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External Fellows

Black and White portrait of Jacquelyn Arcy
Jacquelyn Arcy
Communication, UW-Parkside
UW System Fellow (2018-2019)
Feminized Convergence: Women’s Television in the Digital Age

This book develops a theory of ‘feminized convergence’ to account for the gendered strategies, practices, and content that media institutions use to draw women to interactive media. By analyzing the online content designed for the female-targeted cable networks, Bravo, Lifetime, Oxygen, and WE, this book argues that interactive platforms invite participation through the socially constructed skills of femininity. Through close examinations of industry trade journals, interactive platforms, and social media, this book shows how television networks guide audience interactions to highlight the stereotypical qualities of their target market. This research shows that convergent media intensify gender inequalities by reinforcing the gender division of labor where women disproportionately provide emotional and domestic expertise.

Jacquelyn Arcy is an Assistant Professor of New Media in the Department of Communication. She has her Ph.D. in Critical Media Studies from the University of Minnesota, and her MA in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies from the University of Cincinnati. Her areas of specialization are television studies, digital media and culture, media industries, and feminist media studies. Her research has been published in Feminist Media Studies, Celebrity Studies, Screen Journal, and Transformative Works and Cultures.

Portrait image of Alexander Bar-Magen Numhauser seated in a chair outdoors
Alexander Bar-Magen Numhauser
Prehistoria y Arqueología, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid
Kingdon Fellow (2018-2019)
Material Interactions between Jews and Christians in Late Antique Spania and the Balearic Islands (5th-6th Centuries CE)

When the Eastern Roman armies arrived to the westernmost Mediterranean region of Balearica and Spania in the 6th century, they encounter a diverse and complex society: a mixture of Christian communities with divergent doctrines, and non-Christian Jewish communities amongst them. While conventional history and archaeology ignored the latter, in recent years it was possible to detect in the archaeological record this diverse society in constant movement and change. Through an archaeological exploration of both the Christian and Jewish populations, the evidence of Christian basilicas in the Balearic Islands provide new perspectives that were not considered before: the influence of Jewish communities on Christian art and viceversa in a western Mediterranean context. This book manuscript tries to answer several questions from this theme. How did these material interactions between Jews and Christians occur? How did both communities relate to the religious and cultural centers, especially Constantinople? What was this cultural phenomenon’s projection beyond the Empire’s ever-changing borders? With the innovative findings and methods from recent decades in Spanish archaeology, this project’s aim is to explore these questions, with special focus on the Balearic Islands and their archaeological evidence.

Alexander Bar-Magen Numhauser earned his PhD in Archaeology, Prehistory and Heritage from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (Spain) in 2017. His main field of expertise is the archaeological study of Judaism in the Western Mediterranean, focusing on Late Antique and Medieval periods in the Iberian Peninsula. In this research he applies an interdisciplinary approach to the world of western Late Antique Judaism, before the rise of the later Sephardi civilization. He also worked and researched in the archaeology of minorities, archaeological methodology, archaeology of human rights, and forensic archaeology. His postgraduate and doctoral studies were generously supported by the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid’s Postgraduate Scholarship, the Paideia European Institute for Jewish Studies’ One-Year Program (2012-2013), and the Rotschild (Yad-Hanadiv) Foundation Europe’s Doctoral Fellowship (2014-2017). As a Kingdon Fellow for the IRH at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, he is engaged in the research of the material interactions between the Jews and Christians of the Byzantine Balearic Islands.

Portrait image of Hall Bjørnstad wearing a brown shirt and with his hand at his chin
Hall Bjørnstad
French, Indiana University-Bloomington; Director, Renaissance Studies Program
Honorary Fellow (2018-2019)
The Crowning Example: Louis XIV and the Crisis of Royal Exemplarity

To speak of absolutism in the context of politics or culture is to invoke the figure of Louis XIV of France. Indeed, known by various superlative epithets – God-Given (Dieudonné), Louis the Great, or more famously, the Sun King – Louis represents for the historian as well as for the lay person the ultimate paradigm of the absolutist monarch. His 72-year long reign (1643-1715; born in 1638) was characterized from his early adult years by extravagant (not always rational) military campaigns and exuberant cultural displays, as epitomized by the opulence of Versailles. Yet, as modern historians have noted, the study of this period has resulted in “the contradiction of an absolutism that we know incomparably well in its details but without a good grasp of its totality or coherence” (Cosandey and Descimon). My project aims to fill that conceptual gap by bringing into conversation the detailed historical accounts of absolutist cultural production with recent scholarship on early modern sovereignty that surprisingly barely makes a passing reference to the cultural construction and symbolic authority of Louis XIV. To do so, I intend to recuperate the logic of exemplarity, which, I argue, undergirds the overarching project of royal glory, in order to show the complex ways in which a constitutive excess at the conceptual core of absolutism marks its importance as the beginning of our cultural and political modernity. This project will show that much more than the citizen as imagined by Jean-Jacques Rousseau or the Declaration of the Rights of Man resulting from the French Revolution, we must imagine Louis XIV as the first example of what cultural historian Christopher Lasch has called “a culture of narcissism.” Louis’ very “example” would no longer be seen as the tail end of medieval monarchy but emerge as the beginning of the glorification of the “me” that reigns supreme on Facebook and social media in today’s world.

As a scholar of French seventeenth-century literature and culture, I explore the meaning of the syntagm “early modern”: a presumed conceptual and experiential proximity, which can only be constructively explored by acknowledging a simultaneous remoteness and otherness. I am particularly drawn toward material where the threshold character of the early modern is legible in the unresolved tensions between tradition and innovation, hierarchy and autonomy, authority and experience, feeling and reason, sacred and profane, human and non-human. I am the author of Créature sans créateur: Pour une anthropologie baroque dans les “Pensées” de Pascal (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2010; Hermann Éditeurs, 2013); translator of Pascal’s Pensées to Norwegian (2007); co-editor, with Katherine Ibbett, of an issue of Yale French Studies titled “Walter Benjamin’s Hypothetical French Trauerspiel” (vol. 124, 2014) and with Helge Jordheim and Anne Régent-Susini of Universal History and the Making of the Global (Routledge, 2018); and the editor of Borrowed Feathers: Plagiarism and the Limits of Imitation in Early Modern Europe (Oslo, 2008).

Portrait image of Sarah Crover wearing a grey shirt in front of book shelves
Sarah Crover
English, University of British Columbia
Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)
Watermen, Petermen, and Mermaids: Creatures of Conversion on the Early Modern Thames

Watermen, Petermen, and Mermaids: Creatures of Conversion on the Early Modern Thames is a book-length project that employs the discourses of conversion as a lens to examine three overlooked figures – “mermaids” (prostitutes), “petermen” (illegal fishermen) and watermen (ferrymen of the river) that haunted the outskirts of early modern London. Drawing upon the works of Taylor and Greene, the city plays of Beaumont, Dekker, Jonson, and Middleton, and London civic documents, I argue that these roguish creatures’ consistent association with unlawful activity reveals something about their ability to dissolve physical and moral boundaries. They enact their transgressions in a state of incomplete conversion – half-human, half-water – reconfiguring our understanding of London’s legal, political, and social limits. My project explores how these creatures’ riverine traversals unmade boundaries and exposed Londoners’ fears that they themselves were riverine creatures.

Sarah Crover received her PhD in English at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2016. Her dissertation was entitled “Theatrical Water Shows and the Cultural History of the Early Modern Thames.” Her research focuses upon London civic pageantry, the Thames, conversions of the body, and ecocriticism. Her work has appeared in Performing Environments and Early Modern Culture and is forthcoming in Studies in the Age of Chaucer,  Premodern Ecologies (University of Toronto Press), and Civic Performance (Taylor and Francis). Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (Canada), the Society for Theatre Research (UK), and the Early Modern Conversions project (McGill University). Before coming to Madison, she taught English literature and composition at UBC.

Portrait image of Christine Goding-Doty wearing black standing near a window and potted plant.
Christine Goding-Doty
English, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2020)
Virtually White: The Crisis of Whiteness, Racial Rule, and Affect in the Digital Age

The dominant questions of Dr. Goding-Doty's research consider what new problems and avenues of thought the digital age and social media open up for the study of race, whiteness, and coloniality. In “Virtually White: The Crisis of Whiteness, Racial Rule, and Affect in the Digital Age,” Goding-Doty identifies a crisis of white hegemony that has taken shape in the digital age, in which a broad insistence on white racial victimization has been incorporated as a strategy in white supremacist and nationalist activity. To account for the ways this paradoxical position actually constitutes a crisis in the structure of racial power, her project argues for a theoretical framework that emphasizes the virtuality of race and the affective modes of its proliferation. Using affect theory, her analysis details the ways race operates nonrepresentationally. Her project then applies this reading of race to several viral events, memes, and digital performances, both staged and spontaneous to examine the virtual processes through which race is reproduced in the era of the internet. The performances and popular cultural materials that constitute Goding-Doty's social media and internet archive not only demonstrate where whiteness is grappling with the terms of Western racial hegemony, but reveal the modes through which racial governance is adapting in the wake of social mediatization.

Christine Goding-Doty received her PhD from the Department of African American Studies at Northwestern University. The main concern of her research is the concept of whiteness in the digital age which she explores from the intersection of critical philosophy of race, new media studies, and affect theory. Her forthcoming article “Beyond the Pale Blog: Tumblr Pink and the Aesthetics of White Anxiety” considers the way pale blogs on Tumblr aestheticize contemporary anxieties around white supremacy and manufacture a virtual frontier upon which to sustain colonial desire.

Portrait image of Carmine Grimaldi wearing a burgundy blazer standing in front of book shelves.
Carmine Grimaldi
History, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2020)
Structuring Vision: A History of Videotape

Carmine Grimaldi is interested in the creation, distribution, and social world of images. His book manuscript, Structuring Vision: A History of Videotape, investigates the hitherto untold history of early videotape, uncovering the ways the electronic moving image crept into, and profoundly reshaped, institutions and daily experience in postwar America. The new medium made the television screen a responsive participant in everyday life, able to replay events at the time and place they occurred. His research traces the migration of videotape as it accreted new meanings, uses and expectations, from its industrial origins in Palo Alto, to its dissemination around the country in psychiatry, education, and law, used as an instrument of knowledge and social control. He is also currently writing about conspiracy theories and media in 20th century America, and making a film about a ghost trial in Arizona.

Carmine Grimaldi is a historian and filmmaker. He earned his PhD in the Department of History at the University of Chicago in 2018, where he studied the history of media, technology, and culture in the US. During this time, he spent four years as an affiliate of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab, where he studied and taught film and filmmaking. His work has appeared in Representations, The Atlantic, and The Intercept, and his documentary films have screened widely at festivals such as True/False, Visions du Reel, Sheffield, RIDM, and Dokufest. In 2017, Filmmaker Magazine named him one of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.

Portrait image of Richard Grusin wearing outdoors wearing a leather jacket
Richard A. Grusin
Distinguished Professor, English, UW-Milwaukee; Director, Center for 21st Century Studies
UW System Fellow (2018-2019)
Radical Mediation

The concept of mediation, as developed in the history of Western thought, depends upon stable dichotomies like those between subject and object, representation and reality, or human and nonhuman, as a starting point. I contend in this project, however, that such dichotomies are instead the outcome of mediation, not the source, and that we need therefore to start in the middle, with radical mediation. In asserting the radical nature of mediation I refer not only to the way that media theorists talk about the ubiquitous and quotidian nature of our media everyday—phones, tablets, TVs, laptops, and gaming platforms; Facebook, Twitter, email, Instagram, Tumblr, Reddit, and Tindr; securitization, finance, surveillance, and transaction data. Rather I refer as well to the ubiquitous nature of mediation itself—flowers, trees, rivers, lakes, and deserts; microbes, insects, fish, mammals, and birds; digestion, respiration, sensation, reproduction, circulation, and cognition; planes, trains, and automobiles; factories, schools, and malls; nation-states, NGOs, indigenous communities, or religious organizations; rising sea levels, increased atmospheric concentrations of CO², melting icecaps, intensified droughts, violent storms. In this project I develop the concept of radical mediation in relation to a variety of concerns: “mediashock”; AI, cyborgs, and datamediation; Trump’s evil mediation; the countermediation of Occupy, #blacklivesmatter, and #metoo movements; premediation and climate change; viral mediation; enactive/embodied cognition; and screenic mediation.

Richard Grusin is Distinguished Professor of English and Director of the Center for 21st Century Studies at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He has published numerous articles and book chapters and authored five books: Transcendentalist Hermeneutics: Institutional Authority and the Higher Criticism of the Bible (Duke, 1991); Remediation: Understanding New Media (MIT, 1999), co-authored with Jay David Bolter; Culture, Technology, and the Creation of America’s National Parks (Cambridge, 2004); Premediation: Affect and Mediality After 9/11 (Palgrave, 2010); and Radical Mediation: Cinema, Estetica, e Tecnologie Digitali, ed. and trans. Angela Maiello (Cosenza, Italy: Pellegrini Editor, 2017). He has edited three volumes of essays: The Nonhuman Turn (Minnesota, 2015); Anthropocene Feminism (Minnesota, 2017); and After Extinction (Minnesota, 2018). His work has been translated into several lanuguages including Italian, Korean, French, German, Spanish, and Portuguese. Grusin has been the recipient of year-long fellowships from the National Endowment of the Humanities and the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities at Vanderbilt University. He has been a visiting professor at several international universities: Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil; University of Amsterdam; Pontifical Catholic University of Saõ Paulo; University of Messina, Sicily; and Tübingen University.

Portrait image of Elizabeth Lhost wearing a pink shirt and standing on a beach.
Elizabeth Lhost
Legal Studies, History, Asian Languages and Cultures, UW–Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2017-2019)
Islam Inscribed: Faith and Bureaucracy in Modern South Asia (1800–1950)

Lhost's research explores the transformation of Islamic law and legal practice in response to British colonial rule in South Asia. Focusing on the relationship between modern bureaucracy, colonial governance, and the adaptation of lithographic print technologies by Muslim intellectuals and legal practitioners, the project considers the effects of writing, documentation, and record production on the everyday practice of Islamic law. To do this, Lhost draws upon previously unexamined vernacular (Persian- and Urdu-language) sources including petitions, notebooks, and unpublished judicial opinions produced and preserved by native legal practitioners. Thus this research draws attention not only to the social, material, and cultural history of law and legal practice across the Indian subcontinent throughout the nineteenth century but also highlights the influence of documentation, registration, and other formal writings on the meaning of legal relationships—among private individuals and between individuals and the colonial state. Understanding these formal procedures and documentary processes draws critical attention to the parallelism and mutual intelligibility that emerged between state and non-state legal actors in the colonial period. Such parallels suggest that despite reactionary rhetoric to the contrary, Islamic legal practice today exhibits many features common to—and legible within—other legal systems.

Elizabeth Lhost is a historian of law and religion in South Asia. She recently completed her Ph.D. in the Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and History (with distinction) at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, “Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century South Asia,” traced the influence of colonial bureaucracy on the practice, interpretation, and everyday use of Islamic law in British India. Prior to joining the University of Chicago, Elizabeth received a B.A. in English literature and cognitive science summa cum laude from Northwestern University, an M.A. in Languages and Cultures of Asia from the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and spent time in Lucknow, India studying Urdu. Her work has been supported by the Fulbright student program, the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute for Pakistan Studies, American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon Foundation. At UW–Madison Dr. Lhost teaches courses in the undergraduate Legal Studies Program.

Portrait image of Benjamin Marquez outdoors
Benjamin Marquez
Political Science, UW-Madison
Honorary Fellow (2018-2019)
Race, Philanthropy, and Identity: The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

My project is a book length study of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) the largest and oldest Latino civil rights law organization in the United States. It is an analysis of the relationship between legal activists, foundations, and social movements. Established in 1968, MALDEF is an organization of cause lawyers, attorneys who devote most or part of their professional lives to or who are closely identified with social justice movements. My work draws on the large literature exists on cause lawyering as well as that of philanthropy and social movements. MALDEF is primarily dependent on the Ford Foundation, which issued its first major grant and closely supervised its construction. Ford along with the Rockefeller and Carnegie Foundations are MALDEF’s largest contributors that sustain this important organization and its legal reform mission. My narrative begins with MALDEF’s first five years of operation, a time when Chicano Movement activists pressured its lawyers for legal representation while the Ford Foundation insisted that it concentrate on legal reform as stipulated in its mission statement. These irreconcilable demands and MALDEF’s compliance with the Ford Foundation’s demands illustrates the impact that lawyers and philanthropy can have on the course of Latino social movement politics. This research also points to the impact that foundations, corporations, or wealthy individuals can have on the articulation of minority political interests.

Benjamin Marquez is a Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and former Director of the Chican@/Latin@ Studies Program. His research interests include social movements, urban politics, and minority politics. He has published numerous articles and books on the relationship between race, political power, social identities, public and political incorporation. He is the author of Power and Politics in A Chicano Barrio: A Study of Mobilization Efforts and Community Power in El Paso (Lanham: The University Press of America, 1985), LULAC: The Evolution of a Mexican American Political Organization (Texas, 1993), and Mexican-American Political Organizations: Choosing Issues, Taking Sides (University of Texas Press, 2003) which won the 2004 Best Book Award by the Race, Ethnicity and Politics (REP) Section of the American Political Science Association. His recent book, Democratizing Texas Politics: Race, Identity, and Mexican American Empowerment, 1945-2002 was published by the University of Texas Press in 2014. He is currently writing a book on the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

Portrait image of Paul-Alexis Mellet wearing a black shirt with arms crossed in front of a book shelf
Paul-Alexis Mellet
History, University of Geneva; Institute for the History of Reformation (IHR)
Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)
Circumventing the Violence – Remonstrances as a Means of Negotiation and Resistance during the European Civil Wars between 1550 and 1650 (France, the Low Countries, England)

Remonstrances were texts printed in Europe during the civil wars (1550-1650). They are unique in that they served simultaneously as a means of governance, instruments of negotiation and avenues of resistance. They enable continuous dialog during the conflicts. Whereas previous scholarship has focused on conflict and the violence itself, I examine the remonstrance as a means of circumventing the violence and sustaining institutional interaction. I show that – the battles, conflicts and massacres notwithstanding – negotiation remained the focus of power relations between the authorities and a “political society” that used remonstrances to seek to impose (its vision of) peace and justice.

Paul-Alexis Mellet was born in Paris in 1970. After concluding his studies in Philosophy (Paris IV/Paris-Sorbonne), he aroused his interests in History by obtaining an 'agrégation' certificate (Paris I / Panthéon-Sorbonne) and by writing a thesis (Université de Tours/CESR) on Protestant Monarchomachs — jurists, diplomats, and theologians who theorized armed resistance against tyrants (issued by Droz in 2007). He was Professor of Modern History in the Centre for Advanced Studies in the Renaissance (CESR) and in the University of Tours. He is now Professor at the University of Geneva and at the Institute for the History of Reformation. Professor Mellet has published a number of ancient texts, notably Le réveille-matin des Français et de leurs voisins (1574), issued by Garnier in 2015, Conseil à la France désolée (1562), issued by Droz in 2017, and Histoire de France de La Popelinière (1581), issued by Droz in 2019. His present interests are central to the concern of religious warfare in Renaissance Europe and he devoted his recent HDR thesis (Paris IV/Paris-Sorbonne) to a research on the remonstrances that were printed during such epoch. His position consists in showing that during the conflicts of this time, all the parties involved (Catholics, Protestants, Royalists) undertook permanent efforts to restore peace and establish justice.

Portrait image of Vijayanka Nair wearing yellow and standing outdoors.
Vijayanka Nair
Anthropology, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2020)
The State of the Individual: Biometrics, Politics, and the Common Man in India

Dr. Nair's current research concerns the social, cultural, political and legal meanings that have accrued to the world’s largest national biometric ID system. Inaugurated in 2009, India’s Aadhaar (literally “foundation”) initiative has issued unique twelve-digit identification numbers to over one billion Indian residents. The Aadhaar ID is linked to an individual’s iris scans, fingerprints, facial photograph, and select demographic information in a central database. Its architects averred that this ID system would be an unassailable solution to a key problem facing the country: namely, a majority of the population lacking incontrovertible formal proof of individual identity that might afford easy access to a range of government and private sector services. Aadhaar was also forwarded as an effective means to root out “fake,” “duplicate” and “ghost” identities typically used to defraud the sprawling state welfare system. Relying on biometric technologies to glean the “true” identity of individuals, it would facilitate real-time identity verification, make misappropriation virtually impossible, and insure that welfare reached its intended recipient. Officials argued that in a vast, diverse and socioeconomically stratified country like India, Aadhaar would be a universal, inclusive identification platform with potentially endless applications in business and government. Nair’s book manuscript, The State of the Individual: Biometrics, Politics and the Common Man in India [working title], is based on fieldwork among bureaucrats, technocrats, enrollment operators, technical personnel and enrollees. It follows the planning and implementation of Aadhaar, as well as official attempts to re-haul India’s welfare delivery mechanisms using this new identification system. While Aadhaar is officially presented as a technology that circumvents human vagaries and inexactitude, Nair’s work concentrates on the ways in which it serves as a dynamic site for both material and moral inventiveness. Her manuscript focuses on the multifarious negotiations, everyday meaning-making, pedagogies, and improvisations that lie behind the technological edifice of Aadhaar. The State of the Individual probes legal challenges to Aadhaar, and studies its imbrications with electoral politics and the popular media. Ultimately, Nair’s project offers an analysis of Aadhaar as a site for reimagining the state, the aam aadmi (common man), and the relationship between them in contemporary India.

Nair is a is a sociocultural anthropologist interested in the interconnected realms of the state, politics, new governance technologies, ethics and personhood in South Asia and, more recently, China. She received her PhD in Anthropology from New York University and an MPhil in Social Anthropological Analysis from the University of Cambridge. Nair also holds an MA in Sociology from the Delhi School of Economics for which she received the University Gold Medal. Her First Class BA Honours degree in Philosophy is from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University. The National Science Foundation and the Social Science Research Council, among others, have supported Nair’s research. Nair’s UW-Madison Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship is complemented by a China India Scholar-Leaders Fellowship at the India China Institute, The New School.

Portrait image of Else Noterman outdoors wearing a hat and scarf.
Elsa Noterman
Geography, UW-Madison
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow (2018-2019)
Vacant Geographies: (Dis)possession, Resistance, and Speculative Futures in Philadelphia’s Abandoned Properties

Abandoned lots and buildings are a ubiquitous feature of post-industrial U.S. cities, markers of the recent housing crisis, and perennial sources of concern for policymakers, researchers, and residents alike. In cities like Philadelphia, which is currently experiencing a development boom, properties deemed ‘vacant’ are increasingly contested. In this project, I argue that within these emerging conflicts the frequent disjuncture between the use, value, and ownership of these spaces provides critical analytical openings in which to reconceptualize the (im)materialities of law, property, and the commons. In doing so, I put forward a politically productive framework for reconsidering geographies of vacancy.

Elsa Noterman is a doctoral candidate in the Geography Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her work brings together feminist and critical geographies, legal scholarship, decolonial theory, and a focus on grassroots organizing in order to examine the socio-spatial contradictions that emerge through struggles over the everyday spaces of social reproduction – especially those related to housing and land. In particular, she is interested in how these contradictions destabilize normative institutions and what alternatives they might offer. Elsa centers social justice in her research practices, teaching, academic service, and scholarship in ways that aim to push academia in new directions. In doing so, she participates in interdisciplinary, collaborative, and action-oriented projects that seek to contribute to social change. Her work has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies/Mellon Foundation, National Science Foundation, and UW-Madison. She is currently completing her dissertation, entitled “Vacant Geographies: (Dis)possession, Resistance, and Speculative Futures in Philadelphia’s Abandoned Properties."

Cover of Barbara Obrist's book "Les débuts de l'imagerie alchimique..."
Barbara Obrist
Centre national de la recherche scientifique, Université Paris Diderot (Laboratoire SPHERE, Sciences, Philosophie, Histoire)
Honorary Fellow (1993-2019)
A History of Twelfth-Century Cosmology

The current project concerns volume two of a history of medieval cosmology, focusing on the twelfth century, and taking into consideration both verbal and pictorial documents (La cosmologie médiévale. Textes et images II: le XIIe siècle). There exists no synthetic history of cosmology for this pivotal period of the Middle Ages. The twelfth century is considered from the point of view of its dependence on pre-twelfth-century Roman cosmology on the one hand and the assimilations of newly-made translations from the Arabic and the Greek on the other hand. The volume replaces the currently made distinction between scientific and non-scientific activities by that of specialized and non-specialized domains.  It identifies and analyze major trends by making a distinction between a cosmology that was predominantly astronomical and mathematical in approach and a cosmology that focused on natural philosophy. Moreover, it takes into consideration the cosmological tradition which interpreted the corporeal universe to be a symbol of spiritual values, and which is usually termed “symbolic".

Barbara Obrist holds a PhD degree in Art History from the University of Geneva. She is currently Directeur de recherche émérite at the /Centre national de la recherche scientifique and the Université Paris Diderot (Paris). She is a scholar of medieval history of science and philosophy and of scientific images, specializing in history of alchemy and cosmology. Among her books are Les débuts de l'imagerie alchimique: XIVe-XVe siècles (Paris: 1982) and La cosmologie médiévale. Textes et images. I. Les fondements antiques (Florence: 2004). She is co-editor (with Irene Caiazzo) of Guillaume de Conches: philosophie et science au XIIe siècle (Florence: 2011). A study of Abbo of Fleury’s computistical works and their edition, by Alfred Lohr, are to be published in Corpus Christianorum, Continuatio Mediaevalis (Turnhout: forthcoming).

Portrait image of Keren Omry in front of a beige-yellow wall
Keren Omry
English Language and Literature, University of Haifa
Honorary Fellow (2018-2019)
Slipping Sideways; Or, Alternate Histories, Contemporaneity, and the Practice of Digital Posthumanities

"Slipping Sideways" proposes alternativity as a key to redefining the individual as subject and citizen within the contemporary in literature. The project attempts to theorize the contemporary by concentrating on slipstream literature and other forms of speculative fiction, examining how they disrupt teleologies of the Novel form and thus offer alternatives to idealized narratives of justice. Inspired by challenges only partially addressed by Digital Humanities, this project expands on the traditional scholarly monograph through a persistent mode of collaboration and digitization, moving past limits of the Humanities in form and not only in content, attempting a digital posthumanities.

Keren Omry is Assistant Professor of American Studies at the Dept. of English Language & Literature at the University of Haifa. Her work concentrates on literature of the late 20th early 21st century, jazz & hip hop aesthetics in literature, and speculative fiction and alternative histories, as they intersect with stories of personal and collective accountability. Omry was awarded her PhD in English Literature at the University of London, where she explored the relationship between jazz and African-American literature of the twentieth century. Her publications include Cross-Rhythms: Jazz Aesthetics in African-American Literature (Continuum, 2008); “Bond, Benjamin, Balls: Technologised Masculinity in Casino Royale”, in Revisioning 007 (Wallflower Press, 2010); “Literary Free Jazz,” in African American Review (2007); “A Cyborg Performance: Gender and Genre in Octavia Butler,” in Phoebe (2005); and “A Capital Alternative: Alternative Histories And The Futural Present," in Paradoxa (2016).

Portrait image of Giorgio Pini in front of a blue and white ceramic art piece
Giorgio Pini
Philosophy, Fordham University
Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)
Investigations into Duns Scotus's Metaphysics

To what extent did the belief in an omnipotent deity (the kind of deity that can upset the standard way things are by performing miracles) influence the development of some of the basic concepts by which Western intellectuals have been thinking about the deep structure of the reality? In my research, I will consider this question by focusing on the the later medieval thinker, John Duns Scotus (d. 1308). Duns Scotus left a lasting mark in both philosophy and theology. His contributions to metaphysics have been long recognized as both original and influential on foundational early modern figures such as Descartes and Leibniz. My research project is to write the first book-length new treatment of his metaphysics in English in about 70 years. My monograph will be structured as a series of investigations on key topics and will make use of hitherto unexplored sources. The focal point of my project will be the relationship between God’s omnipotence and metaphysics. By focusing on this topic, I also hope to shed some light on the extent to which people and cultures with different religious commitment or no religious commitment might agree on a “neutral” interpretation of the structure of reality independent of those very commitments.

Giorgio Pini (PhD 1997, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa, Italy) is professor of philosophy at Fordham University in New York City, where he has been teaching since 2005. He held fellowships in Toronto (Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies), Leuven (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), and Oxford (All Souls College). He has published extensively on later medieval metaphysics and theory of cognition with a particular focus on the thought of the Franciscan theologian and philosopher, Joh Duns Scotus. His most recent book is the critical edition of an hitherto unknown treatise on metaphysics by Duns Scotus, which was published by Brepols in 2017 in the series Corpus Christianorum Continuatio Mediaevalis.

Portrait image of Jonathan Pollack outdoors wearing a black sweater
Jonathan Z. S. Pollack
History, Madison Area Technical College; Honorary Scholar, George L. Mosse/Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies
Honorary Fellow (2007; 2012-2019)
Success from Scrap and Second-hand Goods: Jewish Business in the Midwest, 1890-1930

We are living in an “economic moment” in the field of Jewish history. Scholars around the world are examining how Jewish entrepreneurs, who were often excluded from full participation in national economies, nonetheless managed to build networks that spawned and sustained Jewish communities. Traditionally, scholars in the Jewish economic history of the United States have focused on the clothing business, from sweatshops to department stores. However, outside of the New York-to-Philadelphia corridor, a dominant Jewish economic niche has been the trade in scrap, surplus, and second-hand materials. Beginning in the late 19th century, Jewish immigrants from Eastern and Central Europe rode booming markets in these areas but, due to scrap’s unsavory, “dirty” associations, were excluded from philanthropic activity outside of Jewish communities. As a result, Jewish dealers in scrap, surplus, and second-hand materials created Jewish institutions from synagogues to Jewish day schools to Jewish community centers. My project will exhume this past from the scrap heap, due to the stigma of earlier generations. In a broad sense, my project sheds light on the ways that ethnic economic networks, even among marginalized people, can lead to the creation of strong ethnic communities.

Jonathan Z. S. Pollack earned his PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin Madison in 1999, and he has been a full-time Instructor in History at Madison Area Technical College since 1998, where he teaches courses in African-American History, Native American History, the history of the Vietnam War, and Jewish history. He has published articles in American Jewish History, Journal of Jewish Identities, and several conference volumes. His article, “Shylocks to Superheroes: Jewish Scrap Dealers in Anglo-American Popular Culture,” will be published in Business History later this year. This fall, he will be completing his book, Wisconsin, The New Home of the Jew: 150 Years of Jewish Life at the University of Wisconsin—Madison. He held an Honorary Fellowship at the IRH in Fall of 2007, and served as the first Madison Area Technical College Fellow at IRH from 2008-2011. He has continued his affiliation with IRH during summers from 2012 to the present, and has been an Honorary Fellow during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 academic years.

Portrait image of Zachary Purvis in a blue shirt and jacket in front of a stone wall
Zachary Purvis
School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh
Kingdon Fellow (2018-2019)
Protestantism and Progress in the Nineteenth Century: Philip Melanchthon, Karl Bretschneider, and the Making of the "Corpus Reformatorum" in Germany

This project examines the reinvention of the Reformation in modern Germany and Europe through the making of the Corpus Reformatorum (1834–60), the state-sponsored, critical edition of texts from the sixteenth-century reformer Philip Melanchthon. It uniquely indicates the contested alliance between Protestantism and “progress,” the latter understood especially in terms of scientific achievement and modernization in religious and cultural life, with political consequences. Through the investment of Prussia’s powerful Ministry of Culture, backed by the Crown, and edited by the one of the leading rationalists of the day, the series came to signify the new scholarly ethos, progressive theological spirit, and distinct cultural and ecclesiastical sensibilities the state pursued over much of the nineteenth century.

Zachary Purvis s Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Edinburgh and Alexander von Humboldt Fellow at the University of Göttingen. He completed his D.Phil. at the University of Oxford. He is the author of Theology and the University in Nineteenth-Century Germany (Oxford University Press, 2016), awarded Best First Book by the Ecclesiastical History Society. His articles and essays have appeared in such venues as Church History, Journal of the History of Ideas, and The Oxford Handbook of Nineteenth-Century Christian Thought, among others. His research has been supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Fulbright Program, Leibniz-Institute for European History, Fritz Thyssen Stiftung, Leverhulme Trust, and other institutions. 

Portrait image of Edward Schmitt wearing a white shirt
Edward Schmitt
History, UW-Parkside
UW System Fellow (2018-2019)
Standup, Cowboy, Mystic: The Insurgent Life of Dick Gregory

This will be the first academic biography of comedian and activist Dick Gregory. Gregory broke the color line in standup comedy in the early 1960s and subsequently threw himself into the rising tide of the black freedom struggle, with a conviction unparalleled among entertainers. Gregory soon became more activist than entertainer, working at the leading edge of the other movements for social change that coalesced from the late 1960s onward. This study traces the roots of Gregory’s activism from his impoverished upbringing in St. Louis through his solitary sacrifices of the 1970s and beyond, and it will outline and assess Gregory’s important roles in the larger historical developments of the period, including the emergence of modern popular culture and movements for equality and empowerment in American life.

Edward Schmitt is an associate professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside, where he has taught since 2002. His research and teaching focuses on the intersections of politics, social movements, and culture, particularly as these have addressed inequality in American life. His first book, President of the Other America: Robert Kennedy and the Politics of Poverty, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in 2010.

Portrait photo of Ari Sekeryan in a library aisle surrounded by book shelves.
Ari Şekeryan
Oriental Studies, Hertford College, University of Oxford
Honorary Fellow (2018-2019)
The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey after the First World War

This project is a historical study of the Ottoman Armenians in the Ottoman Empire from 1918-1923. It seeks to delineate how the Ottoman Armenians reorganised their political position against the massive socio-political crises that led to the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. This study employs Armenian and Ottoman Turkish media sources published in Istanbul and Anatolia during the Armistice years (1918-1923) to track the post-war interrelationship of Ottoman society in general and the Armenian community in particular, the social and political reorganisations of the Armenian community and the transformation of the Armenian political position in the last years of the Ottoman Empire.

Ari Şekeryan recently received his DPhil from the University of Oxford Faculty of Oriental Studies. His thesis was entitled “The Armenians in the Ottoman Empire After the First World War (1918-1923)”. His PhD thesis sought to bridge the disciplines of history, international relations, and area studies by analysing the minority-majority relations in the final years of the Ottoman Empire, primarily focusing on the relations between the Armenians and Turks. The research was grounded in detailed archival research conducted at the library of the Armenian Mekhitarist Congregation in Vienna, Austria; the Prime Minister’s Ottoman Archives in Istanbul, Turkey; and the State Archives and the National Library of Yerevan, Armenia. Ari Şekeryan’s main research interests include the theories of minority-majority relations and the Muslim-non Muslim relations in the Ottoman Empire. He edited The Adana Massacre 1909: Three Reports and An Anthology of Armenian Literature 1913. His latest articles appeared in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, the Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association and War in History. His research has been supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.

Portrait image of Sonia Velázquez wearing a black shirt in front of white book shelf
Sonia Velázquez
Religious Studies; Comparative Literature, Indiana University-Bloomington
Solmsen Fellow (2018-2019)
Promiscuous Grace: Reimagining Beauty and Holiness with Saint Mary of Egypt

In Promiscuous Grace: Reimagining Religion and Beauty with St. Mary of Egypt I study the immensely popular story of Mary of Egypt’s conversion from promiscuous twelve-year old to venerable anchorite as mediated by her interaction with an image of the Virgin Mary. This figure, though rarely studied from a theoretical perspective, emerges in this project as a productive transhistorical vehicle for reflecting on the role of beauty and appearances in works that are ostensibly about asceticism and Christian doctrine. Through the study of three instantiations of the legend from the thirteenth to the seventeenth centuries, I show how these works—on the page, on the stage, and on canvas—engage openly with questions of generosity and promiscuity, belief and appearances, mediation and immediacy, feminine charm and the grotesque. Examining how the legend of this saint mediates the presence of the divine in this world, I ultimately seek to recuperate for grace its double meaning as the gratuitous gift of salvation (holiness) and the allure of the senses (beauty) as well as to challenge our contemporary understandings of hagiography as synonymous with uncritical acclamation, of belief as the static acceptance of dogma, and of beauty as that which “one does not have to work at” (Arthur Danto).

Sonia Velázquez has a joint appointment as Assistant Professor in the departments of Religious Studies and Comparative Literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. Her research focuses on the intersection of aesthetics and religion, especially in the medieval and early modern periods in Europe. She has co-edited a volume on pastoral and the humanities with Mathilde Skoie (Exeter/Bristol Press, 2007) and a Critical Cluster on Giorgio Agamben and early modern Spanish poetry for MLN in 2017. Her publications include articles on Pascal’s wager and theatrical stagings of conversion; on style as a vehicle of political and ethical engagement with questions of politics and anthropology in Cervantes’ Los trabajos de Persiles y Sigismunda; on poetry and hospitality in Théophile Viau’s La maison de Sylvie, and on the fallacy of secularization in Alexandre Hardy’s stage adaptation of Cervantes’ short story La fuerza de la sangre. Her article, “Didacticism and the Ends of Storytelling: Walter Benjamin’s Medievalism and Forms of Knowledge in Sendebar” received the Allen and Judy Shoaf Award for the Best Essay Published in Exemplaria (2013).

Book cover of Rob Wilkie's book "The Digital Condition..."
Rob Wilkie
English, UW-La Crosse
UW System Fellow (2018-2019)
Bionetworks and the Ontological Turn: Aleatory Materialism and the Making of the Geohumanities

My book, tentatively titled Bionetworks and the Ontological Turn: Aleatory Materialism and the Making of the Geohumanities, is a critical analysis of life's precariousness at a time of rising economic, environmental, and social conflicts, and the way contemporary (post)humanities interpret this precarity as ontological. Through a sustained dialogue with representatives of the "ontological turn"—including New Materialism, Speculative Realism, and Object-Oriented-Ontology—I argue understanding life's increasing precarity requires an earthly and worldly "geohumanities," by which I mean a re-turn to history not as existing on a flat, ontological plane, but as a dialectical relation of the human and the nonhuman.

Rob Wilkie is an Associate Professor in the Department of English at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. His books include The Digital Condition: Class and Culture in the Information Network (Fordham University Press, 2011) and the co-edited collection Human, All Too (Post)Human: The Humanities After Humanism (Lexington, 2016). In addition, his work on digital culture, posthumanism, and pedagogy has appeared in such books and journals as Media and Class (Routledge, 2017); Post-Industrial Society (Sage, 2010); Nineteenth-Century Prosethe minnesota review; International Critical Thought; Nature, Society, and Thought; JAC; and Textual Practice.

Portrait of Timothy Yu seated on a red bench with open notebooks near him
Timothy Yu
English; Asian American Studies, UW-Madison
Honorary Fellow (2018-2019)
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.