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Dissertation Fellows

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.

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 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 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.”