ACLS Fellows

The ACLS Fellowship Program awards fellowships to individual scholars working in the humanities and related social sciences. Institutions and individuals contribute to the ACLS Fellowship Program and its endowment, including The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Council's college and university Associates, and former Fellows and individual friends of ACLS.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Glaire Dempsey Anderson
Glaire Dempsey Anderson  |  Abstract
This study examines aristocratic villas (Arabic munya) of medieval Islamic Cordoba, Spain as luxurious elite residences, productive agricultural estates, and stages for the court culture of the Umayyad dynasty. The Umayyads ruled the Iberian Peninsula between the eighth and eleventh centuries, a period when Cordoba flourished as one of the most celebrated cultural centers in the world. This project focuses on the tenth century, the moment in which the villa as an architectural type and a marker of a way of life reached the height of its importance in the city’s medieval landscape and in Umayyad court culture. It emphasizes the centrality of the villa to a major medieval court society, and the ways in which patrons used architecture and landscape as a means of self-fashioning.

Assistant Professor, Art, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  The Munyas of Córdoba: Suburban Villas and the Court Elite in Umayyad al-Andalus

Tijana Krstic
Tijana Krstic  |  Abstract
In the early 1570s, Moriscos (Spanish Muslims Christianized by the Spanish Crown) began their exodus from Spain and dispersion across Europe, Asia, and North Africa, which was to stop only in the 1610s following their final expulsion. This project reconstructs the Mediterranean network that Moriscos established, with a particular emphasis on the community (about which little is known) that settled in the Ottoman Empire—the imperial arch-rival of the Spanish Habsburgs. Through a variety of previously unexplored Ottoman archival and narrative sources as well as European accounts, this project investigates Ottoman-Morisco relations in the context of cross-cultural contact, inter-imperial rivalry, and confessional polarization in the early modern Mediterranean.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History and Religious Studies, Pennsylvania State University  -  A Mediterranean Network: Spanish Moriscos in the Ottoman Empire and Beyond, 1570s-1620s

Zayde Antrim
Zayde Antrim  |  Abstract
This study illuminates the political resonance of geographical thought among early and medieval Muslims by introducing the concept of a “discourse of place,” which consists of a body of writing dividing the world into physically bounded and culturally identifiable regions. By comparing representations of four significant regions in this discourse—Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula—the first part of this study reveals a nuanced vocabulary and rich source-base from which authors drew to evoke a wide range of loyalties. The second part examines the ways in which later generations reproduced and reworked this discourse to respond to a particularly volatile political situation: that of Syria during the Crusader and Mongol invasions.

Assistant Professor, History, Trinity College (CT)  -  Routes and Realms: The Power of Place in the Early Islamic World

Noel E. Lenski
Noel E. Lenski  |  Abstract
This project investigates the practice of slavery in the territories of the Roman Empire during the period of late antiquity (late third to early seventh centuries C.E.). It includes five sections: 1) slave supply, 2) numbers and uses, 3) economic factors, 4) religion, and 5) barbarian invasions. It demonstrates that, despite the radical religious, political, and social changes ushered in during late antiquity, slaveholding remained tenacious, and argues for a slight decline in the practice in the eastern Empire but a massive increase in the west. This divergence is associated with the contrapuntal influences of Christianity and the barbarian invasions.

Associate Professor, Classics, University of Colorado Boulder  -  Slavery in Late Antiquity

Robin B. Barnes
Robin B. Barnes  |  Abstract
This project addresses basic but largely neglected connections between the flowering of Renaissance astrology—both the learned art and the popular obsession—and the culture of the German Reformation. Combining extensive primary evidence with insights from numerous specialized studies, this study presents a major new synthesis, arguing for the integral role of astrological symbolism in preparing the ground for the religious movement sparked by Martin Luther, as well as in shaping the distinctive characteristics of German evangelical culture in its first century (c. 1520-1620). The work thus shows how apparently contradictory currents were combined in a distinctive early-modern confessional world view.

Professor, History, Davidson College  -  Astrology and Reformation

James B. Loeffler
James B. Loeffler  |  Abstract
This project explores the historical roots of the contemporary relationship between world Jewry and the state of Israel by examining efforts to repatriate Jewish culture in the aftermath of twentieth-century war and genocide. It argues that in the post-World War II efforts to remove Jewish books from Europe and elsewhere to Israel and the United States, a new concept of cultural sovereignty emerged that came to define the inner contours and differences in Jewish identity inside the Israeli nation state and in diasporic Jewish communities. This research traces the intellectual and political debates between American, European, and Israeli leaders about the legal, political, and cultural ownership of Jewish books and, by extension, where Jewish culture should live.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Virginia  -  The Peoples of the Book: Cultural Sovereignty and World Jewry in the Twentieth Century

Gina Bloom
Gina Bloom  |  Abstract
This study examines how early modern dramatists staged table-top games—from chess and cards to children’s spinning tops and adult drinking games—to teach their audiences gaming competencies considered necessary to male identity: exercising reason in making decisions; negotiating incomplete information; employing analogic thinking; and finding pleasure in rule-bound systems. The project throws into historical relief current scholarship on games, which, focusing on contemporary digital technology, has treated these gaming competencies as transhistorical and universal. It argues for the early modern theater as an early interactive gaming technology, one that offers new insights into the relationship between gaming and manhood in the seventeenth century as well as today.

Assistant Professor, English, University of California, Davis  -  Games and Manhood in the Early Modern Theater

Pardis Mahdavi
Pardis Mahdavi  |  Abstract
This project investigates interactions between issues of labor, gender, sexuality, and statehood through the lens of Dubai’s foreign migrant workers. Using ethnographic research methods, preliminary findings stress: 1) Dubai’s rapid emergence onto the international scene has made it an attractive venue for migrant labor and the trafficking of women (particularly into sex work); and 2) Dubai is characterized by a unique lack of civil society. Minimal social service providers, if any, are not controlled and operated by the state, raising accessibility and privacy concerns. The project explores the conflation of discourses on trafficking, migration, and sex work through women’s own narratives.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Pomona College  -  Traffic Jam: Gender, Sexuality, Labor, Migration and Trafficking in Dubai

Mark Evan Bonds
Mark Evan Bonds  |  Abstract
The concept of “absolute music” posits music as a self-referential, purely formal art. Historically, absolute music is the first manifestation of an aesthetic that celebrates art’s independence from the strictures of representation and social value. When it emerged in the 1840s, it was an extreme expression of l’art pour l’art, and it was slow to catch on: aesthetics had traditionally taken its cues from the verbal and visual arts. But by 1877, the literary critic Walter Pater could declare that “all art constantly aspires towards the condition of music”—that is, pure form without content. Abstract poetry, painting, and sculpture are all part of the legacy of absolute music. This study traces the history of this concept from its origins in music down to the present day.

Professor, Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  The Myth of Absolute Music

Ronald J. Mallon
Ronald J. Mallon  |  Abstract
This study contributes to an on-going research program into social constructionist claims about human groups. It offers a naturalistic account of social construction that integrates constructionist theorizing in social theory with recent work in philosophy, social psychology, evolutionary theory, and cognitive science. While there is ongoing interest in social construction among philosophers of political and social theory, there has been little sustained discussion of the social construction of human groups among philosophers of science, psychology, and cognitive science. This project addresses that gap. It also illuminates broader constructionist concerns with human oppression and freedom by linking constructionist models with accounts of human agency.

Associate Professor, Philosophy, University of Utah  -  Making Up Your Mind: Social Construction and Human Kinds

Theresa Braunschneider
Theresa Braunschneider  |  Abstract
This study examines the relations between changing conceptualizations of nighttime, modernity, and gender in a broad range of eighteenth-century British literature, with an emphasis on genres that document contemporary daily life. Arguing that such texts regularly point to the significant increase in nocturnal activity as a defining feature of their “age,” this project trace connections between an emergent understanding of gender as comprised of myriad quotidian acts and new perceptions of the night as a domain of polite sociability, orderly commerce, and rational government.

Associate Professor, English, Washington and Lee University  -  After Dark: Modern Nighttime in Eighteenth-Century British Literature

Jennifer Milioto Matsue
Jennifer Milioto Matsue  |  Abstract
This project considers how varied music scenes in Japan, generated by genres such as nagauta (a type of chamber music), trance-electronica, and wadaiko (Japanese drumming), share similar ideological grounding, processes of identity building, and performance practices. Ethnographic exploration of the ways in which scenes are actually performed, referring to all aspects of social behavior, reveals how people shape both individual and collective identity, ultimately finding meaning through shared understanding of defining characteristics. This project thus uniquely compares both traditional and popular music styles, providing a richer understanding of the sounds inhabiting contemporary Japan, and in turn offering new approaches to the study of identity and meaning in music more broadly.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, Music, East Asian Studies, and Anthropology, Union College (NY)  -  Sounding Nippon: Identity, Meaning and Music Scenes in Contemporary Japan

Palmira Brummett
Palmira Brummett  |  Abstract
The early modern Adriatic constituted a complex regional zone exploited by the Ottoman, Hapsburg, and Venetian empires. It was a place of intense ethnic and communal exchange, marked by hybrid identities, intermarriage, and conversion. Contemporary historiography tends to treat the Adriatic as a Venetian lake into which the Ottomans (viewed as an Asian, Islamic, land-based military power) made periodic incursions. Using Ottoman-Turkish and European language sources (narrative, documentary, and visual), this study examines the Adriatic zone as an integral part of the Ottoman empire, a system for the diffusion of knowledge, and a coherent regional zone linked through coastal and inland fortresses which were sites of both chronic conflict and chronic accommodation.

Professor, History, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  The Ottoman Adriatic, c. 1500-1700

Jairo A. Moreno
Jairo A. Moreno  |  Abstract
This project develops a socio-political history of popular music making since the late 1970s by Spanish-speaking Latin American immigrants to the US Transformations in creative interactions with other minority groups and in the general economics of the culture industry and the state produce ambivalent experiences of US modernity for these immigrants. How is the socio-political field lived such that music constitutes a persistent but uncertain wager on a share in American modernity? Music-making interrogates basic organizing principles of modern socio-political life: Latino populism (1970s); Pan-Americanism (1980s); racialization of jazz aesthetics and democratic values (1990s); post-Pan-Americanism (late 1990s); and cosmopolitan citizenship and bilingualism (2000s).

Associate Professor, Music, New York University  -  Syncopated Modernities: Musical Latin Americanisms in the US, 1978-2008

Michael C. Carhart
Michael C. Carhart  |  Abstract
Following the eclipse of biblical narrative that placed the origins of humankind in western Asia (Eden, Ararat, Babel), there arose a new scientific narrative of human origins and migrations that employed other means to reach approximately the same conclusion: that humankind first appeared on the slopes of the Caucasus mountains or the steppes of Central Asia. Between 1780 and 1830, three new sciences (anthropology, classical philology, linguistics) converged to confirm the Caucasian hypothesis of human origins. This project reconstructs the founding of those disciplines and the networks of travel and correspondence that linked centers of European science with frontiers of exploration in farthest east Asia and colonies around the globe.

Assistant Professor, History, Old Dominion University  -  The Caucasians: Central Asia in the European Imagination

Susan Naquin
Susan Naquin  |  Abstract
This is a study of the material culture embodied in Chinese temples and their paraphernalia in the late imperial era. It shows how the North China plain was constituted as a cultural region by the two-fold familiarity created by an area-wide cult of Mount Tai and by similar local material and technical resources. Drawing on widely scattered fragments of textual and material evidence, this project brings craftsmen and materials to the fore, shows the importance of temples as high public art, and makes regional culture a subject to study.

supported in part by the Frederic E. Wakeman, Jr. Fund for Chinese History
Professor, History and East Asian Studies, Princeton University  -  Religion and the Material Culture of North China, 1300-1900

Caroline F. Castiglione
Caroline F. Castiglione  |  Abstract
What mothers do (or fail to do) appears in many public debates as an important measure by which political ideologies are legitimated. How did mothering become entangled in politics? Its roots were already evident in seventeenth-century Rome, where an expanding monarchy created a politically fluid situation in which mothers had recourse to the judicial system. In their petitions and private letters, mothers demonstrated a combination of emotional tenderness and legal tenacity to succeed in their struggles. This mater litigans model had a long and complex future. This study employs a microhistorical approach in order to analyze the seventeenth-century evolution of politics and mothering. A wide range of judicial and epistolary sources map the political effects on motherly affect in Rome.

Associate Professor, Italian Studies and History, Brown University  -  Accounting for Affection: Mothering and Politics in Rome, 1630-1730

Emily L. Osborn
Emily L. Osborn  |  Abstract
In the twentieth century, a dynamic market in locally produced aluminum goods has emerged in West Africa. Using the technique of sand casting, artisans melt scrap aluminum and mold it into new products, such as cooking pots, utensils, and mechanical parts. Drawing upon research conducted with aluminum casters and their clients in six West African countries, this project sheds light on forces that drove casting’s transnational diffusion through West Africa since World War II. This investigation generates a fresh perspective on the social history of the late colonial and post-colonial periods by illuminating the strategies that West Africans have used to maximize scarce financial and material resources, manage environmental pressures, and navigate the exigencies and demands of different political regimes.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, University of Chicago  -  Scrap: Aluminum Recycling, Technology Diffusion, and the Making of a West African Artisanal Network, 1945 - 2005

J. Andrew Cowell
J. Andrew Cowell  |  Abstract
This project's central component is the creation of a video-based database of Arapaho conversation, using the ELAN linguistic software developed by the Max Plank Institute. The database employs extensive linguistic and anthropological labeling and annotation. Complementary to this project is ethnographic research on Arapaho language behavior, both to support database annotation and analysis, and also to produce a book on Arapaho linguistic culture more generally.

Professor, Linguistics and French and Italian, University of Colorado Boulder  -  Documenting Arapaho Linguistic Culture

Monika C. Otter
Monika C. Otter  |  Abstract
This project explores the literature of the High Middle Ages (chiefly Latin literature of the eleventh and early twelfth centuries, predominantly but not exclusively from England and Northern France), particularly its imaginative, playful, and problematic uses of the first person, which help us understand medieval notions of “literature” and “fiction,” as well as the medieval reception of classical culture. The argument centers on ideas of textual performance, whether theatrical, declamatory, or imaginative (the reader's insertion of his or her own “first person” into that of the text). It looks at genres such as prayer and meditation, dialogues, plays or semi-dramatic forms, epigrams, inscribed pictures, and autobiographical interventions in histories and treatises.

Associate Professor, English, Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College  -  First Persons: Voices and Masks in High Medieval Latin Literature

Laura A. Doyle
Laura A. Doyle  |  Abstract
This study rethinks English-language literary history, contributing to genre studies of the novel as well as to modernist and postcolonial studies, and fashioning a more dialectical understanding of artistic creation within colonial contact zones. It traces how, since the eighteenth century, many generations of cultural exchange and appropriation have become embedded, palimpsestically, in English-language aesthetic forms (for instance in what the British called the “oriental tale”), forming English fiction from the outside in. It then studies how Anglophone modernism and postcolonial fiction are linked by their insistent reworking of these layered, history-bearing forms.

Professor, English, University of Massachusetts Amherst  -  Untold Returns: A Postcolonial Literary History of Modernism

Daniel G. Prior
Daniel G. Prior  |  Abstract
A unique category of hereditary chieftains, called manaps, emerged among the northern Kirghiz (Central Asian Turkic mountain nomads) in the early nineteenth century and dominated Kirghiz politics and society until the Stalin era. These chieftains constituted a special estate within northern Kirghiz society that does not fit the familiar model of “tribal” power used in historical and anthropological analyses of Eurasian nomad political formations. The manap estate empowered politically sophisticated leaders to exploit categories like tribe and kinship as “technologies of governance,” which played into the expectations and agendas of expanding empires. This project elucidates critical moments in the political, social, and cultural history of the manap estate.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, Miami University  -  History of the Northern Kirghiz Chieftains, 1800-1935

Susana Draper
Susana Draper  |  Abstract
This study explores the relationship between spatial reconstructions, temporality, and notions of democracy and freedom in recent Latin American history, as military dictatorships transitioned into neoliberal democracies. Analyzing symbolically important architectural sites, works of fiction, photographs, films, and theoretical texts, it explores configurations of global space in the transitional and post-dictatorship era, paying special attention to the process of “malling” and monumentalization undergone in these societies, since both played a key role in forging a transition ideology of market-based notions of democracy and freedom. In order to establish a counterpoint to the dominant market-base communal imagination, it articulates the relation between freedom and space as it is posed in literature, philosophy, and visual arts, setting up the idea of critical and creative “openings” that search for alternative notions of freedom.

Assistant Professor, Comparative Literature, Princeton University  -  The Prison, the Mall, and the Archive (Space, Literature, and Visual Arts in Post-Dictatorship Culture)

Sophia W. Quinn-Judge
Sophia W. Quinn-Judge  |  Abstract
This project examines the search for a neutral or political solution to the Vietnam War though the lens of the Vietnamese actors. Although in the 1990s there was considerable discussion of “missed opportunities” to negotiate peace during the Vietnam War, there has been relatively little attention paid to how the Vietnamese parties would have achieved this. This study records as objectively as possible the dilemmas and failures of the leaders in the middle ground. The effects of a long war on civil society and the erosion of possibilities for dissent in both North and South Vietnam are integral parts of this story. One of the unexamined aspects of this story is the political evolution of the Lao Dong (Workers) Party in North Vietnam.

Associate Professor, History and Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture, and Society, Temple University  -  The Elusive Third Way: The Vietnamese Search for a Political Settlement to the War (1954-1975)

Caryl G. Emerson
Caryl G. Emerson  |  Abstract
Among the silenced Russian modernists, Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky was not “repressed” but rejected, unpublished, unperformed. Now the subject of a growing research industry in Russia, he bridges several media, disciplines, and cultures, inhabiting the roles of philosopher, theorist of dreams, surrealist prose writer, experimental dramatist, theater pedagogue, innovative film scenarist, librettist—as well as penetrating critic of Pushkin, Bernard Shaw, Poe, and Shakespeare. His prose fiction has begun to appear in English. This research project synthesizes and restores to its proper context his original contribution to the performing arts and musicalized drama, often so incompatible with official Russian culture of the Stalinist 1930s and thus so necessary as a lens on it.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Professor, Slavic Languages and Literatures, Princeton University  -  The Russian Modernist Sigizmund Krzhizhanovsky (1887-1950): His Unknown Dreamscapes, Drama, Filmscripts, Libretti, Literary Essays, and Forgotten Life

Alexander Rehding
Alexander Rehding  |  Abstract
The relationship between nineteenth- century thinking about sound (in the sciences) and about music (in philosophy and the arts) was often marked by mutual misunderstanding. Yet, the encounter of acoustics and aesthetics was more productive than is often thought. Certain key concepts shared by acousticians and musicians provide points of entry for a critical reconsideration of the cross-fertilization between these two distinct spheres of thought. In detailed inquiries into the concept of Klang (sonority), the study of physiological aesthetics, technological innovations , and the eventual overcoming of certain, idealist convictions, this study reconnects both sides in this dialogue between the sciences and the arts. The wider aim is both methodological and current: in the twenty-first century, at a time when the gulf between the sciences and the arts seems wider than ever, and when—paradoxically—the scientific study attracts a lot of attention, this example from history holds valuable lessons for us.

Professor, Music, Harvard University  -  Notes on Sound: Studies in Nineteenth-Century Acoustics and Aesthetics

Jared Farmer
Jared Farmer  |  Abstract
Using case studies of four iconic California trees—sequoias, eucalypts, oranges, and palms—this study explores the role of plants in human history, and the role of humans in plant history. It combines cultural and scientific approaches to the environment. Each tree genus is paired with a distinct discourse. With sequoias, the conversation begins with time, history, antiquity, and mortality. With eucalypts, the conversation turns to immigration, naturalization, nativeness, and alienness. With oranges, the conversation moves to science, technology, naturalness, and hybridity. Finally, with palms, the conversation concludes with beauty, fashion, image, and semiotics. From root to branch, this project is interdisciplinary.

Assistant Professor, History, State University of New York, Stony Brook  -  If Trees Could Speak: Botanical Dispatches from California

Simon Richter
Simon Richter  |  Abstract
The eighteenth-century process of secularization involves the transfer of important functions from theology to aesthetics. As religion is less able to impose compulsory contexts of value and meaning, aesthetic theory reassigns these functions to art. The strongest formulation of the promise of aesthetics around 1800 coincides with exorbitant claims for the person and work of German writer, J. W. von Goethe. Although the history of aesthetics involves decreasing confidence in the promise of aesthetics, a contrary strand of aesthetic adulation focused on Goethe persists. By exploring the “impropriety” of Goethe in a succession of excessive Goethe admirers, aspects and benefits of the aesthetic normally closed to view come to light.

Professor, Germanic Languages and Literatures, University of Pennsylvania  -  The Impropriety of Goethe: Case Studies in the Aesthetics of Idolatry

Denis C. Feeney
Denis C. Feeney  |  Abstract
The Romans exploded from being a substantial city of central Italy in 320 BCE to controlling the Mediterranean world 150 years later. In the process they equipped themselves with a literature in the vernacular and with a web of connections to the dominant Hellenic civilization through the links of mythology and historiography. Scholars tend to regard the process as inevitable, yet everything about this transformation was unpredictable and unprecedented. The very act of translation which kick-started Roman literature is far stranger than normally allowed, since translation of texts as opposed to interpreting of spoken language was vanishingly rare in the ancient Mediterranean. The Romans’ aim was to become equal partners in what was accepted then as world civilization.

Professor, Classics, Princeton University  -  Roman Horizons: How the Romans became a Mediterranean Power and Modernized their Culture in the Process

Linda M. Rupert
Linda M. Rupert  |  Abstract
Using the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao as a case study, this project analyzes the relationship between processes of social, cultural, and linguistic exchange (creolization) and illicit inter-imperial trade (contraband) in the early modern world. With its diverse population, extensive regional and global ties, and rich archives, Curaçao is an excellent crucible in which to analyze the interplay between these two processes. By breaking through multiple barriers of geography, empire, race/ethnicity, social class, and gender, smuggling opened rich opportunities for cross-cultural and inter-ethnic interaction. Such extra-official exchanges were not marginal; rather, they were the building blocks of colonial societies and shaped the character of human interaction in the Age of Empires.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, University of North Carolina at Greensboro  -  Creolization and Contraband: Curaçao in the Early Modern Atlantic World, 1634-1790

Theodore B. Fernald
Theodore B. Fernald  |  Abstract
This project completes a reference grammar for the Navajo language. While high quality reference materials are available for the internal structure of Navajo verbs, a systematic description of Navajo sentence structure is absent in the literature. This project covers the structure, meaning, and use of all known Navajo sentence types. Among these are the inverse construction, direct and indirect discourse constructions, comparative and equative sentences, questions, commands, and conditionals. Entries in the grammar are streamlined, with generalizations stated early and with complications and exceptions added later. A wide range of examples and additional notes are included in each section.

Associate Professor, Linguistics, Swarthmore College  -  A Reference Grammar of the Navajo Language

Christa Salamandra
Christa Salamandra  |  Abstract
This project examines the processes of regionalization, liberalization, and Islamization through the cultural politics of Arab television drama. Series produced in Syria reach vast audiences via satellite stations owned by wealthy, religiously conservative Gulf Cooperation Council states and citizens. Drama creators must accommodate new markets and censors. The demise of secular socialism, the perceived failures of nationalism, and the rise of Islamism affect both production and consumption of television programs. Globalization, driven by the spread of satellite technology, gives rise to new institutional structures and creative strategies. This study maps the cultural terrain in which politics, religion, and markets converge. It explores how the television drama industry both accommodates and resists the Islamization of the Arab public sphere.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, Anthropology, City University of New York, Lehman College  -  Arab Television Drama between Secularism and Islamization

Estelle B. Freedman
Estelle B. Freedman  |  Abstract
This study argues that contestations over sexual violence helped shape the meaning of citizenship for both women and African Americans from the end of Reconstruction to the post-World War II civil rights campaign. The study explores strategies to defend women’s right to refuse sexual consent, the white supremacist demonization of black men as natural rapists who were incapable of the self-control required of citizens, and the civil rights campaigns that opposed lynching and defended black men accused of rape. It draws on sources ranging from popular and medical accounts of rape, state and federal laws and appellate court decisions, and the political discourses within women’s rights, white supremacist, and racial justice movements.

Professor, History, Stanford University  -  The Politics of Rape: Race, Gender, and Sexual Violence in America, 1870-1950

Masha Salazkina
Masha Salazkina  |  Abstract
This project reconstructs the shared history of politically engaged modernist artists and filmmakers through a series of cultural and cinematic encounters structured around two geo-temporal nexuses. The first nexus consists of the Soviet Union, the US, and Latin America in the 1920s and early 1930s, focusing in particular on the triangular exchanges between Moscow, Italy, New York, and Mexico City. The second includes France, Italy, Brazil, and Cuba as the geo-political focus shifts political modernism to the Third World, especially with the development of Third Cinema in Latin America.

Assistant Professor, Media Studies and Russian, Colgate University  -  Transatlantic Encounters: Cinematic Modernist Practices on the Left

Michael A. Fuller
Michael A. Fuller  |  Abstract
As factional strife and military defeat drove the Song dynasty elite to seek secure epistemological and ontological foundations for its moral authority, China underwent an epistemic shift. Starting in 1100, the source of meaning in human action was redefined from an emergent order in the phenomenal realm to an order at once both fully within the self and outside the world of phenomenal transformation. The writing of poetry during this period provided an important forum for exploring the possibilities and problems in this rethinking of the meaning of experience. At first, major writers sought to shift meaning to a world of normative texts, then returned it to the world of objects, but by the dynasty’s end in 1280, saw it as a manner of revealing the self in accord with the new moral order.

Associate Professor, East Asian Languages and Literatures, University of California, Irvine  -  Drifting Amidst Rivers and Lakes: Southern Song Poetry and the Project of Literary History

Christine Shepardson
Christine Shepardson  |  Abstract
Early Christian leaders fundamentally shaped their landscape and therefore the events unfolding in it. As a result, places in the Roman city of Antioch were ever-shifting sites for the negotiation of power in late antiquity. Competing Christian leaders’ physical and rhetorical efforts to control and redefine Antioch's topography demonstrate some of the powerful mechanisms through which local places affected identity and perceptions of religious orthodoxy. This recognition revises earlier narratives of Christianization and the development of Christian orthodoxy by revealing ways in which leaders deployed the allegedly inert backdrop of Antioch's urban and rural places to shape the outcome of critical fourth-century intra-Christian controversies.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  Controlling Contested Places: Fourth-Century Antioch and the Spatial Politics of Religious Controversy

Karen B. Graubart
Karen B. Graubart  |  Abstract
A study of Seville (Spain) in the fifteenth century and Lima (Peru) in the sixteenth century, this project seeks to understand how states sought to create “difference” (religious, ethnic, racial) through law and urban planning, and how citizens of these cities navigated, negotiated, and ignored these legal and physical structures. By counterpointing the history of law with social history, this project provides a richer social history of these two key cities. In particular, it examines how the treatment of “Indians” and “Blacks” in the New World diverged from an apparently common beginning in the Old World, as a way to analyze the development of racial categories in the later colonial period.

Associate Professor, History, University of Notre Dame  -  Neighbors and Others: Space, Peoples, and Authorities in Early Modern Seville and Lima

Yuri Slezkine
Yuri Slezkine  |  Abstract
Across the Moscow River from the Kremlin stands a huge gray building known as the House of Government, the House on the Embankment, or the House of the Dead. Built during the First Five-Year Plan as a model of the “Communist organization of daily life” and a shelter for top government officials, poets laureate, and Red Army commanders, it became the most coveted and most dreaded “living space” in Stalin's Russia. This project is a history of the first ten years of its existence—as an examination of the physical structure itself; as a collective biography (historical ethnography) of the people inside; as a metaphor for the life and death of the first generation of Soviet rulers; and ultimately as a history of the demise of the Russian Revolution.

Professor, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Moscow's House of Government, 1928-1938

Jessica K. Graybill
Jessica K. Graybill  |  Abstract
This study explores socio-ecological and cultural geographies in the Russian Sea of Okhotsk region. It questions the efficacy of Russia’s globalizing economy in this resource periphery by documenting vulnerability and resilience related to climate change and oil development, which both affect salmon-related livelihoods and ecologies. Using cognitive mapping and network analysis, this study examines narratives of vulnerability and how interrelationships among local and transnational actors shape them. Main research questions are: What are perceived vulnerabilities from environmental change and how do they affect socio-environmental actions? What are spatial variations of vulnerability and identity formation? How do local-global interactions shape perceived vulnerabilities and resilience?

Assistant Professor, Geography, Colgate University  -  Climate Change, Oil, and Salmon in a Globalizing Resource Periphery: Narratives of Vulnerability around the Sea of Okhotsk

Justin Steinberg
Justin Steinberg  |  Abstract
This project examines the ideas of law and justice in Dante's Divine Comedy. It focuses on how the juridical structure of the poem foregrounds the precarious relationship between norm and exception even in God's justice. Beyond proposing a new approach to Dante's masterpiece, the study sheds light on pre-modern views of the exception and critically engages with contemporary discussions about both the rule of law and the conventions of art.

Associate Professor, Romance Languages and Literatures, University of Chicago  -  Law and Justice in Dante's Divine Comedy

Monica H. Green
Monica H. Green  |  Abstract
This project studies the intersections of obstetrical knowledge and practice with legal concerns from Roman times up to ca. 1800, both in Europe and in those non-western areas subject to Roman legal traditions under colonial rule. Female midwives were accorded a special role under Roman law of “inspecting the belly” in cases where a divorced or widowed woman was suspected of being pregnant. Similarly, there existed legal dictates about intervening surgically to extract a living fetus from its dead mother's womb. Exploring how “expertise” was varyingly defined in legal, medical, and social terms, this study examines how law and medicine interacted both to produce knowledge of the female body and to forge midwives’ and surgeons’ claims to expertise.

Professor, History, Arizona State University  -  The Midwife, the Surgeon, and the Lawyer: The Intersections of Obstetrics and Law to 1800

Ramie Targoff
Ramie Targoff  |  Abstract
This project examines the relationship between love and death in Renaissance lyric poetry. The project began by noticing a single, central difference between Italian and English love poetry: that whereas Petrarch and his followers treat the death of the beloved as an integral part of their love stories, English Renaissance poets never imagine an afterlife for love. The consequences of this difference can be felt in the types of poems that English poets write, poems that derive their power from assuming rather than denying real limits to love’s duration. This project explains the relationship between this body of English love poems and cultural attitudes towards death, burial, and the possibility of transcendence in the century following the Protestant Reformation.

Professor, English and American Literature, Brandeis University  -  Mortal Love: Erotic Verse in the English Renaissance

James Grier
James Grier  |  Abstract
Plainsong, liturgical chant of the medieval church, was sung throughout Western Europe from at least the eighth century until its suppression by the Second Vatican Council in 1964. This project examines the origins of plainsong, and the means by which it was disseminated in Western Europe during the Central Middle Ages. Plainsong was among the first medieval musical repertoires to be recorded in writing. Alongside written processes of transmission, musicians continued to employ oral means to teach existing chants and compose new ones. These two modes of communication co-existed throughout the period delimited by this study and left specific indications of their presence and influence on the surviving written record. Together, they formed the basic elements of musical literacy.

Professor, Music Research and Composition, University of Western Ontario  -  The Foundations of Musical Literacy in the Medieval West 800-1100: Oral and Written Transmission in Early Plainsong

Linda J. Tomko
Linda J. Tomko  |  Abstract
This project scrutinizes the material operation of dances for shepherds and shepherdesses, and how dance, music, and song in pastoral scenes made cultural meaning, in early eighteenth-century tragédies lyriques and one opera-ballet. These musical theatre forms received the crown's support in Louis XIV's reign and provided vehicles for representing—and potentially querying or resisting—the monarch and ways of being in the world for elites who consumed such cultural production. Deciphering dances that can be recovered from surviving notated dance scores, this study examines the dance, music, and texts for ways they circulated intertexts and debates about the nature of love and how to live it, simultaneously historicizing and containing competing models.

Associate Professor, Dance, University of California, Riverside  -  Parsing Pastoral Scenes and their Dances in Early Eighteenth-Century Tragédie Lyrique

Charles L. Griswold
Charles L. Griswold  |  Abstract
This project examines Rousseau’s influential account of the nature and fate of the self, using the thought of Adam Smith as a foil and drawing on contemporary philosophy. The focus is on four interconnected issues: freedom (“natural” or of self, rather than political); the loss of freedom and authenticity, and the ensuing “theatricality” of self; “pitié” and sympathy as rival means of understanding as well as identifying with self and other; and narrative as a way of understanding, explaining, and unifying. These themes are central to Rousseau’s conception of what it means to be a self in the modern age. This study interprets as well as evaluates his position, shedding new light on his and Smith's philosophies, as well as the issues themselves.

Professor, Philosophy, Boston University  -  Self and Other: Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Adam Smith on Freedom, Authenticity, Sympathy, and Narrative

Jacob A. Tropp
Jacob A. Tropp  |  Abstract
As the US government initiated various New Deal agrarian programs in the 1930s, American officials increasingly engaged in dialogues about state development planning with colleagues overseas, particularly from Great Britain and its colonies. In the 1940s and 1950s, the US then drew from its domestic experience as it launched a new “development” era of technical assistance initiatives in Latin America, Asia, and Africa. This project introduces a revealing but neglected undercurrent inflecting these histories: how US government actors involved in “developing” Native American societies influenced the transnational production of “expertise” for American, other Western, and Third World practitioners during this foundational period in international development planning.

Associate Professor, History, Middlebury College  -  Native American Administration and the Making of International Development Expertise, 1935-1960

Sarah E. Hammerschlag
Sarah E. Hammerschlag  |  Abstract
The École Juive de Paris refers to an intellectual movement aimed at resuscitating European Judaism after World War II. During this period, a number of prominent French Jewish intellectuals reinvested in Judaism and trained a generation of students to become spokespersons for the tradition. This project considers three main strands of the École Juive de Paris: the École Normale Israélite Orientale, the École Gilbert Bloch, and the Colloque des Intellectuels Juifs de Langue Francaise. It treats the respective political and intellectual impact of each and examines the movement’s competing impulses to reach back for the truth of Judaism while at the same time creating something new.

Assistant Professor, Religion, Williams College  -  Sowers and Sages: L'école Juive de Paris,1946-1967

Nancy L. Wicker
Nancy L. Wicker  |  Abstract
Pendant gold jewelry called bracteates have been found primarily in Scandinavia and dated to the Migration Period (fifth and sixth centuries A.D.). This project 1) examines the role of minor arts during this period; 2) investigates migration and the dispersal of Scandinavian bracteates throughout Europe; 3) sheds light on jewelry as markers of prestige, ethnicity, and gender in Scandinavian culture, considering the individuals who made, purchased, gave, and wore these artworks; and 4) illuminates workshop practice of this anonymous art through microscopic examination of tool traces and establishment of an absolute chronology based on find combinations. Thus, this study moves beyond the usual typological and iconographic focus of bracteate studies to describe the social life of these objects.

Professor, Art, University of Mississippi  -  Goldsmiths, Patrons, and Women: Typology, Chronology, and the Social Life of Early Medieval Scandinavian Jewelry

Benjamin Carter Hett
Benjamin Carter Hett  |  Abstract
This project studies this pivotal moment in the transition to Hitler’s dictatorship as a typical product of the political culture, violence, and propaganda of late Weimar, and analyzes the post-war controversy over the Fire as a product of the political and media structures of the Federal Republic of Germany in the 1950s and 1960s. In this sense the project differs markedly from literature on the Fire which has studied this event in isolation from other factors. The project extends earlier research which studied the interconnections and mutual influences of law, politics, and media culture; it also illustrates the surprising continuities in these elements of German life from the 1930s to the 1960s.

Associate Professor, History, City University of New York, Hunter College  -  A Cultural History of the Reichstag Fire

Megan H. Williams
Megan H. Williams  |  Abstract
This project uses methods drawn from literary criticism and intellectual history to examine historical works written as the Roman empire first became Christian, then disintegrated into its medieval successor states. It studies late antique historians from Eusebius to the sixth century, as readers, scholars, and literary creators, with the aim of answering a single, novel question: How did contemporaries narrate the events we moderns look back on as the “Fall of Rome”?

Assistant Professor, History, San Francisco State University  -  The Worldly Apocalypse: The Fall of Rome in History and Culture

Colin Heydt
Colin Heydt  |  Abstract
Histories of eighteenth century British moral philosophy have focused on debates concerning the nature and ground of moral judgment, will, and value—debates that British moralists like Hutcheson, Hume, and Reid would have included under the “theory of morals.” But this leaves out the other half of moral philosophy, namely, “practical ethics,” which both presented systems of duties, virtues, or rights in order to direct the conscience “in the general conduct of human life,” and claimed to cultivate the mind’s moral capacities. This is the first book-length study to examine different accounts of practical ethics. It offers, first, a new way of conceptualizing a vital period in moral philosophy, and, second, valuable insight into the goals and structure of present-day moral philosophy.

Assistant Professor, Philosophy, University of South Florida  -  Directing the Conscience and Cultivating the Mind: Practical Ethics in Eighteenth Century Britain

Jessica Winegar
Jessica Winegar  |  Abstract
This project examines the important role played by culture concepts in contests between secular and religious visions of modernity in the Middle East. Through ethnographic research on state and Islamic cultural programs aimed at women, youth, and rural people, it examines why “culture” has become so important to postcolonial state governance and to religious projects to create moral communities, in an era of waning state legitimacy, transnational media and religious movements, and economic restructuring. The project sheds light on how different groups of Muslims manage the tensions between concepts of national culture and Islamic culture, and it highlights the overlaps and divergences between civilizing impulses in secular and religious notions of culturedness.

Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Northwestern University  -  Competing on the Terrain of Culture: State Secularism and the Islamic Revival

Stefan Kaufmann
Stefan Kaufmann  |  Abstract
Ignorance and the passage of time are among the most fundamental and pervasive aspects of human life. People draw conclusions from unreliable evidence, revise their beliefs in view of new information, and base their plans and decisions on expectations about likely outcomes. People also talk about knowledge and ignorance, past and future, best guesses and their factual basis. This project deepens our understanding of the meaning and use of modal and temporal expressions, the inferences involved in their interpretation, and their semantic interactions with each other and other grammatical categories.

Associate Professor, Linguistics, Northwestern University  -  Speaking of Possibility and Time

Nadia G. Yaqub
Nadia G. Yaqub  |  Abstract
This study examines how Palestinians use imaginative texts to address their subjectivity vis-à-vis contemporary Palestinian politics and their socio-political position in the world. It is organized around three tropes—the wedding, the road, and home—that are laden with social meaning involving the creation and continuity of social structure; the construction of self; gender; history; politics; hierarchy; and relationship to place. This project explains the socio-cultural importance of each trope and the local and transnational contexts in which it is used, charts its use in narrative texts from the 1950s to the present, and describes how Palestinians are literarily and visually exploiting that history in the narratives they create today.

ACLS/NEH International and Area Studies Fellow
Associate Professor, Asian Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Imagining Palestine

Roy Kreitner
Roy Kreitner  |  Abstract
This study of the legal history of money will examine the connection between two late nineteenth-century events: the transformation of the legal and popular conceptions of money and the disappearance of monetary policy as an issue for electoral politics. Between the 1862 and 1913, paper money went from being viewed as a promise to pay to being viewed as final payment. Meanwhile, monetary policy, which had been the central issue of electoral politics, fell off the partisan political agenda, paving the way for the founding of a central bank to be run by experts with minimal political intervention. The project links these two phenomena, explaining how the rise of expert technocratic control of monetary policy is dependent on the shift from a promissory to a proprietary conception of money.

Associate Professor, Law, Tel Aviv University  -  From Promise to Property, from Populism to Expertise: The Political Career of the Dollar, 1862-1913

Phoebe S.K. Young
Phoebe S.K. Young  |  Abstract
This study chronicles individualized camping in the United States from its roots in customary travel practice in the mid-nineteenth century to the modern public and commercial infrastructure for leisure campers in the late twentieth century. At the beginning of this chronology, camping existed as an ordinary choice of travel method. A century later, it entailed a distinct experience containing specific social and national values. Along the way the campground became a crucial venue for negotiating a range of social identities. The evolution of practices of sleeping outside suggests how Americans defined the cultural shifts of modern life, understood the role of nature in public culture, and debated notions of civic belonging.

ACLS Oscar Handlin Fellow
Assistant Professor, History, University of Pennsylvania  -  Rough Comfort: The Public Culture of Camping in America