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Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities: 2016-2017

Eli Alshanetsky

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Articulating a Thought

Alshanetsky received a PhD in philosophy from New York University in 2014 and a BA in philosophy and cognitive science from UC Berkeley. Before coming to Stanford, he spent a year as a lecturer at NYU. His primary research and teaching interests are in the philosophy of mind, epistemology, and cognitive science. Alshanetsky’s project explores a nexus of issues concerning thought, expression, and self-knowledge. He is currently completing a book that investigates how we come to know our own thoughts in the process of putting them into words, and how we gain a better understanding of our own mental states by expressing them in a public medium.

Anne Austin

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

History, 2014-2016

Anne Austin received her PhD from UCLA in the Interdepartmental Archaeology Program where she focused on bioarchaeology in ancient Egypt. Through research on both texts and human remains, she reconstructs ancient Egyptian health care networks and identifies the diseases and illnesses people experienced during the New Kingdom (1550-1080 B.C.E.).

In her current research project, Contending with Illness in Ancient Egypt, she documents health and disease at Deir el-Medina—the village of the workmen who built the tombs of the pharaohs during Egypt’s New Kingdom period (1550-1080 B.C.E.)—through combining analysis of personal letters, administrative records, and medical texts with osteological research on the unpublished human remains at the site. These two data sets offer access into one of the world’s oldest health care systems, allowing us unique insight into the care and medicine used to survive in the ancient world. 

Austin led the first detailed study of human remains at an ancient Egyptian site. 


Rebekah Baglini

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Linguistics, Stanford University

States in Semantic Ontology 

Rebekah Baglini received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago in 2015. Baglini's research, growing out of her dissertation “Stative Predication and Semantic Ontology,” centers on lexical semantics and cross-linguistic variation.  Of special interest is the way that languages encode 'stative concepts'—a set of universal concepts relating to abstract properties realized by entities in the world, including dimension, age, speed, value, and color. Baglini was the Bloch Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America, from March 2011 to March 2013 and previously worked as a Visiting Lecturer in Linguistics at UC San Diego. Her dissertation fieldwork on Wolof in Senegal was supported by an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant.  


Heather Brink-Roby

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of English, Stanford University

Reason’s Stories: Type, Example, Paradigm

Heather-Roby studies the novel and the history of science. She received her PhD from Harvard University in English, her MPhil from University of Cambridge in history and philosophy of science, and her AB from Harvard in History and Literature; before coming to Stanford, she was a Junior Research Fellow at University of Cambridge.

Project Summary:

Reason’s Stories: Type, Example, Paradigm explores the narratives latent in three central logical modes and considers how nineteenth-century novelists, scientists, philosophers, and social reformers used those implied structures of experience. It shows how conceptual orderings become unspoken stories that shadow and shape the spoken ones.

Willie Costello

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

From Causes to Forms: The Phaedo and the Foundations of Platonic Metaphysics

Willie Costello received his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 2015. Costello specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, with particular interests in ancient Greek metaphysics and Plato. His main body of research explores how ancient thinkers from the Presocratics to Aristotle sought to explain the structure and composition of ordinary objects. He is especially interested in clarifying how Plato fits into this tradition, and showing how Plato's conception of Forms was developed against this background. He is currently developing this work into a monograph, titled The causal origins of Plato's Forms: The natural philosophy of the Phaedo and its context.

Catherine Kearns

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Classics, 2015-2017

Catherine Kearns is a classical archaeologist focusing on first-millennium BCE landscape change in the ancient Mediterranean.  She earned her Ph.D. in classics from Cornell University, and has done fieldwork in Italy, Jordan, Armenia, and Cyprus, where she did research as a Fulbright scholar.  Her interdisciplinary work resides at the intersections of classics, anthropology, geography, and environmental history. Kearn's book project, "Unruly Landscapes: the Making of First-Millennium BCE Polities in the Eastern Mediterranean," examines the complicated human-environment relationships that reproduced new societies during the early Iron Age (1100-700 BCE), a period marked by dramatic shifts in political form, materialities, and environments.  In her major case study on the island of Cyprus, she integrates archaeological and textual material, spatial analysis, and paleoenvironmental data to investigate diachronic shifts in settlements, salient places, and land management.  Her book will confront long-standing assumptions about the central role of the city in Iron Age state formation by showing the efficacy of increasingly complex landscape and place-making practices in shaping diverse polities.  

Shawon Kinew

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Art & Art History, Stanford University

The Vision in Stone: Melchiorre Cafa in the World, 1636-1667 

Shawon Kinew received her PhD in the History of Art and Architecture at Harvard University in 2016. She was a Predoctoral Fellow in the Scholars Program at the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles (2015-2016) and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Institutional Fellow at the Bibliotheca Hertziana, Max-Planck-Institut für Kunstgeschichte in Rome from 2013-2015.

Project Summary:

Kinew's book project is called The Vision in Stone: Melchiorre Cafa in the World, 1636-1667. Her research on the Maltese sculptor Melchiorre Cafà explores how a sculptural softness cultivated in hard stone emerged as predominant aesthetic category in the seventeenth century. Through Cafà’s sculpture of the first saint of the Americas, Rose of Lima—carved in 1665 and sent to Peru in 1670—she explores the process by which a local Roman artistic discourse was adapted for a globalizing Catholic world.

Luca Scholz

Postdoctoral Mellon Fellow

Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis, Stanford University 

The Enclosure of Movement: Safe-conduct and the Troubles of Transit in the Holy Roman Empire 

Luca Scholz is an historian of early modern Europe. He pursued his doctoral studies in History at the European University Institute (Florence). His research is concerned with the governance of inter-polity mobility. Before coming to Stanford, he taught for one term at the Free University of Berlin. Luca studied History and Economics in Heidelberg and Paris and has been a visiting scholar at the University of Saint Andrews and at Columbia University.

Project Summary:

Intent on transcending conventional representations of early modern states as bounded territories, Scholz’s current project devises new ways of representing premodern territoriality, using digital tools to create maps that visualize political orders as regimes of movement. Applying spatial analysis to the history of free movement and its restriction, the project provides a historical perspective one of the most controversial issues of our day.

Sixiang Wang

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Stanford University

Co-constructing Empire in Early Choson Korea : Knowledge Production and the Culture of Diplomacy, 1392–1592 

Sixiang Wang is a historian of pre-nineteenth-century Korea and early modern East Asia. His research interests also include comparative perspectives on early modern empire, the history of science and knowledge, and issues of language and writing in Korea's cultural and political history. He received his PhD from the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures of Columbia University in October 2015.

Project Summary:

This project examines how ritualistic and literary activities such as court ceremonial, gift-giving, envoy poetry and history writing shaped Korean-Chinese diplomatic exchange during the Chosŏn (1392–1910) and Ming (1368–1644) periods. By reconstructing the cultural strategies the Korean court deployed in dealing with the Ming empire, it also provides a genealogy of political concepts in East Asian diplomacy, especially those related to sovereignty or political authority, as they emerged from the interactions between Korean diplomats and their imperial Chinese counterparts.