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Internal Fellows

Painted self portrait of Mercedes Alcalá-Galán in Baroque fashion with texts and color blocks swirling around the face.
Mercedes Alcalá-Galán
Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
Writing the Museum: Pictorial Imagination in Baroque Fiction of the Spanish Empire

In 1660 David Teniers published the extraordinary Theatrum Pictorium, the first illustrated catalogue ever of a collection of paintings. It brings together text and image to represent 243 Italian paintings from the collection of Archduke Leopold-William, governor of the Low Countries under Spanish rule. The paintings are described in Latin, Spanish, French and German, and are minutely reproduced. With this book, not only was the museum made accessible, portable and reproducible, but there emerged a new and unique object located at the intersection of the spheres of art and writing and, significantly, between the space of the museum and that of the library. The Theatrum Pictorium can serve as a paradigm of what I explore in this book project which examines the unmistakable influence of art in literary fiction of the Hispanic Baroque by taking into consideration the enormous importance of the collections or proto-museums as spaces in which there emerged an interest in painting and visual language that revealed itself in other creative arts such as literature, and that surprisingly pervaded all social strata. Imitating the elite’s penchant for art collections (extremely accessible within the Habsburg realms), over time there arose a popular fervor for consuming and possessing reasonably priced, mass-produced paintings that became everyday objects. Hence we may be in a position to consider that the whole mass of men and women of the seventeenth century who invented their own ways of relating to art had a role and influence in the creation of the culture of their time. This energy generated by new practices of relating to art on the part of the popular classes is incalculable and hard to quantify. However, this does not mean that its existence had no effect or left no trace. Therefore I suggest that perhaps the literary/visual culture of the Baroque was not only transmitted from top to bottom but also from bottom to top because the aristocratic forms of artistic representation were transformed by colonizing the daily life of the seventeenth century.

Mercedes Alcalá-Galán is Associate Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research is oriented primarily towards topics in poetics and gender studies with special emphasis on visual studies. She has published a book on Cervantes’ poetics entitled Escritura desatada: poéticas de la representación en Cervantes (Centro de Estudios Cervantinos, 2009). She is also author of the book La silva curiosa de Julián de Medrano. Estudio y edición critica, and has published some sixty articles on early modern literature as well as contemporary Spanish literature. She is about to publish a book focused on the literary and pictorial representations of women’s sexuality in early modern art and literature: Discursos del cuerpo: mujer y sexualidad en la España de Cervantes and has just published in the journal eHumanista/Cervantes, as invited editor, a volume with 31 articles about Cervantes’ Persiles entitled “Si ya por atrevido no sale con las manos en la cabeza”: el legado poético del Persiles cuatrocientos años después. She has another book project well underway about visuality and ekphrasis in early modern Spain tentatively titled Representing the World: The Rise of Painting in Spanish Baroque Fiction.

Portrait image of Jeffrey Beneker wearing a grey shirt and standing outside in front of a brick wall
Jeffrey Beneker
Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
A Life Too Long: A Biography of Pompey the Great

After years of success, Pompey the Great, the most powerful statesman of the Late Roman Republic, became entangled in a civil war against his rival Julius Caesar. After losing the decisive battle of Pharsalus, he was tricked and cruelly murdered in Egypt, an inglorious finale to a magnificent career. His defeat and humiliating death led some ancient authors to represent his life as following a rise-and-fall trajectory and to cast his demise as a cautionary tale about the volatility of fortune. Modern scholars often present him in a similar light or neglect him altogether and focus instead on Caesar, the victor of their rivalry. My new biography explores ancient perceptions of his career and presents a new account of his life.

Jeff Beneker’s primary research interest is in Greco-Roman biography and historiography. He has written a book on Plutarch’s biographical method, The Passionate Statesman: Eros and Politics in Plutarch’s Lives (Oxford University Press, 2012), and articles on Plutarch, Cornelius Nepos, Suetonius, and Homer. With Craig Gibson (University of Iowa) he has published an edition and translation of the progymnasmata of Nikephoros Basilakes for the Dumbarton Oaks Medieval Library (Harvard University Press, 2016) and is cooperating with Gibson on a translation of The Book of Syntipas the Philosopher, also for Dumbarton Oaks. He is currently writing a biography of Pompey the Great (for Princeton University Press), translating Plutarch’s political essays (also for PUP), and with Georgia Tsouvala (Illinois State University) he is co-editing a book on the discourse of marriage in the Greek and Latin literature of the Roman Empire (for University of Wisconsin Press). In addition to teaching courses in Greek and Latin language and literature, he teaches lecture courses on Classical Mythology, Greco-Roman religion, and Ancient Epic.

Portrait image of Guillermina De Ferrari in front of book shelves with text at left side of image
Guillermina De Ferrari
Spanish and Portuguese, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2018-2022)
Community under Duress: Moral Luck and the Caribbean Novel

This project explores in contemporary Caribbean literature how one lives a moral life, a life worth living, in circumstances that are overwhelmingly beyond one’s control. I organize my readings through the conceptual lens of “moral luck,” a term I borrow from moral philosophy that helps explore what responsibility means when people’s choices are drastically conditioned by unpredictable forces. Precarity in the region originates from its insularity — that is, its political and geophysical isolation— but also from the legacy of slavery, environmental vulnerability, poverty, volatile social relations and the persistence of colonial institutions, which have hindered the development of a strong civil society. Using a theoretical framework that combines postcolonial studies, ecocriticism, and disaster studies with moral philosophy, this project analyzes a comprehensive and representative selection of contemporary novels from various Caribbean islands to study the role violent conditions play in human autonomy and integrity, and how they contribute to the constitution or disruption of the collective. This project breaks new ground by recasting the terms of current debates on the cultural legacy of the Caribbean. First, it fills a significant gap in the theoretical account of the region’s cultural production: on the one hand, postcolonial studies have approached Caribbean literature from the point of view of imperialism and oppression; that is, in relation to forces that reside outside the individual. On the other, identitarian politics have focused almost exclusively on individual agency. By studying the complex interaction between external forces and moral freedom, I seek to reconcile these two dominant paradigms in order to gain a deeper understanding of Caribbean culture. Second, by exploring longstanding concerns such as racial, political and economic injustice in a continuum with disaster studies and ecocriticism, I shed light on the deeper connections that exist between old and new forms of vulnerability as constitutive social factor.

Guillermina De Ferrari is professor of Caribbean Literature and Visual Culture at University of Wisconsin. She is the author of Vulnerable States: Bodies of Memory in Contemporary Caribbean Fiction (Virginia, 2007) and Community and Culture in Post-Soviet Cuba (Routledge 2014), also published in Spanish (Verbum 2017). She has curated the exhibition Apertura: Photography in Cuba Today (Chazen Museum of Art 2015). She has also published articles on Caribbean literature, performance, and photography in The Latin American Literary Review, The Journal of Latin American Cultural Studies, The Hispanic Review, The Arizona Journal of Hispanic Cultural Studies, among others. She is co-editor, with Ursula Heise, of the Routledge Series Literature and Contemporary Thought. She is currently working on a book project on ethics and catastrophe in the Caribbean tentatively entitled Community Under Duress.

Portrait image of Hannah V. Eldridge in front of a brick wall
Hannah Vandegrift Eldridge
German, Nordic, and Slavic, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
The Claims of Meter: 1750, 1870, 1990

Why should we care about patterns of syllables in poems—that is, about meter? Is there any reason to study the rules that poets, theorists, philosophers, and critics have given for making such patterns, or their arguments about what meter can do? Or should we just enjoy poems and their patterns without worrying about how they work? My current project argues that paying attention to meter can help us understand how language works—as it is used by individuals who learn it in a particular culture that shapes universal characteristics of human beings. That is, meter in poetry can illuminate the interplay between language, culture, and the body. Meter can do this because it is based on features of language used in everyday speech (such as pitch and emphasis). But unlike everyday language, metrical speech organizes those features into patterns established in cultural contexts. To understand how meter works in our time, it is important to understand earlier metrical theory and practice, especially because metrical thinkers take up earlier practices. I consider authors from three centuries who engaged extensively with metrics: F.G. Klopstock (1724-1803), F. Nietzsche (1844-1900) and D. Grünbein (b.1962). Doing so both helps us understand our own relationship to language and increases the kinds of poems and patterns we appreciate, opening us up to new poetic experiences.

Hannah Vandegrift Eldridge is Associate Professor of German in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She works on German literature and culture from the 18th to 20th centuries, with a focus on lyric poetry, philosophy and literature, and the interactions between sound and text. Her first book, Lyric Orientations: Hölderlin, Rilke, and the Poetics of Community appeared in Cornell University Press's Signale series in 2015, and she has published articles on Hölderlin, Rilke, Cavell, Wittgenstein, Klopstock, Nietzsche, and Grünbein. She is currently working on a book project on metrical theory and practice in Klopstock, Nietszche, and Grünbein.

Portrait image of Falina Enriquez outdoors near a bridge wearing a black shirt and sunglasses
Falina Enriquez
Anthropology; Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies (LACIS), UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2018-2019)
Musical Scales of Belonging in Recife, Brazil

My book is an ethnography about how a range of musicians, cultural promoters, and bureaucrats, in Recife, Brazil, use music to imagine the social order and their place(s) within it. These processes are especially audible in Recife, a city whose reputation as a musically diverse place has long been perpetuated in popular media and by (inter)national scholarship. Over the past 15 years, state and municipal government institutions have intensified this reputation by sponsoring local music—from folk genres to cosmopolitan pop—to enhance Recife 's economy, promote democracy and multiculturalism, and bolster citizens' pride. By comparing how various actors negotiate the discourses of state sponsorship as they perform, consume, and evaluate music, I reveal music is not only embedded in social life, but it is also a medium through which individuals, groups, and institutions, (re)produce, accommodate, and challenge the structures of power upon which the social order is based. Furthermore, the book reveals how people with varying relationships to state sponsorship and the Brazilian state, more broadly, are using music to redraw social boundaries and fashion new subjectivities. Consequently, these actors are situating themselves within multiple, and often, intersecting musically-mediated scales of belonging, including the local, regional, national, and global.

Falina Enriquez is an assistant professor of Anthropology at UW-Madison. As a cultural and linguistic anthropologist, her research examines artistic and communicative practices as constitutive elements of social life. She received her PhD in Anthropology at the University of Chicago in 2014 and has received grants from organizations such as the National Science Foundation and the Fulbright Program. As a faculty member at UW-Madison since 2015, she has been expanding her research on music and state sponsorship in Recife, Brazil. While in residence at the Institute for Research in the Humanities, she will complete her book manuscript, tentatively entitled, “Musical Scales of Belonging in Recife, Brazil."

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

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

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

Portrait image of Lea Jacobs wearing a scarf
Lea Jacobs
Communication Arts, UW-Madison
Senior Fellow (2018-2022)
John Ford in the Hollywood Studio System: Case Studies from the Sound Period

Director of over one hundred films and with a career that spanned fifty years, John Ford had a profound influence on Hollywood filmmaking. He shaped the careers of important stars, such as Henry Fonda and John Wayne, but also created a stock company of character actors known for their supporting roles. He worked with some of the best cinematographers in Hollywood such as Arthur Miller, Bert Glennon and Joseph August and, along with William Wyler and Gregg Toland, among others, helped to pioneer long-take cinematography in the 1930s and early 1940s (Orson Welles claimed to have watched Ford’s Stagecoach forty times before shooting Citizen Kane). He won a record six Academy Awards during his lifetime and his achievements have been frequently celebrated by other directors: Peter Bogdanovich, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are among those who have paid him tribute. Yet there has been surprisingly little written based on primary-document research about the production of the films. John Ford in the Hollywood Studio System will illuminate how John Ford developed as a director within the studio system as the system itself changed over time. It will draw on script drafts, memos and correspondence preserved in studio legal or script files as well as Ford’s papers. This complex of materials will provide the basis for establishing the production process, and the textual history, of each film discussed. The point is not to argue for Ford as the sole author of his films, but rather to document the collaborations which gave rise to the films, and to understand the shape of the films in the light of the tensions, constraints and possibilities of their production context.

Lea Jacobs is a Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at UW-Madison. She has published on the history of the American studio system, performance in film and theater, melodrama and the woman’s picture, and film music. She is the author of The Wages of Sin: Censorship and the Fallen Woman Film, Theatre to Cinema (written with Ben Brewster), The Decline of Sentiment: American Film in the 1920s, and Film Rhythm After Sound: Technology, Music and Performance. She has been a Guggenheim and ACLS fellow.

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

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

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

Portrait Image of Judd C. Kinzley outdoors in front of water and two colorful chairs
Judd C. Kinzley
History, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
Arms for Ores: China and the Making of an American Foreign Aid Regime, 1941-1949

In this work I seek to understand the transnational networks of exchange that delivered American weapons and industrial goods to China in exchange for Chinese raw materials from 1941 to 1949. Drawing on primary sources from archives located on three continents, this work will offer new insights into Chinese history, Sino-American relations, and the history of Cold War East Asia. More broadly, this work reveals how the China case served as the foundation and blueprint for a wider foreign aid centered foreign policy that was exported around the world in the years after 1949.

Judd C. Kinzley is an associate professor of modern Chinese history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His first book, Natural Resources and the New Frontier: Constructing Modern China’s Borderlands (The University of Chicago Press, 2018), focuses on the 20th century efforts by an assortment of state and non-state, Chinese and non-Chinese actors to find, exploit, process, and transport various natural resources in china’s far western province of Xinjiang. The work, which is based on archival research conducted in Urumqi (Xinjiang), Beijing, Taipei, Moscow, and London, explores the underexamined nexus that exists between natural resources, foreign capital, and the power of the state in borderlands in china and beyond. He is currently working on a new book length project that focuses on the trans-pacific material exchange of American industrial goods and lend-lease equipment for Chinese raw materials during the 1940s. He has published articles on gold mining, roads, and geological surveys and, broadly speaking has research interests that center around environmental history, borderlands, material centered histories, and political economy.

Portrait image of Lu Liu wearing a white shirt in front of a red wall.
Lu Liu
Asian Languages and Cultures, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2018-2019)
Away/With the Pest: Biosocial Abjection and Subject Formation in China, 1930s-1980s

My dissertation studies how the constant pest-making in modern Chinese history enacts the pursuit of biosocial purity through scientific, visual, and ideological storytelling. Starting with the 1930s, where verbal and audio-visual education introduced new ways of seeing and imagining the harmful, my dissertation tracks the (re)inventions of the pest through two mass campaigns in the socialist era, and finally into post-socialist reconstruction of order that casted the social pest into comic visualizations. In each of the historical moments, the anxiety over biosocial purity was scientifically validated, visually animated, and projected onto the nonhuman other. Yet the produced boundary between the clean and the unclean, between the human and the pest, was never stable and always disturbed identity and order by feeding back to the sociopolitical context. Mapping the ramifications of biosocial abjection, my research rethinks the rhizomatic subject formation in modern China’s vicissitudes of war, nation-building, and mass mobilization.

I am a PhD candidate in the department of Asian Languages and Cultures at UW-Madison. My current research focuses on pest-making as facilitated by science education, visualization, and mass mobilization in modern China. Theoretically, my dissertation investigates and interrogates larger questions of subject formation and the multifold transborder encounters that biopower conjures up and/or erases. My research and teaching interests also include modern Chinese literature, culture, and cinema, visual culture studies, animal studies, environmental humanities, and history of science, medicine, and disease. In 2017-18, I co-organized the Borghesi-Mellon workshop “Space-Relations” funded by UW-Madison Center for the Humanities. This year at IRH, I am working on completing my dissertation tentatively entitled “Away/With the Pest: Biosocial Abjection and Subject Formation in China, 1930s-1980s."

Portrait of Isidora Miranda seated in front of a white brick wall with a window.
Isidora Miranda
Mead Witter School of Music, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2018-2019)
Dissonant Voices: Music and Identity in the Tagalog Zarzuelas of Manila, 1902-1942

My dissertation re-examines claims to Filipino nationhood during the American colonial period (1902-1942) when debates about nationalism were made not only in the political arena but also on the theatrical stages of Manila. This period saw the transformation of the Spanish genre of zarzuela into a new music-theatrical form that came to be seen, heard, and imagined as distinctly Filipino. I argue, however, that the overtly nationalist themes found in zarzuelas prevented scholars from examining critically overlooked repertoire and the impact that specific works had on its contemporary audience. My project brings to the fore works that do not conveniently fit within the narrative of anti-colonial nationalism but instead reveal the contradictions and ambivalences in the performance of zarzuelas. The repertoire I am particularly interested in commented on existing social hierarchies and fueled questions of race and ethnicity, religion, and gender in relation to emerging notions of Philippine modernity. As a popular form of entertainment in early-twentieth century Philippines, the Tagalog zarzuelas echoed a multiplicity of voices, with playwrights and intellectuals expressing varied and sometimes competing ideas about the role of the performing arts in a modern Filipino society. My project takes the “multi-vocal” approach even further as I examine the role of performers—female zarzuelistas in particular—and their specific performances as an important example of musical authorship usually reserved for playwrights and composers. By examining the contributions of these different groups (playwrights, composers, performers, and critics), I highlight the collaborative production of zarzuelas as well as the multi-layered meanings created in its various performances.

Isi earned her music undergraduate degree from the University of the Philippines and her Master’s degree in violin performance and musicology at Western Illinois University. At WIU, she performed with the Julstrom String Quartet, the strings faculty ensemble in residence, and wrote a thesis on music and theater in Theresienstadt, a concentration camp in German-occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II. As a graduate student, Isi was a Wisconsin Musicology Fellow and a Center for Southeast Asian Studies Fellow. She is also the recipient of various research fellowships including the American Musicological Society’s fellowship at the Newberry Library and the Council for Library and Information Resources-Mellon fellowship for her dissertation on the Tagalog zarzuelas. Currently, Isi is a member of the local band Forró Fo Sho, which plays Northeastern Brazilian dance music.

Portrait image of Leonora Neville in front of book shelves
Leonora Neville
John W. and Jeanne M. Rowe Professor of Byzantine History and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, History; Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
Change in Civic Religion of the Medieval Roman Empire

The government of the medieval, Christian Roman (Byzantine) Empire was permeated with religious vocabulary and ceremony. These apparently religious aspects of government have been treated simplistically as “ideology” and not addressed as expressions of religion, largely because matters such as taxes do not fit within the rubrics set by modern Greek Orthodoxy. This project is an attempt to understand the religion visible in imperial bookkeeping, administration, and acclamations, and its changes from the tenth and twelfth centuries. The civic religion of the ancient (pagan) Roman Empire provides a point of comparison that broadens the categories of analysis and offers theoretical guidance.

Leonora Neville studies the medieval eastern Roman Empire. She is the John and Jeanne Rowe Professor of Byzantine History and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is particularly interested in religion, gender, and the importance of the classical past for medieval Roman culture. She reconsidered the strength of the famed Byzantine bureaucracy and presented a new understanding provincial government in Authority in Byzantine Provincial Society, 950-1100 (Cambridge, 2004).  The study of cultural memories of classical Roman masculinity led her to write Heroes and Romans in Twelfth-Century Byzantium (Cambridge, 2012). She offered a new interpretation of Anna Komnene’s strategies for writing classicizing Greek history as a woman in Anna Komnene: The Life and Work of a Medieval Historian (Oxford, 2016). To help open her field to broader study she wrote a Guide to Byzantine Historical Writing (Cambridge, 2018). Her interpretation of Byzantine Gender is forthcoming from Arc Humanities Press.

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."

Portrait image of Pamela Potter wearing a grey-tan blazer.
Pamela Potter
German, Nordic, and Slavic, UW-Madison; Director, Center for German and European Studies
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
Music Metropolis Berlin, 1880-1961

My project takes an interdisciplinary approach to investigate Berlin's musical history from the reign of Wilhelm II to the building of the Berlin Wall. It seeks to understand how a city that never managed to host renowned composers succeeded in maintaining a world-class musical reputation despite the political, economic, and social turmoil of two world wars, a failed democracy, a dictatorship, and the Cold War. My approach draws on archival and published materials to explore how the interplay of economics, politics, musical taste, and Berlin’s highly diverse population sustained and enhanced its musical life through one crisis after another.

Pamela Potter's research concentrates on relating music, the arts, and the writing of cultural history to ideological, political, social, and economic conditions in twentieth-century Germany. She is the author of Most German of the Arts: Musicology and Society from the Weimar Republic to the End of Hitler's Reich (1998; German ed. 2000; Portuguese ed. 2015; Chinese ed. forthcoming) and Art of Suppression: Confronting the Nazi Past in Histories of the Visual and Performing Arts (2016); and she is co-editor of Music and German National Identity (2002) and Music and World War II (forthcoming). Previous honors include the Alfred Einstein Award of the American Musicological Society, the Vilas Associate Award, the Romnes Faculty Fellowship, and the Kellett Mid-Career Award from the University of Wisconsin, and she has received grant support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the German Academic Exchange, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Social Science Research Council.

Portrait image of Katherine Robiadek wearing a light blue shirt in front of a brick wall
Katherine M. Robiadek
Political Science, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2018-2019)
A Renaissance of Imagination: On Democratic Implications of Creativity in Early Modern Political Thought

In arguing for renewed focus on imagination, the purpose of this project is to enrich thinking about traits needed for effective democratic citizenship today. Imagination is not often studied for its role in democracy. Usually, it is confined to serious study as of value to art proper or subsumed as part of practical wisdom. Joining other studies of phenomena undervalued in democratic life, this project illuminates today's civic need for imagination in its role in creativity, innovation, and even resistance. Through an original interpretation of works by various early modern political thinkers, it shows how imagination functions in politically relevant moral activities—like empathizing and perspective-taking—while demonstrating the benefit of democracy for its expression and cultivation.

Katherine M. Robiadek is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her first field of study is Political Theory with a second field in Comparative Politics, along with a minor in Early Modern Studies and a graduate certificate in European Studies. Her primary research focuses on early modern political thought.

Portrait image of Damon Chandru Sajnani wearing a tan/yellow jacket in front of a dark blue wall.
Damon Chandru Sajnani
African Cultural Studies, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2018-2019)
The African HipHop Movement: Youth Culture and Democracy in Senegal

The book demonstrates how Senegalese artist-activists are mobilizing HipHop to impact formal politics on an unprecedented scale. My core argument is that Senegalese rappers organically deploy an anticolonial notion of democracy that challenges orthodox democratic theory’s framing of possibilities. Through an emphasis on participatory democracy and global justice, they implicitly challenge the compatibility of democracy with economic liberalism and the contemporary world order. I construct an interdisciplinary account of how Senegalese artist-activists mobilize HipHop’s aesthetic power and association with the Black freedom struggle to contest both narrow nationalist and fatalistic globalization narratives by forging a HipHop Africanity that is simultaneously diasporic and indigenous, racially conscious and anti-essentialist.

Artist, activist, and academic Damon Sajnani is a HipHop polymath. He is Harvard’s inaugural Nasir Jones HipHop Fellow, and assistant professor of African Cultural Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has authored numerous scholarly chapters and articles on global HipHop and social justice and released several critically acclaimed albums under the moniker, “Professor D.” His primary research interests include Africana cultural studies and critical theory, postcolonialism and decolonization, social stratification and political philosophy, and critical HipHop studies. He is currently preparing his tenure manuscript, The African HipHop Movement: Youth Culture and Democracy in Senegal.

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

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

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

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

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

Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies, and feminist theory.  Recent publications include: A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (Wiley, 2015), Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color (Rutgers, 2012), “Insubordinate Islands and Coastal Chaos: Pauline Hopkins Literary Land/Seascapes” in Archipelagic American Studies (Duke, 2017), and Vixen, a poetry collection (Autumn House Press, 2017).

Portrait image of Jacqulyn Teoh wearing a gray shirt in front of a white background.
Jacqulyn Teoh
English, UW-Madison
Dana-Allen Dissertation Fellow (2018-2019)
Niche Formations: Rethinking Literary Opportunity in Modern Literatures of Southeast and South Asia

My project explores the use and utility of a term ubiquitous yet undertheorized across much contemporary literary criticism, particularly concerning diasporic and postcolonial authors - "niche." It argues that this term offers a conceptual basis for a mode of literary production wherein such authors turn to their advantage the structural constraints specific to their geocultural location. Through combining analyses of texts from or about the Malay world and the Indian subcontinent with theorizations of 'niche' in disciplines ranging from ecology, economics, and international relations, this project shows that the formal choices of diasporic and postcolonial authors can be thought of as more than just acts of resistance or adaptation to the cultural legacies of European empire in Asia.

Jacqulyn Teoh is a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at UW-Madison. Her current research examines twentieth and twenty-first century Southeast and South Asian literary production with insights drawn from postcolonial, diasporic, and world literary studies. Her work has been supported by the Social Science Research Council and UW-Madison's Graduate School.

Portrait image of Florence Vatan outdoors.
Florence Vatan
French and Italian, UW-Madison
Resident Fellow (2018-2019)
Transfers of Knowledge: Gestalt Psychology and its Repercussions in France

How does knowledge evolve and reconfigure itself when it crosses disciplinary and national boundaries? How do concepts travel from one field of inquiry to another? This book project investigates the diffusion of Gestalt psychology in France, notably in the works of Merleau-Ponty, Lacan, and Bourdieu. Through a close examination of academic curricula, translations, publications, and personal papers, I analyze the impact of this theoretical paradigm and the ways in which the aforementioned thinkers appropriated and transformed the notion of “Gestalt.” This case study sheds light on the cultural transfers between France, Germany, and the US, and on processes of knowledge formation.

Florence Vatan is a Professor in the Department of French and Italian at UW-Madison and an affiliate in the Department of German, Nordic, and Slavic. She received her doctorate in Germanic Studies from the University of the Sorbonne, Paris 3, and her doctorate in French from the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on the dialogues between literature, science, and philosophy in early twentieth-century Austrian and nineteenth-century French literatures and cultures. She has published Robert Musil et la question anthropologique (Presses Universitaires de France, 2000), Robert Musil, Le “virtuose de la distance” (Belin, 2013), as well as numerous essays on Flaubert, Baudelaire, Balzac, Musil, and Canetti. She has co-edited, with Anne Vila, a special issue of L’Esprit créateur on “L’Esprit (dé)réglé: Literature, Science, and The Life of the Mind in France, 1700-1900” (Winter 2016). With Marc Silberman, she has co-edited the collective volume Memory and Post-War Memorials. Confronting the Violence of the Past (Palgrave, 2013).

Portrait image of Rachelle Winkle-Wagner wearing a purple shirt in front of a black and white decorated wall.
Rachelle Winkle-Wagner
Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, UW-Madison
Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellow (2018-2019)
A History of Black Women in Higher Education from 1954-2014

During my time in the Race, Ethnicity, and Indigeneity Fellowship I am finishing a book manuscript which is a historiographical project about how have Black women survived and thrived in and beyond higher education amidst formidable challenges. In the book, entitled, The Chosen We: Black Women’s Oral Histories of Self and Group Empowerment in and Beyond Higher Education, I compare oral histories from 101 Black women who were living in five metropolitan areas in the United States and who graduated college across a 60-year time period, from 1954-2014. I argue that Black women used their individual and collective identities to persevere, amidst significant racism and sexism, through and beyond higher education across multiple decades and geographic spaces.

Rachelle Winkle-Wagner is an Associate Professor in the Education Leadership and Policy Analysis department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on how students of color survive and thrive in college. She is an author or editor of six books including, The Unchosen Me: Race, Gender, and Identity Among Black Women in College (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009) and Diversity and Inclusion on Campus: Supporting Racially and Ethnically Underrepresented Students (with Angela Locks, Routledge Press, 2014). Her work also has been published in journals such as Review of Educational Research, Review of Higher Education, and The Journal of Higher Education.