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Current Center Fellows: 2013-2014

Elizabeth Anker

External Faculty Fellow

Department of English, Cornell University

Constitutional Failure and the Aesthetic Formations of Sovereignties in Crisis

Elizabeth S. Anker teaches in the English Department at Cornell University, where she specializes in contemporary world literature, law and literature, and the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Her first book is Fictions of Dignity: Embodying Human Rights in World Literature (Cornell UP 2012). She has also recently written about animal rights, the 9/11 novel, sovereignty in global cinema, and democracy and the novel.

This project examines how the challenges of constitutionalism are imagined in literature, architecture, and film. With case studies that focus on South Africa, India, Europe, and post-9/11 America, Anker considers how scenes of what she terms as “constitutional failure” shed light on the current anatomy of sovereignty. Much as the history of constitutionalism can be explained as overshadowed by failure, Anker shows how aesthetic representations of constitutions can paradoxically cover over and condone exclusions, omissions, and disappointments.

Melanie Arndt

Post-doctoral Fellow

Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg University

The Natures of Radioactive Landscapes: East, West, and the Fading Boundary Between Them

Melanie Arndt is a twentieth-century historian at the Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies, Regensburg, Germany, interested in disasters as transnational processes and their social impacts. She completed her PhD at the Humboldt University Berlin in 2008 and taught environmental history and historical disaster research at the Humboldt University Berlin, the Potsdam University, and the European Humanities University Vilnius/Minsk in Lithuania.

Arndt's project analyzes social and political processes that flow from irradiated landscapes, or rather from attempts to mitigate and compensate for them in the Soviet Union and the United States. Radiation and in some places just the threat of radioactive contamination transformed nature - the ecology of landscape and resources along with the ecology of the human body - from something knowable, comprehensible, and roughly predictable to something half-known, incomprehensible, and unpredictable. Arndt explores these changes to nature that took place both in the West and in the East and the ways the societies dealt with them.

Keith Baker

Donald Andrews Whittier Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

Jean-Paul Marat: Prophet of Terror

Keith Baker is the J.E. Wallace Sterling Professor of Humanities and in the Department of History at Stanford, where he has taught since 1989. He has written widely on the Enlightenment, the Old Regime in France, and the French Revolution. His most recent publication, "Revolution 1.0," appeared in the Journal of Modern European History 2013. 

Tocqueville wrote of the "immoderate, violent, radical, desperate, bold, almost crazed...character" of the French revolutionary leaders as an inexplicable mystery, symptomatic of "a virus of a new and unknown kind." No one fits this characterization more closely than Marat. Baker's goal is to make sense of his ideas, his actions, and the immense influence of his call for Terror. 


Lilla Balint

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of German Studies, Stanford University

Ruins of Utopia: History, Memory, and the Novel after 1989

Lilla Balint is a doctoral candidate in German Studies at Stanford University. She earned her Honors M.A. in East European Studies from the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and holds an M.A. in German Studies from the University of Connecticut. Her research interests include twentieth and twenty-first century German literature, culture and intellectual history in its transnational context; the intersections between aesthetics and politics; as well as the history and theory of the novel. She has been a visiting researcher at the Center for Literary and Cultural Research in Berlin.

Ruins of Utopia zeroes in on a single question: how do we remember state socialism? Exploring this issue through fiction, the project places authors from distinct linguistic traditions within Central Europe, such as Herta Müller, Péter Nádas, Uwe Tellkamp, Péter Esterházy, Eugen Ruge, Barbara Honigmann and Milan Kundera, in unprecedented dialogue with one another to survey styles, plots and narrative strategies peculiar to the novelistic remembrance of socialism. More generally, by examining diverse aesthetic responses to such quandaries as historicity, fictionality, and narrative representation, the project offers a comprehensive account of the various ways in which the contemporary novel grapples with our relation to history in postmodernity.

Vincent Barletta

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University

Rhythm: Toward a Poetics of Patience

Vincent Barletta is Associate Professor of Iberian and Latin American cultures and Research Associate at Stanford's Europe Center in the Freeman Spogli Institute. He teaches late medieval and early modern Iberian literatures, and his research focuses on Renaissance Portugal, empire and language, pastoral literature, and anthropological approaches to literature.

Through this book project, Barletta is arguing for a renewed critical focus on rhythm and for a revised account of what we mean when we speak of it. At the center of this argument are Presocratic Greek conceptions of rhythm and the uses to which these have been put by major twentieth-century thinkers such as Émile Benveniste, Henri Meschonnic, Emmanuel Levinas, and Maurice Blanchot. As he maintains over the course of this book, notions of rhythm before Plato may well have lacked the semantic precision that came as a result of Platonic and then Aristotelian theories regarding music, poetry, dance, harmony, and proportion; however, whatever they lacked in precision was more than made up for in terms of both the depth and breadth of their conceptual reach. To test the limits of this reach by placing these antique ideas of rhythm into dialogue with modern conceptions of language use (poetic and otherwise) and ethics is the most immediate goal of this book.

Amanda Cannata

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Music, Stanford University

Music and Structures of Identity at International Expositions in the Americas, 1875-1915

Amanda Cannata is a PhD Candidate in musicology at Stanford, with degrees in music from Queens College-CUNY (2006, 2008). Amanda’s interests include music and identity politics in the United States and Latin America. Her archival research in Chile (2012) and Argentina (2012, 2013) was generously supported by several research grants.

Cannata's dissertation analyzes the role of music in articulating national, ethnic, racial, and gender identity at four international expositions (“world’s fairs”) held in the Santiago de Chile (1875), Philadelphia (1876), Buenos Aires (1910), and San Francisco (1915). Her dissertation provides both a critical assessment of the expositions’ officially funded mainstream musical events and an evaluation of the rich and more diverse soundscape that often existed alongside the mainstream.

Rowan Flad

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Department of Anthropology, Harvard University

Opening New Fields: The Origins and Development of Civilization in Ancient Sichuan, China

Rowan Flad, Professor of Anthropology at Harvard University, focuses on the emergence and development of complex society during the late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age in China. He has conducted fieldwork in Chongqing, Sichuan, and Gansu, and studies diachronic changes in production processes, the intersection between ritual activity and production, and the role of animals in early Chinese society.

Flad's project will produce a monograph compiling data from six years of archaeological survey in the Chengdu Plain of Sichuan Province, China. The monograph will provide fresh insights as to how early agricultural communities in Sichuan entered a new territory and established settlements that developed into complex urban civilizations.

Amanda Greene

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Philosophy, Stanford University

Democratic Legitimacy and Individual Sovereignty

Amanda Greene is a doctoral candidate specializing in political philosophy. Before pursuing graduate study, she worked as a consultant in the private, public, and non-profit sectors. She holds an MPhil from Oxford University and a BA from UNC, and she has been a visiting scholar at Columbia University and IHEID (Geneva).

Greene’s dissertation examines the question of whether and why democratic governance contributes to political legitimacy. In response to problems identified with current views, she develops a theory of freedom based on individual sovereignty. She argues that democracy’s legitimacy rests on its respect for and advancement of the value of individual sovereignty. She also considers the question of legitimate rule in the history of political thought, particularly Plato, and she explores the implications for contemporary problems of legitimacy in global governance.

Matthew Kaiser

External Faculty Fellow

Department of English, Harvard University

Anatomy of History: Cognitive Neuroscience and the Victorian Sense of the Past

Matthew Kaiser is the author of The World in Play: Portraits of a Victorian Concept (Stanford UP, 2012) and the editor of five books. He joins the Stanford Humanities Center from Harvard University. He is at work on two new books, Anatomy of History and Confessions of a Dickensian.

A study of the neurophysiology of historical consciousness, of how our embodied minds make physical sense of the historical past, Anatomy of History is an account of the eighteenth-century historicist thinkers and the nineteenth-century art historians and historical novelists who, inspired by the brain science of their day, felt the uncanny presence of the past in their flesh. Twenty-first century cognitive linguists have recently confirmed what these intrepid historiographers only suspected: namely, we feel history in the bodily metaphors we use to represent the ineffable past.

Amalia Kessler

Violet Andrews Whittier Fellow

Stanford Law School, Stanford University

Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877

Amalia Kessler is the Lewis Talbot and Nadine Hearn Shelton Professor of International Legal Studies and Professor (by courtesy) of History at Stanford University. Her research addresses a range of questions in comparative legal history, including the evolution of commercial law and civil procedure and their relation to broader socio-economic, political, and cultural practices in, most importantly, France and the United States.

Her book explores the nineteenth-century origins of American adversarial legal culture, thus challenging the assumption that American procedure is innately adversarial. It seeks insights not only into procedure, but also into the processes through which the new nation forged its identity. Debates over procedure—regrettably, long of interest to lawyers alone—have much to teach about how Americans grappled with such transformative developments as democratization, the market revolution, religious revivalism, and Reconstruction. Bridging legal and cultural history, the book provides the first account of the American embrace of adversarialism and of the latter’s role in shaping national (and exceptionalist) identity.

Dorinne Kondo

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Department of Anthropology, The University of Southern California

Creative Differences: Cultural Politics and the Production of Race in American Theater

Dorinne Kondo, Professor of Anthropology and American Studies at USC, is a playwright and author of Crafting Selves: Power, Gender, and Discourses of Identity in a Japanese Workplace, recipient of the J.I. Staley Prize for its impact on Anthropology, and About Face: Performing Race in Fashion and Theater.

Creative Differences: Cultural Politics and the Production of Race in American Theater focuses an ethnographic lens on theater as a site where contemporary meanings of race are created and materialized, shifting our perspective from theater as representation to the making of art. Integrating twenty years of participation in theater as scholar, dramaturg, and playwright, I analyze the innovative documentary theater of Anna Deavere Smith, the Chicano-Latino trio Culture Clash, David Henry Hwang, and celebrated mainstream productions that become points of entry into the production of “race,” aesthetics, and politics within theater as an art industry.

Regina Kunzel

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Departments of History and Gender & Sexuality Studies, Princeton University

In Treatment: Mental Illness, Health, and Modern Sexuality

Regina Kunzel is the Doris Stevens Chair and Professor of History and Gender and Sexuality Studies at Princeton University. She is the author, most recently, of Criminal Intimacy: Prison and the Uneven History of Modern Sexuality (2008). Her research interests focus on histories of gender and sexuality in the twentieth-century United States.

In Treatment: Mental Illness, Health, and Modern Sexuality explores the encounter of sexual- and gender-variant people with psychiatry and psychoanalysis in the mid-twentieth-century U.S. Drawing on the archive of Saint Elizabeth's Hospital, the federal hospital for the mentally ill in Washington, DC, as well as a collection of previously unexamined psychoanalytic patient files, it examines the complexities of mid-century psychiatry’s relationship to sexual and gender non-conformity and argues for the importance of psychiatric scrutiny, stigma, and medicalization in the making of modern sexuality.

Marilia Librandi-Rocha

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of Iberian and Latin American Cultures, Stanford University

Writing by Ear: The Senses of World Literature in South America

Marília Librandi-Rocha is Assistant Professor of Luso-Brazilian and Latin American Literatures at Stanford. She holds a PhD in Comparative Literature and Literary Theory from the University of São Paulo. She is the author of Maranhão-Manhattan (Rio: 7Letras, 2009), a book of essays on meta-fictional prose and poems in brazilian literature.

The project proposes a new description of Brazilian modern novels, from authors like Machado de Assis to Hilda Hilst, based on aurality and on listening in fiction, understood as a text of worldly resonances. Going beyond the oral/writing divide, and expanding to a trans-American dialogue, the book joins a theoretical current that has been examining the importance of voice and listening in written texts (from Latin American literary criticism to post-colonial and feminist studies), and it seeks to contribute to recent debates concerning the ontology of literature and the anthropology of fiction.

Tanya Luhrmann

Ellen Andrews Wright Fellow

Department of Anthropology, Stanford University

Hearing God, Hearing Voices, and a Local Theory of Mind

Tanya Marie Luhrmann is the Watkins University Professor in the Stanford Anthropology Department. Her books include Persuasions of the Witch’s Craft, (Harvard, 1989); The Good Parsi (Harvard 1996); Of Two Minds (Knopf 2000) and When God Talks Back (Knopf 2012). In general, her work focuses on the way that ideas about the mind affect mental experience.

Her project, Hearing God, Hearing Voices, and a Local Theory of Mind, compares the way members of new (neo) Pentecostal churches in California; Accra, Ghana; and Chennai, India experience God and prayer, and the way persons with schizophrenia in those three settings experience distressing voices. The goal is to understand whether different understandings of the mind affect these experiences in systematic ways.

Kyuwon Moon

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Linguistics, Stanford University

A Sociolinguistic Study of Young Women’s Speech in Seoul, Korea

Kyuwon Moon is a Ph.D candidate in Linguistics department at Stanford. She received my BA in Korean literature and language, and MA in Korean linguistics from Seoul National University. Apart from her primary interest in language variation, Moon is also interested in the intersection of gender, media, and language.

Her dissertation explores linguistic variation of three female call center employees in Seoul, Korea, to investigate how these women use stereotypically “feminine” or “casual” linguistic features to perform their identities. Moon analyzes their speech patterns in various situations to show how their moment-to-moment linguistic performance reflects and reproduces ideas of gender, femininity, and status.

Josiah Ober

Donald Andrews Whittier Fellow

Departments of Political Science and Classics, Stanford University

A Theory of Democracy

Josiah Ober, Mitsotakis Professor of Political Science and Classics at Stanford, works on historical institutionalism and political theory, focusing on the political thought and practice of the ancient Greek world. His 2008 book, Democracy and Knowledge: Innovation and Learning in Classical Athens, analyzes ancient Greek democracy as a system for the aggregation, alignment, and codification of useful knowledge. The book seeks to explain the close correlation between the development of democratic institutions and state performance in the age of Thuycydides, Plato, and Aristotle. More recent chapters and articles have addressed rational cooperation in Greek thought, the role of civic dignity in democratic stability, and an approach to collective judgement drawing on both deliberation and aggregation of independent guesses.

Basic (as opposed to liberal or social) democracy is collective and limited self-governance by citizens. It can, under the right conditions, be good for security and material welfare, for the free exercise of constitutive human capacities, and for liberty (positive and negative), political equality, and civic dignity; it requires epistemic diversity but ensures neither full social justice nor universal human rights.

Yi-Ping Ong

External Faculty Fellow

Humanities Center, The Johns Hopkins University

Literary Forms, Philosophical Uses: Existentialism, Realism, and the Novel

Yi-Ping Ong is an assistant professor in the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on various topics at the intersection of literature and philosophy, reflecting interests in the history and theory of the realist novel and the representation of justice and ethics in contemporary Anglophone literature.

Literary Forms, Philosophical Uses: Existentialism, Realism, and the Novel analyzes the power of literary form to shape the methods and aims of philosophy. Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Camus use novelistic modes of representation to reorient philosophical understandings of individual and collective consciousness, agency, and world. By demonstrating that the realist novel engages philosophically rich notions of situation, contingency, temporality, and moral ambiguity in its very form, this book seeks to illuminate aspects of literary realism overlooked by empirical and sociological theories that emphasize its referential dimensions.

Benjamin Paloff

External Faculty Fellow

Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Worlds Apart: Real-Life Fictions of Concentration Camps, Gulags, and Besieged Cities

Benjamin Paloff is the author of two collections of poems, The Politics (2011) and And His Orchestra (2014), and has translated several works from Eastern and Central Europe, most recently Marek Bieńczyk’s Transparency and Krzysztof Michalski’s The Flame of Eternity: An Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Thought.

Paloff's book project Worlds Apart: Real Life Fictions of Concentration Camps, Gulags, and Besieged Cities treats literary works by survivors of prison camps and besieged cities who, rather than write a straightforward memoir or report of their experiences, chose instead to fictionalize them. It pays particular attention to the narrative structure of such texts, as well as to the ethics of representation.

Huiping Pang

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Art and Art History, Stanford University

The Emperor and His Henchmen: Art Collecting, Inventory, and Criminality in the Late Ming Imperial China

Huiping Pang is pursuing her second Ph.D. in Art History at Stanford. Her research focuses on Chinese imperial culture in the Song-Ming dynasty. She received her Smithsonian Institution Postdoctoral Fellowship in 2008, and published several articles in English and Chinese academic journals, including "Strange Weather: Art, Politics, and Climate Change at the Court of Northern Song Emperor Huizong," in Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 39 (2009), and "Stolen Art and Lost Inscriber: Inventory Codes on Artworks in the Tumultuous Ming Wanli Period," in Artibus Asiae 73.2 (2012).

Through investigating inventory marks on 191 canonical artworks, Huiping Pang’s dissertation explores how art-collecting in Ming China triggered imperial-sanctioned violence, arguing that these marks were used by the emperor to inventory confiscated art from minister-collectors. Her project contributes to the humanities by bridging the art world with the Ming socio-economic and literary realms, and by comparing inventory practices in early modern Europe and China.

Ugur Pece

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

Waves of Violence: Inter-communal Strife and Reconstructions of Identity in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1890-1914

Ugur Zekeriya Pece is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Stanford University, with a BA in Economics from Bogazici University, Istanbul. He has MAs in History (Sabanci University, Istanbul) and Southeast European Studies (University of Athens). Pece’s research interests include inter-religious violence and constructions of identity in the Eastern Mediterranean during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Pece’s dissertation Waves of Violence: Inter-communal Strife and Reconstructions of Identity in the Eastern Mediterranean, investigates the revolt in Crete against the Ottoman administration at the dawn of the twentieth century. It analyzes how the Ottoman state failed to recognize socio-economic demands of Cretan Christians and therefore led the movement to acquire a nationalistic character. Pece’s dissertation takes Crete as a case study in order to draw broader conclusions about social and cultural processes taking place in the Ottoman Empire. It discusses how a violent conflict transforms the understanding of politics and society in Crete as well as in the rest of the Ottoman world.

Dylan Penningroth

External Faculty Fellow

Department of History, Northwestern University

African Americans and Local Courts, 1865-1950

Dylan C. Penningroth specializes in African American history and in U.S. socio-legal history. He is an Associate Professor of History at Northwestern and a Research Professor at the American Bar Foundation.

Penningroth is currently working on a study of African Americans' encounter with law from the Civil War to the beginnings of the modern civil rights struggle. Combining legal and social history, the study explores the practical meaning of legal rights for black life.

Jean Petitot

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Centre d'Analyse et de Mathématiques Sociales, Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales

New Cognitive Trends in Philosophy of Science: Phenomenology and Structuralism

Born in 1944, Jean Petitot is a philosopher of science. He is full Professor at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and a member of the International Academy of Philosophy of Science. He is the author of ten books and 257 papers, and editor of 18 volumes.

Petitot's project belongs to the field of philosophy and aims to bring together two philosophical trends: the philosophical problems raised by the foundations of contemporary physics and the transformation of epistemology resulting from the advances in cognitive neuroscience and naturalized phenomenology.

Daniel Rosenberg

Marta Sutton Weeks Fellow

Robert D. Clark Honors College, University of Oregon

Data: A Quantitative History

Daniel Rosenberg teaches history in the Robert D. Clark Honors College at the University of Oregon. Rosenberg is an intellectual historian specializing in eighteenth-century Europe. His research focuses on questions of historical representation and ranges broadly in areas including the histories of science, language, and art.

Daniel Rosenberg's current work focuses on the history of the concept data from its emergence in the eighteenth century. The project employs qualitative and quantitative methods and examines the implications of data-driven approaches in humanities research.

Edith Sheffer

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

Inventing Autism Under Nazism: The Surveillance of Emotion and Child Euthanasia in the Third Reich

Bio coming soon

Project description coming soon

Nariman Skakov

Internal Faculty Fellow

Slavic Languages and Literatures, Stanford University

The Soviet Textual Orient: The Prose of Andrei Platonov

Nariman Skakov is Assistant Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at Stanford University. His research interests include Andrei Platonov, Moscow conceptualism, intersections between the textual and the visual, and the Soviet "Orient." His monograph The Cinema of Tarkovsky: Labyrinths of Space and Time was published in 2012.

The Soviet Textual Orient: The Prose of Andrei Platonov will trace the complex and somewhat contradictory relationship between Soviet Russia and its "Oriental" subjects through the prism of the works of Andrei Platonov.

Matthew Sommer

Internal Faculty Fellow

Department of History, Stanford University

Male Same-Sex Union and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century China

Matthew H. Sommer (BA, Swarthmore College; MA, University of Washington; PHD, UCLA) teaches Chinese history at Stanford University. His research focuses on gender, sexuality, and law in China during its last imperial dynasty, the Qing (1644-1912). He is the author of Sex, Law, and Society in Imperial China (Stanford UP, 2000) and recently completed the manuscript of his second book, Polyandry and Wife-Selling in Qing China: Survival Strategies and Judicial Interventions.

His current project, Male Same-Sex Union and Masculinity in Eighteenth-Century China, is based on more than 1700 legal cases from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and explores male same-sex relations and masculinity in late imperial China. A major theme is the use of chosen kinship to structure long-term relationships between males outside the normative family system.

Bronwen Tate

Geballe Dissertation Prize Fellow

Department of Comparative Literature, Stanford University

Putting it All In, Leaving it All Out: Questions of Scale in Post-1945 American Poetry

Bronwen Tate is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature. She has a BA in Comparative Literature and an MFA in Literary Arts from Brown University. In 2011-2013, she received a Stanford DARE (Diversifying Academia, Recruiting Excellence) Fellowship to support her research. She specializes in twentieth-century American literature, with particular interests in poetry and poetics.

Tate’s dissertation uses scale as a lens to reevaluate 20th century poetic theories and practices, contrasting the opposing compositional impulses and reading experiences of a poetry of essence and a poetry of duration. Her work brings into dialogue writers as aesthetically divergent as Allen Ginsberg and Lorine Niedecker or Frank Stanford and James Merrill, as well as shedding new light on the feminist book-length poems of Lyn Hejinian and Bernadette Mayer and the effects of formal brevity in Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Creeley.

John Willinsky

Violet Andrews Whittier Fellow

School of Education, Stanford University

The Intellectual Properties of Learning: A Pre-History from Saint Jerome to John Locke

John Willinsky is Khosla Family Professor of Education at Stanford University and author of, among other titles, Empire of Words: The Reign of the OED (Princeton, 1994); Learning to Divide the World: Education at Empire’s End (Minnesota, 1998); and The Access Principle: The Case for Open Access to Research and Scholarship (MIT Press, 2006).

His project seeks to establish how prototypical forms of intellectual property emerged in association with learning, beginning in medieval monasteries, and developing through the cathedral schools and universities that followed, down to the Early Modern era. These learned properties were, as are those produced to this day, distinguished by economic and legal factors, as well as textual and cultural qualities that speak to their value to the larger world.