Franke Graduate Fellows
With generous funding from Richard and Barbara Franke and The Graduate School (TGS), and in partnership with TGS, the Alice Kaplan Institute for the Humanities is pleased to announce the Franke Graduate Fellowships for 2017-2018. These fellowships bring together four outstanding doctoral students in the humanities to cultivate their research and teaching in the interdisciplinary setting of the Kaplan Institute. Franke Graduate Fellows devote two quarters, full time, to shaping their projects during fall and winter. They also receive pedagogical mentoring in developing an undergraduate course that they teach in their home departments in the spring.
Academic Year 2017-2018
Project: Ritual Heritage and Community Sustainability in Coastal Connemara, Ireland
Emerging archaeological evidence suggests that pilgrimage traditions in early modern and contemporary Ireland developed from early medieval (c. 400-1100 CE) ritual practices. Combining archaeology, folklore, and ethnography, my project traces how communities in Connemara adapted the monuments and practices of pilgrimage traditions to new circumstances across many centuries. My goal is to develop an account of sustainability that recognizes the role of heritage monuments in shaping community identity and organization in the face of shifting economic and agricultural challenges.
My project contends that the capacity for feeling has been a crucial site of contestation in the (un)making of Blackness under Western modernity. Reading canonical Black Atlantic literary and cultural texts alongside key Western philosophical texts, I trace how Black cultural producers mobilize affect, feeling, and sensation in order to grapple with the vicissitudes of Black historical experience.
Miriam Piilonen — Music Theory and Cognition Program, Department of Music Studies; Critical Theory Cluster
Project: Resonating Bodies: The Origins of Music and Victorian Evolutionary Theory
My project examines the convergence of music studies and evolutionary theory, with emphasis on the rise of music evolutionism in nineteenth-century Britain. I show that thinkers like Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and Edmund Gurney invoke music to delineate a human-animal boundary, such that the formal features of music become entwined with the limits and potentials of the human species.
Project: Viral Verses: Poetic Movements and Social Media in Southeastern Africa
“Viral Verses” traces the connection between poetry and community formation on social media, postulating poetic discourse as the link between web-based activism and grounded action in Malawi, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Considering political chants and rap alongside slam poetry and spoken word, I ask how poetry shapes and is shaped by community action, moving fluidly between social media and public spaces to reshape notions of authorship, audience, and agency. I argue that, amidst shifting norms of collective action, poetry forms a bridge between digital sites of organizations and grounded sites of action.
Franke Undergraduate Fellows
Franke Undergraduate Fellows develop their independent research projects within the Kaplan Institute; receive mentorship in fall and winter through the Senior Humanities Seminar, taught by Mira Balberg (Religious Studies); and present their work at the Future Directions Forum in spring 2018.
Academic Year 2017-2018
Project: “Do the Dead Know?”: The Living and the Lively Dead in Rabbinic and Early Christian Literature
In Jewish Talmudic writings, the dead can feel physical pain and experience the emotional sting of insult. And among early Christians, the relics of saints were prized for the miraculous healing powers ascribed to them even in death. My project will explore these hazy boundaries between life and death in the religious literature of Late Antiquity. I will especially focus on the graveyard as a site of unique
Project: The Community Impact of Children’s Theatre at Hull-House
Theatre played a prominent role in American settlement house arts education programs during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Using archival materials, I will study the daily running of the Hull-House theatre program in Chicago, with a particular focus on process-oriented children’s dramatics. My project seeks to evaluate the efficacy of theatre at Hull-House in serving the needs and interests of the surrounding working-class community by addressing issues of poverty, isolation, and immigrant adjustment.
Project: Secularism Meets Islam: The Convergence of Huda Shaarawi’s and Zaynab al-Ghazali’s Feminism in 20th Century Egypt
My project examines the overlap between secular feminism and Islamic feminism in