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.
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.
Reading for the Future asks why prophecy, long understood to be a defining impulse of the Romantic era, proves in fact to be so difficult to write. For the narratives Romantics wrote with prophecy in mind turn out not to arrive at projected narrative ends, let alone the future. The logic of this surprising failure probably had something to do with their recognition that French Revolution failed when collapsed into the Terror, yet even for European Romantics the French Revolution has a deeper prior history of revolutions across the Atlantic in America and Haiti, and in the story of successful global commerce that the Abbé Raynal tries to tell in History of the two Indies. In this multi-volume work, first published in 1770 and expanded in many editions after that, Raynal and his contributors tried to adapt the History to point toward a future increasingly cast into doubt by global revolt, convulsion and disarray. So conflicted, Romantic futurity comes to understand chance as a necessary partner to any effort to think beyond the present. How, I ask, might the Romantic efforts to think for the first time about evolutionary change and the future in the midst of these difficulties inform our contemporary understanding of evolutionary futurity?
Theresa M. Kelley is the Marjorie and Lorin Tiefenthaler Professor of English at UW-Madison. She has published widely on Romanticism, late-eighteenth-century aesthetics and philosophy, critical theory, and the history and philosophy of science. Her books include Wordsworth's Revisionary Aesthetics (Cambridge 1988), Reinventing Allegory (Cambridge 1997—awarded the SCMLA prize award for best scholarly book in 1997), and Clandestine Marriage: Botany and Romantic Culture (Johns Hopkins 2012, awarded the British Society for Science and Literature Prize for the best book in the field in 2012). She has co-edited Romantic Women Writers (1995) and several journal issues, including "Romantic Difference," for Praxis. Her forthcoming essays consider color around 1800, Shelley and futurity, and the role of chance in Romantic narrative. She is co-director of the Romantic Circles Gallery. She has been a Guggenheim and NEH Fellow, and a Distinguished Fellow at the Henry E. Huntington Library. She is at work on a book titled "Reading for the Future."
Using theoretical apparatus of translation studies, I explore mechanisms of cultural exchange and ways in which they inform material and symbolic exchanges, persistent and emerging forms of ideological discourse and new forms of nationalism. This study will provide a model for understanding the value of cultural contact and exchange from the perspective of Slavic and East European studies. While based on the analysis of particular literatures and cultures, this project is conceptualized on a broader scale I plan to engage through extensive comparative analysis of the way imagination, gender and media are translated across cultures.
Tomislav Longinović (PhD, MFA) is Profesor of Slavic, Comparative Literature and Visual Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His books include Borderline Culture (1993), Vampires Like Us (2005), co-edited and co-translated volume, with Daniel Weissbort: Red Knight: Serbian Women Songs (1992), edited volume: David Albahari, Words are Something Else (1996). He is also the author of several books of fiction, both in Serbian (Sama Amerika, 1995) and English (Moment of Silence, 1990). His new book Vampire Nation: Violence as Cultural Imaginary was published by Duke University Press in 2011 and was awarded the 2012 Mihajlo Miša Đorđević prize for best book in Serbian studies. He was a Visiting Professor at Harvard University in 2001 and 2016. His research interests include South Slavic literatures and cultures; literary theory; Central and East European literary history; comparative Slavic studies; translation studies; cultural studies. He is currently working on the book manuscript entitled The Secret of Translation, which features a theory of culture based on relational structures rather than ethnic or national ones.
What makes an individual, biologically speaking? This question stood at the center of European biological research in the middle four decades of the nineteenth century. My project (co-authored with Scott Lidgard at the Field Museum) seeks to explain why, on multiple levels. It proposes a new intellectual history of individuality as a fundamental problem underlying mid-nineteenth-century biology, a history of social relations within an international community of biologists, and a cultural history of the discursive relations between the languages of nature and society. In this way, I hope to provide a multilayered account of how science mediated questions of autonomy, interdependence, and hierarchy that preoccupied Europeans in an age of social modernization and state formation.
Lynn K. Nyhart is a Vilas Distinguished Service Professor of the History of Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Nyhart’s main research interests lie in the history of European and American biology in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the relations between popular and professional science. Her 2009 book Modern Nature: The Rise of the Biological Perspective in Germany analyzes the pre-history of German ecology in popular and museum science of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries; it won the University of Chicago Press’s 2009 Susan E. Abrams Prize for best UCP book in the history of science. She is also the author of Biology Takes Form: Animal Morphology and the German Universities, 1800-1900 (University of Chicago Press, 1996). Nyhart received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011-12, which allowed her to begin archival research on her IRH project on biological individuality. She is the immediate past-president of the History of Science Society. She is at work on a book entitled The Biological Individual in the Nineteenth Century.
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.
I’m researching and writing a trio of essays that consider belonging and global black identity through the theoretical frameworks of Island and Archipelagic American studies. The first follows nineteenth-century abolitionist life-writer Mary Prince’s journey from slavery to emancipation through colonial Bermuda’s archipelagic plantocracies; the second explores the significance of salt as commodity, practice, and pan-Caribbean archetype; the final takes up the notion of sanctuary from an ecological, legal, and experiential perspective. These essays will ultimately fold into a larger book project addressing the flow of insurgency, of anti-colonial thought and action, manifest in the literature of the Americas through the hybridized bodies of black women.Some of the broader questions I address include: how is racial difference elided as we reconfigure the studies of early American literature or Afro-Caribbean literature along transnational lines? Why do particular locations, like Haiti, occupy a fractious space within the global South? In this book, “new world" literary mappings intertwine with personal inquiry and critical investigations about the nature of belonging, identity and indigeneity as I follow an elastic circuit that unveils relationships between fragile environments, dynamic objects, and the human/nonhuman beings that circulate through the archipelagic diaspora.
Cherene Sherrard-Johnson is the Sally Mead Hands-Bascom Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American and African American literature, cultural studies and feminist theory. Recent publications include: A Companion to the Harlem Renaissance (Wiley 2015), Dorothy West’s Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color, “Insubordinate Islands and Coastal Chaos: Pauline Hopkins Literary Land/Seascapes” in Archipelagic American Studies (Duke 2017), and Vixen, a debut poetry collection forthcoming September 2017 from Autumn House Press.
This project examines the travel of and subsequent changes in the Western concept of "happiness" as it has been exported to East Asia from the late nineteenth century onwards. It focuses on the term’s diverse reinterpretations by the Chinese in the process of its naturalization as a cultural keyword and organizing aspiration in contemporary China. Drawing on existing theoretical inquiry regarding traveling theory, translation, cultural translation, and globalization by literary critics, anthropologists, historians, and linguists, this interdisciplinary project aims to contribute to the discussion by 1) historicizing the transnational circulation of the concept of "happiness" over the last century; and 2) adding a contemporary dimension to deciphering the meanings and implications of the concept through ethnographic research.
Yongming Zhou is a Professor of Anthropology at UW-Madison. He received his Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Duke University. In 2001-2002, he was a Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars. He is the author of Anti-Drug Crusades in Twentieth-Century China: Nationalism, History, and State-Building (Rowman & Littlefield, 1999) and Historicizing Online Politics: Telegraphy, the Internet, and Political Participation in China (Stanford University Press, 2006). He has also been a Mellon Fellow at the Needham Research Institute at Cambridge and a visiting fellow at the East Asian Institute at the National University of Singapore. He served as the president of the Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs in 2012. His latest "roadology" project focuses on the socio-cultural impacts of transnational road building on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and in the Great Mekong Subregion, where he has conducted fieldwork since 2006. He is at work on a project entitled Chasing Happiness: The Unhappy Life of a Western Ideal in China, 1890-2010.