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Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities: 2017-2018

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.

Colleen Anderson

Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities

Department of German Studies, Stanford University

Undivided Heavens: Space Exploration and Identity in Cold War Germany

Colleen Anderson studies the history, culture, and technology of Cold War Germany. She received her PhD from Harvard University in 2017 and has received funding from the American Historical Association & NASA, the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies, DAAD, the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies, and the Central European History Society.

Project Summary:

This project studies Germans’ participation in and imaginations about outer space exploration during the Cold War. The manuscript traces the changing ways in which East and West Germans saw their own futures as connected to space travel and in which Germans used outer space to address their pasts and envision their roles in the world around them.

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.

Alanna Hickey

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Comparative Literature, Stanford University

The Forms of National Belonging: The Politics of Nineteenth-Century Native American Poetry 

Alanna Hickey works at the intersections of poetry and poetics, Native American and Indigenous studies, and settler colonial studies. She received her PhD from Northwestern University's English Department in 2016. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the Huntington Library, the Newberry Library, and the Bancroft Library.

Project Summary:

Her current book project, The Forms of National Belonging, illuminates the central role of poetry in Native American expressive cultures before the Native American Renaissance of the 1960s. The project argues that instruction in reading and writing poetry became foundational to colonial and national assimilation campaigns, and traces the ultimate failure of these campaigns in their efforts to overwrite Indigenous practice and presence. Constructing a genealogy of verse composed in English, Creek dialect, Anishinaabemowin, and Cherokee, the book offers a history of poets from a diverse set of Native communities transforming popular Euro-American poetic genres to protect and propagate Native cultural expression and communal life.

Nicole T. Hughes

Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities

Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University

Stages of History: New World Spectacles and the Theater of the World in the Sixteenth Century

Nicole T. Hughes completed her PhD at Columbia University in the Department of Latin American and Iberian Cultures and the Institute for Comparative Literature and Society. Her research focuses on early modern Iberian expansion, especially in New Spain and Brazil. She has received support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the John Carter Brown Library, and the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut (Berlin) and was a visiting researcher at the Universidade Nova de Lisboa’s Centre for the Humanities and the Universidade de São Paulo. Previously, she edited nonfiction at The Penguin Press.

Project Summary:

In her current book project, "Stages of History: New World Spectacles and the Theater of the World in the Sixteenth Century," she analyzes at dramatic performances in New Spain and Brazil in which missionaries, conquistadors, and indigenous populations superimposed depictions of far-flung conflicts and representations of local struggles. She argues that by envisioning other parts of the world and relating those images back to the Americas, participants in these theatrical spectacles created foundational narratives of New Spanish and Brazilian history.  

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.

Mélanie Lamotte

Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities

Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity, Stanford University

Mapping Race: Policies, Sex, and Social Orders in the French Atlantic and Indian Oceans, c. 1608-1756

Mélanie Lamotte is a historian of race, ethnicity, slavery and colonialism.  She was awarded a BA in history and an MPhil in early modern history at the Sorbonne and at the University of Cambridge. In 2016, she received a PhD in history from the University of Cambridge, where she became a Junior Research Fellow. She is currently developing her PhD research into a monograph entitled, “French Colonial Encounters in the French Atlantic and Indian Oceans, c. 1608-1789.”

Project summary:

This monograph focuses on race, assimilation, metissage and creolization in the French empire. This will be the first book envisioning early modern French Atlantic and Indian Ocean territories together, through the use of comparisons and the consideration of trans-imperial networks.

Elizabeth Marcus

Mellon Fellowship of Scholars in the Humanities

Department of French and Italian, Stanford University

Difference and Dissidence in Lebanon: French, Arabic and Cultural Conflict, 1943-1975

Elizabeth Jacqueline Marcus completed her Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature at Columbia University in 2017, and received her BA in Modern History and French at the University of Oxford. She has been a Visiting Scholar at MIT, and at Sciences-Po (Paris). In addition to her formal training, she has studied and conducted research in France, the UK, Syria, and Lebanon.

Project Summary:

Elizabeth's research focuses on the literatures and​ ​cultural​ ​history of the Francophone​ ​and Arab​ ​world, with a particular interest in multilingualism, intellectual networks and migration in the postcolonial context.

Aileen Robinson

Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow

Department of Theater and Performance Studies

Technological Wonder: The Theatrical Fashioning of Scientific Practice, 1780-1905 

Aileen Robinson received an Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama from Northwestern University in 2016.  Her current project explores the contribution of theatre and magic performance to emerging practices of science communication in the nineteenth century. She investigates how theatrical performances and magic shows drew upon technological innovations and formed unique methods for disseminating scientific knowledge. She conducted archival research in Britain and the United States supported through an SSRC International Dissertation Fellowship and an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant.

Read a Q&A about Robinson's work. 

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.