideas. Collectively, their work changed dietetics from a discourse of individual self-management, where one ate to maintain one's own moral and physical health, to a universal science that would link an individual's dietary choices to the health of the society they inhabited. Through an excavation of the conceptual roots of dietetics, my project documents the development of universal standards for healthy eating and the shifting ethical valence of diet from the personal to the social.
Molly Laas is a PhD Candidate in the Program of the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology at UW-Madison. Her work explores the intellectual cultures of science and medicine in the nineteenth century, focusing on the trans-Atlantic circulation of ideas about chemistry, physiology, health, and the interplay between science and social thought. Her work has been supported by a University Fellowship and a Chancellor's Fellowship from the University of Wisconsin, a research assistantship from UW-Madison Center for German and European Studies, and the History of Science Department's Lindberg, Coleman, and Richardson fellowships. She received her B.A. in comparative literature from Smith College in 2004, and worked as a science journalist before receiving a Master's degree in the history of science from UW-Madison in 2012. She is currently at work on her dissertation entitled "From Regimen to Regime: The Social Meaning of Nutrition, 1840-1910."
My dissertation investigates irresolvable disagreement in the literary culture of the English Renaissance (for me, ca. 1579-1625). Against other scholars, who have argued that poems and plays at this time fostered a post-Reformation public sphere in which people could communicate their opinions and debate matters of common concern, I instead see the literary production of this society as testing the limits of discursive interaction between disagreeing parties. Even as my work focuses most directly on attempts by a Puritan publisher, a Catholic playwright, and a female satirist to navigate a public hostile to all three of these groups, it also speaks more broadly to the role of literary culture in creating public spaces in which empathetic engagement is possible even when consensus is not.
Victor Lenthe is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research focuses on early modern literary culture and post-Reformation Europe’s experience of religious difference. His dissertation is entitled “The Question of the Early Modern Public: Consensus and its Limits in the English Literary Renaissance.” It examines early modern writers like Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, and Ben Jonson for historical perspectives on debates between modern political theorists about the nature of pluralism and the role of literature in public life.
Changes in the American religious landscape enabled the rise of mass incarceration. At the same time, many religious ideas and practices oppose mass incarceration. My research intends to substantiate these two claims and to explore the tension between them. Working collaboratively with prison ethnographer Joshua Dubler, we aim to re-frame the exponential prison growth of the last forty years. By looking behind prison walls, inside churches, and at the language of political elites, we aim to explicate the peculiar nexus of religious and political ideas that enables mass incarceration, and we hope to harvest religious resources that can make the criminal justice system more just.
Vincent Lloyd is Assistant Professor of Religion at Syracuse University. His research focuses on the intersection of religion, politics, and race, drawing on the resources of critical theory. Lloyd has written The Problem with Grace: Reconfiguring Political Theology and Black Natural Law: Beyond Secularism and Multiculturalism (forthcoming), and he has edited or co-edited the books Race and Political Theology, Sainthood and Race, and Race and Secularism in America. He edits the journal Political Theology. Lloyd has held fellowships from Emory's James Weldon Johnson Institute for the Study of Race and Difference, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study, and the American Council of Learned Societies. He is at work on a project entitled "Religion and Mass Incarceration."
Religious freedom in the United States is commonly understood as an individual right. This understanding has a particular history. By examining the history of religious freedom, I show that it has often been understood collectively, not individually. This is because religious freedom has often been understood as the freedom of a religious community to possess land, and to exercise political authority over it. I examine Biblical and early modern history, showing that religious freedom is closely related to collective land possession. I then turn to two case studies, of claims to sacred land by Native Americans and in Israel/Palestine. These two cases each reveal insights that can be brought to the other. Moreover, while courts often understand religious freedom in these cases as an individual right, I explore the legal implication of recovering the history of religious freedom as a collective right.
Dana Lloyd is a Ph.D. Candidate in Religion at Syracuse University. She grew up in Tel Aviv and received her LL.B., LL.M. and M.A. (philosophy) degrees from Tel Aviv University. She practiced law for several years, focusing on human rights law and labor law, before moving to the U.S. and starting her doctoral studies. She studies the relation between law and religion, more specifically, on the relation between religious freedom and land rights, in the U.S. and in Israel/Palestine. She is at work on her dissertation entitled "Between God and Land: On Sovereignty, Indigeneity, and Religious Freedom."
This project begins from a deceptively simple question: what does it mean to be contemporary? While the question sounds practically timeless, the contemporary is in fact a relatively recent invention. The word did not become a historical category or a disciplinary framework until the mid-twentieth century. Yet the contemporary is not like other historical periods—for the simple reason that, as something that is ongoing and open-ended, it is not yet historical. The increasing prevalence of this not-quite-historical category suggests a deeper uncertainty about what it means to think about the present—our own living history—today. How do we manage to make sense of our contemporary moment? And how are those efforts reflected in the critical concepts and cultural forms we consider contemporary? Taking up these questions, "Contemporary Drift" has two central aims. It elaborates the challenges the contemporary poses to standard modes of historical understanding. And it argues that those challenges shape both the political concerns and the aesthetic forms of the field we call contemporary literature. Ultimately, this book shows how the calamitous histories of our contemporary moment—from the rise of postindustrial capitalism to the crisis of a changing climate—are first inscribed in the forms that help us think about the concept of the contemporary itself.
Theodore Martin is Assistant Professor of English at the UW-Milwaukee. He specializes in post-1945 American and British fiction. His work has appeared in Modern Language Quarterly and Novel: A Forum on Fiction, and is forthcoming in the edited volume Postmodern/Postwar and After (University of Iowa Press). He is currently finishing a book titled "Contemporary Drift: Genre and the Forms of the Present." He is also writing the entry on "Temporality" for the Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature.
This project begins by proposing a "microeconomic century" that begins in 1873 and continues through the present. In the wake of the “marginalist revolution” of the late-nineteenth century, economic thought shifted decisively from the generally "macroeconomic" modes of thought common to classical economics to the "microeconomic" principles of an emerging neoclassical school. The microeconomic turn marked the systematization of the field of economics and its effort to establish itself as a mathematical discipline. With that systematization came resistance to the interdisciplinarity that had once characterized political economy as a form of thought. Against economics' own emphatic narrowing of scope, I want to think about the relationship between the microeconomic turn and twentieth-century culture and critical theory. This book thus explores the parallel destinies—and periodic collisions—of social theory, narrative form, and microeconomics in the long twentieth century.
Annie McClanahan is an Assistant Professor of English at UW Milwaukee. Her book Dead Pledges: Debt, Crisis, and 21st Century Culture will appear from Stanford University Press in fall 2016. Her new project, “A Cultural History of Microeconomics,” will explore the ways in which microeconomics has both drawn on and shaped critical theory and cultural production. Her work has appeared in Representations, The Journal of Cultural Economy, Journal of American Studies, Post45, South Atlantic Quarterly, symploke, and qui parle.
This book project examines the fate of 'intelligence' in French literature and thought during the Third Republic. Focusing on works by Bergson, Proust, and Valéry, it analyzes the role and limits lent to the category of intelligence in literary modernism. It argues that we cannot understand how this period views literary creation and criticism, as well as its own political situation, without accounting for its fluctuating conception of intelligence.
research combines the resources of literary theory with the history of ideas. He has introduced and translated Maurice Blanchot's Political Writings, 1953-1993 (Fordham University Press, 2010) and Jacques Rancière's Aisthesis: Scenes from the Aesthetic Regime of Art (Verso Books, 2013). He is at work on a book manuscript titled “Disarming Intelligence: On a Modern French Faculty.”
In the eleventh through sixteenth centuries AD, the midcontinental and southeastern United States was the scene of considerable population movement as premodern indigenous peoples of disparate backgrounds, collectively called Mississippian by archaeologists, abandoned their homes and agricultural fields and migrated, sometimes great distances, to join together and form new communities in new places or move into existing towns in foreign areas. In seeking to understand how people successfully formed these multi-ethnic communities, I focus on architectural practices, particularly the ways in which aesthetics and symbolism of the built environment connect with the social, political, and cosmological processes that shaped these communities.
Sissel Schroeder is a Professor of Archaeology in the Anthropology Department at UW-Madison. Her research intersects with the humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences, and includes the investigation of ancient architecture, ecological and agency-based considerations of emerging sociopolitical complexity, historical ecology, and the history of archaeology. Her research has been published in edited volumes and journals, including the American Antiquity, Journal of Anthropological Archaeology, Antiquity, Southeastern Archaeology, Journal of Biogeography, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is a recipient of the Chancellor's Distinguished Teaching Award, and served as the Director of the College of Letters & Science Honors Program in 2012-2015. She is at work on a project entitled "Building Place and People: Materiality, Hybridity, and Community Formation among Ancient Native Americans in the Midcontinent, AD 1000-1600."
In my book project on the translation of foreign religion in Herodotus' Histories, I deal with narratives about foreign peoples, cultures, and their religions, that – in Antiquity as well as today – have been delicate subjects. At the intersection of Classical Studies, Ancient History, and Religious Studies, my investigation explores Herodotus' narratives about foreign religions in the Histories in order to reconstruct his method of describing and understanding foreign religions. The close, systematic analysis of Herodotus' narratives on Egypt and Persia will be directed by a multidimensional concept of 'religion' and by key questions raised by scholarship of the modern studies of religion (e.g. aesthetics, psychology and sociology of religion).
Andreas Schwab is an Assistant Professor of Classics at the Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg in Germany. He published his first book on the sophisticated Late Antique (4th cent. CE) hexameter poetry and theology of Gregory of Nazianzus, Peri Pronoias On Providence: Text, Translation and Commentary, Classica Monacensia series (Tübingen 2009). In his second book, Thales of Miletus in Early Christian Literature,Studia Praesocratica series (Berlin/Boston 2012), he focuses on the reception of this early Greek philosopher, astronomer and sage of the 6th century BCE. He has written articles on the hermeneutics and the reception of ancient Greek philosophy, Herodotus, the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, and early Christian literature. In 2015 he co-edited a volume entitled Le Travail du Savoir / Wissensbewätigung: Philosophie, sciences exactes et sciences appliquées dans l’Antiquité. He is also a co-editor of The Reception of the Homeric Hymns (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). His current book project is on “The Translation of Foreign Religion in Herodotus.”
Expanding upon the current scholarly turn towards mining the history of the unstable boundaries between human and non-human animals, my research considers visual responses to Darwinism and other challenges to interspecies difference in nineteenth-century Britain. Through a focus on the figure of the bird, my project reveals a Victorian visual culture which participates in two projects: one anthropocentric, justifying human dominion; the other more egalitarian, allowing that boundaries between "us" and "them" may be less secure than once imagined. Considering a range of visual media, from painting and illustration to cartoons and taxidermy, my project examines the complex, often contradictory relations between ourselves and the many species with whom we share our world.
Caitlin Silberman is a PhD candidate in Art History at UW-Madison. Her research centers on intersections between art, visual culture, and the sciences in nineteenth-century Britain. Her dissertation considers Victorian strategies for visualizing difference between humans and non-human animals. Silberman has taught Art History and History of Science at UW-Madison and worked at a variety of museums, archives, and libraries, including the Stanley Kubrick Archive, London's Natural History Museum, and the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, CA. Her Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellowship is bracketed by two semesters as a 2015-16 CIC/Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Fellow, where she is based at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. She is at work on her dissertation entitled "Thinking with Birds in British Art and Visual Culture, 1840-1900."
It is often assumed that images are unlike language in that they resemble the world, rather than referring to it using conventional signs. There is nevertheless much that is conventional in the ways that images denote, assert, deceive and shift meaning. Using many concrete examples from Western and non-Western traditions, I work in the border territory of art historical iconography, semiotics and the philosophy of images.
Paul Taylor is Curator of the Photographic Collection at the Warburg Institute, University of London. He is the author of Dutch Flower Painting, 1600-1720 (1995) and of numerous articles on early modern art theory and iconography. He has also edited four multi-author volumes: Pictorial Composition from Medieval to Modern Art (2000), The Iconography of Cylinder Seals (2006), Iconography without Texts (2008) and Meditations on a Heritage: Papers on the Work and Legacy of Sir Ernst Gombrich (2014). His most recent publication is Condition: the Ageing of Art (2015).
European theories of monarchical absolutism went hand in hand with a genealogical conception of history in which the king could trace his ancestry back to the patriarchs of Genesis via a network of predecessors who were often obscure or mythical. This genealogy with roots in the Garden of Eden had evolved in the middle ages but was still extant during the reign of the early Stuarts (1603-1649), when unusually complex genealogical trees were used to support the claims of the new dynasty to be 'natural kings' not only of Scotland and of England but of Britain. My book explores this genealogical conception of kingship, its role in debates on British nationhood, and its reflections in seventeenth-century British historiography, literature and visual culture. I argue that the principles of 'natural kingship' theorized by King James VI and I, and translated into verse and onto the stage, rested on views of genealogy as a structure that can be manipulated to define shared origins, ethnic and national identity, and hierarchical preeminence.
Sara Trevisan is Lecturer in Early Modern English Literature at Brunel University London and Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Warwick starting in May 2016. She has published on early modern literature and culture in journals such as Renaissance Quarterly, Renaissance Studies and The Seventeenth Century. She is particularly interested in European intellectual history, court and civic festivals, literary geography, iconography, theories of monarchical rule and nationhood. She is currently writing a monograph on the use of genealogy as a tool for royal celebration in early Stuart literature and culture, entitled From Noah to King James: Genesis, Genealogy and the Myth-Making of British Absolutism, 1598-1642.
Cinema in colonial Taiwan is, by its nature, transmedia and transnational, unfolding a film history beyond films. Rethinking cinema through media archaeology, this project explores the intricate connections between visuality and power, and it aspires to layer a colonial experience of cinema on to the ontological ground of the medium. Considering cinema as a historical event, the visual dominance of which intertwines with the technological capacities and imperial control of its time, this dissertation examines the early film history in colonial Taiwan with various "cinematic situations," including the magic lantern shows, spatial sensibility in the movies, filmic realism in the news, soundscape of the local through films, and the mobility of film workers under wartime conditions.
Laura Jo-Han Wen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages & Literature at UW-Madison. Her research explores issues at the convergence of colonial modernity, visual culture, media archaeology, the history of early cinema, and transnationalism. As a Taiwanese, she is interested in thinking about the ways in which her Taiwan experience might contribute to, or sometimes confront, current scholarship and intellectual fields. From 2012 to 2013, she served as the president of the North American Taiwan Studies Association (NATSA), a US-based NPO dedicated to Taiwan studies and transdisciplinary research. She is at work on her doctoral dissertation concerning Taiwan's early film history and cinematic culture, tentatively entitled, "Screen Culture, Visual Power, and the Beyond: A Transmedia Archaeology of the Cinema in Colonial Taiwan, 1895–1945."
In the Inka Empire, it was not unusual for the state to execute mountains for treason, ply rock outcrops with food and drink to gain their co-operation, or to imagine that rivers had voices through which future events could be divined. The commonly held Andean notion that non-human landscape entities (e.g. mountains, rocks, lakes) could be sentient beings has traditionally been classified as an expression of indigenous religion - and more specifically as a form of "animism." My research, however, involves a critical reappraisal of the relegation of the manipulation of non-humans to the status of religion, along with the parallel notion that the manipulation of human subjects is basically a socio-economic phenomenon. For example, in the Inka State material exchanges with mountains have typically been considered a "religious" phenomenon and cast under the heading of "mountain worship" by scholars, while exchanges between the Inkas and other humans were seen as primarily "economic" processes involving taxation and tribute. Yet I argue that such separations constitute a projection of modern categories onto the non-modern past. And rather than assume that indigenous states' divergence from Western theories of politics can be encapsulated under the term religion, I try to understand indigenous polities as operating within quite different, but still very real, logics of power. Thus in the pre-colonial Andes, such "things" as mountains and rocks were actually a form of political subject, rather than the mere objects that secular, Western epistemologies would conceive them to be, and so the Inka State must ultimately be understood as an entity comprised of subjects that were both human and non-human.
Darryl Wilkinson received his Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University in 2013. His dissertation research entailed an archaeological study of the Inca occupation of the Amaybamba Valley of southern Peru, focusing on how its landscapes were radically reshaped through their incorporation into a vast indigenous empire. His most recent publication is "The Emperor's New Body: Ontology, Personhood and the Inka Sovereign," published in the Cambridge Archaeological Journal in October 2013. At present, he is working on a book project that seeks to redraw our accounts of how power worked in the Inca State, taking seriously indigenous understandings of politics, rather than subordinating them to classical Western theories of the state and the subject. He is at work on a project entitled "Post-secular Prehistories: An Indigenous Theory of Politics in the Inka Empire."
The work for Needlepoint Narratives will involve, first, the editing of excerpts from a collection of over 50 oral history interviews with workers (mainly women) employed in the garment industry of the Wyoming Valley of Northeastern Pennsylvania between 1944 and 2000. The interviews have been collected, transcribed, and digitized and constitute a specific collection within the larger the Northeastern Pennsylvania Oral and Life History Project, which Prof. Wolensky directs. The second component of the selecting, and working with technicians to improve, from among the dozens of newly-found images on the union's social and political activities as well as it's inspiring and dynamic leader, Min Matheson.
The volume will serve as a companion to Prof. Wolensky's earlier co-authored work, Fighting for the Union Label: The Woman's Garment Industry and the ILGWU in Pennsylvania (Penn State Press, 2002).
A Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Robert Wolensky is also currently serving as Acting Director of the Center for the Small City at the same university. His research and publications have focused on the history and culture of northeastern Pennsylvania, and he has authored or co-authored books on the Tripocal Storm Agnes flood of 1972 (1995); the Knox Mine Disaster of 1959 (1999 & 1995), the ladies garment workers' industry between 1944 and 2000 (2002), the Avondale Mine Disaster of 1869 (2008), and labor conflict in coal mining between 1897 and 1959 (2013). He is also the director of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Oral and Life History Project. He has been appointed fellow or visiting professor at UW-Madison, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the London School of Economics, Wilkes University, and the University of Exeter in England (the latter as a Fulbright scholar). He earned an A.B. from Villanova University and master's and doctoral degrees from Penn State University. He is at work on a book project entitled "Needlepoint Narratives: An Oral History of Women Garment Workers and the ILGWU in Pennsylvania."
Through its recent decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court has required states to license same-sex marriages and to recognize those performed out-of-state. This epochal step has come upon several others in a long struggle for the recognition of the rights of LGBT people. Among these are the High Court's holdings in Windsor and Hollingsworth (2013) as well as its earlier decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003). But, the jurisprudence that these cases develop lies in a line with a prior case, Romer v. Evans (1996), in which the Court posed the question of gay rights in an explicitly political context. The project I will pursue at the Institute is a book-length treatment of American law, society and political community in contestation and evolution.
George Wright is Professor Emeritus of Human Behavior at UW-Superior. He grew up in Chicago and attended a small, Lutheran college in the area. He took a master’s degree in Classics at Columbia University and then moved to the land of the Romans, living one year in Rome and another in Perugia in central Italy. Returning to the U.S., he took a law degree at Valparaiso University and then pursued the PhD at University of California, Berkeley, spending a semester in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany, as a DAAD fellow. He found employment at the northern-most campus of the University of Wisconsin System and recently retired after 28 years in that position. While there, he enjoyed fellowships both at Madison's IRH and at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study (NIAS). His research interests have focused on seventeenth-century political philosophy, with particular emphasis on Thomas Hobbes, and in American constitutional law. He loves to sing choral music. He is at work on a project entitled "Democratic Citizenship and Gay Rights."