Academic Year 2013-2014
Staci Willis, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, will be working on a dissertation investigating the development and preservation of the tradition of sewn boats in the North Adriatic during the Roman Empire. Several sewn boats have been discovered in the river systems and along the coastal zone of the northern Adriatic Sea; these represent a distinct form of craftsmanship within the Roman Empire. She will examine excavation reports and photographs, excavated boat remains, epigraphic sources, contemporary texts, and modern ethnographies of various crafts in order to contextualize Adriatic sewn boats within the broader social background of the Roman Empire. Her goal is to forge a link between the physical boat remains and the cultural identity of the boat builders while answering the question of why this particular local tradition was preserved in a relatively small geographic region over an extended period of time.
Fiona C. Wilmot, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Geography, will be working on a dissertation entitled “Making Mangroves: Ecologies of Mangrove Restoration for Climate-Change Mitigation in El Salvador, 2010-2013.” She will use interpretive methods such as discourse analysis of archival documents and coded and transcribed interviews to examine the question of how being a ‘rescatista’ (peasant mangrove restorer) for climate change mitigation produces new meanings about nature and place. She will also analyze the governance of ecosystem restoration for climate-change mitigation, the material circumstances of the ‘rescatistas,’ and the question of whether “carbon colonialism,” or the use of developing countries as sites of carbon-fixing, describes the practices in El Salvador. One of her goals is to explore the repercussions of the ‘rescatista’ restoration experience for other places where carbon-fixing demands labor.
Marshall A. Yokell, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, will be working on a dissertation that studies the members of the Imperial German diplomatic corps in South America and investigates their impact in this sphere of diplomatic activity. He will examine the early stages of German globalization, especially the nation’s attempt to extend its influence by developing the infrastructure of its colonies in areas such as South America. In his efforts to explore the themes of race, trans-nationalism, globalization, and how the European states viewed and depicted “developing nations,” he will study correspondences both between German diplomats and the German Foreign Office and between the diplomats and their networks with military officials, businessmen, religious and educational leaders, and the Germans who lived in South America.
Academic Year 2012-2013
Mark David McGraw, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Hispanic Studies, will be working on a dissertation entitled “The Universal Quixote: Appropriations of a Literary Icon.” He will examine how the literary figure of Don Quixote has been appropriated by institutional, revolutionary and nationalist movements, transforming the fictional character into a cultural icon. He will use both text and images to examine visual representations of Don Quixote in their political and historical contexts to ascertain their value and impact as appropriations in a variety of media, from political cartoons to satiric journals. His aim is to account for and analyze the textual and visual representations in their historical, political, and institutional contextsand to study in a comprehensive manner the process of appropriation that has transformed the literary character into a universal cultural icon.
Matthew A. Yokell, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, will be working on a dissertation focusing on the colony of Qingdao, China in order to examine German ideas about empire at the turn of the twentieth century. The Germans who lived and worked in Qingdao articulated a liberal vision of empire that shaped attitudes at home and abroad about Germany’s imperial mission. He will examine the archival records of mid-level state and military officials, businessmen, and religious leaders that helped build Qingdao. He will study the colonial experience as “history from the middle” and will explore the networks and ideas moving between Europe and Asia in order to evaluate the critical role Qingdao played in Germany’s emergence as a world power.
Vahid Vahdat Zad, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Architecture, will be working on a dissertation exploring the genesis of modernity in a non-Western society. He will examine how Western architecture and urbanism were perceived and represented by Iranian travelers visiting European cities in the nineteenth century. He will explain how the perception of modernity was transformed by the traveler’s own prejudices, expectations, and ideals in a type of “reverse-Orientalism.” He intends to show that Persian and Islamic ideals played a major role in the construction of an image of the ‘modern’ West and that the Persian perception of modernity dealt primarily with an internal consistency of the ideas about a preimagined utopia. He will use methodological devices known as strategic-location and strategic-formation and discourse-analysis, mapping, and diagramming to compare the authors’ descriptions with the architectural spaces they experience.
2011-2012 Academic Year
Joelle Cruz, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication, will be working on a dissertation entitled “Food, peace, and organizing: A market women’s cooperative during peacetime in Liberia.” She will explore how market women’s activities and communication engender political stability and build peace and community on a daily basis. Cruz will use an organizational-communication approach and African feminism as a theoretical framework to understand the connections between the elements of organizaing, peacebuilding, and food distribution. Her aim is to further interdisciplinary inquiries in the humanities, utilize the powerful potential of humanist methodologies, and contribute to humanistic debates on agency and voice by showing how ordinary people cocreate peace.
Chang Hee Hwang, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, will be working on a dissertation entitled “‘Hieroglpyhic Civilization: The Text on Screen during the Silent Film Era.” Her research will speak against Vachel Lindsay’s valorization of the silent film as a universal language, showing that the silent film insinuated several textual elements between visual images: the intertitle, the insert, and props with text on them. Hwang will seek to bring new scholarly attention to the significance of these three textual elements onscreen in silent films during the early twentieth century by defining them as the contact zone between text and image. She will demonstrate that this contestation of visual and literal media invites speculation about languages as a communication tool during the silent film era.
Marina Trninic, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, will be working on a dissertation entitled “Blackening Character, Imagining Race, and Mapping Morality: Tarring and Feathering in Nineteenth-Century American Literature.” She will use the practice of tarring and feathering as a dominant organizing topic through which she examines the literary, political, and rhetorical practices of social coercion in primarily nineteenth-century America. Her study will bring a dual rhetorical and historical approach to bear on the discursive nature of both the act of tarring and feathering and its literary representations.
Tyler Kasperbauer, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Philosophy, will be working on a project entitled “Perceiving Animals.” His research will attempt to provide an account of how humans perceive nonhuman animals and the grounds by which humans judge the moral status of animals. Kasperbauer will look at discussions concerning the relation between animal minds and ethics in early modern philosophy, particularly between Descartes and Leibniz. He will also explore contemporary research in the cognitive sciences on how people judge animals, particularly in its application to contemporary animal ethics.
April M. Plemons, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology and Ph.D. certificate candidate in Women’s and Gender Studies, will explore a project entitled “The Push to Make Sex Safer.” In her dissertation, she will examine the emergence, prevalence, and persistence of the safer-sex paradigm. She argues that the continuing emergence of “unsafe” or “dangerous” sexual practices, despite the push for “safer-sex” practices, has resulted in the redefinition and stretching of sexual subjectivities. Plemons will look into how these sexual practices emerge and maintain in the safer-sex paradigm, and how these sexual subjectivities are stretched and redefined.
2010-2011 Academic Year
Christina V. Cedillo-Tootalian, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, studied the fields of rhetoric, medieval studies, and women’s studies by contesting the prevalent views of medieval women mystics as either pawns of patriarchal ecclesiastic authority or champions of proto-feminist ideology. In her dissertation “Commonplace Divinity: Woman as Topos in the Works of Medieval Women Mystics” she examined the writing of six female mystics during the Middle Ages. Her research suggested a re-evaluation of medieval women’s rhetoric as a practice that incorporates both verbal and corporeal modes. By promoting this verbo-physical model of communication, her study contributes to the current reassessment of premodern rhetoric as a craft capable of accommodating emotive and bodily ways of “speaking.”
Matthew Jerrid Keyworth, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, worked on a dissertation entitled “From Pioneers to the People’s Party: A Cultural History of Populism on the Western Frontier.” His research examined the cultural roots of the late 19th century Populist movement in the United States. Keyworth’s research considered how rural southern and western cultures evolved during the latter half of the century allowing for the possibility of the People’s Party. He focused on Texas and Kansas, two of the states where the People’s Party enjoyed some of the greatest successes. Keyworth aimed to broaden the understanding of the men and women involved in hopes of uncovering currently obscured reasons for Populism’s existence.
Shima Baradaran Mohajeri, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Architecture, worked on a dissertation entitled “The Architecture of A-Place: Alternative Modernity in Architectural Paper Projects in Iran, 1960-78.” This research explores the cross-cultural architectural history of the modernism of the 20th century in Iran. For two decades beginning in 1960, modern architects in Iran encountered Persian traditional culture and civilization when commissioned by the Shah of Iran to design architectural and urban projects. Mohajeri’s research focused mainly on the unexamined architectural paper projects of Louis Kahn, Alvar Aalot, Moshe Safdie, James Stirling, and Alison and Peter Smithson. Her study aimed to reveal the potential of architectural exchanges for initiating the dialogue between Iran and the West. In particular, the intent of the research was to reconsider our understanding of place in a new culturally-synthetic form by creating an architectural space that responds to our globalized world.
2009-2010 Academic Year
Christie L. Maloyed, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, studied the influence of religion on the civic tradition in the latter half of the Eighteenth Century in Scotland and America, focusing on the ways in which the religious traditions of each nation shaped the debate on the viability of civic virtue. She argued that a civil religious tradition can offer a basis for developing and sustaining a shared sense of the common good without undermining personal liberties.
Asmahan Sallah, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, examined the treatment, forms, and representations of spirituality in contemporary American fiction. Analyzing works of fiction focused on the quest for the sacred in terms of “anti-dialectical spiritualities,” she argued how human creativity, information systems, and consumption practices become new sites where the relationship between the sacred and the secular is rearticulated.
Anne-Marie Womack, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, examined Vietnam War literature and key war literature predecessors to argue that cross-gender identification allows men to internalize qualities otherwise absent in wartime. In her readings of Crane, Hemingway, Vonnegut, and veteran and female authors of the Vietnam War, she explored how the anti-heroic treatments of war expose the bounds of masculinity and create places for men to identify with the feminine to reinvigorate their positions.
2008-2009 Academic Year
Daniel Betti, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, studied Plato’s political philosophy to provide a critical perspective on various strains of contemporal political theory about cosmopolitanism. He divided the modern revival of cosmopolitanism into two groups: universalist cosmopolitans, including moral, liberal, democratic, and patriotic cosmopolitans, and postmodern cosmopolitans in favor of the continuous hybridization of cultures and forms in the process of globalization. He then argued that against this two-pronged modern revival, Plato provides the counter-argument with a cosmopolitanism that truly attempts to harmonize the polis with the cosmos.
Richa Dhanju, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, examined the ways in which the public activism of Hindu and Muslim women in New Delhi’s slums engenders cooperation between them and a sense of empowerment among them. Conducting her primary research at a slum called Welcome Slum Colony in Delhi, she explored how urban poor women exploit their informal social networks to subvert or negotiate their marginal identities within the development framework that surrounds them.
Sunjin Lee, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, explored the de- and re-construction of American founding myths in contemporary writing by women. Highlighting the simultaneous myth-making and myth-breaking acts of the women writers as “critical mythogenesis,” she argued that they attempt to reconfigure American history as a site of fluid and ongoing interactions of multiple communities that transcend the geographic, ethnic, racial, gender, and sexual borders of American founding myths.
2007-2008 Academic Year
Zeba Imam, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication, studied the relationship between citizenship and women’s identity in India. Relying on the frameworks of citizenship literature and discourse theory, she was able to articulate the subject positions Hindu and Muslim religious nationalist discourses are offering women. In doing so, she was then able to assess how the identities inherent in these subject positions are affecting women’s citizenship within the Indian state.
Kiyoon Jang, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, examined American gothic authors and texts in order to trace the pre-modern shift from the autonomous author to the reader-dependent author. In her dissertation, she proposed “ghost writer” as a new critical term to describe nineteenth-century gothic writers from Charles Brockden Brown to Henry James. She considered these writers’ re-configuration of the author as a ghost that comes into being because readers believe in it.
Sudina Paungpetch, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, explored U.S.-Thai relations during the Vietnam War. Specifically, her dissertation focused on the extent to which the influence of American democratic ideas helped bring about positive changes in Thai society. By connecting the U.S. presence in Thailand to the spread of democratic ideas throughout Thai culture, her work contributed to the new historiographical trend of cultural diplomatic history. Sudina has also been named as one of the winners of the department’s Charles C. Keeble (’48) Dissertation Fellowship Award.
2006-2007 Academic Year
Sook Hyun, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, explored the relationship of storytelling to identity formation. Particularly focusing on three 19th century British novels – Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853), and Wilkie Collins’s The Woman in White (1860), an examination of how the narrating subjects actively engage in dynamic identity formation through the storytelling process was undertaken. This research focused on various storytelling activities in the novels under consideration, prompting discussion of how different storytelling acts create different processes of identity formation. By examining various storytelling processes and the dynamic effects that these processes have on the narrators’ identity formation, the research contributed to the “after” poststructuralist discussions of identity and narrative.
Sara Jordan, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Political Science, attempted to articulate, via the language of deliberative theories of democracy, an ideal-typical form of bureaucratic interaction with “ordinary” and marginalized citizens for the creation of a defensibly democratic public interest standard. Within this work, she took as a starting point the assumption that the practice of democracy in constitutional democracies today is flawed in a fundamental way. Specifically, the institutional mechanisms designed to represent and express in the law the interests of the whole public consistently fail to account for the input of those citizens with the least means available to them to effect genuine political change.
Amy Montz, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, examined the impact fashion and dress have on discussions of nationalism in several Victorian novels. Her research was concerned with how fictional characters, particularly female characters, are defined as English or non-English through their clothing. The sheer volume of fashionable writing and attention to details of dress suggest that fashion does real work in literature; it connects women’s clothing to larger concerns of nation, identity, and production, and articulates the impact of these concerns on the Victorian middle class.
2005-2006 Academic Year
Niles S. Illich, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History, conducted research on German “informal imperialism,” primarily in the Ottoman Empire but also in Latin America and China. He examined how the German government and various political parties reported, explained and championed these territories to the German people. The most important example is the Pergamon Altar, which was appropriated from the Ottoman Empire and displayed in Berlin. He researched the program that paid for teachers to visit the altar so they could explain its significance to their students. By looking at this and other such displays, he proposed to expand the understanding of German colonialism both chronologically and geographically.
Yogita Sharma, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication, investigated how one Indian organization, the All India Democratic Women’s Association, mobilizes social, economic, and cultural capital to constitute a woman’s public sphere. Her work addressed the ways in which these individuals organize themselves to mobilize the many forms of capital and, in so doing, attempt to achieve their goals as a feminist organization. The AIDWA, a group with a membership of six million that has been working towards increasing civic awareness and participation among Indian women since the 1980s, was a rewarding site to study this phenomenon.
Dongshin Yi, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English, conducted research on “A Genealogy of Cybergothic: Aesthetics and Ethics in the Age of Posthumanism,” which considered the future convergence between gothic studies and humanism in the age of posthumanism and which proposed
“cyborgothic” as a new literary genre that heralds that future. This study emphasized, in an encounter between human and non-human beings, the importance of non-anthropocentric gestures that can be made by aesthetic and ethical approaches to the encounter.
2004-2005 Academic Year
Laura Barker (English) conducted research on “Symptomatic Identities: Lovesickness and Femininity in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel,” which explored the ways in which writers used the convention of lovesickness to free their novels from the conventions and expectations that confronted them. This work was expected to be ground-breaking, illuminating some of the nineteenth century novel’s most telling social arguments.
Ilan Mitchell-Smith (English) focused on “Between Mars and Venus: Balance and Excess in the Chivalry of the Late-Medieval English Romance,” which investigated the way knighthood was understood and depicted in late-medieval chivalric romances. This study promised to be an accomplished dissertation which examined the connection between chivalry and gender and the nature of masculinity as it flourished in the late middle ages.
Kevin C. Motl (History) explored “Against the Grain: Women and Progressive Reform in Rural Texas, 1910-1920,” which looked at the role middle-class women in rural Texas played in transmitting the ideology of progressive reform. This study of the evolution of rural political culture in early twentieth-century served as a model for further exploration of women’s role in reform throughout the South.
2003-2004 Academic Year
Boris H.J. M. Brummans (Communication) explored “The Staging of Selves through Textwork in Organizational Communication Studies,” which investigated the ways scholars craft their identities in and through textual practices. This work provided new understanding of the roles subjectivities play in academic research and publishing.
Yvonne Davis Frear (History) focused on “Battling to End Segregation in Dallas, Texas, 1945-1965: Race, Gender, and Social Mobilization in a Local Civil Rights Movement,” which provided an urban case study of the interaction between African-American women leaders at the grass roots level and elite white males during the civil rights struggle.
Phillip M. Smith (History) conducted research on “Freedom and Citizenship in Post-Colonial Florida,” which traced the social and cultural changes occurring during Florida’s transition from Spanish and English colony to an American state.