You are here

Current Center Fellows: 2011-2012

Shahzad Bashir

Internal Faculty Fellow 2011-12

Religious Studies, Stanford University

"Persianate Pasts: Memory, Narration, and Ideology in the Islamic East, 1400-1600"

Shahzad Bashir teaches in the department of Religious Studies at Stanford University. He specializes in the history of Persianate Islamic societies (Iran and Central and South Asia). During 2011-12, he will be a fellow of the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation as well.In this book project, Persianate Pasts: Memory, Narration, and Ideology in the Islamic East, 1400-1600, Shahzad Bashir seeks to understand the past as an aspect of the social imagination of Persianate Islamic societies during the period 1400-1600. Focusing on themes such as calendars, the principle of lineage, the use of poetry in relating the past, and the use of first person voice, Bashir aims to write a cultural history culled from reflecting on a combination of epistemological, sociohistorical, and aesthetic issues.

Martin Blumenthal-Barby

External Faculty Fellow 2011-12

German Studies, Rice University

"The Language of Secularization"

Martin Blumenthal-Barby is Assistant Professor of German Studies at Rice University. His research and teaching interests include German literature and philosophy from the eighteenth century to the present with a particular emphasis on nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature and aesthetics as well as German film and film theory.The Language of Secularization explores the relation between religion and secularization in twentieth-century German philosophy and film, focusing on Carl Schmitt, Hans Blumenberg, Jacob Taubes and Weimar filmmakers Fritz Lang, F.W. Murnau, Paul Wegener, and Robert Wiene. Secularization, again and again, emerges as an ambiguous category that confronts us with an imperative to understand religion’s continuing significance in modernity. Even where “religion” can no longer be identified as an integral system of belief, it provides us, I suggest, with critical concepts and argumentative resources central to any analysis of contemporary culture.

Luis Cheng-Guajardo

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12

Philosophy, Stanford University

"The Practical Demand of Means-end Rationality"

Luis Cheng-Guajardo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy at Stanford. His research interests are in the philosophy of action, moral theory, moral psychology, and metaethics. Prior to engaging in philosophy full-time, he managed conflicts of interests for one of the world’s largest investment banks."The Practical Demand of Means-end Rationality"Cheng-Guajardo's dissertation systematizes recent approaches to understanding the normative demand of means-end rationality and researches the extent to which current 'practical' understandings of the means-end requirement must be modified in order to extend the demand all the way to action. The dissertation develops a 'processual' account of intentional action wherein a person guides herself more or less well with respect to the inescapably normative means-end requirement.

Margaret Cohen

Violet Andrews Whittier Fellow 2011-12

Comparative Literature, Stanford University

"Enchanted Depths: Imagining the Ocean in the Era of Underwater Visualization"

Margaret Cohen teaches in Comparative Literature at Stanford University, where she holds the Andrew B. Hammond Chair of French Language, Literature and Civilization. Her scholarship spans the literature and culture of trans-Atlantic modernity. Her books include Profane Illumination, The Sentimental Education of the Novel and The Novel and the Sea."Enchanted Depths: Imagining the Ocean in the Era of Underwater Visualization "Enchanted Depths examines a profound shift in the Western cultural imagination of the ocean resulting from technologies permitting visualization of the underwater environment, in a history dating to the middle of the 19th century, which has continued to unfold to the present day. As technologies enable human vision to penetrate beneath the surface of the sea, they create new aesthetic effects and a new kind of secular enchantment, expressed in literature, the visual arts and popular culture.

Georgia Cowart

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow 2011-12

Music, Case Western Reserve University

"Watteau's Utopias of Music and Theater: Visions of a New France"

Georgia J. Cowart is Professor in the Department of Music at Case Western Reserve University. She is a historian of the arts and cultural politics of Old-Regime France."Watteau’s Utopias of Music and Theater: Visions of a New France"This book project will explore the ways in which the ideal of the theatrical utopia informs a series of Watteau's late works. It aims to show how his paintings, absorbing theatrical visions of music, dance, and love, celebrate the Parisian stage itself as the icon of a new France.

Megan Dean

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12History, Stanford University"Neither Empire Nor Nation: Networks of Trade in the Caucasus, 1750-1925"

Megan Dean is a doctoral candidate in Stanford University’s Department of History. She earned her bachelors in History from Yale University. Dean’s research interests include Russian and Ottoman, transnational and world histories. Her current project maps along nineteenth-century history of the Caucasus, a borderland where imperial projects of Europe and the Middle East compete."Neither Empire Nor Nation: Networks of Trade in the Caucasus, 1750-1925"Dean’s dissertation explores the limits of empire and the persistence of old patterns of transregional interaction, tracing the evolution of small-scale politics and great power penetration prominent in the Caucasus. It investigates ways locals negotiated among multiple imperial rivals as well as how Russia transformed the Caucasus social order by reforming local practices of trade, slavery and serfdom according to its evolving understanding of human rights and international order.

Leah DeVun

External Faculty Fellow 2011-12History, Rutgers University"Enter Sex: Hermaphrodites and the Demands of Difference, 1000-1600"

Leah DeVun is an associate professor of history at Rutgers University. Her research focuses on gender, sex, and sexuality in premodern Europe, as well as the legacy of this history in the modern world. She is the author of Prophecy, Alchemy, and the End of Time (Columbia University Press, 2009)."Enter Sex: Hermaphrodites and the Demands of Difference, 1000-1600"“Enter Sex” explores how medieval and early modern scientists, lawyers, theologians and others have understood people with atypical sex anatomies, known during the period as hermaphrodites. The medical treatment of atypical sex – now called intersex or disorders of sex development (DSD) – is currently the source of fierce debate in the United States and Europe; while it offers no simple equations between medieval hermaphrodites and modern intersex people, this study argues that we cannot fully appreciate modern conceptions of sex difference without understanding the genesis and history of such conceptions.

Alexander Duncan

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12Classics, Stanford University"Tragic Ugliness: An Investigation in Genre and Aesthetics"

Alexander Duncan is a doctoral candidate in Classics and the Humanities at Stanford with a BA in Classics and English from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research centers on the aesthetics of ancient drama with a view to its subsequent reception and re-performance."Tragic Ugliness: An Investigation in Genre and Aesthetics"Duncan’s dissertation traces the role of ugliness in defining the generic boundaries of fifth-century Athenian drama. Isolated by Aristotle as a hall-mark of comedy, ugliness (in the form of death, disfigurement, or debasement) also elicits a distinctly tragic pleasure—inviting a reassessment of the interplay between aesthetics and genre and the polarization of ‘high’ and ‘low’ art.

Paula Findlen

Ellen Andrews Wright Fellow 2011-12History, Stanford University"After Leonardo: The Artist as Scientist in Seventeenth-Century Italy"

Paula Findlen is Ubaldo Pierotti Professor in Italian History at Stanford. Her research focuses on science and culture in the age of Galileo. She has written extensively on the history of collecting, Jesuit contributions to early modern science, and gender and knowledge in early modern Italy."After Leonardo: The Artist as Scientist in Seventeenth-Century Italy"Agostino Scilla's treatise on fossils, Vain Speculation Undeceived by Sense (1670), is one of the most important contributions a painter ever made to the growth of scientific knowledge. This project explores the entanglements of art and science in post-Galilean Italy, and the making of this book between Messina, Naples, and Rome.

David Gilmartin

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow 2011-12History, North Carolina State University"The People's Sovereignty: Law, Politics, and Elections in the Making of Modern India"

David Gilmartin is professor of history at North Carolina State University, specializing in modern South Asia. He has published Empire and Islam: Punjab and the Making of Pakistan. Recent research focuses on the history and politics of irrigation in colonial India and on the history of law and elections in colonial and postcolonial India. "The People’s Sovereignty: Law, Politics, and Elections in the Making of Modern India"This project explores the workings of the “people’s sovereignty” in 20th century India, focusing on the critical intersection between politics and law in modern India. By examining the history of election law in the 20th century, it examines how Indian electoral institutions have become grounded within the defining tensions of Indian culture, and have shaped a distinctive pattern of democracy.

Paul Gowder

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12

Political Science, Stanford University

"An Egalitarian Theory of the Rule of Law"

Paul Gowder is a Ph.D. candidate in political science, specializing in normative political theory. He also holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School (2000) and is a former civil rights lawyer. Research interests include the rule of law, corruption, the philosophy of history, game theory, evolutionary modeling, and jurisprudence.

The rule of law -- a package of constraints on the way that the state may use its power that has been the subject of countless conflicting philosophical accounts and serves as a perennial point of debate in practical politics -- is essential for the state to treat its citizens as equals. This dissertation reveals the implications of that claim -- that the rule of law is about equality -- both for our conceptual and normative theories about what the rule of law is and for our social scientific theories about how we get it.

Thomas Hare

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow 2011-12

Comparative Literature, Princeton University

"Performance and Practice in Buddhist Japan"

Thomas Hare is Professor of Comparative Literature at Princeton. Trained at the University of Michigan, he taught first at Stanford, moving to Princeton in 2001. His interests range from the interaction of Buddhism with the arts in traditional Japan to the representational systems of ancient Egypt."Performance and Practice in Buddhist Japan"The arts of medieval Japan (1200-1600) have long been characterized as manifestations of Japanese Buddhist culture, but the practice of an art, whether drama, musical performance, painting or calligraphy, has also, especially in Zen, been sometimes considered a distraction from the serious business of meditation. This project looks closely at the interaction between Buddhist practice and the performance of four quintessentially Japanese arts during the medieval and early modern period in order to better understand how “practice” is conceived outside a monastic context.

Kristen Haring

External Faculty Fellow 2011-12

History, Auburn University

"Placing a Call: How Location and Design Facilitated Telephone Communication"

Kristen Haring, Assistant Professor of History at Auburn University, is a historian of science and technology. In addition to her study of the design of telephones’ locations, she is developing a book manuscript and exhibition on the cultural history of binary systems."Placing a Call: How Location and Design Facilitated Telephone Communication"While it is hardly surprising that people were uncomfortable talking to someone they couldn’t see when the telephone was new, Placing a Call reveals that this discomfort persisted even, to some degree, to the present. The book will analyze how the design of spaces for talking on the phone functioned to “place” calls, to link telephone communication with locations in a way that eased social concerns.

Jillian Hess

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12

English, Stanford University

"Commonplace-Book Stylistics: Romantic and Victorian Technologies of Reading and Writing"

Jillian Hess is a doctoral candidate in English Literature at Stanford University. She received her B.A. in English Literature and Psychology from Bryn Mawr College in 2004. Her research interests include the history of the book, literary technologies, the history of reading and writing, and Romantic and Victorian literature. Her research has been awarded the Keats-Shelley Prize and has been supported by research fellowships, including the Jay Fleigelman Archival Research Grant and Houghton Library’s Katharine F. Pantzer Jr. Fellowship in Descriptive Bibliography."Commonplace-Book Stylistics: Romantic and Victorian Technologies of Reading and Writing"Hess’s dissertation transforms traditional accounts of Romantic and Victorian literary culture by revealing the crucial impact the commonplace book had on patterns of reading and writing between 1790 and 1901. Analyzing commonplace books as technologies for storing and processing information, this project demonstrates how new patterns for organizing one’s commonplace book facilitated larger epistemological and stylistic trends in the period.

Christopher Hom

External Faculty Fellow 2011-12

Philosophy, Texas Tech University

"Hating and Necessity: The Semantics of Racial Epithets"

Christopher Hom received his doctorate from the University of California, Irvine in 2003 and is presently an assistant professor of Philosophy at Texas Tech University. His research is focused in the philosophy of language and mind, in particular, issues surrounding expressive meaning and racial epithets."Hating and Necessity: The Semantics of Racial Epithets"The derogatory nature of racial epithets is sensitive to a complex array of linguistic, social, and historical facts. Hom's book project articulates a theory for the linguistic encoding of negative, racist values, and argues that the meanings of epithets directly mirror the institutions of prejudice that support them. In doing so, the project advances an empirically motivated understanding of how these words are both socially and historically situated among their speech communities.

Miyako Inoue

Internal Faculty Fellow 2011-12

Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

"Making Modern Evidence: Law, Speech, and Recording Technologies in Japanese Courts"

Miyako Inoue teaches linguistic anthropology and the anthropology of Japan. She also has a courtesy appointment with the Department of Linguistics. Her book, Vicarious Language: the Political Economy of Gender and Speech in Japan (University of California Press), examines a phenomenon commonly called "women's language" in Japanese modern society, and offers a genealogy showing its critical linkage with Japan's national and capitalist modernity. Professor Inoue's articles include "The Listening Subject of Japanese Modernity and His Auditory Double: Citing, Sighting, and Siting the Modern Japanese Woman" (2003), and "What does Language Remember?: Indexical Order and the Naturalized History of Japanese Women" (2003).

Samuel Kahn

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12Philosophy, Stanford University"Establishing a Kantian Pluralism"

Samuel Kahn is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy. His dissertation focuses on Kant’s ethics and how it relates to Kant’s philosophy of right. Prior to coming to Stanford, Samuel completed a dual degree program at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving degrees in Bioengineering and Philosophy."Establishing a Kantian Pluralism"Samuel’s dissertation explores the intersection between the Right and the Good in Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals. In particular, he gives a textual grounding to the notion of a Kantian pluralism.

Richard Martin

Donald Andrews Whittier Fellow 2011-12Classics, Stanford University"Religion, Performance, and Aesthetics in Homeric Poetry"

Richard P. Martin is a Homerist interested in the implications of oral-traditional performance. His recent work involves ethnopoetics and anthropological approaches to religion. A Boston native, he studied Greek, Latin, and Irish at Harvard University. Before coming to Stanford in 2000, he taught Classics for eighteen years at Princeton."Religion, Performance, and Aesthetics in Homeric Poetry"Martin's study of Homeric religious phenomena explains how epic poetry played the central role in shaping religious concepts for Greek culture. The project offers a paradigm for analyzing how performers can craft religious notions to complement culturally grounded beliefs and institutions--a complex process important for religious and literary studies, anthropology, art, and politics.

C. Namwali Serpell

External Faculty Fellow 2011-12

English, University of California, Berkeley

"Seven Modes of Uncertainty"

Namwali Serpell is an assistant professor in English at the University of California, Berkeley. She works on contemporary fiction, narrative theory, and ethics. She has published in Critique, Narrative, On The Turn: The Ethics of Fiction, Bidoun, The Believer, The San Francisco Chronicle, Callaloo, and The Best American Short Stories 2009."Seven Modes of Uncertainty"Seven Modes of Uncertainty analyzes narrative structures that tend to create uncertainty when we read contemporary novels: mutual exclusion (opposed stories), multiplicity (manifold stories), and repetition (recurrent stories). This study argues that these structures afford distinctive modes of reading over time: experiences of uncertainty with aesthetic, affective, and, most importantly, ethical dimensions.

Peggy Phelan

Violet Andrews Whittier Fellow 2011-12Drama and English, Stanford University"Literature and Performance: Expressing the Inexpressible"

Peggy Phelan is the Ann O’Day Maples Chair in the Arts Professor of Drama and English; Chair, Department of Drama. Peggy Phelan is the author of Unmarked: the politics of performance (Routledge, 1993); Mourning Sex: performing public memories (Routledge, 1997; honorable mention Callaway Prize for dramatic criticism 1997-1999); the survey essay for Art and Feminism, ed. by Helena Reckitt (Phaidon, 2003, winner of “The top 25 best books in art and architecture” award,, 2001); the survey essay for Pipilotti Rist (Phaidon, 2001); and the catalog essay for Intus: Helena Almeida (Lisbon, 2004). She is co-editor, with the late Lynda Hart, of Acting Out: Feminist Performances (University of Michigan Press, 1993; cited as “best critical anthology” of 1993 by American Book Review); and co-editor with Jill Lane of The Ends of Performance (New York University Press, 1997). She is editor and contributor to Live Art in Los Angeles, forthcoming from Routledge in 2012."Literature and Performance: Expressing the Inexpressible"A consideration of the rich possibilities that emerge from expressions devoted to admitting, lamenting and responding to the inexpressible.

Janice Ross

Internal Faculty Fellow 2011-12Drama, Stanford University"The Great Rehearsal: Jewish Identity in Russian Ballet"

Janice Ross, Professor, Drama Department and Director of the Dance Division at Stanford, is a dance historian whose research explores the intersections of 20th century ballet and post modern dance history in relation to cultural and institutional structures. She is a recipient of Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships and this is her second fellowship at the Stanford Humanities Center."The Great Rehearsal: Jewish Identity in Russian Ballet "This project explores dance as an important medium of cultural inscription and social resistance among Jews in the former Soviet Union and, subsequently, Israel. It traces how the supposedly neutral art form of Russian ballet functioned during the Soviet era as one of the few public forums where Jewish identity could be covertly inscribed and how performance helps draft and define the nation state and its idealized citizens.

Debora Silverman

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow 2011-12

History, University of California, Los Angeles

"Art of Darkness: Art Nouveau, 'Style Congo,' and the Belgian Royal Museum of Central Africa, 1897-2010"

Debora Silverman is Distinguished Professor of History and Art History at UCLA, where she has taught since 1981 and holds the University of California President's Chair in Modern European History, Art and Culture. She has authored three books, and her teaching and research focus on comparative modernism, art and society, and European modernism and imperialism in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.Professor Silverman has received ACLS, NEH, Guggenheim, and Getty Research Institute fellowships and she was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In 2008, she was elected a member of the American Academy of Art and Sciences. Her book, Van Gogh and Gauguin: The Search for Sacred Art, co-won the 2001 PEN American Center/Architectural Digest National Prize for outstanding writing on the visual arts; the Ralph Waldo Emerson national prize for best book in the Humanities; and the American Historical Association's J. Russell Major book prize in French History.Art of Darkness: Art Nouveau, ‘Style Congo’ and the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa explores the legacy of King Leopold II in the Tervuren museum and its core collections. The project identifies for the first time the origins of Belgian Art Nouveau as a specifically Congo nature style and as imperial modernism by focusing closely on the two leading figures of Belgian design reform, Henry van de Velde and Victor Horta; it suggests how stylistic forms of modernism expressed a displaced encounter with a distant, but encroaching, imperial violence. The book relates the imperial coherence of this avant-garde design movement to a broader and unexamined cultural history of violence in nineteenth and twentieth century Belgium, and proposes new ways for the Tervuren museum to reconceptualize past and present in its current and on-going renovation.

Malcolm Turvey

External Faculty Fellow 2011-12

Film History, Sarah Lawrence College

"Play Time: Jacques Tati and Comic Modernism"

Malcolm Turvey teaches film studies at Sarah Lawrence College and is an editor of October. His interests include film theory, film and philosophy, and film and modernism, and he has just published The Filming of Modern Life: European Avant-Garde Film of the 1920s (MIT Press, 2011).Play Time: Jacques Tati and Comic ModernismThis book will offer a comprehensive analysis of filmmaker Jacques Tati's highly original and challenging aesthetic, which he cultivated in response to problems of modern life, principally alienation. It will focus on Tati's synthesis of his modernist aesthetic with the popular genre of comedian comedy, demonstrating that it exemplifies the neglected tradition of comedic modernism--a tradition that traverses artistic mediums--which this book will bring to light.

Sylvia Yanagisako

Ellen Andrews Wright Fellow 2011-12

Anthropology, Stanford University

"Made in Translation: A Collaborative Ethnography of Italian-Chinese Ventures in Global Fashion"

Sylvia Yanagisako is Professor of Anthropology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on kinship and gender, family capitalism, and transnational cultural processes. She has conducted ethnographic research in Italy, China and the U.S. Made in Translation: a Collaborative Ethnography of Italian-Chinese Ventures in Global FashionI will be writing an ethnography of the twenty-first century "silk road" which connects Italian textile and clothing manufacturers with Chinese partners through subcontracting arrangements and joint ventures. My focus is on transnational capitalism as a form of social interdependence through which people manufacture forms of labor, collectivities and selves along with commodities.

Johanna Yunker

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12

Music, Stanford University

"Politics of Identity in East German Music: Ruth Berghaus and Ruth Zechlin"

Johanna Frances Yunker is a doctoral candidate in Musicology at Stanford. She was a DAAD research grant recipient and a visiting fellow at the Center for Exile and Postwar Studies at the Universität der Künste in Germany (2009-2010). Previously, she received a Bachelor of Music from West Texas A&M University.Politics of Identity in East German Music: Ruth Berghaus and Ruth ZechlinYunker’s dissertation addresses a fundamental question that colored the successful careers of opera director Ruth Berghaus (1927-1996) and composer Ruth Zechlin (1926-2007), namely how to navigate between East German cultural politics and expectations from them as women. By examining their dual identity as female and GDR artists, “Politics of Identity” sheds light on the tensions surrounding not only their attitudes towards socialist realism, but also their responses to the condition of women in East Germany, epitomized by their complex relationships with GDR feminism of other arts, particularly literature.

Ryan Zurowski

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow 2011-12

English, Stanford University

"To the Gentle Reader: Prefaces and Books in Early Modern England"

Ryan Zurowski is a Ph.D. candidate in English at Stanford University. He earned his B.A. in English at Allegheny College in 2006. He specializes in early modern English literature, with particular emphasis on print culture. His related research interests include Renaissance humanism, periodization, authorship, and canonicity.To the Gentle Reader: Prefaces and Books in Early Modern England“Prefaces and Books in Early Modern England” offers an enriched understanding of the dynamic relationship between prefatory matter and literary texts, between the material and imaginative construction of early modern literature. By examining a range of books from the early sixteenth to mid-seventeenth century, including Thomas More’s Utopia (1516), Edmund Spenser’s Faerie Queene (1590), and Shakespeare’s First Folio (1623), this project illustrates how issues of reading, publication, and authorship collide in the preface, and it reveals how the concept of literature emerged from that volatile textual space.