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Past Franke Fellows

Franke graduate Fellows 2017-2018

Ryan LashRyan Lash — Department of Anthropology

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.

Tyrone S. PalmerTyrone S. Palmer — Department of African American Studies; Rhetoric and Public Culture Cluster

Project: Inhabiting Vestibularity: On the Affective Grammars of Blackness

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 PiilonenMiriam 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.

Susanna SacksSusanna Sacks — Department of English; Program of African Studies

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 2017-2018

Franke Undergraduate Fellows developed their independent research projects within the Kaplan Institute; received mentorship in fall and winter through the Senior Humanities Seminar, taught by Mira Balberg (Religious Studies); and presented their work at the Future Directions Forum in spring 2018.

Adina Goldman

Adina Goldman — Department of Religious Studies

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 permeability, because it represented the physical point of contact between the realms of the living and the dead. Through my work I will attempt to answer the question: what does it mean for the dead to live on?


Fiona Maxwell — Departments of History and Theatre

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.

Samantha Schmidt

Samantha Schmidt — Department of History and Program in Middle East and North African Studies

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 twentieth century Egypt by exploring the memoirs and other writings of two figures foundational to these movements, Huda Shaarawi and Zaynab al-Ghazali. In choosing to ground my investigation in the early life and work of two women so prominent in the movements’ establishment and maturation, I hope to locate an often overlooked congruity in the movements’ original intentions.


Inaugural cohort 2016-2017

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 launched the Franke Fellowships in 2016-2017.

Franke Graduate Fellows 2016-2017

Four outstanding doctoral students in the humanities cultivated their research and teaching in the thoroughly interdisciplinary community of the Kaplan Institute. Franke Graduate Fellows devoted two quarters, full time, to shaping their projects during fall and winter. They also received pedagogical mentoring in developing an undergraduate course that they taught in their home departments in the spring.

With projects ranging from cybernetics and counter-cultural movements, to cross-generational transmission of knowledge about World War I; from murderous fantasies at the intersection of Native American and African American studies, to the theory and discourse of money in early modern theater, Kaplan's inaugural Franke Graduate Fellows showcased the range of interdisciplinary research and teaching thriving in the humanities at Northwestern.

Casey CaldwellCasey Caldwell — Department of English

Project: The Utterance of Money: Monetary Properties in Early Modern Drama

The early modern playhouse was a potent laboratory for imagining alternative cultural and political realities. Shakespeare's London saw the rise of both the professional theatre and radical upheavals in not only proto-capitalist markets, but in the very nature and availability of money as currency. My project considers how, through stage dialog and currency props, the playhouse acted as a unique site for experimenting with material ontologies of money and alternative positive configurations of money-human relations.

Ian HartmanIan Hartman — Program in Screen Cultures, Department of Radio/Television/Film

Project: Exotic Extensions: Technology, Anti-Modernism, and American Cyber-Utopianism

My project tracks the interlocking trajectories of exoticism and techno-utopianism in America from the 1940s to the present. Considering the histories of cybernetics, anthropology, popular social movements, and the artistic avant-garde, I show that optimism about information technologies took shape around shifting discourses on race, ethnicity, and cultural difference. These discourses contested dominant notions of knowledge and identity, even as they reinforced myths of inexorable technological progress and a timeless non-West.

Chad B. InfanteChad B. Infante — Department of English

Project: Murderous Sentiments: U.S. Colonial Metaphysics and Literature in Red and Black

My dissertation uses the literary trope of murder in the Black and Native American literary canon to offer a complementary reading of Black and Native American literature and life. Murder’s emphasis on the body and affect allow us to see the related and different ways that Black Americans and Native Americans are thought together in an American colonial and literary imagination.

Fall 2016

Emily Curtis WaltersEmily Curtis Walters — Department of History

Project: “Daddy, What Did You Do in the Great War?”: Warfare, Knowledge, and Generations in Britain, 1918–1945

This project takes seriously the situation depicted in the infamous 1915 British military recruitment poster, in which a little girl points to a history book and asks her father, "Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?” I ask how the generation of 1914 bequeathed its stories to the successor generation, and how the child who would eventually see her own global cataclysm made sense of what she learned on her father's knee. Tracing the peculiar afterlives of the Great War stories that circulated publicly and privately in interbellum Britain, I investigate how global war passed from lived experience to stories and back to lived experience again.

Franke Undergraduate Fellows 2016-2017

Three undergraduate students developed their independent research projects within the Kaplan Institute; received mentorship in fall and winter through the Senior Humanities Seminar, taught by Rebecca Johnson (English, Middle East and North African Studies, and Humanities); and presented their work at the Future Directions Forum in spring 2017.

Linnea HodgeLinnea Hodge — Department of Art History

Project: Intersecting Ethnographic and Fine Arts Exhibition Practices in "Northwest Coast Indian Art," Displayed at the 1962 World's Fair in Seattle

My project will explore the methods of curating and display used in the exhibition of Native American art and artifacts at the Seattle World’s Fair. Using archival resources at the University of Washington, I aim to unpack the politics of display at work in this unique combination of fine arts exhibition practices and ethnographic didactics, all in the context of the futuristic “Century 21” fair in 1962.

Naomi Johnson

Naomi Johnson — Department of History

Project: Defying the “Chinaman’s Chance:” Asian-American Women in Detroit, 1983-1989

My project examines the intersections of gender, race, and activism in the wake of Vincent Chin’s 1982 murder. Even when they faced the limitations of a racially hostile urban landscape and institutional barriers, Asian-American women seized agency and contested the lenient outcomes of Chin’s killers’ court cases. Using archival resources, I hope to understand the definitive roles that Asian-American women played in establishing and leading the American Citizens for Justice (ACJ) as they mobilized Detroit’s small Asian-American community into a formidable movement that leveraged legal expertise, media visibility, and community organizing to demand justice for the Chin estate.

Jaclyn Zhou

Jaclyn Zhou — Departments of Asian Languages and Cultures & Journalism

Project: Radical Comrades: Politics and Performance in Beijing's Queer Cultures

Through fieldwork in Beijing, I plan to explore the radical potential of humor in popular queer performances in Beijing’s burgeoning queer entertainment culture and nightlife. My project, which focuses on case studies developed from this fieldwork, frames humor as a powerful tool in worldmaking, and as a productive way of interacting with a discriminatory majority culture for marginalized groups that struggle with gaining status and recognition.

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