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External Fellows

Sukanya Banerjee
English, UW-Milwaukee
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
Loyalty and the Making of the Modern

By drawing attention to the under examined category of loyalty, this book argues for the centrality of loyalty to figurations of modernity. Rather than focus on political loyalty alone--a context in which loyalty gets most prominence--I examine interlocking formulations of loyalty across three evolving sites of modernity in nineteenth-early twentieth century Britain and its empire: that of the state, the family, and the economy. In querying how and why ideas of loyalty were idealized at a moment marked both by massive industrialism and high imperialism, I study literary genres and modes that stabilize the seemingly counterintuitive relation between loyalty and modernity. In so doing, I also identify the “transimperial” as a heuristic for studying the expansive yet connected multilingual literary systems of empire.

Sukanya Banerjee is Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She works at the intersection of Victorian studies, postcolonial studies, and studies of South Asia. She is the author of Becoming Imperial Citizens: Indians in the Late-Victorian Empire (Duke, 2010), which was awarded the NVSA Sonya Rudikoff Prize for best first book in Victorian studies (2012). She is co-editor of New Routes for Diaspora Studies (Indiana, 2012), an her essays have appeared in journals such as Victorian Studies, Victorian Literature and Culture, Prose Studies, and Diaspora. A recipient of a previous fellowship at the IRH, she has also received support from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Black and white photograph of Tina Chronopoulos
Tina Chronopoulos
Classics and Medieval Studies, University of Binghamton, State University of New York
Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)
The Voices of Ganymede: Latin Homoerotics in Medieval Europe

This project examines the cultural and material contexts of Medieval Latin literary texts produced during the eleventh and twelfth centuries that discuss or portray same-sex encounters between men. I bring questions about same-sex sexuality to texts that depict the Classical figure of Ganymede, a by-word for same-sex relations, and I put these texts into dialogue with the manuscripts in which they survive to provide for a richer appreciation of the contexts in which they were read and circulated. I show that medieval responses to Ganymede were not uniformly pro or contra same-sex desire, but that he was deployed instead in different ways to admonish and teach correct behaviour, to display knowledge of Classical Latin literature, and to play with Latin language and grammar.

Tina Chronopoulos is an Assistant Professor of Classics and Medieval Studies at the University of Binghamton, State University of New York, where she teaches a range of courses in Latin language and literature, as well as in Classical civilization and medieval studies. She is a Medieval Latinist, with particular interests in twelfth-century Latin literature written in the Anglo-French cultural realm and the manuscripts in which these texts survive. Her past research has focused on the reception of Classical Latin literature in the medieval period and the medieval Latin legend of St Katherine of Alexandria. 

Portrait image of Sidnie Crawford
Sidnie Crawford
Classics and Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Kingdon Fellow (2016-2017)
Scribes, Scrolls and Scripture: The Story of Qumran

The Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Jewish manuscripts discovered in caves in the 20th century in the area of the Dead Sea, have been objects of mystery and intrigue for seventy years. In particular, the subcollection known as the Qumran scrolls, found in eleven caves in close proximity to the ancient ruins of Khirbet Qumran, continue to fascinate and confound modern scholarship. Three questions about the Qumran scrolls have been paramount in the history of research: How did the scrolls come to be in the caves?  Who were the inhabitants of Qumran and did they own the Qumran scrolls?  Why did they establish a settlement at this inhospitable site, and why did they abandon their manuscripts in the nearby caves?  My book project, Scribes, Scrolls and Scripture: The Story of Qumran, narrates the story of the foundation of the Qumran settlement as a library and scribal center staffed by scribes and priests who were part of the Essenes, a first century BCE Jewish movement active in the events of first century BCE Judea.  It breaks new ground by focusing on the scribes of Qumran and their role in collecting, copying, preserving, and in a few cases composing the Qumran scrolls.

Sidnie White Crawford is Willa Cather Professor of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she teaches in the areas of Hebrew Bible, Second Temple Judaism, and Hebrew language. She is an internationally recognized scholar in the areas of Dead Sea Scrolls and Textual Criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Her most recent book, edited with Cecilia Wassen, is The Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran and the Concept of a Library, published by E. J. Brill (2016). Sidnie currently serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees of the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research in Jerusalem, the American headquarters for archaeological research in the Holy Land, and as a member of the Society of Biblical Literature Council. She is also a member of numerous editorial boards, including Hermeneia: A Commentary Series (Fortress Press), The Textual History of the Bible (Brill), and The Hebrew Bible: A Critical Edition (SBL Press). In her free time Dr. Crawford enjoys international travel, classical music, in particular early music and opera, and watching sports, especially Husker football and women’s volleyball. She usually lives in Lincoln, NE with her husband, Dr. Dan D. Crawford, and their cat, Mollie, but is delighted to be spending the year at the IRH and enjoying all that Madison has to offer.

Portrait image of Dan Crawford
Dan Crawford
Classics & Religious Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)
The Idea of Redemption in William James' Varieties of Religious Experience

A recurring question in William James’ Varieties of Religious Experience is whether there are divine forces in the universe that are aiding humans in their efforts to combat evil, and whether the forces of good will ultimately triumph over evil. Interestingly, he sees the phenomenon of conversion as giving the best indication of the redemption of evil, and passage from the natural to a spiritual realm. Further, James finds in the experiences of “saints” a heroic character that is almost superhuman. James concludes that the transformative experiences he has identified represent a new kind of specifically religious evidence for believing that there are spiritual forces working in the world to defeat evil. 

Dan Crawford is presently Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classics & Religious Studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (1997-2014). Prior to that he was Professor and Chair of the Philosophy Department at Albright College, Reading PA (1978-1997). Dan received his B.A. in philosophy from Haverford College; a M.A. from the Religion Department at Princeton University; and a PhD from the Philosophy Department at the University of Pittsburgh. His book, A Thirst for Souls: the Life of Evangelist Percy B. Crawford (1902-1960) (University of Susquehanna Press, 2010) is an objective account of my father’s pioneering role in the use of radio and television for the cause of evangelism in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s. 

Most Recent article: “The Idea of Militancy in American Fundamentalism,” forthcoming in Fundamentalism: Perspectives on a Contested History, eds. Simon A. Wood & David H. Watt (University of South Carolina Press, 2014), 36-54.

Portrait image of Devaleena Das
Devaleena Das
Gender and Women's Studies, UW-Madison
Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)
Body Parts and Bodily Integrity: Twentieth Century Feminist Art, Music, and Literature

As Margaret Atwood writes, the female body is always seen to be a “hot topic” in all cultures across the world. Despite their other differences, socio-cultural systems in diverse epochs and regions have employed a standardized system of mapping and atomizing the female body. In the twentieth century when women writers start writing about their lived bodily experiences, some of them also start seeing their bodies beyond the composite whole with alternate views. How do they overcome seeing their organs as encoded with cultural meanings that were imagined to reside in, on, and about women’s individual body parts? What if women writers (and their readers) begin to see their body parts less as vehicles of cultural values and more as anatomical signatures that express varied emotions, creativity and a repressed sense of self? With a transnational approach, I will explore these questions in twentieth-century women’s writing, arguing that the texts they produced evidence “anatomphilia,” an affective bond between the subjectivity and the atomized body. 

Devaleena Das was a former Assistant Professor of English and Gender Studies at Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi. Currently she is teaching in the Department of Gender and Women's Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She received her Ph.D. from Calcutta University in 2012. Her dissertation examines postcolonial and gendered space in Australia and she works in the field of intersectional feminism.

Photo of David Ebrey seated in an audience speaking into a microphone
David Ebrey
Philosophy, Northwestern University
Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)
Plato's Phaedo: The Initiation of a Philosopher

In my book project I provide a new, comprehensive reading of Plato’s Phaedo, a dialogue set on the last day of Socrates’ life. I argue that Plato appropriates and transforms Pythagorean and Orphic views in order to present a radical new account of the soul, the good life, and the nature of reality. According to this new account, the life of knowledge is the best life possible, but we are unable to fully realize this life while embodied. This ethical view, I argue, is grounded in a new account of the nature of the soul, which is in turn grounded in a new account of Plato’s forms. I show how the different elements of the dialogue fit together to form a cohesive philosophical vision.

David Ebrey (Ph.D., UCLA) works on ancient Greek philosophy, primarily on Plato and Aristotle. So far his research on Plato has focused on Socratic inquiry, the value of knowledge, moral education, and Platonic forms. His research on Aristotle has focused on matter in Aristotle's natural philosophy and syllogisms in his logic. He has published in journals such as Journal of the History of Philosophy, Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie, and British Journal of the History of Philosophy, and he has edited a volume, Theory and Practice in Aristotle’s Natural Science (Cambridge, 2015). He has received a Mellon Postdoc (2007-2009), Alice Kaplan Humanities Institute Fellowship (2011-2012), and a Spencer Foundation Grant (2012-2013). He was a visiting fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge in 2013. He is currently working on a book on Plato’s Phaedo.

Portrait of Anthony W. Fontes outdoors
Anthony W. Fontes
Geography, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2017)
Mortal Doubt: Maras and Murder in Guatemala City

Twenty years after the end of Latin America’s bloodiest civil war, Guatemala City has become a hotbed of homicidal violence. Much of this bloodshed is blamed on maras, gangs bearing transnational signs and symbols, which operate in prisons and poor urban communities. My forthcoming book manuscript, based on ethnographic research inside prisons, courts, and urban red zones, explores the maras' evolution and the world that makes them what they are today: victim-perpetrators of often spectacular violence and pivotal figures in a politics of death reigning over post-war society. However, while gangsters play starring roles in this account of extreme peacetime violence, they are not the problem. They are a hyper-visible expression of a problem no one can name, a deafening scream, a smokescreen obscuring innumerable and diffuse sources of everyday brutality. The phantasmagoric public image mareros make is both a product of and answer to a deepening sense of mortal doubt over the terms of daily survival. Through a mélange of ethnography, media analysis, short stories, and photographic essays, this book traces the tangled skein weaving the maras into collective nightmares swirling about extreme peacetime violence. In so doing, I expose the quicksilver metamorphoses violence undergoes as it moves through the social body, infiltrating and reordering lived and symbolic spaces, and escaping our best efforts to confront it, pin it down, and hold it at bay.

Anthony Fontes has worked as a free-lance journalist in Egypt and Guatemala, an actor in South America, an environmental justice advocate in India and Thailand, and an immigration legal advisor in California. He received his PhD in Geography from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2015. His written and photographic work in Central American cities explores the blurred boundaries between the underworld, the state, law-abiding society, legacies of civil war, the meaning of justice, and violence in its most extreme and banal forms. His research has been supported by grants from the OSF/SSRC Drugs, Security, and Democracy Program, the International Center for Global Conflict and Cooperation, the Woodrow Wilson Center, and the Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation. His most recent article, "Extorted Life: Protection Rackets in Guatemala City," will be published with Public Culture. He is at work on a project entitled "Of Maras and Mortal Doubt: Violence, Order, and Uncertainty in Guatemala City." 

Portrait image of Max Harris outdoors
Max Harris
Independent Scholar
Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)
Christ on a Donkey: Palm Sunday, Processional Theater, and Blasphemous Pageants

Christ on a Donkey explores Palm Sunday processions and other public representations of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem as embodied sites for the celebration, display, contestation, diffusion, and mockery of religious justifications for war and other exercises of power. Drawing on church processions, royal entries, and folk practices from as far apart as fourth-century Jerusalem, tenth-century Augsburg, and seventeenth-century Bristol, my project examines the mimetic practices deployed in such representations, the process by which royal entries and Palm Sunday processions came to resemble one another, and the shifting boundaries between narrative and performance, religion and politics, and dissent and blasphemy.

Max Harris is an independent scholar and Executive Director Emeritus of the Wisconsin Humanities Council. He has taught at the University of Virginia and, as a visiting professor, at Yale University. He is the author of five books: Theater and Incarnation (1990, 2nd ed. 2005), The Dialogical Theatre (1993), Aztecs, Moors, and Christians: Festivals of Reconquest in Mexico and Spain (2000), Carnival and Other Christian Festivals: Folk Theology and Folk Performance (2003), and Sacred Folly: A New History of the Feast of Fools (2011). His work has won the Otto Gründler Book Prize, and (twice) the David Bevington Award for the Best New Book in Early Drama Studies. 

Portrait image of Marguerite Helmers outdoors
Marguerite Helmers
English, UW-Oshkosh
Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)
Harry Clarke and Artistic Visions of the New Irish State

I am currently one of three editors for a new anthology of scholarly essays titled Harry Clarke and Artistic Visions of the New Irish State, for which I am also researching and writing a chapter. The full book of eleven new essays draws attention to the ways that Harry Clarke (1888-1931) responded to his commissions and to his public. Contributors analyze works produced at the height of Clarke's career, considering commercial, artistic, political, and religious exigencies for and responses to his work. The chapters reflect the individuality of the formal content of Clarke’s work, and also highlight themes such as patronage, public reception, advertising, propaganda, war, and memory, in order to place Clarke within a larger political and cultural context. My chapter focuses on Clarke's illustrations for the post-war poetry anthology The Year's at the Spring, edited by Lettice D'Oyly Walters and published by George Harrap in 1920.

Marguerite Helmers is Professor of English, emerita, Department of English, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and past UW System Fellow of at the IRH. Her book Harry Clarke's War: Illustrations for Ireland's Memorial Records, 1914-1918 (Irish Academic Press, 2016) was researched and completed while a fellow at the Institute. Her articles and essays on the First World War have appeared in the journals Eire Ireland and the Journal of War and Culture Studies, as well as several edited books; in addition, she is the editor of the Visual Rhetoric Series at Parlor Press, an independent scholarly publisher. Marguerite is the current chair of the History and Literature Forum of the MLA, past chair of the MLA's Committee on Information Technology, and past chair of the MLA Prize for Independent Scholars. She has held fellowships at the Center for Twentieth Century Studies (UW Milwaukee) and the Humanities Institute at University College Dublin. She Tweets about the First World War and Irish Studies @MHHelmers.

Portrait Image of Samantha Herrick
Samantha Herrick
History, Syracuse University
Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)
Networks of Shared Imagination: Apostolic Legends in Medieval Europe

People often depict the past as they wish it to have been. Such historical construction is the subject of my research, which examines medieval legends claiming that numerous European cities were evangelized at the dawn of Christianity by figures close to Jesus. These legends, at odds with reliable evidence and so widespread as to be cliché, have received more derision than study. My research instead considers them as a meaningful discourse at once local and widely shared. On the local level, I use them to understand how communities navigated change and competition. By tracing the networks along which the legends traveled, I investigate how communities shared information. Additionally, my work argues that these legends reflect a collaborative approach to historical construction, through which far-flung writers, readers, and scribes wove individual histories into a larger narrative.

Samantha Kahn Herrick is Associate Professor of History at Syracuse University. Her research focuses on medieval Europe and, in particular, the uses and significance of hagiographical legends. In addition to studying how and why medieval people fashioned and disseminated stories about the past, she is also interested in how historians can use problematic but abundant hagiographical legends to supplement the very limited number of more “reliable” sources. Her first book demonstrated the political significance of legends celebrating largely imaginary saints. She is currently writing a monograph about a neglected body of apostolic saints’ lives and co-editing a volume on history and hagiography. She has been a fellow at the Syracuse University Humanities Center (2014-15) and a Scruggs Faculty Research Scholar (2012-15), a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (2011-12), and Professeur invitée at the Université Paul Verlaine, Metz (France) (2007).

Black and White portrait image of Anja Jovic-Humphrey
Anja Jovic-Humphrey
English, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2017)
Black and Balkan: A Comparison of African-American, Caribbean, African and Balkan History, Theory and Art

This project is a comparative story of black and Balkan peoples, which uses new, archival material, such as Balkan "slave narratives," an unknown documentary with Aimé Césaire (who wrote his famous hymn to blackness in ex-Yugoslavia), as well as numerous Yugoslav publications on black literature and rights. In it, I delineate the histories of enslavement of African and Balkan peoples. I start with etymology, as the word slave in every Western European language originates from the word Slav because of the massive slave trade of Slavic people, which lasted for centuries. I compare the work of Ivo Andrić, a male writer born in Bosnia, to the work of Toni Morrison, an African-American woman born in Ohio. While analyzing these histories and narratives, I search for postcolonial methods of reading that do not necessarily first pass through the "Western" filter, but that—instead—connect racially and ethnically "marked" authors, works, and cultures in a direct, unmediated way.

Anja Jovic-Humphrey was born in ex-Yugoslavia, Croatia, in what is in that region considered a "mixed marriage." As a child of both Serbs and Croats, during the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s, she learned her first valuable lessons on the dangers of ethnicism, racism, othering, and discrimination, about which she writes to this day. While still a student of French and English Literature and Linguistics, Anja translated many novels from English and French into Croatian, by authors ranging from Nicole Krauss to Michel Houellebecq. The process of literary translation gave her insights into the nature of narrative, and into the differences and similarities between contemporary novels written in different languages and cultures. These insights prompted her to earn an M. A. in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University (2008), and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature at Brown (2015). Her recent work has been published in Johns Hopkins University’s journal MLN. She is at work on a project entitled "Black and Balkan: A Comparison of African-American, Caribbean, African and Balkan History, Theory and Art."

Portrait image of Patrick William Kelly outdoors
Patrick William Kelly
History, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2017)
Salvation in Small Steps: Latin America and the Making of Global Human Rights Politics

We live in a world where the idea of "human rights" animates people across the globe. But what are the roots of our era of global human rights politics? My research draws on case studies of Brazil, Chile, Argentina, and the United States to explore how and why transnational and local actors began to deploy the language of human rights and its effects on the development of a distinct transnational practice that centered on civil and political rights by the end of 1970s. I connect the voices and experiences of a diverse array of actors, including church and solidarity activists, political exiles, and members of Amnesty International to Ford Foundation officers, international lawyers, and bureaucrats at the United Nations and the Organization of American States. In charting this history, I argue it makes less sense to isolate a particular region of the world, whether that be the United States, Latin America, or Europe, than to show how human rights ideas percolated through a series of transnational encounters in different regions of the world.

Patrick William Kelly received his Ph.D. in history in 2015 from the University of Chicago. His research and teaching interests include twentieth-century international history, modern Latin American history, the history of the United States in the world, the global Cold War, and the global histories of human rights and humanitarianism. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council IDRF and the Fulbright-Hays, Kelly has published articles in Humanity and the Journal of Global History. His work is based on multi-state, multi-archival research and oral interviews in nine countries throughout Latin America, Europe, the United States, and Australia, drawing on Spanish, Portuguese, and English language primary sources. He is at work on a project entitled "Salvation in Small Steps: Latin America and the Making of Global Human Rights Politics."

Portrait image of A.J. Yumi Lee
Yumi Lee
Asian American Studies, University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign
Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)
Someone Else’s War: Korea and the Post-1945 U.S. Racial Order

The Korean War, long considered the “forgotten war” of twentieth-century U.S. history, has been the subject of an unprecedented surge of interest in American culture over the past decade. In this book project, I read contemporary American literary works, including novels by Toni Morrison, Chang-Rae Lee, Rolando Hinojosa, and Ha Jin, to trace the transformative effects of the Korean War and U.S. militarism in Asia on U.S. racial formations from midcentury to the present. Examining the war’s impact on policies and practices around desegregation and immigration, I argue that the Korean War heralded a new mode of liberal inclusion for racial minorities in the United States. Through close readings of literary texts paired with a critical analysis of historical and legal documents, this project investigates both how and why we are remembering and retelling the Korean War in the present. It thus seeks not only to assess the war's significance for the past half-century but also to reveal what the recent literary reckoning with the Korean War’s legacy can tell us about the current state of race, empire, and unending war in the United States.

A.J. Yumi Lee is a literary scholar working in the fields of 20th and 21st century American literature and critical race and ethnic studies. She completed her Ph.D in English at the University of Pennsylvania in 2015, and was Chancellor's Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Department of Asian American Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015-2016. At UW-Madison, she teaches in the English Department, and is completing work on her first book manuscript.

Portrait image of Elizabeth Lhost in front of a brick wall
Elizabeth Lhost
History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago
Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellow (2016-2017)
Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century British India

My dissertation, “Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic legal practice in 19th-century British India,” traces the origins of Islamic legal modernism in 19th-century South Asia. By focusing on the mundane practices of paperwork and bureaucratic routines adopted by qāẓīs (Muslim judges) and muftīs (jurisconsults, writers of legal opinions), my work explores the role indigenous legal practitioners played the construction of colonial legal modernity. To do so, I study previously overlooked vernacular sources in Persian and Urdu, including qazi notebooks and registers, published and unpublished fatwa collections, and private legal documents. By focusing on the role of paperwork in the everyday practice of law, my research considers the transformation of legal activity at the local level, moving beyond the colonial construction of law codes and legal categories to consider the written artifacts individuals encountered in the execution of their everyday affairs—from documenting marriages and divorces, to buying and selling land, to negotiating inheritance and the distribution of personal property. This research demonstrates the ways in which public conceptions of law worked outside the colonial courts to create an expansive ethical–legal discourse that continues to shape civil society and civil litigation in post-colonial South Asia. 

Elizabeth Lhost is a PhD Candidate in the Departments of History and South Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. Her work focuses on the history religious law and colonial policy in 19th- and 20th-century South Asia. She is particularly interested in the role of paperwork in the formalization of legal procedure and the intersections between formal legal structures and popular conceptions of the moral and ethical. With a background in literary studies, Elizabeth enjoys teaching courses on modern South Asian and global history that incorporate close reading, textual analysis, and the consideration of multiple perspectives. She received her BA summa cum laude in English literature and Cognitive Science from Northwestern University and an MA in Languages and Cultures of Asia from UW–Madison in 2009. Her work has been supported by a Fulbright–Nehru Student Research Fellowship, a Junior Research Fellowship from the American Institute of Pakistan Studies, a Social Science Research Council International Dissertation Research Fellowship, and the Committee on Southern Asian Studies and Nicholson Center for British Studies at the University of Chicago. She is currently working to complete her dissertation with support from a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. 

Joshua Mabie
English, UW-Whitewater
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
Nineteenth-Century American Writing and the Desolation of the Holy Land

Amongst many scholars, policy makers, and members of the general public the notion of Palestine’s nineteenth-century barrenness and desolation is common knowledge, yet nineteenth-century scholars and travel writers painted a more nuanced and complex picture of the region. Joshua's project examines the development of the narrative of Holy Land desolation. He asks what ordinary Americans knew of the environmental condition of Palestine in the nineteenth-century, how the notion of Holy Land desolation lodged so firmly in Americans’ collective memory, and what pressure the narrative of desolation exerts on the region’s environmental and political problems today. He looks for answers to these questions in overlooked works of nineteenth-century Holy Land geography and in the literary bestsellers, Sunday School teaching materials, bible dictionaries, and annotated bibles that communicated this scholarship to broad popular audiences.

Joshua Mabie is Assistant Professor of English at UW-Whitewater, where he also completed a three-year term as the university’s Faculty Sustainability Fellow. His recent scholarship has appeared in Christianity and Literature, The Edinburgh Companion to T.S. Eliot and the Arts, and Transatlantic Literary Ecologies: Nature and Culture in the Nineteenth-Century Anglophone Atlantic World. In addition to his critical work, Mabie is working on a creative nonfiction book about his hometown, Stoughton, Wisconsin, that combines, nature writing, environmental history, and memoir.

Portrait image of Annie Menzel
Annie Menzel
Political Theory, Vassar College
Honorary Fellow (2016-2017)
The Political Life of Black Infant Mortality

In the US, African American infants have died at two to three times the rate of white infants since the first comparative statistics appeared in the late 19th century. While the past century has seen many public health, medical and policy studies of this staggeringly disproportionate visitation of death on African American families and communities, few have probed the political meanings and historical continuities of what we now call the “racial disparity” in infant mortality. This book tracks the political logics, rhetoric, and practices that have both rationalized and contested this longstanding, albeit unspectacular, manifestation of institutionalized anti-black violence since the mid-19th century. It brings to bear three powerful conceptual approaches to racism in contemporary political thought: biopolitics, Black feminism, and Black Studies scholarship on what Saidiya Hartman calls “the afterlife of slavery.” Using this frame, this account traces two distinct yet overlapping trajectories. First, the three theoretical approaches enter into critical conversation with recent considerations of race, “the human,” and the archive in order to reconstruct the sequence of official rationales and practices that have framed black infant mortality as a political problem (or markedly neglected to do so) and the interventions (or non-interventions) this has entailed. I argue that apparently anti-racist post-Civil-Rights approaches—including an emerging emphasis on epigenetic impacts of racism and intergenerational trauma—bear traces of previous framings, explicitly or implicitly blaming Black mothers for their infants’ deaths, even as they offer grounds for a powerful indictment of anti-Black racism. Second, it offers novel readings of texts by and about key Black political thinkers and actors in relation to infant mortality, including Harriet Jacobs, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Black midwives and reproductive activists. These readings reveal a rich continuity of appropriations and contestations, both rhetorical and practical, of the prevailing logics of white supremacy, refusing the devaluation of Black infant and maternal life and in some cases actually creating alternative environments to foster survival.

Annie Menzel is an Assistant Professor of Political Science and member of the Africana Studies Program at Vassar College. After training as a midwife, she received her PhD in Political Science at the University of Washington and is currently completing a book project, The Political Life of Black Infant Mortality. Menzel studies reproduction and race; gender, kinship, and citizenship under white supremacy; biopolitics; and Black political thought, especially Black feminism. 

Portrait image of Golnar Nikpour
Golnar Nikpour
History, UW-Madison
A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow (2015-2017)
Prison Days: The History of Prisons and Punishment in Modern Iran

The prison is the subject of intense scrutiny for both opponents and supporters of the contemporary Islamic Republic of Iran. Despite this, the longer history of Iranian punishment has been given short shrift. This project seeks to address this lacuna by exploring the interplay between the prison and the narratives of violence told of and about that space, arguing that political modernity in Iran has unfolded in and through its contested histories of punishment. I explore the ways in which prisoners evoked the anxiety-laden questions: who can be considered a citizen? How is state authority predicated on the suffering or rehabilitation of the prisoner’s body? In what ways does the prisoner enact and transform those very concepts—rights, nation, citizen, justice—that the state was attempting to define and control? Reading history from the late 19th century to the 1979 Islamic Revolution, this project shows that in this era in which novel legal reforms were fitfully enacted by a modernizing state, the prison cell came to have a public life through its representations in Iranian discourses. Through these discourses the prison cell and the prisoner's body paradoxically become sites for imagining political emancipation and testing the limits of justice in the modern nation-state.

Golnar Nikpour is currently an A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow at UW-Madison. She received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2015, with a dissertation titled “Prison Days: Incarceration and Punishment in Modern Iran.” She has received research fellowships from the Social Science Research Council and the Giles Whiting Foundation, and has published in forums including International Journal of Middle East Studies, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Tehran Bureau, and Humanity. Golnar is also co-founder and co-editor of B|ta’arof, a journal for Iranian arts and histories, where she has written extensively on Iranian intellectual and cultural history. She is currently at work on a book called The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran, which challenges the notion of the prison as a place of social death, arguing instead that modern conceptions of citizenship and political emancipation have emerged in the context of modern surveillance and punishment in Iran. Her research interests include political philosophy, comparative revolutions, transnational feminisms, postcolonialism and postcolonial thought, and critical prison studies in the context of modern Iran and the Middle East. 

Portrait image of Dana Oswald outdoors
Dana Oswald
English, UW-Parkside
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
Anglo-Saxon Maternal Bodies

By examining the bodies of women as they conceive, miscarry, give birth, and lactate in Anglo-Saxon texts that are medical, legal, religious, historical, and literary, I show that the policing of these bodies contradictorily highlights the authority of women over both body and progeny. By placing genres of texts that rarely speak to one another in conversation, I offer a fuller vision of the experience of maternity. Despite the fact that the monastic literary tradition only rarely offers representations of women, the variety of genres examined here allow us to see past exceptional women by examining the corporeal experience of maternity. I reveal that women sought to control the reproductive processes of their bodies, knowing full well the dangers of doing so, and that they used their maternal labors as a means of self-authorization.

Dana Oswald is author of the book Monsters, Gender, and Sexuality in Medieval English Literature, as well as articles on Old and Middle English literature and translation, and gender and sexuality studies. Her focus on the embodied experience of life in medieval England is a means by which contemporary readers can connect to people, characters, and problems existing in an age that can seem very foreign.

Portrait image of Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer outdoors in front of sculpture.
Marjorie Elizabeth Plummer
History, Western Kentucky University
Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)
Stripping the Veil: The Protestant Nun and Experiments in Coexistence in Early Modern Germany

Differences between religious groups coexisting in the same nation remain one of the thorniest sources of controversy and violence in many regions of the world. The vital role of women in creating means of transmitting religious identity and arbitrating differences has been often noted. Beth's book project examines how nuns of diverse confessional beliefs shaped their devotional lives and negotiated their everyday lives in non-coreligious monastic, parish, and political communities after the early German Reformation (c.1520-c.1745). The overlooked presence of Protestant nuns in the Holy Roman Empire is evidence of a more complex lived experience of religious change and confessional accommodation than traditional histories of early modern Christianity would indicate. Her research questions focus on the fluidity of devotional lives of these women, the interplay between peaceful and violent resolution of religious differences, and the role these women played in shaping official and popular attitudes towards religious freedom.

Beth Plummer is Professor of History at Western Kentucky University. Her research focuses on the impact of the reform movement on family, gender roles, and religious identity in early modern Germany. Her publications include From Priest’s Whore to Pastor’s Wife: Clerical Marriage and the Process of Reform in the Early German Reformation (Ashgate, 2012), which won 2013 SCSC Gerald Strauss Book Prize, and articles on monastic marriage, concubinage, bigamy, historical memory, and Protestant nuns. She is also co-editor of Ideas and Cultural Margins in Early Modern Germany: Essays in Honor of H.C. Erik Midelfort (Ashgate, 2009) and Archaeologies of Confession: Writing the German Reformations, 1517-2017 (forthcoming). She is currently working on a book-length monograph on the experience of nuns and former nuns during the dissolution and reform of monastic life in early modern Germany.

Jason Puskar
English, UW-Milwaukee
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
On the Button: Human Agency and the Binary Switch

My project is the first cultural history of the most ubiquitous mechanical interface of the modern world, the pushbutton. Less a history of a technological device than a cultural study of one particular interface between people and machines, it argues that the button affirms and reproduces core liberal values, especially those associated with individual agency, interiority, and the privileges and prerogatives of men. Because the button is a surprisingly recent invention, dating to the mid-nineteenth century, this project could also be seen as a Victorian pre-history of the digital, which might be better understood in terms of the privileging of the fingers—the digits—as the primary locus of human agency. By studying the relationship between pushing buttons and activities such as playing with toys, having sex, or shooting a gun, this project attempts to show how this most mundane activity continues to have powerful social and political effects.

Jason Puskar is Associate Professor of English at the UW–Milwaukee, specializing on  late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century American literature and culture, with recent emphasis on business and economic history and the history of science and technology. He is the author of Accident Society: Fiction, Collectivity and the Production of Chance (Stanford 2012), and he has published articles in journals including American Literary History, Daedalus, Nineteenth-Century Contexts and Mosaic.

Portrait image of Kimberley Reilly outdoors
Kimberley Reilly
Democracy and Justice Studies; History; Women and Gender Studies, UW-Green Bay
UW System Fellow (2016-2017)
Reconstructing Love: Marriage in U.S. Law and Culture, 1890-1920

My project explores the historical roots of the modern American ideal of marital love as an expression of personal choice and spousal equality. I examine the work of a generation of social reformers, feminists, jurists, and intellectuals in the late nineteenth century who rejected an old model of marital hierarchy in favor of a new, middle-class ideal of marriage in which husbands’ and wives’ parity rested on their emotional reciprocity and sexual constancy. But even as this new ideal rejected the old regime of husband-as-sovereign and wife-as-servant, it reconstructed and perpetuated wives’ subordination. I argue that it was precisely the legal and ideological embrace of “love” as the basis of spousal equality that obscured wives’ unequal status within this emergent marital ideal.

Kimberley Reilly is an Assistant Professor of Democracy and Justice Studies; History; and Women’s and Gender Studies at UW-Green Bay. She received her Ph.D. in History from the University of Chicago. A recipient of grants from the Social Science Research Council and the William Nelson Cromwell Foundation, Reilly has published articles in Law and History Review and the Journal of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era.

Portrait image of Jennifer Row in front of a window
Jennifer Row
Romance Studies, Boston University
Solmsen Fellow (2016-2017)
Queer Velocities: Time, Sex and the Early Modern Stage

My book project examines the impact of new time-keeping technologies on rhythms of life in seventeenth century France. Specifically, I tell the story of how the appearance of the minute and second hands on clocks gave a new richness and texture to the very experience of time: of time passing, of haste, and of slowness.  Time came to govern sexuality in new ways: from certain socio-sexual tempos (paces of courtship, bereavement, reproduction) to the regulated speed of seduction onstage.  Early modern theater staged a wide range of desires, from the homoerotic and deviant to the heteronormative.  The performing arts were in fact an essential cornerstone of Louis XIV’s glittering Absolutist spectacle. However, instead of analyzing the explicitly political uses of theater, I turn instead to theater’s more insidious and subtle forms of managing the population, or biopower. As Foucault argues in the History of Sexuality, disciplinary power, rather than deciding on the citizens’ right to live or to die, sought instead to manage bodies and lives through the controlled flourishing or strategic diminishing of life’s capacities. One essential component of this management, I argue, includes temporal speeds. The theater both modeled and contested new types of embodiment, new body politics, and new temporalities that were on the horizon in the seventeenth century.  Each play I analyze showcases a different form of delay or haste that critically interrupts the normative temporality of marriage, motherhood, mourning, or sovereignty. In this light, I argue that queer velocities onstage hijack aesthetic and temporal disciplinary norms to offer counter-hegemonic erotic sensations, forms of intimacies, and circulations of affect.

Jennifer Row is an assistant professor of French at Boston University and affiliate faculty with BU’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and World Languages and Literatures, and received her PhD in Comparative Literature (2014) from Cornell University.  Her research and teaching interests include early modern theater (17th and 18th c), queer and feminist theory, and affect theory. Her book project, Queer Velocities, looks at the impact of newly precise timekeeping technologies on queer erotics in seventeenth-century French theater. She was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota and organizes a “Premodern Temporalities” research group with the UMN Center for the Study of the Premodern World. She has previously taught at the Université de Paris-Sorbonne (Paris-IV) and at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand.  

Portrait image of Anne Stiles outdoors
Anne Stiles
English, Saint Louis University
Kingdon Fellow (2016-2017)
Recovering the New Thought Novel: How a Forgotten Literary Genre Influenced Psychology and Popular Culture

This book shows how popular fiction by Henry James, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and others spread awareness of the late-nineteenth-century religious movement known as New Thought, which promoted positive thinking as a means to health and prosperity. This faith introduced concepts like the inner child, daily affirmation, and creative visualization, which have gradually migrated from their original religious context into twenty-first century psychotherapy and self-help literature. Nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century New Thought novels thus shed light on the development of the modern addiction recovery movement and the evolution of certain trends in twentieth-century children’s literature.

Anne Stiles is Associate Professor of English and Director of Medical Humanities at Saint Louis University. She is the author of Popular Fiction and Brain Science in the Late Nineteenth Century (Cambridge UP, 2012) and the editor of Neurology and Literature, 1866-1920 (Palgrave, 2007). She also co-edited two volumes published by Elsevier in 2013 as part of their Progress in Brain Research series. Stiles serves as Victorian section co editor of the Wiley-Blackwell journal, Literature Compass. Her most recent work focuses on literary authors' responses to Christian Science and New Thought on both sides of the Atlantic.