Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellows

The Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowships, which ACLS offered from 2001 through 2015, provided advanced assistant professors and untenured associate professors in the humanities and related social sciences with time and resources to pursue their research under optimal conditions. The Ryskamp Fellowships particularly recognized those whose scholarly contributions have advanced their fields and who had well designed and carefully developed plans for new research.
Generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, these fellowships were named for Charles A. Ryskamp, literary scholar, distinguished library and museum director, and long-serving trustee of the Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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

Jasmine A. Alinder
Jasmine A. Alinder  |  Abstract
This project expands on previous work on the culture and currency of camera images in the United States by examining instances when photographs have played central roles in legal disputes. It explores the question of who owns the photographic image by analyzing court cases and policy from the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries that define our relationship to the photographic image and grapple with questions about originality, ownership, authorship, obscenity, citizenship, and the status of the photograph as a work of art.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee  -  The Lens and the Law: The Rights of Photographic Representation

Flagg Miller
Flagg Miller  |  Abstract
In the winter of 2002, over fifteen-hundred audiotapes from Osama Bin Laden’s former house in Qandahar, Afghanistan were acquired by Cable News Network. This project traces the kinds of interpretive steps made by speakers in the collection to channel legal discourses toward a more disparate and accessible range of ethical frameworks than has commonly been available to Muslim activists. This study complements scholarship on the legal shortcomings of militant discourse while moving more deeply to consider the cultural and epistemological foundations of legal precepts. Portions on martyrdom, theology, poetry, play, and audiotapes treat readers to translations of selected recordings accompanied by a discussion of interpretive tools that allow speakers to tap into, but also diverge, from established fields of legality.

Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, University of California, Davis  -  The Osama Bin Laden Audiotape Library: Echoes of Legality

Anne Margaret Baxley
Anne Margaret Baxley  |  Abstract
This project sets out a systematic interpretation and assessment of Kant’s views about happiness, which have been widely neglected or misunderstood. Kant’s account of happiness is important for his full theory of value, for he believes that happiness is a natural, necessary end for human beings and part of our complete or highest good. Moreover, his account of happiness provides a welcome alternative to more familiar philosophical conceptions of happiness or human flourishing found in Greek virtue ethics, an alternative possessing the resources to account for our most important commitments about happiness, its value, and its significance in a good life.

Assistant Professor, Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis  -  Happiness and Its Value in Kant's Ethics

Karl Hagstrom Miller
Karl Hagstrom Miller  |  Abstract
This project uses the recent debates about music piracy and illegal downloading on the Internet to open up new historical questions about the meaning and measure of music ownership. It shows that the filesharing debates, while conducted in the language of computer technology and copyright law, are fueled by more fundamental historical struggles over the role music should play in our economy and culture. A series of interdisciplinary case studies—ranging from antebellum slave songs to the recent market for out-of-print jazz recordings—demonstrates the tangled web of investments people have made in music and reveals that the current crisis in the music industry requires holistic attention to the multiple ways in which music creates cultural and economic value.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Texas at Austin  -  Sound Investments: Historical Perspectives on Music Ownership and Piracy

Matthew P. Canepa
Matthew P. Canepa  |  Abstract
This is a study of formation and global impact of Iranian kingship. It considers the reciprocal vocation of art and ritual in expressing power among ancient Iranian peoples and empires, both within and beyond the geographical boundaries of present-day Iran, from Alexander's conquest of Iran in the fourth century BCE, through the advent of Islam in the seventh century C.E. In doing so, it examines how, during this dynamic—yet problematic—period, Iranian powers including the Parthians, Scythians, Kushans, and Sasanians, reinvented and contested the idea of the righteous, universal “Aryan” sovereign while appropriating and countering the visual and ideological challenges of their non-Iranian neighbors in the Mediterranean and South Asia.

Assistant Professor, Art History, College of Charleston  -  Iran Between Alexander and Islam: Contesting the Global Idea of Iranian Kingship in the Hellenized and Iranian Near East, Central and South Asia, 330 BCE- 642 CE

Mia M. Mochizuki
Mia M. Mochizuki  |  Abstract
Netherlandish prints were the great calling card of the West during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These were objects that crossed borders, stimulated the production of new objects, and propelled ideas and values far beyond Northern Europe. This project studies the diffusion of Netherlandish prints in the age of exploration and examines the objects produced after them, primarily by the Niccolò School, in early modern Japan. It thereby reevaluates a decisive moment in the history of image production.

Assistant Professor, Art History, Jesuit School of Theology and Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley  -  The Netherlandish Print Abroad, 1543-1639: Art, Religion, and Economics in the Early Modern World

Maya Jasanoff
Maya Jasanoff  |  Abstract
Between 1775 and 1783, 60,000 American loyalists—colonists who supported Britain in the American Revolution—fled with 15,000 slaves from the new United States to resettle in other parts of the British Empire. Their experiences cast into relief a transformative moment in British imperial history, when the empire's ethical, territorial, and political foundations were reshaped. This project, the first global history of the loyalist diaspora, follows loyalist refugees to every corner of the British world to investigate the ideological, cultural, and institutional effects of their exodus. It aims to upset conventional nation-centered narratives about the American Revolution and reposition ideas of governance and belonging in the British imperial world.

Associate Professor, History, Harvard University  -  The American Loyalist Diaspora: A Global History

Kenneth B. Moss
Kenneth B. Moss  |  Abstract
This project investigates how the spread of nationalism in the Russian-Polish borderlands between 1890 and 1939 reshaped the civic, familial, religious, and intimate lives of the region’s Jews; how disparate Jewish subcultures responded to the growing power of nationhood as the region’s organizing principle; and how Jewish thinkers and novelists reimagined territory, family, and home in relation to the nation. The first part of the project focuses on how the threat/prospect of nationalism reshaped Russian-Jewish debates over religion, class relations, gender, family relations, and Jewish political thought between 1890-1919. The second part of the project examines how Jews in the interwar Polish and Lithuanian nation-states dealt with the apotheosis of nationalism in civic relations with Poles, in Yiddish popular culture, in spiritual practice, tourism and leisure, and in political thought.

Assistant Professor, History, Johns Hopkins University  -  Seeing Like a Nation: The Public and Private Lives of East European Jews in the Age of Nationalism, 1890-1939

Stephen A. Mihm
Stephen A. Mihm  |  Abstract
The right to coin or print money is generally assumed to be a self-evident prerogative of the nation state. Yet national control of the currency is itself a historical process, one that began in many countries in the late eighteenth century. This project, a political history of the dollar, seeks to understand the dynamics of this phenomenon in the United States. It explores how direct or indirect control over the currency became central to the larger project of building a powerful nation state from the 1770s onward. In tracing the historical roots of today’s uniform, exclusive, national currency, this project offers a more nuanced understanding of the evolution of the country itself, not only as a modern nation state, but as an “imagined community” of citizens.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Georgia  -  The Country’s Currency: A History of the Dollar from the American Revolution to the American Century

Marina A. Rustow
Marina A. Rustow  |  Abstract
Very few state archives have survived from the medieval Middle East. But a Jewish synagogue in Cairo preserved hundreds of Arabic chancery documents from tenth- through thirteenth-century Egypt, most of them recycled for texts in Hebrew script. How did these documents, many of which concern not Jews but Christians and Muslims, come into the Jews’ possession? What do their contents—and the mere fact of their migration—reveal about Fatimid and Ayyubid methods of government? Jewish leaders and their followers developed increasing facility over the course of this period with the vocabulary and choreography of imperial administration and the petition-and-response procedure prevalent at the courts of Baghdad and Cairo. They utilized these techniques in their dealings not only with the sovereign and his court but with each other, frequently calling upon the state to intervene in their internal affairs. The Fatimids and Ayyubids evinced little interest in archival continuity, emphasizing instead the personal patronage of members of the court as a method of rule. If systems of imperial domination cannot be grasped without accounting for their pervasive but varied effects on subject minorities, those minorities may also have much to tell us about the state’s methods of administration and its vision of sovereignty.

Assistant Professor, History, Emory University  -  Patronage and Politics: Islamic Empire and the Medieval Jewish Community

Elizabeth Carolyn Miller
Elizabeth Carolyn Miller  |  Abstract
The final decades of the nineteenth century witnessed a flood of print production aimed at mass audiences, but also a corresponding surge in small-scale radical periodicals and politically oriented experiments in “slow print.” “Slow print” is print that actively opposed mass-production; it was often explicitly political in objective, as socialist, anarchist, and other radical groups came to believe that large-scale, mass-oriented print was no way to bring about social change. Focusing on under-studied periodicals and literary venues, this study investigates radical British literature from 1880-1914, a historical moment when many writers became less inclined to see plentiful, cheap print as a progressive force, and more inclined to see it as an effect of unrestrained capitalism.

Assistant Professor, English, University of California, Davis  -  The Birth of Slow Print: Literary Radicalism and Print Culture, 1880-1914

Tara Zahra
Tara Zahra  |  Abstract
At the end of the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of children were missing. Whether through bombings, military service, evacuation, deportation, forced labor, ethnic cleansing, or murder, an unprecedented number of children were separated from their parents during the war. This project traces the efforts of international humanitarian and political activists to rescue, rehabilitate, and repatriate displaced children from 1918-1951. These children came to be the objects of bitter custody disputes, as psychologists, social workers, Communists, Catholics, Jewish agencies, military officials, relatives, and refugees themselves competed to determine their fate. The rehabilitation and reunification of displaced families was ultimately central to the process of postwar reconstruction in Europe, to the emergence of new psychological and psychoanalytic theories, and to the development of new ideals of nation, family, and human rights in post-fascist Europe.

Assistant Professor, History, University of Chicago  -  Lost Children: Displacement and the Family in Twentieth-Century Europe