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Current IRH Fellows

Costica Bradatan
Humanities, Texas Tech University
Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)
In Praise of Failure

At the IRH Bradatan is completing a new book, In Praise of Failure (contracted with Harvard University Press), which makes the argument that, because of our culture’s obsession with success, we miss something important about what it means to be human, and deny ourselves access to a deeper layer of our humanity. A sense of what we are in the grand scheme of things, an openness towards the unknown and the mysterious, humility and reverence towards that which transcends us – these are only some of the rewards that a proper grasp of failure could bring about. 

Costica Bradatan is a Professor of Humanities at Texas Tech University. He has also held faculty appointments at Cornell University, University of Notre Dame, and University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as at several universities in Europe and Asia. He is the author or editor of ten books, most recently Dying for Ideas: The Dangerous Lives of the Philosophers (Bloomsbury, 2015), and has written for The New York Times, Washington Post, The New Statesman, Aeon, Dissent, and Times Literary Supplement, among other places. 

River Encalada Bullock
Art History, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2017-2018)
Listening to Contemporary Art: Vocality as a Technology of Relation

My dissertation research extends directly from my commitment to the museum and gallery as spaces that can activate conversations between multiple and diverse publics, and become vehicles for transformative contact through social encounters with difference. I shift attention in contemporary art criticism to works of art that ask us to listen just as much as they ask us to look. This call to listen is crucial to the ethical and political aims of art of women and artists of color (beginning with the pivotal work of Adrian Piper, Ana Mendieta, and Pauline Oliveros in the 1970s) who take advantage of the space of the gallery and museum to alter sensory dynamics as a way of changing social power relations. Rather than recovering vocality as an object, this study joins a swell in scholarship that offers a reading of voice and vocality as practice and as verb, that even if previously unheard is a materially vibrational practice that haunts, calls upon, and positions the spectator-as-listener. The methodological and theoretical implications of this study unsettle categorical and medium specific divisions of sound art, instead leaving an open imperative to listen to that which may not be easily audible.As such, this project engages photography, video, film, and sound works to bring the history and theory of photography into critical tension with the fields of sound and new media studies.

River Encalada Bullock is a writer, curator, and PhD candidate in the Department of Art History at UW-Madison. River’s dissertation, “Listening to Contemporary Art: Vocality as a Technology of Relation” attends to artworks that call for a tactics of listening across the disciplinary intersections of Art History and Visual Studies, Sound Studies, and Cultural Studies. River’s recent curatorial projects include “Word is Bond” (The Curatorial Lab, 2014) which showcased the work of contemporary artists who use words and sound to configure narrative, material repetition, and queered tradition. River has guest curated exhibitions at Milwaukee Art Museum, Center for Creative Photography, Phoenix Art Museum, and the Chazen Museum of Art. River received a BFA in Photography from Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design and an MA in Art History from the University of Arizona.

Maura Capps
History, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018)
All Flesh Is Grass: A New Agrarian History of Britain’s Settler Empire

What does the history of British colonial settlement look like at the level of clover and cowpats? What about at the level of Crown Land and Corn Laws? Capps's book manuscript, "All Flesh is Grass" is a hybrid ecological/agrarian history of British settler colonialism that considers the political, economic, and intellectual development of the Empire alongside its climatic, geological, and biological frameworks. Settlers brought with them plants, animals, and diseases that, as Alfred Crosby argues, did their own “colonizing” in these new places; but the independent biological processes that helped Europeanize the landscapes of settler colonies cannot be divorced from the political, economic, and intellectual history of the Empire as a whole. Using archival research from Australia, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Canada, and New Zealand as well as data from the life and geophysical sciences, Capps brings the global in conversation with the local, examining a myriad of factors--climate, soils, indigenous encounters, political ideologies, local and global markets, emigration and land policy, labor systems, plant ecology-- that shaped agricultural settlement in the long nineteenth century. By highlighting both the literal and figurative grassroots this expanding empire, the project connects the economic anxieties, scientific aspirations, ideological tensions, and political maneuverings of British elites in the Colonial Office with the microscopic but singularly important process whereby nutrients cycle through the roots of plants and guts of animals. Through this "eco-agrarian" analysis, Capps explores the tension between the dismal science of limits and thresholds and the progressive science of abundance and potentiality that characterized colonial agricultural development in the nineteenth century, tensions that endure today in debates on climate change, food security, and environmental degradation.

Maura Capps grew up and then taught high school in a rural community in South Carolina at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her early academic interests were shaped by the daily interplay between landscape and history, environment and economy, and agriculture and politics in this region. She received her Ph.D. in History at the University of Chicago in 2016, specializing in environmental history and the history of Britain and the British Empire. Her research and teaching interests include global environmental history, history of conservation, food history, comparative colonialisms, history of agricultural science and technology, climate change, and global population and emigration. Her research has been supported by the Nicholson Center for British Studies, the Social Science Research Council, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Portrait image of Melissa Charenko outdoors
Melissa Charenko
History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, UW-Madison
William Coleman Dissertation Fellow (2017-2018)
Science as Prophecy: A History of Paleo Perspectives on Environmental Change

My work explores the development of ecological ideas and techniques used to understand the changing dynamics of human-environment interactions over the last 12,000 years. I am particularly interested in the meanings and lessons that ecologists drew from this work, especially their proposals to use the deep past to address the present and future threat of anthropogenic environmental change. Yet this desire to create a "science of prophecy" did not always match the capabilities of methods in paleoecology. My work explores how these methodological limitations were used to challenge ecologists and their policy suggestions.

Melissa Charenko is a PhD Candidate in the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on deep time and the ecological sciences, approaching these topics using methods in history of science and environmental history. Melissa's work has been supported by the Consortium for the History and Philosophy of Science, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and a predoctoral fellowship at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. She received an MA from the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Toronto.

Portrait image of Cindy I-Fen Cheng in front of blue archival boxes
Cindy I-Fen Cheng
History, UW-Madison
Asian American Studies
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
Race, Immigration, and Urban Poverty: The Growth of California’s Skid Rows, 1945-1990

“Race, Immigration, and Urban Poverty: The Growth of California’s Skid Rows, 1945-1990” is a book-length study that examines how the residence of Central American refugees in Los Angeles Skid Row and Southeast Asian refugees in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco during the 1980s shaped the broader history of homelessness in the U.S. Their residence in California’s skid rows contributed to the rise of homeless women and children, expanded the multiracial character of the extremely poor population, and revealed how skid rows emerged as key sites of refugee resettlement. The attention to U.S. Cold War politics adds a new dimension to the study of homelessness, where the nation’s intervention in the affairs of Southeast Asia and Central America worked together with deindustrialization and deinstitutionalization to affect the rise in extreme poverty. This study is well positioned to appeal to a broad audience, bringing together the themes of war and society, refugee resettlement, and urban poverty.

Cindy I-Fen Cheng is Associate Professor of History and Asian American Studies at UW-Madison. She is the award-winning author of Citizens of Asian America: Democracy and Race during the Cold War (NYU Press, 2013) and editor of The Routledge Handbook of Asian American Studies (Routledge Press, 2016). Her articles have appeared in the American Quarterly, Journal of Asian American Studies, and other academic journals and anthologies. In spring 2018, she will be the next Director of Asian American Studies. Cindy is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, most recently the UW-Madison Distinguished Teaching Award – Chancellor’s Inclusive Excellence Award and The Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program Award for Service as Outstanding Mentor. She is a member of the 2017 American Studies Association Program Committee, the Immigration and Ethnic History Society Theodore Saloutos Book Award Committee, and the Organization of American Historian Liberty Legacy Foundation Book Award Committee.

Joseph Dennis
History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
Songs to Encourage the Cessation of Litigation: Printing, Orality, and Legal Knowledge in China, 1595-1949

How do people form attitudes towards law and what is law's significance in society? In China, “cease litigation” (xisong 息訟) has been a key term in legal culture and practice since antiquity and was a core concept in mass legal education from the late- sixteenth to the early-twentieth centuries. Increasing conflicts in a commercializing society led to an anti-litigation backlash among officials. By disseminating songs about the dangers and costs of litigation, overburdened local magistrates hoped to reduce their caseloads and stabilize turbulent local societies. People were hired to ring bells and sing songs while walking through towns and villages, and lyrics were cut into stone stelae erected near government buildings and schools. In the 1600s and 1700s, the songs were printed as broadsheets and posted in public. By the late-1800s they appeared in newspapers and magazines, and in the 1920s-40s, the songs were sung at village meetings. This project will combine approaches from legal history, print culture, and orality/aurality/soundscapes to examine formations of legal consciousness.

Joseph Dennis is an Associate Professor of History at UW-Madison and a member of the local gazetteer research group at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin (MPIWG). He is the author of Writing, Publishing, and Reading Local Gazetteers in China, 1100-1700 (Harvard, 2015), and former president of the Society for Ming Studies. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research, the National Library of France, the Vilas Trust, the MPIWG, and other institutions.

Ramzi Fawaz
English, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
Queer Forms

In my new book, Queer Forms, I explore how the central values of movements for women's and gay liberation in the 1970s—including consciousness-raising, separatism, coming out of the closet, and alternative kinship—came to be translated into a range of American popular culture forms. Throughout the 1970s, movements for women's and gay liberation fought a range of social and political battles to expand, transform, or wholly explode definitions of normative gender and sexuality; one long-term effect of this project was to encourage artists, writers, and filmmakers to invent new ways of formally representing, or giving shape to, non-normative genders and sexualities. Perhaps counter-intuitively, such aesthetic projects to represent queer gender and sexuality often appeared in a range of traditional, or seemingly generic, popular forms including the sequential format of comic strip serials, the token figures of science fiction genre, the narrative conventions of film melodrama, and the serialized rhythm of installment fiction among others. I unpack how each of these mediums and genres were creatively reworked or innovated to account for, and make meaningful, the heterogenous experience of gender and sexual non-conformity, consequently infusing the popular imagination of Americans in the 1970s and after.

Ramzi Fawaz is assistant professor of English at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of The New Mutants: Superheroes and the Radical Imagination of American Comics (NYU Press, 2016). The New Mutants won the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies Fellowship Award for best first book manuscript in LGBT Studies and the 2017 ASAP Book Prize of the Association for the Study of the Arts of the Present. His work has been published in numerous journals including American Literature, GLQ, Feminist Studies, Callaloo, and Feminist Review. He is currently co-editing a special issue of American Literature with Darieck Scott titled "Queer About Comics," and a special issue of GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies with Shanté Paradigm Smalls titled "Queers Read This! LGBTQ Literature Now." His new book Queer Forms, explores the relationship between feminist and queer politics and formal innovation in the art and culture of movements for women’s and gay liberation. Queer Forms will be published by NYU Press.

Black and white photograph of Jennifer Gaddis
Jennifer Gaddis
School of Human Ecology, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
The Labor of Lunch: A New Economics of Care in American Public Schools

The seventy-year history of the US National School Lunch Program (NSLP) embodies the contested values, ideologies, and unequal power structures that govern both social reproduction and food systems. This book-in-progress uses ethnographic, archival, and participatory research to examine school lunch as a political arena where grassroots activists, powerful “Big Food” companies, and state agencies fight for control over children’s diets, women’s reproductive labor, and the future of the domestic food system. Despite recent legislative reforms, the NSLP continues to suffer from low student-participation, excessive plate waste, and high employee-turnover. Thus, a central project of the book is to rethink the social organization of school lunch, asking how it could be changed, and to what ends for economic, racial, environmental, and reproductive justice. By inviting readers to imagine a politics of the possible, The Labor of Lunch aims to spark a much-needed conversation about organizing for food justice in school kitchens and cafeterias.

Jennifer Gaddis is an assistant professor of Civil Society and Community Studies at UW-Madison. Before joining the faculty at UW-Madison in 2014, she received her PhD in Environmental Studies from Yale University. As a transdisciplinary scholar, her research lies at the intersection of critical food studies, feminist economics, US political and social history, and environmental sociology. She has received fellowships and grants from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Agriculture, and multiple private foundations to support this work. Currently she is finishing her book manuscript The Labor of Lunch: A New Economics of Care in American Public Schools (under contract with University of California Press) while in residence at the Institute for Research in the Humanities.

Stephanie Grace Petinos
French, Hunter College
Kingdon Fellow (2017-2018)
Divine Touch and Relicization within Narrative, Hagiographical, and Visual Representations from the Twelfth through the Fifteenth Centuries

Divine Touch and Relicization within Narrative, Hagiographical, and Visual Representations from the Twelfth through the Fifteenth Centuries is an interdisciplinary investigation of specific moments in various Old French, Middle English and hagiographical texts, as well as visual representation, in which individuals—humans and non-human animals— are divinely touched. The individuals in question are often miraculously bodily restored, transforming them into living relics; a process that I refer to as relicization. As relicized bodies are at once living and holy material, functioning in and among the secular and sacred realms, what can they tell us about the hierarchy between humans, non-human animals, and objects?

Stephanie Grace Petinos received her PhD in French with a certificate in Medieval Studies in September 2016 from The City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Her dissertation was entitled “Seeking Holiness: The Contribution of Nine Vernacular Narrative Texts from the 12th to the 14th Centuries.” Her main research interests include medieval spirituality, medieval materiality, ecocritical theory and gender. She has several forthcoming articles related to these fields, including “The Ecology of Relics in Philippe de Remi’s Le Roman de la Manekine.” Ed. Heide Estes. Medieval Ecocriticisms (Amsterdam University Press); “Happiness via Spiritual Transcendence in a Selection of Old French Texts.” Ed. Bryan Turner, Yuri Contreras-Vejar, and Joanna Tice. Exploring Happiness; and “Leprosy as locus of divine touch in Ami et Amile.” Paroles Gelées.

Portrait image of Mira Green
Mira Green
History, University of Washington
Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)
Digesting Bodies: Status, Gender, and Mastery in Roman Society and Homes

Providing a distinct window into the social and political developments of the early Roman Empire, my book project takes up various lived experiences in domestic settings to probe Roman notions of embodiment. In particular, my work focuses on Roman attitudes towards the digesting body and the domestic practices associated with its needs. While recent work in Roman social and cultural history has enhanced our knowledge about Roman attitudes toward sexuality, far less attention has been given to the role of the digesting body for the articulation of Roman social hierarchies. I argue that Roman authors’ accounts of somatic functions subtly reveal elite concerns about political and social changes occurring during the late Republic and early Empire. Additionally, through an analysis of material evidence, my project reveals how numerous activities related to basic bodily needs became the markers of a person’s place in Roman society.

F. Mira Green is a Lecturer in Ancient History in the History Department at the University of Washington. She received her PhD in Roman History from the University of Washington and M.A. in Greek History from the University of Utah. Her research focuses on questions of hierarchy and power that are intertwined with a society’s ideas about daily life, food, slavery, sexuality, and the material expressions of mastery in the Roman world. She has published articles in the Journal of Roman Archaeology and Helios.

Image of Elizabeth Hennessy with giant tortoise
Elizabeth Hennessy
History, UW-Madison
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
On the Backs of Tortoises: The Past and Future of Evolution in the Galápagos Islands

Since Charles Darwin rode on the backs of the Galápagos giant tortoises in 1835, the animals have morphed from a favorite food of pirates and whalers to conservation icons protected in a place often called a “natural laboratory of evolution.” My book manuscript tells the tortoises’ story to show that attempts to restore the islands to their pristine state as a living museum to Darwin actually jeopardize their prized nature. Instead, it reimagines how to conserve the islands as a laboratory of co-evolution where biological, economic, and social histories enmesh humans and non-humans alike in the web of life.

Elizabeth Hennessy is Assistant Professor of World Environmental History in the History Department and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies at UW-Madison. She is part of the Center for Culture, History, and Environment (CHE) and serves as the faculty advisor for CHE’s graduate-student-run digital magazine, Edge Effects. She is also affiliated with the Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies program (LACIS) and the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies. Trained as a geographer, she works at the intersection of political ecology, science and technologies studies, animal studies, and environmental history. Hennessy was formerly a fellow of the SSRC, ACLS, and Rachel Carson Center at LMU in Munich, Germany. Her first book will be published with Yale University Press in 2019. 

Portrait image of Daniel Hummel
Daniel Hummel
History, Harvard University
Kingdon Fellow (2017-2018)
A Covenant of the Mind: American Evangelicals, Israel, and the Construction of a Special Relationship

This book tells the international history of Christian Zionism from 1948 to the present, tracing its rise to one of the most powerful religious movements in American politics. Using archives in English and Hebrew, this book tells the story of the religious, political, and international forces that emerged after the establishment of Israel in 1948 to transform evangelicals into fervent supporters of Israel. With close attention to a multitude of actors including the Israeli government, American Jewish organizations, and evangelical leaders in both the U.S. and Israel, A Covenant of the Mind is both expansive in scope and methodologically diverse, relying on a number of fields including history, religious studies, and anthropology. In addition to reconstructing the Christian Zionist movement, this book touches on broader developments in evangelical and American history: the construction of Judeo-Christianity, the rise of interreligious dialogue, non-state actors in the Cold War era, and Jewish-Christian relations after the Holocaust.

Dan Hummel received his PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2016. In 2016-17, he was the Postdoctoral Fellow in History and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He has published in forums including Religion & American Culture, Religions, Religion & Politics, and War on the Rocks. His research interests include U.S. foreign relations, American evangelicalism, American Judaism, and international history. Recently, he helped found Voices & Visions, an online primary source reader for U.S. foreign relations that combines rigorous academic standards with digital teaching methods.

Portrait image of Steve Hutchinson
Steven Hutchinson
Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2016-2020)
Imagining Africa: Early Modern Iberian Textual Cartographies

During the early modern era (15th-18th centuries), when contact between Europeans and Africans increased exponentially, countless testimonies and maps attest to a compulsion to describe and imagine Africa and its peoples. In this project I explore the ever evolving European configurations of Africa particularly by way of the writings and maps of Spanish and Portuguese captives, slaves, ransomers, missionaries, diplomats, adventurers and cartographers. Besides coastal West Africa, the literature focuses primarily on the Maghreb as well as on the quasi-mystical land of “Ethiopia” – which in most maps covered much of sub-Saharan Africa – and produced a vast amount of knowledge framed in certain ways for a European readership, even as cartography revealed enormous voids filled with unstable names of places and peoples as well as capricious depictions of landscapes, boundaries, fauna, and so on. The project also aims to trace how this diverse corpus of Iberian writings about Africa would selectively filter into other European languages and traditions long before the European colonization of Africa.

Steven Hutchinson is a Professor of Spanish at UW–Madison. He received his doctorate in Comparative Literature at the University of Chicago, and works primarily on Spanish literature of the 16th and 17th centuries.  He is author of Cervantine Journeys, which delves into the relations between narrative and travel, and Economía ética en Cervantes, which posits the notion of ethical economy in human relations through systems of value, “debts” and “payments”. He has also published some sixty essays in journals and edited volumes on poetics, rhetoric, genre, emotion, ideology, gender, eroticism, religion, conversion, captivity, martyrdom, modes of mutual understanding, etc. He recently co-edited a multidisciplnary volume entitled Cervantes and the Mediterranean, and has finished a book manuscript entitled Writing the Early Modern Mediterranean, which draws on a wide variety of sources from different languages and engages with how writers represented the Mediterranean world of that era. His awards include a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Madrid and fellowships at the IRH. He is  president of the Cervantes Society of America.

Portrait image of Kelsey Ihinger outdoors
Kelsey Ihinger
Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2017-2018)
Historiopoetics in Early Modern Spain: Remembering Anglo-Spanish Encounters, 1587-1623

Spain and England’s relationship during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries was extremely volatile. While anti-Spanish sentiment grew under the reign of Elizabeth I and her Stuart successor, there is little evidence for a similar Anglophobia in the Iberian Peninsula. Yet many texts produced in Spain represented both contemporary events that brought these two countries into contact as well as recent English history. This dissertation explores Spain’s process of self-fashioning through its portrayal of the English outsider in texts that range from historical treatises and printed news to plays and poetry. In the early modern period, it was common for a nation to use the historical genre to represent its own glorious past in order to mold a common identity among its citizens. I seek to expand and question the traditional limitations of the historical genre both by examining texts that modern classifications would divide into separate categories of fiction and non-fiction and by delving into works that represent not Spain’s own history but rather that of another nation entirely. What does it mean to write about the execution of the Queen of Scots as a Spanish author in the seventeenth century, for example? Such questions are posed in this dissertation in order to examine how the historian, poet or playwright engaged in the task of redefining or rebuilding his own nation’s identity through the paradoxical use of another nation’s past. 

Kelsey Ihinger is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the representation of England in early modern Spanish texts and the interplay between history and fiction in various literary genres. Kelsey graduated magna cum laude with her BA degree in Spanish and International Relations from Carleton College in 2010, was subsequently awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Spain, and earned her MA at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2013. She is currently working to complete her dissertation, entitled “Historiopoetics in Early Modern Spain: Remembering Anglo-Spanish Encounters (1587-1623).”

Portrait image of Andrey Ivanov outdoors
Andrey V. Ivanov
History, UW-Platteville
UW System Fellow (2017-2018)
A Spiritual Revolution: The Impact of the Reformation and Enlightenment in Early Modern Orthodox Russia

This book project evaluates the influence of Reformation and Enlightenment ideas on Eastern Orthodox Church during the age of great reforms under the reigns of Peter I (1672-1725), Catherine II (1729-1796) and Alexander I (1777-1825). During this period of time, Russia’s energetic empresses and tsars engaged the country’s Western-educated and liberal church hierarchs to reform the empire’s faith, society, political ideology and every day rhythm of religious life for millions of the country’s Orthodox inhabitants.  

Although most scholars view such ideas as being formative in the emergence of modernity in the Western Hemisphere (particularly in the Protestant and Catholic societies of Western and Central Europe), this manuscript argues, that they were crucial in the foundations of Russia’s modernizing empire. Reforms, inspired by the church, however, reached well beyond the boundaries of religion: in creating the new standards of social discipline and public hygiene, the new priorities in foreign relations, the celebration of reason, the rise of toleration, and the synergy of an enlightened faith with the pre-Darwinian science.  

How does the church become “modern”? What does the term “reformation/reformatio” mean in the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant contexts? Why did Russia’s rulers need an “enlightened” religion in order to build an “enlightened” empire? These questions – and more - will steer the writing of this manuscript further in the course of the project’s interdisciplinary journey through the fellowship at the IRH.

Andrey V. Ivanov (Ph.D., Yale University, 2012) is an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin – Platteville. During 2017-2018, he will be an IRH UW System Fellow, spending the spring of 2018 full time in research at the Institute.

Portrait image of Stephen Kantrowitz
Stephen Kantrowitz
History, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2017-2021)
Citizenship and Civilization: A Ho-Chunk History

During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, both Native Americans and the politicians, bureaucrats, soldiers, and scholars who oversaw the unfolding colonial project of "Indian policy" understood questions of culture and of political belonging to be intimately related. Natives and non-Natives debated what constituted "Indian" and "American" cultures, whether and how Indians could become Americans, and what appropriate forms of governance and inclusion should follow the achievement (or imposition) of that status. Citizenship and Civilization explores that matrix of discourses, debates, and experiences by focusing on the Ho-Chunk people's confrontation with two overlapping aspects of the colonial project: the federal government's program of assimilation and incorporation; and the contemporary scholarly axiom that Indian culture represented the survival into the present day of a static, "prehistoric" way of life. 

Stephen Kantrowitz is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in History and an affiliate faculty member in Afro-American Studies and American Indian Studies at UW-Madison, where he teaches courses on race, politics, and citizenship in U.S. history. He received his Ph.D. from Princeton and his B.A. from Yale. He is the author of More Than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889 (Penguin, 2012) and Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy (UNC Press, 2000). He is currently working on two book projects: Citizenship and Civilization, described above; and a briefer work that pulls together the threads of his work on white supremacist, free black, and Native American visions of citizenship in the era of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Portrait image of Theresa Kelley in a chair
Theresa M. Kelley
Marjorie and Lorin Tiefenthaler Professor of English, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2015-2018)
Reading for the Future

Reading for the Future asks why prophecy, long understood to be a defining impulse of the Romantic era, proves in fact to be so difficult to write. For the narratives Romantics wrote with prophecy in mind turn out not to arrive at projected narrative ends, let alone the future.  The logic of this surprising failure probably had something to do with their recognition that French Revolution failed when collapsed into the Terror, yet even for European Romantics the French Revolution has a deeper prior history of revolutions across the Atlantic in America and Haiti, and in the story of successful global commerce that the Abbé Raynal tries to tell in History of the two Indies. In this multi-volume work, first published in 1770 and expanded in many editions after that, Raynal and his contributors tried to adapt the History to point toward a future increasingly cast into doubt by global revolt, convulsion and disarray.  So conflicted, Romantic futurity comes to understand chance as a necessary partner to any effort to think beyond the present. How, I ask, might the Romantic efforts to think for the first time about evolutionary change and the future in the midst of these difficulties inform our contemporary understanding of evolutionary futurity? 

Theresa M. Kelley is the Marjorie and Lorin Tiefenthaler Professor of English at UW-Madison. She has published widely on Romanticism, late-eighteenth-century aesthetics and philosophy, critical theory, and the history and philosophy of science.  Her books include Wordsworth's Revisionary Aesthetics (Cambridge 1988), Reinventing Allegory (Cambridge 1997—awarded the SCMLA prize award for best scholarly book in 1997), and Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture (Johns Hopkins 2012, awarded the British Society for Science and Literature Prize for the best book in the field in 2012).  She has co-edited Romantic Women Writers (1995) and several journal issues, including "Romantic Difference," for Praxis. Her forthcoming essays consider color around 1800, Shelley and futurity, and the role of chance in Romantic narrative. She is co-director of the Romantic Circles Gallery.  She has been a Guggenheim and NEH Fellow, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library.  She is at work on a book titled "Reading for the Future."

Portrait image of Haixia Lan
Haixia Lan
English, UW-La Crosse
UW System Fellow (2017-2018)
Aristotle and Lao-Zhuang on Rhetoric and Dao: Not to Persuade and No-Action

To some, Aristotle and Lao-Zhuang (Laozi-Zhuangzi) may seem to have little in common and even to exemplify the dichotomy between reason and intuition. However, their actual teaching complicates these assumptions. Given how crucial these authors are in shaping and reflecting their respective cultural ethos, their teaching is examined closely in this study to help foster better cross-cultural communication today. Instead of aiming at establishing certain readings of Aristotelian and Daoist teaching as superior to others, this study hypothesizes that different, including some opposing, interpretations may all have something to contribute to meaningful comparative rhetorical studies of China and the West, that some less anthologized scholarship deserves our attention, and that it therefore needs to be incorporated into comparative studies that we teach on university campuses to prepare students for the challenge of the 21st century.

Haixia Lan’s PhD in English from Purdue University emphasizes Rhetoric and Composition and Literary Theory, and her teaching of and research on writing and comparative rhetoric at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse focus on rhetorical invention, i.e., on the relation between language use and probable thinking. Her book Aristotle and Confucius on Rhetoric and Truth: The Form and the Way (Routledge 2016) aims at fostering better understanding between China and the West, and it explores both the similarities and the differences between the two cultures through examining ides of αλήθεια/truth, form, enthymeme, epiekia, kairos, topoi, stasis according to Aristotle on the one hand and, on the other, tian, dao, ren, yi, li, yue according to Confucius. Since 2008, she has also been Academic Director of the 2+2 English Degree Program at UW-La Crosse.

Jeremy Ledger
History, University of Michigan
Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)
Mapping Mediterranean Geographies: Geographic and Cartographic Encounters between the Islamic World and Europe, c. 1150-1600

Mapping Mediterranean Geographies is a study of the cultural encounter between Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Mediterranean basin between the twelfth and sixteenth century. It approaches this subject from the vantage point of the circulation, transmission, and reception of geographical knowledge between Muslim and Christian geographical writers and cartographers who dwelled along the shores of the sea. The project begins with an acknowledgement of difference across the Mediterranean: geographical knowledge of the world and ways of representing it differed greatly between the Islamic world and western Europe. Based on Arabic, Latin, and Romance sources, my research asks how these disparate knowledges crossed the Mediterranean and explores the ways in which geographers and cartographers received this ‘imported’ knowledge and incorporated it into their own descriptions and maps of the world. Through the lens of geography and cartography, this project assesses the different ways in which Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the Mediterranean understood their world and how cross-cultural exchange and reception of new knowledge altered those conceptions.

Jeremy Ledger received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Michigan in 2016. His research and writing center on the social, cultural, and intellectual history of interfaith relations in the medieval and early modern Mediterranean. He is currently working on a book project entitled Mapping Mediterranean Geographies that explores how Muslim and Christian inhabitants of the western and central Mediterranean constructed the cosmos, globe, space, self, and others in geographical writing, cartography, and travelogues. His research has been supported by grants from the Fulbright IIE, the Council of American Overseas Research Centers, Fulbright Hays, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the American Institute for Maghrib Studies.

Portrait image of Jessica Lehman on a beach
Jessica Lehman
Geography, UW-Madison
Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018)
Planetary Sea: Oceanography and the Making of the World Ocean

My project explores the politics of science at the planetary scale by studying how the ‘world ocean’ has come to be known as a single dynamic entity with a special relationship to life on Earth. This work addresses a challenge of at the heart of contemporary environmental thought: the imperative to ‘scale up’ our analyses to encompass entire geophysical systems and humanity as a species, while attending to local particularities and radically varying and frequently unjust life experiences. I show how geopolitics, power relations, and ideas about nature shape, and are shaped by, international scientific programs that address the ocean at a global scale. Ultimately, I propose an alternative reading of international oceanographic science. This allows me to formulate the notion of the ‘ocean archive,’ which draws together insights from oceanographic science and postcolonial scholarship to consider different ways of conceptualizing the nature of history. 

Jessi Lehman is a geographer and interdisciplinary scholar interested most broadly in environmental politics, uncertainty, and inequality. She received an M.A. from the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Geography from the University of Minnesota, where she was also a fellow at the Interdisciplinary Center for the Study of Global Change. Her Ph.D. project focused on the geopolitics of ocean space and international oceanographic science, and involved archival research and interviews in the United States, the United Kingdom, and South Africa. She also has undertaken broader work on the politics of environmental change and resource extraction. She is currently at work a project entitled Planetary Sea: Oceanography and the Making of the World Ocean.

Portrait image of Yuhang Li in front of a brightly-colored painting
Yuhang Li
Art History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
Reproducing a Bodhisattva: Women's Artistic Devotion in Late Imperial China

What difference does gender make in terms of religious practice?  Are religious practices mediated differently when the practitioners or the deity are female?  I explore such questions in a specific context by examining material practices by women around a Guanyin, a deity who was once male and then became the most popular female deity in late imperial China. My book project is primarily concerned with women’s material practices in relation to the cult of Guanyin. I investigate how secular Buddhist women pursued religious salvation through creative depictions of Guanyin in different media such as painting and embroidery, and through bodily portrayals of the deity incorporating jewelry and dance.  I focus on the unique ways in which women produced images of Guanyin via various womanly skills and things as well as by means of their own bodies to express a world-view that provided an alternative to the Confucian patriarchal system.

Yuhang Li is an assistant professor of Chinese art in the Department of Art History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Before joining the faculty at the UW-Madison in 2013, she was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University and a Mellon Postdoc at the Grinnell College. She received a fellowship to be a research associate at the Women’s Studies in Religious Program at Harvard Divinity School during 2015-16.  Her primary research interests cover a wide range subjects and mediums, including gender, material and visual practice in late imperial China. Her articles on hair embroidery Guanyin, Empress Dowager Cixi dressing up as Guanyin in paintings and photographs and other essays have been published recently.  She is the co-editor of the exhibition catalog Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture. Currently she is finishing her book manuscript entitled Reproducing a Bodhisattva:  Women's Artistic Devotion in Late Imperial China.


Black and white portrait of Tomislav Longinovic
Tomislav Longinović
German, Nordic, and Slavic, UW-Madison
Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies
Senior Fellow (2013-2018)
The Secret of Translation: Emerging Border Cultures

Using theoretical apparatus of translation studies, I explore mechanisms of cultural exchange and ways in which they inform material and symbolic exchanges, persistent and emerging forms of ideological discourse and new forms of nationalism. This study will provide a model for understanding the value of cultural contact and exchange from the perspective of Slavic and East European studies. While based on the analysis of particular literatures and cultures, this project is conceptualized on a broader scale I plan to engage through extensive comparative analysis of the way imagination, gender and media are translated across cultures.

Tomislav Longinović (PhD, MFA) is Profesor of Slavic, Comparative Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include Borderline Culture (1993), Vampires Like Us (2005), co-edited and co-translated volume, with Daniel Weissbort: Red Knight: Serbian Women Songs (1992), edited volume: David Albahari, Words are Something Else (1996). He is also the author of several books of fiction, both in Serbian (Sama Amerika, 1995) and English (Moment of Silence, 1990). His new book Vampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary was published by Duke University Press in 2011 and was awarded the 2012 Mihajlo Miša Đorđević prize for best book in Serbian studies. He was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University in 2001 and 2016. His research interests include South Slavic literatures and cultures; literary theory; Central and East European literary history; comparative Slavic studies; translation studies; cultural studies. He is currently working on the book manuscript entitled The Secret of Translation, which features a theory of culture based on relational structures rather than ethnic or national ones.

Black and White portrait of Ella Tobin Mershon
Ella Tobin Mershon
English, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018)
Passing Forms: Decay and the Making of Victorian Culture

“Passing Forms” asks why decay, a process seemingly synonymous with collapse, comes to shape literary and scientific ideas of formation in the nineteenth century. From geology’s revaluation of eroded sedimentation as fodder for future worlds to T. H. Huxley’s proclamation that living protoplasm is “always dying,” multiple nineteenth-century scientific discourses converged on a single principle: all bodies are made of decomposing and recomposing matter. At once a reflection of the nineteenth century’s “discovery of time” and its interest in an epochal view of life, decay comes to signify the power of inanimate matter to form itself anew. This project aims to locate decay in the tranformationism so characteristic of the period and to overturn the idea that degeneration emerges at the end of the century as evolution’s evil twin. Instead, I reveal decay’s presence across the century, as it nestles itself into Victorian conceptions of life, growth, progress, and reform. Tracing the contours of geological erosion, chemical decomposition, and electromagnetic dispersals, I find in Victorian decay an aesthetics of latency, that is, an appreciation for the not-yet-formed, for the barest hint of form adrift in the wind-blown, the washed-away, the heaped-up. But, to be sure, such aesthetic possibility cannot be separated from the experience of loss. The question, then, becomes what does such loss afford? What possibilities—aesthetic, ethical, environmental—are latent in decay’s processes of unwilled undoing?

Ella Tobin Mershon received her Ph.D. in English in 2016 from the University of California, Berkeley. Her research interests include Romantic and Victorian literature, history of science, David Hume and British empiricism, affect studies and the science of feeling, media studies, theories of alterity and gender studies, object theory, thing theory, and the new materialisms. She has received research funding from the Center for British Studies and the James D. Hart Grant. In 2013-14, she served as a mentor to undergraduate English majors as a recipient of the Berkeley Connect Fellowship, a program designed to foster intellectual community among undergraduates in a large research university. She has taught courses on detective fiction, the case study as a genre, weird fiction, and survey courses on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century literature. Her forthcoming article, “Ruskin’s Dust,” will be published this fall in Victorian Studies. She is at work on a project entitled “Passing Forms: Decay and the Making of Victorian Culture.”

Portrait image of Sandra Moats
Sandra Moats
History, UW-Parkside
UW System Fellow (2017-2018)
Building a Neutral Nation: America in the 18th Century Atlantic

In 1793, the United States issued a Neutrality Proclamation to avoid involvement in a war between Britain and France, its principal allies. Neutrality confronted numerous challenges, particularly from American citizens eager to profit from European warfare as privateers. To remain neutral, the U.S. government needed to embrace its constitutional responsibilities and develop institutions capable of enforcing this policy. This book-length project examines the unexplored relationship between neutrality and the establishment of the American government.

Sandra Moats is an associate professor of history at UW-Parkside. Her research focuses on the governing challenges and political choices that confronted the American republic in its founding decades. Her first book, Celebrating the Republic, addressed the role of presidential ceremony in launching the American government. In 2013-2014, she was an Inaugural Fellow at George Washington’s Mount Vernon.

Portrait image of Su Fang Ng outdoors
Su Fang Ng
Clifford A. Cutchins III Associate Professor of English, Virginia Tech
Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)
Literary and Other Lives of Interpreters: Captives, Converts, and Scribes in the Early Modern East Indies

Shakespeare wrote: “You taught me language, and my profit on’t / Is, I know how to curse”: Caliban’s accusation of European linguistic colonialism is riveting theatre but hardly an accurate picture of how early modern transnational exchange. English was peripheral and Europeans had to learn other languages or depended on interpreters. Often unknown and invisible, the interpreter who translates was a crucial principal in early modern Euro-Asian trade and other negotiations. Using case studies, I consider the role in the period before its professionalization in the East Indies. Interpreters, Asian and European, were converts, captives, scribes, and refugees. Their lives left traces in travel accounts, literature, dictionaries and grammars, and the rare portrait. My study explores the affective engagements of cross-cultural male intellectual and other collaborations, friendships, and competition. In Europe’s encounter with Asia, skilled linguists, whether bookish humanists or practical merchants, collaborated in constructing global networks.

Su Fang Ng is Clifford A. Cutchins III Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches early modern literature. Her first book, Literature and the Politics of Family in Seventeenth-Century England (Cambridge University Press, 2007), examines the family-state analogy as a contested political language shared by royalists and republicans. She guest-edited a special issue on Transcultural Networks in the Indian Ocean for Genre (July 2015) and has published essays on medieval, early modern, and postcolonial topics. She is completing revisions on a second book, Alexander the Great from Britain to Islamic Southeast Asia: Peripheral Empires in the Global Renaissance for Oxford University Press: this book remaps global literary networks by uncovering the connected literary histories of Alexander the Great romances at the peripheries of Eurasia. She has won residential fellowships at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, the National Humanities Center, the University of Texas at Austin, Heidelberg University, and All Souls College at Oxford, as well as a number of small grants.

Portrait Image of Lynn K. Nyhart
Lynn K. Nyhart
Vilas-Bablitch-Kelch Distinguished Achievement Professor, History of Science, Medicine, and Technology, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2014-2018)
The Biological Individual in the Nineteenth Century

What makes an individual, biologically speaking? This question stood at the center of European biological research in the middle four decades of the nineteenth century. My project (co-authored with Scott Lidgard at the Field Museum) seeks to explain why, on multiple levels. It proposes a new intellectual history of individuality as a fundamental problem underlying mid-nineteenth-century biology, a history of social relations within an international community of biologists, and a cultural history of the discursive relations between the languages of nature and society. In this way, I hope to provide a multilayered account of how science mediated questions of autonomy, interdependence, and hierarchy that preoccupied Europeans in an age of social modernization and state formation.

Lynn K. Nyhart is a Vilas Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Nyhart’s main research interests lie in the history of European and American biology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the relations between popular and professional science. Her 2009 book Modern Nature: The Rise of the Biological Perspective in Germany analyzes the pre-history of German ecology in popular and museum science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; it won the University of Chicago Press’s 2009 Susan E. Abrams Prize for best UCP book in the history of science. She is also the author of Biology Takes Form: Animal Morphology and the German Universities, 1800-1900 (University of Chicago Press, 1996). Nyhart received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011-12, which allowed her to begin archival research on her IRH project on biological individuality. She is the immediate past-president of the History of Science Society. She is at work on a book entitled The Biological Individual in the Nineteenth Century.

Portrait image of Neil Prendergast
Neil Prendergast
History, UW-Stevens Point
International Studies
UW System Fellow (2017-2018)
American Holidays, American Nature

At the IRH, I will be working on the book manuscript American Holidays, American Nature, which will be the first book to place the Thanksgiving turkey and the Christmas tree into both an environmental and historical context. The book shows that just as holidays have been invented, so too has the nature that serves them. For the Thanksgiving turkey and Christmas tree, the story has been one of uncertainty and anxiety over the place of nature in modern American life.

Neil Prendergast is Associate Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, where he teaches United States environmental history. His work has appeared in the Western Historical Quarterly and Environmental History. In 2015, he was awarded the University Award for Teaching Excellence.

Portrait image of Lisa Ruth Rand, closely cropped
Lisa Ruth Rand
History, UW-Madison
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2016-2018)
Orbital Decay: Space Junk and the Nature of Outer Space

What is space junk, and who defines waste in an environment seemingly devoid of nature as we know it? Lisa Ruth Rand's first book explores these questions by investigating the environmental history of the nearest regions of outer space. Tracing changes in the orbital landscape and in the political landscape below during the Cold War, concurrent with the rise of mainstream environmentalism, this book reveals the roots of an international understanding of the remote, illegible region between Earth and outer space as a natural environment at risk. In examining space artifacts as they move through and return from the planetary borderlands, Rand explores this extreme environment as a site of contested scientific moral authority, shifting values of consumption, and Space Age spatial politics. The history of space junk provides valuable, unprecedented context for an international space policy community considering how to safeguard humanity's future in our increasingly crowded cosmic neighborhood.

Lisa Ruth Rand earned her PhD from the Department of History and Sociology of Science in 2016. Her research plumbs the intersections of the histories of science, technology, and the environment during the Cold War, with a focus on mobile waste and contingent constructions of nature and sustainability. In addition to the environmental history of outer space, she has also written about gender in American aerospace culture and performances of scientific practice at Earth analog habitats. Rand's research has been supported by fellowships from NASA, the Society for the History of Technology, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Penn Humanities Forum, and the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. She is a Research Associate in the Department of Space History at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, an Adjunct Research Associate at the RAND Corporation, and a volunteer urban astronomy educator. Find out more at

Portrait image of Peter Ribic outdoors
Peter Ribic
English, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2017-2018)
The Development Novel: World Literature and the Political Economy of Growth

In the mid-twentieth century, the meaning of “international development” shifted from an abstract world historical process to a contested global project that would be self-consciously undertaken by states, colonial administrations, multinational institutions, and non-governmental organizations. My dissertation argues that this shift had significant and under-examined effects on the narrative form of the global novel after 1945. In particular, the dissertation shows how Anglophone novelists across the newly discovered “Third World” registered and re-plotted stories of national, regional, and hemispheric “growth” in the era of decolonization. My readings of literary texts from the Caribbean, Southern Africa, South and Southeast Asia are framed by an examination of early development discourse in the social sciences and, specifically, of the narrative mechanisms underpinning theories of economic and cultural “modernization.”

Peter Ribic is a PhD candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison. His research focuses on the twentieth- and twenty-first-century global Anglophone novel, literature and the social sciences, postcolonial theory, and world literature studies. Ribic has taught courses in modern literature and composition at Stockholm University and UW-Madison. His research has been supported by the Departments of English at Stockholm University and UW-Madison and the UW-Madison Graduate School. He is currently completing his dissertation, “The Development Novel: World Literature and the Political Economy of Growth.”

Portrait image of Larry Shapiro
Lawrence Shapiro
Philosophy, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2017-2021)
Abusing Science: How Scientists and Christians have Misused Science to Answer the Big Questions

Recent scholarship disputes the common idea that science and religion have always been in conflict, and today we often see Christian apologists appealing to science to answer questions that strike at the core of human experience. Likewise, we see secular scientists claiming expertise for answering these same questions, but in very different ways. Interestingly, both Christians and scientists misunderstand the limits or implications of science for addressing questions that are fundamentally philosophical in nature. I propose a book that will examine how both scientists and Christians misuse science to answer the Big Questions, further illuminating the nature of these questions.

Lawrence Shapiro received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and is now a Professor of Philosophy at UW — Madison. His main research areas are in philosophy of mind and philosophy of psychology. Among his books are The Mind Incarnate (MIT Press, 2004), the award-winning Embodied Cognition (Routledge, 2011) and, with Professor Thomas Polger, The Mutliple Realization Book (Oxford, 2016). Relevant to his project with the IRH is his The Miracle Myth: Why Belief in the Resurrection and Supernatural is Unjustified (Columbia, 2016), in which he presents some fundamental epistemological principles that are relevant to assessing justification in beliefs about extremely improbable events and applies these to claims about miracles.

Portrait image of Cherene Sherrard-Johnson outdoors
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English, UW-Madison
Senior REI Fellow (2017-2021)
Mapping Blackness: An Intimate Cartography of the Archipelagic Diaspora

I’m researching and writing a trio of essays that consider belonging and global black identity through the theoretical frameworks of Island and Archipelagic American studies.  The first follows nineteenth-century abolitionist life-writer Mary Prince’s journey from slavery to emancipation through colonial Bermuda’s archipelagic plantocracies; the second explores the significance of salt as commodity, practice, and pan-Caribbean archetype; the final takes up the notion of sanctuary from an ecological, legal, and experiential perspective. These essays will ultimately fold into a larger book project addressing the flow of insurgency, of anti-colonial thought and action, manifest in the literature of the Americas through the hybridized bodies of black women.Some of the broader questions I address include: how is racial difference elided as we reconfigure the studies of early American literature or Afro-Caribbean literature along transnational lines?  Why do particular locations, like Haiti, occupy a fractious space within the global South? In this book, “new world" literary mappings intertwine with personal inquiry and critical investigations about the nature of belonging, identity and indigeneity as I follow an elastic circuit that unveils relationships between fragile environments, dynamic objects, and the human/nonhuman beings that circulate through the archipelagic diaspora.

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies and feminist theory.  Recent publications include: A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (Wiley 2015), Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color, “Insubordinate Islands and Coastal Chaos: Pauline Hopkins Literary Land/Seascapes” in Archipelagic American Studies (Duke 2017), and Vixen, a debut poetry collection forthcoming September 2017 from Autumn House Press.

Portrait image of Mali Skotheim
Mali Skotheim
Classics, Princeton University
Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)
Radical Dancers: The Rise of Pantomime and the End of Drama in Antiquity

Mimes, pantomimes, magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers performed at ancient Greek religious festivals alongside actors of tragedy, comedy, and other stage performers. I focus on the role of pantomime in Greek, Roman, and early Christian culture. Pantomime, first attested in the first century BCE under Augustus, transformed the traditionally staged and acted drama that audiences were familiar with into an exciting new form, a masked, mimetic dance. At every stage in the history of the dance, pantomimes dancers negotiated complex relationships between verbal and bodily expression, high and low culture, tradition and innovation, Greek-ness and Roman-ness, and masculinity and femininity. I argue that these tensions must be understood in relation to the institutional context of the Greek festivals, where the dance was popularized throughout the ancient Mediterranean.

Mali Skotheim received her PhD in Classics from Princeton University in 2016, and her BA in Latin from Swarthmore College in 2005. During 2015-16, she was a Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome, where she completed her dissertation, The Greek Dramatic Festivals under the Roman Empire. Her work has been generously supported by fellowships at the Center for Epigraphical and Paleographical Studies at The Ohio State University, the Warburg Institute in London, the Center for Ancient History and Epigraphy at the German Archaeological Institute in Munich, and the American School of Classical Studies at Athens.

Black and white photograph of Michael Titelbaum
Michael G. Titelbaum
Philosophy, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2017-2018)
Constitutive Points of View

My project develops a constitutivist theory of normativity, on which rules for correct belief and action arise not from the external world, but from the nature of humans engaged in believing and acting. I seek a constitutivism that acknowledges the authority and objectivity of norms in deliberation—the sense in which norms guide our reasoning, and seem to be not entirely up to us. Yet constitutivism must also recognize the diversity of subjective points of view; an agent may only be guided by norms compatible with her standpoint on the world. The great challenge of normative theorizing is to incorporate appropriate subjectivity while maintaining authority. This balancing act is especially important in light of persistent normative disagreement among individuals and cultures, and the need to respect other points of view while retaining what's valuable about our own.

Michael G. Titelbaum is Associate Professor of Philosophy at UW-Madison.  He received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of California, Berkeley and an A.B. in philosophy from Harvard College.  He has had multiple visiting positions at the Australian National University; at UW-Madison, he has been a Vilas Associate and a Romnes Faculty Fellow.  His first book, Quitting Certainties: A Bayesian Framework Modeling Degrees of Belief, received the Council of Graduate Schools' Gustave O. Arlt Award for best book in the humanities, and an Honorable Mention for the American Philosophical Association's Book Prize.  He received the 2013 Sanders Prize in Epistemology for best essay written by a scholar within 15 years of the Ph.D., and has twice (2009 and 2016) been recognized by The Philosopher's Annual for publishing one of the ten best articles in philosophy in a given year.  His next book, Fundamentals of Bayesian Epistemology, is forthcoming from Oxford University Press.

Portrait image of Melissa Vise outdoors
Melissa Vise
Italian Studies, New York University
Solmsen Fellow (2017-2018)
The Unruly Tongue: Speech and Violence in Medieval Italy

What can words do? This project offers a historicizing twist to that question by asking what words could do in medieval Italy. I focus on the northern Italian cities, the nascent self-governing republics that arose in the midst of monarchic and seigniorial rule. The cities branded themselves as beacons of libertas, but dissimilar to the ideals of many modern republics, speech was far from free. I construct a cultural history of speech and its regulation by drawing together medical tracts, pastoral treatises, rhetorical manuals, contemporary literature, statute law, and civic, episcopal, and inquisition trial processes. This diverse source base has suggested that a narrative forefronting clerical or political persecution cannot fully explain medieval regulation of speech. Instead, I argue that the definition and prosecution of speech crimes were part of a larger and developing ethics of speech, one that identified the ability of words themselves to become weapons and that summoned all to guard against their violence. I work to identify the construction, geography, and cultural import of a moral order: the ephemeral and irretrievable yet determinative world of speech.

Melissa Vise is a historian of medieval Europe whose research focuses on religious, cultural, and legal history with an emphasis on the Italian peninsula. Most recently, she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at New York University in the Department of Italian Studies. She was a Presidential Fellow at Northwestern University (2012-14), a Fellow in the Mellon Academy for Advanced Studies of the Renaissance (2013), a Charlotte Newcomb Fellow (2014-15), and a winner of the Medieval Academy of America’s Olivia Remie Constable Award (2017). Her most recent article, “The Women and the Inquisitor: Peace-making in Bologna, 1299” is forthcoming in Speculum, 2018.

Black and White portrait image of Ethelene Whitmire
Ethelene Whitmire
School of Library & Information Studies, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2017-2018)
Searching for a Rainbow: African Americans in 20th Century Denmark

My project, Searching for a Rainbow: African Americans in 20th Century Denmark, is about African Americans who lived, performed, studied and visited Denmark. Educators, painters, social workers, writers, singers, jazz musicians among many others were drawn to this Scandinavian country. While many have written about African Americans in France, their experiences in Denmark have remained unexplored. My project will answer several questions including: Why did African Americans go to Denmark? and What were their experiences while there? I argue that many of my subjects initially viewed Denmark as a utopia.

I am a professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison affiliated with the departments of Afro-American Studies, German, Nordic, and Slavic, and Gender & Women’s Studies. I received an American-Scandinavian Foundation fellowship and a Lois Roth Endowment grant to support this project. I was also a 2016-2017 Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Center for Transnational American Studies. My first book is Regina Anderson Andrews, Harlem Renaissance Librarian. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2014.

Seated portrait image of Timothy Yu
Timothy Yu
English, UW-Madison
Asian American Studies
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2017-2018)
Diasporic Poetics: Asian Poets in the United States, Canada, and Australia

Asian American writers have historically been read as minority writers within U.S. national culture, responding to practices of exclusion, racism, and discrimination that have characterized American relations with Asian immigrants and their descendants.  Recently, the study of Asian Americans has moved toward diasporic frameworks that reject cultural nationalism in favor of an emphasis on the ongoing connections between Asian Americans and their countries of origin. Diasporic Poetics investigates diasporic Asian writing not through reference to origins, but through comparisons among “Asian” writers in majority-white Anglophone societies: the U.S., Canada, and Australia.  The perspective on diaspora that emerges from this study emphasizes intellectual and textual circulation among groups racialized as “Asian” in divergent national spaces. The panethnic racial category of the “Asian” is revealed as a traveling concept that has circulated and adapted in three different national contexts.

Timothy Yu is professor of English and Asian American studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He is the author of Race and the Avant-Garde: Experimental and Asian American Poetry since 1965 (Stanford UP, 2009), which won the Book Award in Literary Studies from the Association for Asian American Studies, and the editor of Nests and Strangers: On Asian American Women Poets (Kelsey Street, 2015).  He is also the author of a collection of poetry, 100 Chinese Silences (Les Figues Press, 2016).  His writing has recently appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, and Poetry.  He has served as director of the Asian American Studies Program at UW-Madison and as editor for Contemporary Literature.

Portrait image of Yongming Zhou
Yongming Zhou
Anthropology, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2014-2018)
Chasing Happiness: The Unhappy Life of a Western Ideal in China, 1890-2010

This project examines the travel of and subsequent changes in the Western concept of "happiness" as it has been exported to East Asia from the late nineteenth century onwards. It focuses on the term’s diverse reinterpretations by the Chinese in the process of its naturalization as a cultural keyword and organizing aspiration in contemporary China. Drawing on existing theoretical inquiry regarding traveling theory, translation, cultural translation, and globalization by literary critics, anthropologists, historians, and linguists, this interdisciplinary project aims to contribute to the discussion by 1) historicizing the transnational circulation of the concept of "happiness" over the last century; and 2) adding a contemporary dimension to deciphering the meanings and implications of the concept through ethnographic research.

Yongming Zhou is a Professor of Anthropology at UW-Madison. He received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke University. In 2001-2002, he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He is the author of Anti-Drug Crusades in Twentieth-Century China: Nationalism, History, and State-Building (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) and Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China (Stanford University Press, 2006). He has also been a Mellon Fellow at the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge and a visiting fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. He served as the president of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs in 2012. His latest "roadology" project focuses on the socio-cultural impacts of transnational road building on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and in the Great Mekong Subregion, where he has conducted fieldwork since 2006. He is at work on a project entitled Chasing Happiness: The Unhappy Life of a Western Ideal in China, 1890-2010.