By drawing attention to the under examined category of loyalty, this book argues for the centrality of loyalty to figurations of modernity. Rather than focus on political loyalty alone--a context in which loyalty gets most prominence--I examine interlocking formulations of loyalty across three evolving sites of modernity in nineteenth-early twentieth century Britain and its empire: that of the state, the family, and the economy. In querying how and why ideas of loyalty were idealized at a moment marked both by massive industrialism and high imperialism, I study literary genres and modes that stabilize the seemingly counterintuitive relation between loyalty and modernity. In so doing, I also identify the “transimperial” as a heuristic for studying the expansive yet connected multilingual literary systems of empire.
Sukanya Banerjee is Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She works at the intersection of Victorian studies, postcolonial studies, and studies of South Asia. She is the author of Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Duke, 2010), which was awarded the NVSA Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies (2012). She is co-editor of New Routes for Diaspora Studies (Indiana, 2012), an her essays have appeared in journals such as Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, Prose Studies, and Diaspora. A recipient of a previous fellowship at the IRH, she has also received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
This book investigates how people with disabilities defined and were defined by early modern representations of bodies, spaces, and narratives. It builds on insights that I have gleaned from investigating the relations between experimental genres, visuality, and vulnerable cultural identity, focusing this knowledge on the theorization of disability in the global Renaissance. Understanding how early modern writers normed, located, and related disability not only provides us with more accurate genealogies of disability, but it also helps us to nuance current aesthetic and theoretical disability formulations.
I consider conduct books and treatises, travel writing, wonder books, and essays. The cross-section of texts is comparative, putting canonical European authors such as Castiglione and Cervantes into dialogue with transatlantic and Anglo-Ottoman literary exchange. Its methodology takes a formal and philosophical approach to pre-modern formulations of monstrous bodies, spaces, and narratives, which continue to shape our understandings of disability today.
Professor Elizabeth B. Bearden is a scholar and teacher of early modern literature with training in Comparative Literature, Classics, the History of Rhetoric, Visual Culture Studies, and Disability Studies. She received her Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from NYU in 2006 and her A. B. in Comparative Literature at Princeton in 1998. She is an Associate Professor in the English department at UW-Madison. Her first monograph, The Emblematics of the Self: Ekphrasis and Identity in Renaissance Imitations of Greek Romance, was published by the University of Toronto Press in 2012 and has been positively reviewed in leading journals. She has published articles in PMLA, The Journal for Early Modern Cultural Studies, Ancient Narrative Supplementum, and Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies. Additionally, she directed a Digital Humanities project on Philip Sidney’s funeral, which appeared in a Folger Shakespeare Library exhibition in Washington, DC.
My dissertation examines the French relationship with Lebanon in the early twentieth century, interrogating how notions of protection shaped French intervention in the Near East. Through a diverse array of archival sources, I explore how affective discourses of French imperial paternalism and prestige were articulated, contested, and reconfigured across social, economic, political, and cultural exchanges. At sites of quotidian encounter, I argue, French and Lebanese men and women—authors and travelers, industrialists and employees, political officials and local inhabitants—reworked the meaning of Franco-Lebanese contact according to idealized premises of civilization and modernity, alongside contextual politics of conduct and reputation. The dissertation aims to provide insight into how the interaction of ideas as well as individuals shaped the imperial formation between France and Lebanon as it transitioned from informal protectorate to post-World War I colonial mandate.
John Boonstra is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at UW-Madison. His work focuses on sites of late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century European colonial encounters, particularly in ambiguously imperial contexts. Research for his dissertation has been supported by a Social Science Research Council IDRF, a Fulbright Fellowship, and the Mellon Foundation, among other sources. His teaching interests include European gender and colonial history and the modern Mediterranean. He received a BA with High Honors from Swarthmore College in 2007, and an MA in History from UW-Madison in 2012. An article based on previous research recently appeared in the December 2015 issue of German History. He is currently working on his dissertation, “A Mandate to Protect: Imperial Ideologies and Affective Encounters between France and Lebanon, 1900-1930.”
Has oppression gone metaphoric? My project explores the ways in which fantasy underwrites contemporary understanding of racial difference in the U.S. With specific emphasis on the visual representation of Asian Americans, I analyze displaced portrayals of social injustice where the rhetoric of social movements becomes leveraged not on behalf of Asian Americans per se, but on behalf of their object substitutes, whether talking animals, computer-generated portraiture, the supernatural, multicultural dolls, or fetish objects. I'm interested in sites where racial difference is experienced as a form of ambivalent pleasure—as "racist love": kawaii, children's literature, pornography. The cultural narratives generated here invoke and displace the “wounded” subject of grievance; all enmesh non-human substitutes within fields of visual and textual representation that rely upon post-Civil Rights narratives of visibility, inclusion, and equal rights. What national desires come to be expressed through the imaginary and what are the implications underlying the increasingly metaphoric circulation of race?
Leslie Bow is the Eccles Professor of English and Asian American Studies at UW-Madison. She is the author of the award-winning "Partly Colored": Asian Americans and Racial Anomaly in the Segregated South (New York University Press, 2010); Betrayal and Other Acts of Subversion: Feminism, Sexual Politics, Asian American Women's Literature (Princeton University Press, 2001); and editor of Asian American Feminisms (Routledge, 2012). Her work has appeared in the Utne Reader, the Michigan Quarterly Review, the Southern Review, as well as in numerous academic journals and anthologies. Formerly the Director of Asian American Studies at UW-Madison, Leslie was previously on the faculties of Brown University and the University of Miami. She has been named Exceptional Professor, recognized for Excellence in Teaching, and received a UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award, in addition to being nominated for Professor of the Year and Excellence in Mentoring. She served on the advisory boards of American Literature, Contemporary Woman Writers, and the Society for the Study of American Women Writers. Leslie is also a contributor to the Progressive Media Project through which her op-ed columns appear in newspapers across the United States. She is at work on a project entitled "Racist Love: Asian Americans and the Fantasy of Race."
This project examines the cultural and material contexts of Medieval Latin literary texts produced during the eleventh and twelfth centuries that discuss or portray same-sex encounters between men. I bring questions about same-sex sexuality to texts that depict the Classical figure of Ganymede, a by-word for same-sex relations, and I put these texts into dialogue with the manuscripts in which they survive to provide for a richer appreciation of the contexts in which they were read and circulated. I show that medieval responses to Ganymede were not uniformly pro or contra same-sex desire, but that he was deployed instead in different ways to admonish and teach correct behaviour, to display knowledge of Classical Latin literature, and to play with Latin language and grammar.
Tina Chronopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Classics and Medieval Studies at the University of Binghamton, State University of New York, where she teaches a range of courses in Latin language and literature, as well as in Classical civilization and medieval studies. She is a Medieval Latinist, with particular interests in twelfth-century Latin literature written in the Anglo-French cultural realm and the manuscripts in which these texts survive. Her past research has focused on the reception of Classical Latin literature in the medieval period and the medieval Latin legend of St Katherine of Alexandria.
The Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Jewish manuscripts discovered in caves in the 20th century in the area of the Dead Sea, have been objects of mystery and intrigue for seventy years. In particular, the subcollection known as the Qumran scrolls, found in eleven caves in close proximity to the ancient ruins of Khirbet Qumran, continue to fascinate and confound modern scholarship. Three questions about the Qumran scrolls have been paramount in the history of research: How did the scrolls come to be in the caves? Who were the inhabitants of Qumran and did they own the Qumran scrolls? Why did they establish a settlement at this inhospitable site, and why did they abandon their manuscripts in the nearby caves? My book project, Scribes, Scrolls and Scripture: The Story of Qumran, narrates the story of the foundation of the Qumran settlement as a library and scribal center staffed by scribes and priests who were part of the Essenes, a first century BCE Jewish movement active in the events of first century BCE Judea. It breaks new ground by focusing on the scribes of Qumran and their role in collecting, copying, preserving, and in a few cases composing the Qumran scrolls.
Sidnie White Crawford is Willa Cather Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches in the areas of Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism, and Hebrew language. She is an internationally recognized scholar in the areas of Dead Sea Scrolls and Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Her most recent book, edited with Cecilia Wassen, is The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and the Concept of a Library, published by E. J. Brill (2016). Sidnie currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, the American headquarters for archaeological research in the Holy Land, and as a member of the Society of Biblical Literature Council. She is also a member of numerous editorial boards, including Hermeneia: A Commentary Series (Fortress Press), The Textual History of the Bible (Brill), and The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition (SBL Press). In her free time Dr. Crawford enjoys international travel, classical music, in particular early music and opera, and watching sports, especially Husker football and women’s volleyball. She usually lives in Lincoln, NE with her husband, Dr. Dan D. Crawford, and their cat, Mollie, but is delighted to be spending the year at the IRH and enjoying all that Madison has to offer.
A recurring question in William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience is whether there are divine forces in the universe that are aiding humans in their efforts to combat evil, and whether the forces of good will ultimately triumph over evil. Interestingly, he sees the phenomenon of conversion as giving the best indication of the redemption of evil, and passage from the natural to a spiritual realm. Further, James finds in the experiences of “saints” a heroic character that is almost superhuman. James concludes that the transformative experiences he has identified represent a new kind of specifically religious evidence for believing that there are spiritual forces working in the world to defeat evil.
Dan Crawford is presently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics & Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1997-2014). Prior to that he was Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Albright College, Reading PA (1978-1997). Dan received his B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College; a M.A. from the Religion Department at Princeton University; and a PhD from the Philosophy Department at the University of Pittsburgh. His book, A Thirst for Souls: the Life of Evangelist Percy B. Crawford (1902-1960) (University of Susquehanna Press, 2010) is an objective account of my father’s pioneering role in the use of radio and television for the cause of evangelism in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s.
Most Recent article: “The Idea of Militancy in American Fundamentalism,” forthcoming in Fundamentalism: Perspectives on a Contested History, eds. Simon A. Wood & David H. Watt (University of South Carolina Press, 2014), 36-54.
As Margaret Atwood writes, the female body is always seen to be a “hot topic” in all cultures across the world. Despite their other differences, socio-cultural systems in diverse epochs and regions have employed a standardized system of mapping and atomizing the female body. In the twentieth century when women writers start writing about their lived bodily experiences, some of them also start seeing their bodies beyond the composite whole with alternate views. How do they overcome seeing their organs as encoded with cultural meanings that were imagined to reside in, on, and about women’s individual body parts? What if women writers (and their readers) begin to see their body parts less as vehicles of cultural values and more as anatomical signatures that express varied emotions, creativity and a repressed sense of self? With a transnational approach, I will explore these questions in twentieth-century women’s writing, arguing that the texts they produced evidence “anatomphilia,” an affective bond between the subjectivity and the atomized body.
Devaleena Das was a former Assistant Professor of English and Gender Studies at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Currently she is teaching in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from Calcutta University in 2012. Her dissertation examines postcolonial and gendered space in Australia and she works in the field of intersectional feminism.
How did transatlantic writers use “I” in their discourse? When did “I” become the familiar protagonist of American letters? Julia's project uses the first-person observations at the heart of natural history writing to interrogate the models of personhood developing between 1783 and 1830. Critics have traditionally emphasized forms of first-person prose associated with Puritan spiritual autobiography, especially narratives about personal transformation. She argues that natural history revolves around an equally significant form of first-person prose, one that prioritizes exterior experience rather than interior life. By focusing on empirical observation and its legacies, Julia identifies a wider net of narrators and strategies garnering authority in early American prose. Empirical observation shapes prose writing across contexts, forcing us to reconsider the models of personhood and individuality circulating in the period. Her project constellates a series of cases in which observation, personhood, and narrative agency meet their limits.
Julia Dauer is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison. Her research focuses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American literature and the history science. Her dissertation uses natural history to access a much larger crisis of personhood that characterized literary, scientific, and political discourse at the turn of the nineteenth century and continues to resonate in the contemporary United States. Dauer has taught literature and composition courses at UW-Madison and worked as an instructor in the Writing Center. Her dissertation research has been supported by fellowships from the Department of English, the Graduate School, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. She is currently at work on her dissertation entitled “Natural History and Personhood in Early America.”
The global turn in modernist studies has begun to forge strong connections between twentieth-century modernisms and the aesthetic forms engendered by such politically fraught but culturally transformative markers of modernity as colonialism, decolonization, and diaspora. A key feature of the resulting disciplinary formation—“geomodernism”—is an emphasis on non-prescriptive critical methods that can balance the global horizons of modernism with qualities intrinsic to particular cultural geographies. My book draws on these recent reorientations to develop new definitional frameworks for Indian modernisms, and to consider Indian theatre of the later twentieth century as a significant field of geomodernist representation. I argue that the binary of centre-periphery relations, and labels such as “vernacular modernism” or “vernacular cosmopolitanism,” misrepresent the complex forms of multilingual literacy outside the Europhone fold that have historically characterized Indian literary cultures. For the new modernist studies to accommodate this writing fully, we need to add language as a fourth, “lexical” dimension of analysis to the spatiotemporal and vertical expansion of modernism-as-subject. The objective in Cosmo-Modernism, then, is to position Indian modernisms clearly in relation to transnational modernist studies, to highlight the interlinked but relatively neglected genres of drama, theatre, and performance, and to give Indian theatre a new visibility in modernist theatre studies.
Aparna Dharwadker is Professor of English and Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and works primarily in the areas of modern Indian and postcolonial theatre, comparative modern drama, theatre theory, and the global South Asian diaspora. Her book, Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in India Since 1947, received the Joe A. Callaway Prize in 2006 as the best book on drama or theatre published in 2004-05. Aparna’s articles and essays have appeared in journals and collections such as PMLA, Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, New Theatre Quarterly, Theatre Research International, Studies in English Literature, Studies in Philology, South Central Review, English Postcoloniality, Representing the Past: Essays in Performance Historiography, The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism, and The Routledge Handbook of Asian Theatre. She has received fellowships from the NEH, the American Institute of Indian Studies, the International Research Centre (Freie Universistät, Berlin), the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the Newberry Library, among others; at UW-Madison, she held the multi-year H. I. Romnes Fellowship for outstanding scholarship in the humanities. Aparna’s collaborative translation of Mohan Rakesh’s modernist play, Ashadh ka ek din (One Day in the Season of Rain, 1958) was published by Penguin Modern Classics in 2015, and A Poetics of Modernity: Indian Theatre Theory, 1850 to the Present, an edited collection of source-texts in theatre theory from multiple Indian languages, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2017.
In my book project I provide a new, comprehensive reading of Plato’s Phaedo, a dialogue set on the last day of Socrates’ life. I argue that Plato appropriates and transforms Pythagorean and Orphic views in order to present a radical new account of the soul, the good life, and the nature of reality. According to this new account, the life of knowledge is the best life possible, but we are unable to fully realize this life while embodied. This ethical view, I argue, is grounded in a new account of the nature of the soul, which is in turn grounded in a new account of Plato’s forms. I show how the different elements of the dialogue fit together to form a cohesive philosophical vision.
David Ebrey (Ph.D., UCLA) works on ancient Greek philosophy, primarily on Plato and Aristotle. So far his research on Plato has focused on Socratic inquiry, the value of knowledge, moral education, and Platonic forms. His research on Aristotle has focused on matter in Aristotle's natural philosophy and syllogisms in his logic. He has published in journals such as Journal of the History of Philosophy, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, and British Journal of the History of Philosophy, and he has edited a volume, Theory and Practice in Aristotle’s Natural Science (Cambridge, 2015). He has received a Mellon Postdoc (2007-2009), Alice Kaplan Humanities Institute Fellowship (2011-2012), and a Spencer Foundation Grant (2012-2013). He was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 2013. He is currently working on a book on Plato’s Phaedo.
Twenty years after the end of Latin America’s bloodiest civil war, Guatemala City has become a hotbed of homicidal violence. Much of this bloodshed is blamed on maras, gangs bearing transnational signs and symbols, which operate in prisons and poor urban communities. My forthcoming book manuscript, based on ethnographic research inside prisons, courts, and urban red zones, explores the maras' evolution and the world that makes them what they are today: victim-perpetrators of often spectacular violence and pivotal figures in a politics of death reigning over post-war society. However, while gangsters play starring roles in this account of extreme peacetime violence, they are not the problem. They are a hyper-visible expression of a problem no one can name, a deafening scream, a smokescreen obscuring innumerable and diffuse sources of everyday brutality. The phantasmagoric public image mareros make is both a product of and answer to a deepening sense of mortal doubt over the terms of daily survival. Through a mélange of ethnography, media analysis, short stories, and photographic essays, this book traces the tangled skein weaving the maras into collective nightmares swirling about extreme peacetime violence. In so doing, I expose the quicksilver metamorphoses violence undergoes as it moves through the social body, infiltrating and reordering lived and symbolic spaces, and escaping our best efforts to confront it, pin it down, and hold it at bay.
Anthony Fontes has worked as a free-lance journalist in Egypt and Guatemala, an actor in South America, an environmental justice advocate in India and Thailand, and an immigration legal advisor in California. He received his PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2015. His written and photographic work in Central American cities explores the blurred boundaries between the underworld, the state, law-abiding society, legacies of civil war, the meaning of justice, and violence in its most extreme and banal forms. His research has been supported by grants from the OSF/SSRC Drugs, Security, and Democracy Program, the International Center for Global Conflict and Cooperation, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. His most recent article, "Extorted Life: Protection Rackets in Guatemala City," will be published with Public Culture. He is at work on a project entitled "Of Maras and Mortal Doubt: Violence, Order, and Uncertainty in Guatemala City."
My current research project studies the development of novel ways of thinking about the human body and disease that appeared in Atlantic slave trading circuits during the seventeenth century. Specifically, it explores the emergence of ideas about fungible and universal bodies that were measurable in reproducible ways, and of diseases as ontological entities. I argue that these ideas, which today scholars identify as modern and “scientific,” first emerged in slave trading circuits. Their genesis was intimately linked to the unprecedented rise in the size and complexity of the commerce of human bodies in the early modern South Atlantic.
Pablo F. Gómez is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Medical History and Bioethics and the Department of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He holds a PhD from Vanderbilt university, a MD from CES University and did his residency in Orthopaedic surgery at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana. Pablo’s work examines the history of health and corporeality in the early modern Atlantic world. He has published numerous articles and book chapters. His forthcoming book, The Experiential Caribbean: Creating Knowledge and Healing in the Early Modern Atlantic (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2017), explores belief making and the creation of evidence around the human body and the natural world in the early modern Caribbean and black Atlantic. Pablo is currently working on a history of the universal quantifiable body and risk in the early modern world.
Anne Hansen's book project examines conceptions of time and history in the Theravada Buddhist world, focusing on cosmological notions of “Dhammic decline” (the waning influence of the Buddha’s Dhamma or teachings over time) that have served as alternative interpretive frameworks for understanding global experiences of large-scale societal upheaval, violence and political oppression such as those that took place in the context of the Cold War in Southeast Asia and particularly the Khmer Rouge Cambodian genocide from 1975-79. She argues for the importance and religio-political potency of “Dhammic decline” as a re-occurring motif in the Buddhist world and use it to think about the larger question of how and why certain scriptures/texts emerge as key interpretive media at different critical moments of historical change. To this end, Anne traces out the historical lifeworlds of a genre of Buddhist prophetic (“damnāy”) texts, both oral and textual, that foretell the catastrophic events tied to Dhammic decline, exploring how they have both figured in and configured religious, political and literary responses to social violence in the Buddhist world.
Anne R. Hansen is Professor of History and Religious Studies at UW Madison in the Department of History and Program in Religious Studies, where she researches and teaches about the history and development of Theravada Buddhism, Southeast Asian religions, modern Buddhist reform movements, religion and colonialism, Buddhist ethics and moral history, and theory and method in the study of religion. She received a PhD in religious studies from Harvard University and a MDiv from Harvard Divinity School. Hansen is the author of How to Behave: Buddhism and Modernity in Colonial Cambodia, 1860-1930 (2007) and editor of At the Edge of the Forest: Essays on Cambodia, History and Narrative (2008). She is currently working on two books, one on Buddhist conceptions of time, social change and millenarianism in Cambodia, and another on Buddhist ethics of care in Southeast Asian visual culture. Her most recent article “Painting Ethics: Death, Love, and Moral Vision in the Mahāparinibbāna,” appears as part of a symposium on visual ethics in Journal of Religious Ethics 44.1 (March 2016): 17-50.
Christ on a Donkey explores Palm Sunday processions and other public representations of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as embodied sites for the celebration, display, contestation, diffusion, and mockery of religious justifications for war and other exercises of power. Drawing on church processions, royal entries, and folk practices from as far apart as fourth-century Jerusalem, tenth-century Augsburg, and seventeenth-century Bristol, my project examines the mimetic practices deployed in such representations, the process by which royal entries and Palm Sunday processions came to resemble one another, and the shifting boundaries between narrative and performance, religion and politics, and dissent and blasphemy.
Max Harris is an independent scholar and Executive Director Emeritus of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. He has taught at the University of Virginia and, as a visiting professor, at Yale University. He is the author of five books: Theater and Incarnation (1990, 2nd ed. 2005), The Dialogical Theatre (1993), Aztecs, Moors, and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain (2000), Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance (2003), and Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (2011). His work has won the Otto Gründler Book Prize, and (twice) the David Bevington Award for the Best New Book in Early Drama Studies.
I am currently one of three editors for a new anthology of scholarly essays titled Harry Clarke and Artistic Visions of the New Irish State, for which I am also researching and writing a chapter. The full book of eleven new essays draws attention to the ways that Harry Clarke (1888-1931) responded to his commissions and to his public. Contributors analyze works produced at the height of Clarke's career, considering commercial, artistic, political, and religious exigencies for and responses to his work. The chapters reflect the individuality of the formal content of Clarke’s work, and also highlight themes such as patronage, public reception, advertising, propaganda, war, and memory, in order to place Clarke within a larger political and cultural context. My chapter focuses on Clarke's illustrations for the post-war poetry anthology The Year's at the Spring, edited by Lettice D'Oyly Walters and published by George Harrap in 1920.
Marguerite Helmers is Professor of English, emerita, Department of English, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and past UW System Fellow of at the IRH. Her book Harry Clarke's War: Illustrations for Ireland's Memorial Records, 1914-1918 (Irish Academic Press, 2016) was researched and completed while a fellow at the Institute. Her articles and essays on the First World War have appeared in the journals Eire Ireland and the Journal of War and Culture Studies, as well as several edited books; in addition, she is the editor of the Visual Rhetoric Series at Parlor Press, an independent scholarly publisher. Marguerite is the current chair of the History and Literature Forum of the MLA, past chair of the MLA's Committee on Information Technology, and past chair of the MLA Prize for Independent Scholars. She has held fellowships at the Center for Twentieth Century Studies (UW Milwaukee) and the Humanities Institute at University College Dublin. She Tweets about the First World War and Irish Studies @MHHelmers.
In his celebrated 1969 manifesto about documentary theatre, Peter Weiss contends, “documentary theatre shuns all invention.” Twenty-first century documentary theatre could not fall further from this assertion. Contemporary artists seek to fuse fiction and facts, creating a new approach to both official archives and documents, as well as personal and public narratives. This project analyzes the role of the “real” in the theatre and performance of the twenty-first century in Latin America. I contend that the affective hold of the real, orchestrated through site-specificity, auto/biography, the innovative use of non-actors, personal documents, video and photography onstage, may transform spectatorship, private and public memories, modes of participation, and the kinds of truth claims theater can make. In this context, I argue that playwrights, performers and artists use the real to explore the liminality between fact and fiction, authenticity and role-playing, as well as the veracity of the “archive” as an object of truth. My book’s objective is twofold: to explore how this new approach to theatre brings forth issues of the traumatic and the political turmoil by underscoring the fragile role of memory, as well as to focus on the provocative use of real archives to explore history and the present time through the manipulative interpretation of documents.
Paola S. Hernández specializes in contemporary Latin American theatre and performance. She has published numerous articles on Southern Cone theatre, performance, memory politics, sites of memory, and human rights. She is the author of El teatro de Argentina y Chile: Globalización, resistencia y desencanto (Corregidor, 2009), and co-editor (with Brenda Werth and Florian Becker) of Imagining Human Rights in Twenty-First-Century Theater: Global Perspectives (Palgrave, 2013). Hernández is the South American drama editor for the Handbook of Latin American Studies, Library of Congress, as well as Book Review editor for Latin American Theatre Review. Her current research project examines the role of the "real" in theatre and visual arts with an emphasis on contemporary documentary theatre and urban ethnography in Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and Peru.
People often depict the past as they wish it to have been. Such historical construction is the subject of my research, which examines medieval legends claiming that numerous European cities were evangelized at the dawn of Christianity by figures close to Jesus. These legends, at odds with reliable evidence and so widespread as to be cliché, have received more derision than study. My research instead considers them as a meaningful discourse at once local and widely shared. On the local level, I use them to understand how communities navigated change and competition. By tracing the networks along which the legends traveled, I investigate how communities shared information. Additionally, my work argues that these legends reflect a collaborative approach to historical construction, through which far-flung writers, readers, and scribes wove individual histories into a larger narrative.
Samantha Kahn Herrick is Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on medieval Europe and, in particular, the uses and significance of hagiographical legends. In addition to studying how and why medieval people fashioned and disseminated stories about the past, she is also interested in how historians can use problematic but abundant hagiographical legends to supplement the very limited number of more “reliable” sources. Her first book demonstrated the political significance of legends celebrating largely imaginary saints. She is currently writing a monograph about a neglected body of apostolic saints’ lives and co-editing a volume on history and hagiography. She has been a fellow at the Syracuse University Humanities Center (2014-15) and a Scruggs Faculty Research Scholar (2012-15), a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (2011-12), and Professeur invitée at the Université Paul Verlaine, Metz (France) (2007).
My dissertation follows the development of Arabic theories and techniques of analysis and calculation as they were received into Western Europe from 1215 to 1315. I show that, in twelfth- and thirteenth-century Arabic Iberia, mathematical practices of analysis and calculation were adopted into elite circles who believed them to represent an exemplary cognitive habit of moral deliberation deemed necessary for cultivating spiritual and civic virtue. During the period of Latin Christian conquest and occupation in the thirteenth century, European scholars and patrons came to adopt the mathematical values of Arabic court life in the practical and textual form of a new Latin moral philosophy. Calculation and mathematical proportion came to take on important religious and social significance, particularly among the new itinerant classes of erudite friars and their lay patrons. These figures sought to repurpose the virtues of calculation and deliberation for the evangelizing mission of conversion and the social ideal of orthodox uniformity. The dissertation seeks to highlight the complexities of cultural and intellectual appropriation across Mediterranean scholarly networks during the High Middle Ages, as even Latin Christian cultivation and emulation of Arabic cultural values served to entrench and reinforce religious, social, and political boundaries of difference.
Nicholas Jacobson is a doctoral candidate in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests focus on the interplay of mathematical and moral conceptions of civil society in the thirteenth-century Mediterranean world. His research has been generously supported through two UW-Madison Global Studies’ FLAS Scholarships for the study of the Arabic language and two UW-Madison University Fellowships, as well as the Coleman Fellowship through the Institute for Research in the Humanities. His teaching interests include networks of cross-cultural scholarly exchange during the Global Middle Ages and the development of practical knowledge alongside the "religions of the book" and the theoretical sciences of the Medieval Mediterranean World. He received his BA in 2007 at Seattle Pacific University Summa cum laude, and his MA in 2011 from the UW-Madison. He is currently working on his dissertation, “The Ends and the Means: Trans-Mediterranean Networks of Calculation and the Development of a Civil Theory of Proportion (1215-1315)."
This project is a comparative story of black and Balkan peoples, which uses new, archival material, such as Balkan "slave narratives," an unknown documentary with Aimé Césaire (who wrote his famous hymn to blackness in ex-Yugoslavia), as well as numerous Yugoslav publications on black literature and rights. In it, I delineate the histories of enslavement of African and Balkan peoples. I start with etymology, as the word slave in every Western European language originates from the word Slav because of the massive slave trade of Slavic people, which lasted for centuries. I compare the work of Ivo Andrić, a male writer born in Bosnia, to the work of Toni Morrison, an African-American woman born in Ohio. While analyzing these histories and narratives, I search for postcolonial methods of reading that do not necessarily first pass through the "Western" filter, but that—instead—connect racially and ethnically "marked" authors, works, and cultures in a direct, unmediated way.
Anja Jovic-Humphrey was born in ex-Yugoslavia, Croatia, in what is in that region considered a "mixed marriage." As a child of both Serbs and Croats, during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, she learned her first valuable lessons on the dangers of ethnicism, racism, othering, and discrimination, about which she writes to this day. While still a student of French and English Literature and Linguistics, Anja translated many novels from English and French into Croatian, by authors ranging from Nicole Krauss to Michel Houellebecq. The process of literary translation gave her insights into the nature of narrative, and into the differences and similarities between contemporary novels written in different languages and cultures. These insights prompted her to earn an M. A. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University (2008), and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Brown (2015). Her recent work has been published in Johns Hopkins University’s journal MLN. She is at work on a project entitled "Black and Balkan: A Comparison of African-American, Caribbean, African and Balkan History, Theory and Art."
We live in a world where the idea of "human rights" animates people across the globe. But what are the roots of our era of global human rights politics? My research draws on case studies of Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and the United States to explore how and why transnational and local actors began to deploy the language of human rights and its effects on the development of a distinct transnational practice that centered on civil and political rights by the end of 1970s. I connect the voices and experiences of a diverse array of actors, including church and solidarity activists, political exiles, and members of Amnesty International to Ford Foundation officers, international lawyers, and bureaucrats at the United Nations and the Organization of American States. In charting this history, I argue it makes less sense to isolate a particular region of the world, whether that be the United States, Latin America, or Europe, than to show how human rights ideas percolated through a series of transnational encounters in different regions of the world.
Patrick William Kelly received his Ph.D. in history in 2015 from the University of Chicago. His research and teaching interests include twentieth-century international history, modern Latin American history, the history of the United States in the world, the global Cold War, and the global histories of human rights and humanitarianism. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council IDRF and the Fulbright-Hays, Kelly has published articles in Humanity and the Journal of Global History. His work is based on multi-state, multi-archival research and oral interviews in nine countries throughout Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Australia, drawing on Spanish, Portuguese, and English language primary sources. He is at work on a project entitled "Salvation in Small Steps: Latin America and the Making of Global Human Rights Politics."
The Korean War, long considered the “forgotten war” of twentieth-century U.S. history, has been the subject of an unprecedented surge of interest in American culture over the past decade. In this book project, I read contemporary American literary works, including novels by Toni Morrison, Chang-Rae Lee, Rolando Hinojosa, and Ha Jin, to trace the transformative effects of the Korean War and U.S. militarism in Asia on U.S. racial formations from midcentury to the present. Examining the war’s impact on policies and practices around desegregation and immigration, I argue that the Korean War heralded a new mode of liberal inclusion for racial minorities in the United States. Through close readings of literary texts paired with a critical analysis of historical and legal documents, this project investigates both how and why we are remembering and retelling the Korean War in the present. It thus seeks not only to assess the war's significance for the past half-century but also to reveal what the recent literary reckoning with the Korean War’s legacy can tell us about the current state of race, empire, and unending war in the United States.
A.J. Yumi Lee is a literary scholar working in the fields of 20th and 21st century American literature and critical race and ethnic studies. She completed her Ph.D in English at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015, and was Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015-2016. At UW-Madison, she teaches in the English Department, and is completing work on her first book manuscript.
My dissertation, “Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century British India,” traces the origins of Islamic legal modernism in 19th-century South Asia. By focusing on the mundane practices of paperwork and bureaucratic routines adopted by qāẓīs (Muslim judges) and muftīs (jurisconsults, writers of legal opinions), my work explores the role indigenous legal practitioners played the construction of colonial legal modernity. To do so, I study previously overlooked vernacular sources in Persian and Urdu, including qazi notebooks and registers, published and unpublished fatwa collections, and private legal documents. By focusing on the role of paperwork in the everyday practice of law, my research considers the transformation of legal activity at the local level, moving beyond the colonial construction of law codes and legal categories to consider the written artifacts individuals encountered in the execution of their everyday affairs—from documenting marriages and divorces, to buying and selling land, to negotiating inheritance and the distribution of personal property. This research demonstrates the ways in which public conceptions of law worked outside the colonial courts to create an expansive ethical–legal discourse that continues to shape civil society and civil litigation in post-colonial South Asia.
Elizabeth Lhost is a PhD Candidate in the Departments of History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the history religious law and colonial policy in 19th- and 20th-century South Asia. She is particularly interested in the role of paperwork in the formalization of legal procedure and the intersections between formal legal structures and popular conceptions of the moral and ethical. With a background in literary studies, Elizabeth enjoys teaching courses on modern South Asian and global history that incorporate close reading, textual analysis, and the consideration of multiple perspectives. She received her BA summa cum laude in English literature and Cognitive Science from Northwestern University and an MA in Languages and Cultures of Asia from UW–Madison in 2009. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright–Nehru Student Research Fellowship, a Junior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies and Nicholson Center for British Studies at the University of Chicago. She is currently working to complete her dissertation with support from a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.
For over 260,000 Hmong Americans living in the U.S., digital media play a key role in creating and maintaining connections and identities. My research explores the unique characteristics of the Hmong American media landscape, focusing in particular on the gendered dimensions of media production and consumption. In my forthcoming book manuscript, I ask how Hmong digital media cultures reflect and shape changing power dynamics for women, as well as how new technologies are remediating traditional forms of Hmong culture and community. This project is based on an ethnographic analysis of a wide range of everyday interactions with media technologies—including an examination of new forms of radio that rely on mobile phones, community debates facilitated through YouTube videos, and the development of podcasts, Twitter hashtags, and Facebook groups for Hmong Americans.
Lori Kido Lopez is Assistant Professor of Media and Cultural Studies in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is also an affiliate of the Asian American Studies Program and the Gender and Women’s Studies Department. She is the author of Asian American Media Activism: Fighting for Cultural Citizenship (2016, NYU), and co-editor of the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Asian American Media. She is the founder of the national Race & Media Conference, and was a recipient of the Outstanding Women of Color Award in 2015.
Amongst many scholars, policy makers, and members of the general public the notion of Palestine’s nineteenth-century barrenness and desolation is common knowledge, yet nineteenth-century scholars and travel writers painted a more nuanced and complex picture of the region. Joshua's project examines the development of the narrative of Holy Land desolation. He asks what ordinary Americans knew of the environmental condition of Palestine in the nineteenth-century, how the notion of Holy Land desolation lodged so firmly in Americans’ collective memory, and what pressure the narrative of desolation exerts on the region’s environmental and political problems today. He looks for answers to these questions in overlooked works of nineteenth-century Holy Land geography and in the literary bestsellers, Sunday School teaching materials, bible dictionaries, and annotated bibles that communicated this scholarship to broad popular audiences.
Joshua Mabie is Assistant Professor of English at UW-Whitewater, where he also completed a three-year term as the university’s Faculty Sustainability Fellow. His recent scholarship has appeared in Christianity and Literature, The Edinburgh Companion to T.S. Eliot and the Arts, and Transatlantic Literary Ecologies: Nature and Culture in the Nineteenth-Century Anglophone Atlantic World. In addition to his critical work, Mabie is working on a creative nonfiction book about his hometown, Stoughton, Wisconsin, that combines, nature writing, environmental history, and memoir.
In the US, African American infants have died at two to three times the rate of white infants since the first comparative statistics appeared in the late 19th century. While the past century has seen many public health, medical and policy studies of this staggeringly disproportionate visitation of death on African American families and communities, few have probed the political meanings and historical continuities of what we now call the “racial disparity” in infant mortality. This book tracks the political logics, rhetoric, and practices that have both rationalized and contested this longstanding, albeit unspectacular, manifestation of institutionalized anti-black violence since the mid-19th century. It brings to bear three powerful conceptual approaches to racism in contemporary political thought: biopolitics, Black feminism, and Black Studies scholarship on what Saidiya Hartman calls “the afterlife of slavery.” Using this frame, this account traces two distinct yet overlapping trajectories. First, the three theoretical approaches enter into critical conversation with recent considerations of race, “the human,” and the archive in order to reconstruct the sequence of official rationales and practices that have framed black infant mortality as a political problem (or markedly neglected to do so) and the interventions (or non-interventions) this has entailed. I argue that apparently anti-racist post-Civil-Rights approaches—including an emerging emphasis on epigenetic impacts of racism and intergenerational trauma—bear traces of previous framings, explicitly or implicitly blaming Black mothers for their infants’ deaths, even as they offer grounds for a powerful indictment of anti-Black racism. Second, it offers novel readings of texts by and about key Black political thinkers and actors in relation to infant mortality, including Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Black midwives and reproductive activists. These readings reveal a rich continuity of appropriations and contestations, both rhetorical and practical, of the prevailing logics of white supremacy, refusing the devaluation of Black infant and maternal life and in some cases actually creating alternative environments to foster survival.
Annie Menzel is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and member of the Africana Studies Program at Vassar College. After training as a midwife, she received her PhD in Political Science at the University of Washington and is currently completing a book project, The Political Life of Black Infant Mortality. Menzel studies reproduction and race; gender, kinship, and citizenship under white supremacy; biopolitics; and Black political thought, especially Black feminism.
I am currently working on two projects: a biography of Menasseh ben Israel (1604-1657), a rabbi in the Amsterdam Portuguese-Jewish community and arguably the most famous Jew in seventeenth-century Europe, for the "Jewish Lives" series (Yale University Press); and a book tentatively titled Becoming Spinoza: The Making of a Philosopher, a study of the various contexts -- Cartesian, Stoic, Jewish, Hobbesian, Dutch Republican -- in which Spinoza's philosophy developed.
Steven Nadler is the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and the Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities at UW-Madison, where he has been teaching since 1988. He specializes in the history of early modern philosophy (especially the seventeenth century) and in medieval Jewish philosophy. His books include Spinoza: A Life (Cambridge, 1999, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award); Rembrandt's Jews (Chicago, 2003, named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize); The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God, and Evil (Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008); A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza's Scandalous Treatise and the Birth of the Secular Age (Princeton, 2011); and The Philosopher, the Priest, and the Painter: A Portrait of Descartes (Princeton, 2013).
This project is an exploration the racial and ethnic transformation of the Western Great Lakes landscape as an outcome of the dispossession of the mixed-blood sector of the Ojibwe Indian polities in the middle of the nineteenth century. Hundreds of mixed-blood people were guaranteed lands in a major treaty signed with the federal government in an effort to settle them amongst the increasing number of non-Indians in the region. With the loss of those lands to emergent mining interests, the mixed-bloods defaulted to absorption into the Indian communities, changing those communities’ social and cultural constitution. Focusing on changing conceptions of belonging and difference, within and between indigenous and settler populations, the project involves detailing that process of assimilation and the consequential production of a biracial regional landscape.
Larry Nesper took his PhD at the University of Chicago and is professor of Anthropology and American Indian Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author of The Walleye War: The Struggle for Ojibwe Spearfishing and Treaty Rights and co-editor of Tribal Worlds: Critical Studies in American Indian Nation Building. His current research is on the development of tribal judiciaries in the state of Wisconsin and on relations between the state and tribal court systems. His research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission, and several of the native nations of the state of Wisconsin.
The prison is the subject of intense scrutiny for both opponents and supporters of the contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite this, the longer history of Iranian punishment has been given short shrift. This project seeks to address this lacuna by exploring the interplay between the prison and the narratives of violence told of and about that space, arguing that political modernity in Iran has unfolded in and through its contested histories of punishment. I explore the ways in which prisoners evoked the anxiety-laden questions: who can be considered a citizen? How is state authority predicated on the suffering or rehabilitation of the prisoner’s body? In what ways does the prisoner enact and transform those very concepts—rights, nation, citizen, justice—that the state was attempting to define and control? Reading history from the late 19th century to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this project shows that in this era in which novel legal reforms were fitfully enacted by a modernizing state, the prison cell came to have a public life through its representations in Iranian discourses. Through these discourses the prison cell and the prisoner's body paradoxically become sites for imagining political emancipation and testing the limits of justice in the modern nation-state.
Golnar Nikpour is currently an A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at UW-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Prison Days: Incarceration and Punishment in Modern Iran.” She has received research fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Giles Whiting Foundation, and has published in forums including International Journal of Middle East Studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Tehran Bureau, and Humanity. Golnar is also co-founder and co-editor of B|ta’arof, a journal for Iranian arts and histories, where she has written extensively on Iranian intellectual and cultural history. She is currently at work on a book called The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran, which challenges the notion of the prison as a place of social death, arguing instead that modern conceptions of citizenship and political emancipation have emerged in the context of modern surveillance and punishment in Iran. Her research interests include political philosophy, comparative revolutions, transnational feminisms, postcolonialism and postcolonial thought, and critical prison studies in the context of modern Iran and the Middle East.
By examining the bodies of women as they conceive, miscarry, give birth, and lactate in Anglo-Saxon texts that are medical, legal, religious, historical, and literary, I show that the policing of these bodies contradictorily highlights the authority of women over both body and progeny. By placing genres of texts that rarely speak to one another in conversation, I offer a fuller vision of the experience of maternity. Despite the fact that the monastic literary tradition only rarely offers representations of women, the variety of genres examined here allow us to see past exceptional women by examining the corporeal experience of maternity. I reveal that women sought to control the reproductive processes of their bodies, knowing full well the dangers of doing so, and that they used their maternal labors as a means of self-authorization.
Dana Oswald is author of the book Monsters, Gender, and Sexuality in Medieval English Literature, as well as articles on Old and Middle English literature and translation, and gender and sexuality studies. Her focus on the embodied experience of life in medieval England is a means by which contemporary readers can connect to people, characters, and problems existing in an age that can seem very foreign.
My project investigates Machiavelli’s frequent recourse to images of the Italian terrain in The Prince and his other literary works as a means of defining and communicating knowledge. My study shows how Machiavelli’s writings substantiate more than their distillation into a political theory that stripped morality from politics. Utilizing cross-disciplinary analytical tools to interpret Machiavelli’s geographical imagery, I uncover the surprising centrality and meaning of Machiavelli’s rhetorical engagement with the contours of his native land. Landscape as a subject figures little in debates over themes of conquest that are often darkened by inference regarding Machiavelli’s dangerous secularism. Departing from these scholarly contexts, I combine the tools of literary studies (close reading and rhetorical analysis) with those of other disciplines, namely humanistic geography, art history, history of cartography, and some hermeneutical approaches offered by post-colonial theories. The liminality of Machiavelli’s thinking shines through his passages about the land: combining reasoned observation with poetic imagination, these passages reveal an impatient humanist who observed, tracked, and despaired of his tragically exploited land – yet he hoped, wrote, and dreamed of a united and peaceful “Italy.”
Kristin Phillips-Court is Associate Professor in the Departments of French and Italian and Art History at UW-Madison. She is the author of The Perfect Genre: Drama and Painting in Renaissance Italy (Ashgate, 2011), which was awarded the MLA Scaglione Prize for Italian Studies. Her second book manuscript, Vasari’s Literary Art, provides close readings of seminal lives and episodes in Giorgio Vasari’s Vite (1550 and 1568) with attention to how Vasari negotiated the legacies of Dante, Petrarch, and Boccaccio. Professor Phillips-Court’s work has appeared in the Sixteenth Century Journal, MLN, Renaissance Drama, Annali d’ Italianistica and other peer-reviewed journals. She is a contributor to Oxford Bibliographies in Renaissance and Reformation (Italian Renaissance Comedy; Italian Renaissance Tragedy), The Literary Encyclopedia, and other collected volumes. After completing her PhD at UCLA she was granted a Fulbright Fellowship to study 20th-c. Italian Visual Poetry, but has since focused primarily on 15th- and 16th- century Italian literature, visual art, and intellectual culture. Professor Phillips-Court currently holds a Vilas Associates Fellowship Award (2016-18) for her new research on Niccolò Machiavelli. At the IRH this Spring, she will work on her project entitled "Machiavelli’s Tragic Geography."
Differences between religious groups coexisting in the same nation remain one of the thorniest sources of controversy and violence in many regions of the world. The vital role of women in creating means of transmitting religious identity and arbitrating differences has been often noted. Beth's book project examines how nuns of diverse confessional beliefs shaped their devotional lives and negotiated their everyday lives in non-coreligious monastic, parish, and political communities after the early German Reformation (c.1520-c.1745). The overlooked presence of Protestant nuns in the Holy Roman Empire is evidence of a more complex lived experience of religious change and confessional accommodation than traditional histories of early modern Christianity would indicate. Her research questions focus on the fluidity of devotional lives of these women, the interplay between peaceful and violent resolution of religious differences, and the role these women played in shaping official and popular attitudes towards religious freedom.
Beth Plummer is Professor of History at Western Kentucky University. Her research focuses on the impact of the reform movement on family, gender roles, and religious identity in early modern Germany. Her publications include From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (Ashgate, 2012), which won 2013 SCSC Gerald Strauss Book Prize, and articles on monastic marriage, concubinage, bigamy, historical memory, and Protestant nuns. She is also co-editor of Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany: Essays in Honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort (Ashgate, 2009) and Archaeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformations, 1517-2017 (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book-length monograph on the experience of nuns and former nuns during the dissolution and reform of monastic life in early modern Germany.
Jennifer Pruitt's project investigates the architecture of the Fatimids (909-1171), a medieval Shi’i Muslim dynasty that founded Cairo and dominated the early medieval Mediterranean world. Generally considered a golden age of multicultural tolerance, the Fatimid era was characterized by an efflorescence of art and architecture. Her research complicates this narrative by centering its discussion around the single exception given to this tale of interfaith utopia, the patronage of the “mad” caliph, al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah (r. 996-1171). Al-Hakim is notorious as a psychotic destroyer of churches and synagogues; cruel persecutor of Christians, Jews, and women; killer of dogs; and a divine figure to the later Druze faith. Without question, he was a singular historical figure. However, delving into this dramatic, but productive, exception to the Fatimid narrative of tolerance reveals the sophisticated role of architectural patronage in the medieval Islamic world. Her book project analyzes the role of multi-confessional and sectarian identities in the patronage of the Fatimid rulers, comparing al-Hakim’s controversial projects to those of his predecessors, his successors, and those in competing Islamic realms. By considering construction and destruction as part of a unified building program, her research problematizes the simplistic notion of an age of artistic cooperation that could only be disrupted by a mad man.
Jennifer Pruitt is an Assistant Professor in Islamic Art History at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Her research interests include art and architecture in the medieval Islamic world; the role of the caliphate and sectarian identity in architectural production; the status of Christian art in medieval Islam; and cross-cultural exchange in the medieval world. She is also interested in artistic production in the wake of the Arab Spring; the re-imagining of the “medieval” in contemporary arts in the Middle East; and architectural patronage in the Arabian Gulf.
My project is the first cultural history of the most ubiquitous mechanical interface of the modern world, the pushbutton. Less a history of a technological device than a cultural study of one particular interface between people and machines, it argues that the button affirms and reproduces core liberal values, especially those associated with individual agency, interiority, and the privileges and prerogatives of men. Because the button is a surprisingly recent invention, dating to the mid-nineteenth century, this project could also be seen as a Victorian pre-history of the digital, which might be better understood in terms of the privileging of the fingers—the digits—as the primary locus of human agency. By studying the relationship between pushing buttons and activities such as playing with toys, having sex, or shooting a gun, this project attempts to show how this most mundane activity continues to have powerful social and political effects.
Jason Puskar is Associate Professor of English at the UW–Milwaukee, specializing on late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature and culture, with recent emphasis on business and economic history and the history of science and technology. He is the author of Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity and the Production of Chance (Stanford 2012), and he has published articles in journals including American Literary History, Daedalus, Nineteenth-Century Contexts and Mosaic.
My project explores the quality of aliveness ("animation") that listeners world-wide commonly experience in US black music. Whereas animation is typically theorized as an inversion of the economic processes of reification (an alienated, reified person/laborer gives way to an animated, sentient thing), I argue that black music's origin as a product of slave labor introduced a unique set of animated properties that underlies its immense cultural value. Originating as an audible extension of an ambiguous, living property-form under the regime of US slavery, black music—a veritable property of a property—became imbued with fleshly presence, carrying forward into the global modern a racially anachronistic sense of livingness-in-sound.
Ronald Radano is a Professor of African Languages and Literature and Music at UW-Madison. He is the author of two award-winning books, New Musical Figurations: Anthony Braxton’s Cultural Critique (Chicago, 1993; Italian translation, forthcoming) and Lying up a Nation: Race and Black Music (Chicago, 2003), and coeditor of Music and the Racial Imagination (Chicago 2000) and Audible Empire: Music, Global Politics, Critique (Duke, forthcoming). His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Musical Quarterly, Daedalus, Critical Inquiry, Modernism/Modernity, and Radical History Review. He is coeditor of two book series, Refiguring American Music (Duke) and Chicago Studies in Ethnomusicology (Chicago). Radano has held research residencies and fellowships at numerous institutions, including the Du Bois Institute (Harvard), the Smithsonian Institution, and the University of Pennsylvania (as a Rockefeller Fellow). He was a Guggenheim Fellow in 1997-1998. He is at work on a project entitled "The Secret Animation of Black Music."
My project explores the historical roots of the modern American ideal of marital love as an expression of personal choice and spousal equality. I examine the work of a generation of social reformers, feminists, jurists, and intellectuals in the late nineteenth century who rejected an old model of marital hierarchy in favor of a new, middle-class ideal of marriage in which husbands’ and wives’ parity rested on their emotional reciprocity and sexual constancy. But even as this new ideal rejected the old regime of husband-as-sovereign and wife-as-servant, it reconstructed and perpetuated wives’ subordination. I argue that it was precisely the legal and ideological embrace of “love” as the basis of spousal equality that obscured wives’ unequal status within this emergent marital ideal.
Kimberley Reilly is an Assistant Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies; History; and Women’s and Gender Studies at UW-Green Bay. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council and the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, Reilly has published articles in Law and History Review and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.
My book project examines the impact of new time-keeping technologies on rhythms of life in seventeenth century France. Specifically, I tell the story of how the appearance of the minute and second hands on clocks gave a new richness and texture to the very experience of time: of time passing, of haste, and of slowness. Time came to govern sexuality in new ways: from certain socio-sexual tempos (paces of courtship, bereavement, reproduction) to the regulated speed of seduction onstage. Early modern theater staged a wide range of desires, from the homoerotic and deviant to the heteronormative. The performing arts were in fact an essential cornerstone of Louis XIV’s glittering Absolutist spectacle. However, instead of analyzing the explicitly political uses of theater, I turn instead to theater’s more insidious and subtle forms of managing the population, or biopower. As Foucault argues in the History of Sexuality, disciplinary power, rather than deciding on the citizens’ right to live or to die, sought instead to manage bodies and lives through the controlled flourishing or strategic diminishing of life’s capacities. One essential component of this management, I argue, includes temporal speeds. The theater both modeled and contested new types of embodiment, new body politics, and new temporalities that were on the horizon in the seventeenth century. Each play I analyze showcases a different form of delay or haste that critically interrupts the normative temporality of marriage, motherhood, mourning, or sovereignty. In this light, I argue that queer velocities onstage hijack aesthetic and temporal disciplinary norms to offer counter-hegemonic erotic sensations, forms of intimacies, and circulations of affect.
Jennifer Row is an assistant professor of French at Boston University and affiliate faculty with BU’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and World Languages and Literatures, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature (2014) from Cornell University. Her research and teaching interests include early modern theater (17th and 18th c), queer and feminist theory, and affect theory. Her book project, Queer Velocities, looks at the impact of newly precise timekeeping technologies on queer erotics in seventeenth-century French theater. She was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota and organizes a “Premodern Temporalities” research group with the UMN Center for the Study of the Premodern World. She has previously taught at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris-IV) and at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand.
My project examines the rise of medical jurisprudence (or forensic science) in colonial India, 1856-1947. Medical jurisprudence addressed a key anxiety of the colonial state: the fear of "native dissimulation" and manipulation of the criminal justice system through fabricated evidence and false charges. Combining legal history, the history of science and medicine, and the history of the professions, I examine allegations of false charges in murder, rape, abortion, and sodomy cases through the work of colonial officials like the Chemical Examiners and the Imperial Serologist. The project explores notions of truth and trust; race, resistance, and corruption; and legal pluralism through non-colonial notions of private disputing, collective responsibility, punishment, and causation.
Mitra Sharafi is a legal historian of South Asia and Associate Professor of Law and Legal Studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison (with History affiliation). Her first book, Law and Identity in Colonial South Asia: Parsi Legal Culture, 1772-1947 (2014) was awarded the Law and Society Association’s 2015 Hurst Prize. In addition to her second book project, she is also writing an article on abortion during the Raj and another on Asian and African law students who were expelled from the Inns of Court. Since 2010, her South Asian Legal History Resources website has shared resources for the historical study of law in South Asia. She is a regular contributor to the Legal History Blog.
How did human rights become a dominant value of our times? Did its rise eclipse an earlier politics of social justice? This project argues that a view from Latin America transforms the world history narratives we often deploy to address such questions. Since the 1960s, Latin Americans engaged in the conflictive makings of a social justice imperative and a human rights imperative, neither reducible to the other. Yet because states and societies fell so short, Latin Americans also resorted to creative on-the-ground adaptations, often migration and urban mobilization, to improve life chances while pressuring for state responsiveness. This research focuses on film as an especially powerful way to trace the process culturally. Latin America’s making of a doubled rights imperative—human rights and social justice, notwithstanding tensions between them—dramatically rewrites the global history of values in our times.
Steve J. Stern is the Alberto Flores Galindo and Hilldale Professor of History at UW-Madison. He researches Latin American history, and recently published The Human Rights Paradox: Universality and Its Discontents (2014), co-edited with Scott Straus. Stern's research demonstrates the inventiveness of Latin American responses to unequal structures of power, with sometimes surprising impact on world history. Honors include election to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; the Bolton-Johnson Prize for best book in Latin American history, for Battling for Hearts and Minds: Memory Struggles in Pinochet’s Chile, 1973-1988; and fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Fulbright-Hays Faculty Research Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Social Science Research Council. Stern is a founding editor, with Scott Straus, of the "Critical Human Rights" series at the UW Press, and has won a UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Award. He is at work on a project entitled "Between Human Rights and Social Justice: Latin America and the World in Film and History."
This book shows how popular fiction by Henry James, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and others spread awareness of the late-nineteenth-century religious movement known as New Thought, which promoted positive thinking as a means to health and prosperity. This faith introduced concepts like the inner child, daily affirmation, and creative visualization, which have gradually migrated from their original religious context into twenty-first century psychotherapy and self-help literature. Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century New Thought novels thus shed light on the development of the modern addiction recovery movement and the evolution of certain trends in twentieth-century children’s literature.
Anne Stiles is Associate Professor of English and Director of Medical Humanities at Saint Louis University. She is the author of Popular Fiction and Brain Science in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge UP, 2012) and the editor of Neurology and Literature, 1866-1920 (Palgrave, 2007). She also co-edited two volumes published by Elsevier in 2013 as part of their Progress in Brain Research series. Stiles serves as Victorian section co editor of the Wiley-Blackwell journal, Literature Compass. Her most recent work focuses on literary authors' responses to Christian Science and New Thought on both sides of the Atlantic.
Sociology and the "Social Question" in Prewar Japan is a monograph that explores the history of social ideas in Japan and their engagement with global currents of thought. Tracing the development of sociology as an academic discipline from the late nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries, Young argues that the core ideas as well as the institutional configuration for the study of society were shaped by two key factors: the influence of Western philosophy on Japanese thought; and the political struggles over government policy to counter the social disruptions of industrialization.
Louise Young is a Professor of History at UW-Madison and is affiliated with the Center for East Asian Studies, where she served as director from 2005-2008. As an historian of modern Japan, her successive major research projects have focused on the relationship between culture and empire, urban modernism between the wars, and most recently, sociology and social policy. She is the author of Japan's Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (University of California Press, 1998; winner of John K. Fairbank and Hiromi Arisawa prizes and a Choice Outstanding Academic Book) and Beyond the Metropolis: Second Cities and Modern Life in Interwar Japan (University of California Press, 2013). Young spent time as a visiting researcher at Tokyo University, Waseda University, and Kyoto University and conducted research at multiple local archives in Japan, with support from the Fulbright Foundation, Social Science Research Council, the National Endowment for Humanities, among other sources. With a B.A. from UW-Madison and a Ph.D. from Columbia University, Young held appointments at Georgetown University and New York University before joining the UW-Madison faculty in 2003. She is at work on a project entitled "Sociology and the 'Social Question' in Prewar Japan."
My dissertation uses the concept of celebrity labor – the creation and maintenance of a public persona for the creation of capital – as a framework to study the performance and construction of the self on social media platforms. A new economic imperative has emerged that prioritizes ‘influence-based marketing’ over broadcasting and narrowcasting models and can be seen in personal, political, and corporate online profiles and their activity. I contest that social media, neoliberalism, and post-Fordism have encouraged an influence economy that rewards cultural and financial capital to those who with dedicated and desirable online audiences.
Andrew Zolides is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Communication Arts Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is also currently a Fellow at the Institute for Research in the Humanities at UW. His research explores the influence economy, an economic framework for understanding the strategies celebrities and brands utilize through social media to generate audiences with significant value. Comparing these practices reveals how influence is generated and evaluated in contemporary neoliberal culture. Andrew has served as an editor for Antenna and The Velvet Light Trap, as well as teaching courses such as Survey of Contemporary Media, Critical Internet Studies, and Television Industries. His work appears in Persona Studies, Horror Studies, Antenna, and the forthcoming books Childhood & Celebrity and The New Television Industries. He received his B.A. in Philosophy and Media Studies from the University of South Carolina and his M.A. in Media, Culture, and Communication from New York University.