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UW-Madison Resident Faculty 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 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 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 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 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 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).