April 28, 2020 — We're delighted to announce the 2020-2021 cohort of Fellows for the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities!
Institute Fellowships offer faculty course reductions so that they can develop research projects within an interdisciplinary community. Kaplan Institute Fellows, who are selected by an external team of reviewers, present work at weekly lunchtime colloquia, participate in Institute events, and develop a course to offer in the Institute in the year after their fellowship. Read more about our Fellowship Program.
Associate Professor, Department of French and Italian, Comparative Literary Studies
Project: Light from Distant Stars: Film Form and the Idea of Japanese Cinema
"My book project explores the idea of 'Japanese cinema' and its global history. The early chapters will reread landmark film theory texts that relied on (sometimes extravagant) claims about 'Japanese cinema' to develop their influential concepts. The second half of the book analyzes the relationship between a diverse set of films from the mid-1980s that self-consciously explored the legacies of this 'Japanese cinema,' ranging from European art cinema to American cyberpunk and the Taiwanese new wave."
Barber Professor of Performing Arts: Department of Theatre, Department of English Department of Performance Studies
Project: Performing the Cornerstones of Liberalism: Advocacy and the Invention of Activism
This project explores how two generations of a Victorian family advocated more effectively for abolition, universal suffrage, free trade, and anti-genocide throughout the British Empire by extrapolating principles of performance drawn from drama, the church, law, parliament, and public meetings. Recognizing ways that self-presentation, oratory, scenography, and mise en scène could improve orchestration of events, these imperial skeptics honed critique of others’ presentations to optimize their own performances when making direct appeals to the public, lobbying the government, and writing as journalists. The project derives a new theory of female and male public/private spheres by holistically noting where, by whom, and in what manners political work activated liberal thought as lived practices.
Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science
Project: Beyond Freedom and Slavery: Status and Membership in the Ancient Confucian Political Community
"In this book project, I am interested in how the early Confucians conceptualized the political community in the absence of the freedom and slavery duality that has been so central to various traditions in Western political thought. I analyze the depictions of concubines, servants, peasants, artisans, convicts, and foreigners in the Five “Confucian” Classics and show that the distinctive feature of the ancient Confucian political community is its inclusiveness."
Bertha and Max Dressler Professor in the Humanities; Professor of Art History, Classics, and in the Humanities
Project: A Culture of Empire and the Neo-Assyrian World
"My project explores the changing cultural landscape of an early imperial state, the Neo-Assyrian Empire (ca. 900-612 BCE), extending from southern Turkey to western Iran, Egypt, and the Arabian peninsula. A key strategy of manipulation and control involved a cultural framework that allowed and promoted participation in the imperial project, accomplished through shared practices around the built environment, dress and personal ornament, dining, and other modes of official and social performance. I examine both archaeological and textual evidence to elaborate the role of material and visual culture in the construction of Assyrian identities."
Associate Professor, Department of History
Project: People of the Flame: Growth, Wood, Fire, and the End of the World
In the nineteenth century, the United States’ population boomed at a historically unprecedented rate. Instant cities sprang up, and millions streamed into them. Yet those cities—hastily built of wood—burned down frequently. People of the Flame connects episodes that have largely been told as local histories to offer a portrait of a flame-addled republic, where people knew both the rush of fortune and the chastisement of conflagration.
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Latina and Latino Studies Program Project: Movement Memories: State Repression and Political Trauma in Puerto Rican Chicago
"Between the 1960s and 2000s, Puerto Rican activists and their allies experienced extensive and intensive state repression at the hands of the FBI and local police. Through oral history interviews and community archiving, my project explores the political, mnemonic, and emotional afterlives of state surveillance and violence in Puerto Rican Chicago."
Professor of Music Composition; Director, Institute for New Music; Department of Music Studies
Project: Dark Fall - Opera
Dark Fall is an opera about love and desire at old age. It explores the relations between several older protagonists, as their concepts of intimacy, agency, and autonomy slowly change. It will be written with and for older performers and examine the physical and semantic characteristics of their voices: a unique and rich medium for vocal expression, for which nevertheless very little music has been written, yet.
Professor, Department of EnglishProject: Transmuting Forms: Alchemical Secrecy and British Literary Modernity, 1650–1740
"In early modern England, alchemists used symbols, tropes, and figurative language to conceal their experimental procedures even as they circulated those procedures in print. My project claims alchemy’s paradoxical commitment to secrecy and disclosure as a critical influence on prose form. The secret history, a new narrative mode that exposed governmental corruption and deceit, adopted alchemical techniques to code its revelations. Transmuting Forms suggests that in early modern chemistry and the secret history, truth-telling was enabled not through transparency but through literary figuration."
Associate Professor in Spanish & Portuguese and Comparative Literary Studies
Project: Modernism’s Blindspot: New Women Émigrés and Modern Photography in Latin America (1930s-1960s)
“My project traces the development and dissemination of modernist photographic practices in the exilic trajectories of the female photographers Gisèle Freund, Kati Horna, Grete Stern, Hildegard Rosenthal, Gertrudes Altschul, Hannerose Herrigel, and Jeanne Mandello as they take refuge in Latin American countries during WWII. Mostly unrecognized in canonical cultural histories of 20th century modernism, their aesthetic contribution is conceived here as integral to it as members of transatlantic avant-garde movements, as radical-left activists and embodiments of the emancipatory possibilities of the new woman cultural movement.”
Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literary StudiesProject: The Uprooted Word in the Romantic Century
"My project identifies literary sources for ideas about race that emerge in the study of language. I show how the use of literary images like roots, decay, erosion, and fossilization guided the rise of philology over a long 'Romantic century' (ca. 1750-1850). Naturalizing language allowed scholars and poets to inspect linguistic form in the same manner that they would a material object or landscape, with its own history of formal change. At the same time, it also deepened the divide between textual record and living speakers. Part literary study of romantic-era writing, part history of linguistic thought, this research accounts for the ways natural metaphors helped paradoxically fashion the nineteenth century's philological revolution into both 1) a watershed in the human sciences, and the study of how cultures vary and change, and 2) an institutional home for racial pseudoscience, along with linguistic typologies that stabilized racial difference."
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Associate Professor, Department of History Project: Managing an Arid Land: Planning for an Environmental Future in the California Desert Managing an Arid Land
tells the story of the California Desert Conservation Area, a twenty-five million acre territory overseen by the Bureau of Land Management. Administration of the CDCA has relied heavily on the use of environmental impact statements, and this project asks what we mean by "environmental impact" in a place where management involves a complicated and rapidly changing set of concerns.