Simpson Center for the Humanities

Scholars at Work

Eva CherniavskyEva Cherniavsky (English) has a new book about the changing meaning of citizenship in an era of US oligarchy, Neocitizenship: Political Culture after Democracy (NYU Press, 2017). For the past three years, Eva has co-led the Simpson Center research cluster Palestine and the Public Sphere, which examines the situation of Palestine and its framing in US academic and public spheres. She was also a fellow of the 2015-2016 Society of Scholars and has served on the Simpson Center Executive Board.

From the publisher:

Neocitizenship explores how the constellation of political and economic forces of neoliberalism have assailed and arguably dismantled the institutions of modern democratic governance in the U.S. As overtly oligarchical structures of governance replace the operations of representative democracy, the book addresses the implications of this crisis for the practices and imaginaries of citizenship through the lens of popular culture …

… Drawing on a range of political theories, Neocitizenship also suggests that theory is at a disadvantage in thinking the historical present, since its analytical categories are wrought in the very historical contexts whose dissolution we now seek to comprehend. Cherniavsky thus supplements theory with a focus on popular culture that explores the de-democratization for citizenship in more generative and undecided ways. Tracing the contours of neocitizenship in fiction through examples such as The White Boy Shuffle and Distraction, television shows like Battlestar Galactica, and in the design of American studies abroad, Neocitizenship aims to take the measure of a transformation in process, while evading the twin lures of optimism and regret.

Congratulations, Eva!

AtkinsPaul Atkins (Asian Languages & Literature) has a new book with the University of Hawaiʻi Press about the influential Japanese poet Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241). The book, Teika: The Life and Works of a Medieval Japanese Poet (2017), is the first book-length study of Teika in English.

From the publisher:

Fujiwara no Teika (1162–1241) was born into an illustrious lineage of poets just as Japan’s ancien régime was ceding authority to a new political order dominated by military power. Overcoming personal and political setbacks, Teika and his allies championed a new style of poetry that managed to innovate conceptually and linguistically within the narrow confines of the waka tradition and the limits of its thirty-one syllable form. Backed by powerful patrons, Teika emerged finally as the supreme arbiter of poetry in his time …

… Courtier, waka poet, compiler, copyist, editor, diarist, and critic, Teika is recognized today as one of the most influential poets in the history of Japanese literature. His oeuvre includes over four thousand waka poems, his diary, Meigetsuki, which he kept for over fifty years, and a fictional tale set in Tang-dynasty China. Over fifteen years in the making, Teika is essential reading for anyone interested in Japanese poetry, the history of Japan, and traditional Japanese culture.

Paul worked on the manuscript as part of the 2007-2008 Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center. He also serves on the center’s Executive Board and attended the 2015 Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) in Victoria, British Columbia, with the Simpson Center’s support.

Congratulations, Paul!

Marian Lyles in classroom

Rachel Arteaga (Simpson Center) has written an article for Inside Higher Ed about new partnerships between two-year colleges and doctoral programs in the humanities, drawing on her leadership of the Simpson Center program Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics.

ArteagaRachel, the Simpson Center’s Assistant Director and Assistant Program Director of the Reimagining program, told stories in the piece about doctoral fellows, faculty members, and senior administrators in the program, which launched in July 2015 with a $750,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

In “PhDs (and Advisers) Shouldn’t Overlook Community Colleges,” Rachel writes:

Daniel Stofleth, a doctoral student in communication at the University of Washington, has observed firsthand the most striking difference between research universities and community colleges: diversity.

“I have attended or taught at three four-year institutions, which were all relatively homogenous,” he says. At Seattle Central College, under the mentorship of communication instructor Marian Lyles during the 2015-16 academic year, Stofleth was involved in classrooms in which “the variety of student backgrounds coalesced into some of the most thought-provoking, and often challenging, conversations I’ve been a part of in my experience as a student and instructor.” He views the diversity of the two-year college system as its core strength.

Inside Higher Ed logoThe Inside Higher Ed story also describes the work of Lily Schatz, a doctoral candidate in history, Angela Durán Real, a doctoral student in Spanish, Bradley Lane, vice president of instruction at Seattle Central College, and Jaime Cárdenas Jr., history instructor at Seattle Central College. Rachel’s story also discusses related programs and scholarship on partnerships between research universities and two-year colleges, recognizing the mutually beneficial roles they can play.

Rachel earned a PhD in English at the UW in 2016 with a...

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Michael HoneyMichael Honey (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Tacoma) has partnered with cinematographer and filmmaker Errol Webber to create a documentary about the life of Methodist minister and civil rights activist Rev. James Lawson. He also published a book on an influential folk singer and labor organizer, Sharecroppers' Troubadour: John L. Handcox, the Southern Tenant Farmers' Union, and the African American Song Tradition (Palgrave Studies in Oral History, 2013).

The book was supported by a 2011-2012 Society of Scholars fellowship from the Simpson Center. Michael, the Fred and Dorothy Haley Professor of Humanities, also received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship that year.

On the book:

Folk singer and labor organizer John Handcox was born to illiterate sharecroppers, but went on to become one of the most beloved folk singers of the prewar labor movement. This beautifully told oral history gives us Handcox in his own words, recounting a journey that began in the Deep South and went on to shape the labor music tradition.

On the film, Love & Solidarity: James Lawson and Nonviolence in Search for Workers' Rights:

Love & Solidarity is an exploration of nonviolence and organizing through the life and teachings of Rev. James Lawson. Lawson provided crucial strategic guidance while working with Martin Luther King, Jr., in southern freedom struggles and the Memphis sanitation strike of 1968. Moving to Los Angeles in 1974, Lawson continued his nonviolence organizing in multi-racial community and worker coalitions that have helped to remake the LA labor movement.

See a trailer for the film:

Michael has also been invited to give a series of addresses based on the works, including to the Oral History Association, Southern Historical Association, the American Studies Association, Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas, Indiana State University, University of Memphis, the National Civil Rights Museum, Michigan State University, and Florida State University.

Congratulations, Michael!

Linda NashLinda Nash (History) has received a $50,400 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for research into how Americans’ approach to postwar development was shaped by the nation’s abundant resources and its history of settler colonialism in the American West.

Her project, “American Engineers and Hydroelectric Development Projects in the US and Afghanistan,” grows out of several activities supported by the Simpson Center. Linda was a fellow of the 2007-2008 Society of Scholars for her project “Engineering a Modern World: Environments, Technologies, Agency.” She was a co-organizer of the 2014-2015 Environmental Humanities crossdisciplinary research cluster. In April 2016 she traveled to Washington State University as part of collaborative partnership among scholars in the environmental humanities at the UW and Washington State. She is an affiliate faculty member for the Certificate in Public Scholarship and a guest speaker for City/Nature: Urban Environmental Humanities, a Summer 2017 NEH Institute for College and University Teachers led by landscape historian Thaisa Way, urban ecologist Ken Yocom, and literary scholar Richard Watts.

More on her book project:

Americans in Arid Lands tells an environmental and postcolonial history of “development,” connecting the US’s approach to the postwar world to the nation’s settler colonial history in the American West. The United States’ materially intensive approach to appropriating the dry landscapes of the trans-Mississippi West in the nineteenth- and early twentieth centuries shaped how Americans would view and respond to dry regions across the world for several decades … My focus is American water engineers associated with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation as they moved between western North America and certain foreign locations.  Their goal was to remake marginal, arid environments into modern agricultural landscapes through the application of technology, and by most accounts, they were remarkably unsuccessful. Nonetheless, Americans emerged as the undisputed experts on arid lands in the postwar world. While I briefly treat several different projects, I focus in detail on two: the Columbia Basin Project in Washington State—the Bureau’s largest domestic project—and the Helmand Valley Project in Afghanistan—the Agency’s largest foreign project. 

The NEH award is part of a series of 290 diverse projects supporting scholarly and educational activities nationwide.

“The humanities help...

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TihanyiThe tech news site Geekwire recently published a story about the collaborative work of Jayadev Athreya (Mathematics) and Timea Tihanyi (Art), a project supported by the Simpson Center studio grant Axiomatic: The Creative Process in Art and Mathematics.

Timea is an interdisciplinary visual artist in the School of Art + Art History + Design. Jayadev is Director of the Washington Experimental Mathematics lab, Associate Professor of Mathematics, and teaches in the Comparative History of Ideas program. The two are interested in common traits across their fields, especially regarding speculation and imagination.


From Geekwire:

Athreya and Tihanyi describe their studies as “what if” disciplines—disciplines searching for new ideas and new ways of looking at things. In Axiomatic, the pair takes a literal approach to the idea of looking at knowledge in different ways.

Their work has led to 3-dimensional ceramic renderings of 4-dimensional objects and other puzzling creations. Their work was recently on display at the 9e2 Exhibition at Seattle’s King Street Station.

Timea also has an exhibition at Seattle’s Linda Hodges Gallery featuring work from Axiomatic. Parlor Games: Scientia runs January 5-28, 2017.

There’s more, including photos, in the Geekwire story by Clare McGrane.

Congratulations, Jayadev and Timea!

Ceramic artwork on table

Louisa MackenzieLouisa Mackenzie (French & Italian) was recently quoted by Smithsonian for an article on Renaissance attitudes toward science and fantastical sea creatures, work that arose from her research in the 2012-13 Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center.

From the article “Renaissance Europe Was Horrified by Reports of a Sea Monster That Looked Like a Monk Wearing Fish Scales”:

The sea creatures serve as a window into Renaissance scholarship and the history of scientific inquiry, along with an animals’ place in the Anthropocene world, says Mackenzie.

The fervent interest in the sea monk and other creatures in the 16th century indicates that scientific inquiry was a serious business. “We might look at these images today and find them quaint, amusing, superstitious, or fantastical—proof of how ‘unscientific’ Renaissance science was,” says Mackenzie.

But, she argues in a recent chapter about the sea monk and sea bishop in the book Animals and Early Modern Identity, that those inquiries deserve more respect. “What I was trying to do with this chapter was to ‘call out’ our own tendency to not take these creatures seriously as sites of investigation,” Mackenzie says.

Louisa also co-led, with María Elena García (Comparative History of Ideas), the Simpson Center collaboration Intersectional Animal Studies from 2014 to 2016.

Congratulations, Louisa!

Jaime Cardenas at seminar tableJaime Cárdenas, Jr. (History, Seattle Central College), is in residence at the Simpson Center for the Humanities during Fall Quarter 2016, where he is focusing on a number of projects related to digital pedagogy. He was awarded a competitive sabbatical by the Seattle District Colleges.

In summer 2016, Cárdenas attended the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) at the University of Victoria, where he studied critical pedagogy and digital praxis with Jesse Stommel and Chris Friend.

In collaboration with Anne McGrail (English, Lane Community College, Eugene, Oregon), Cárdenas is also co-authoring an entry in a Modern Language Association Commons project titled “Digital Pedagogy: Keywords” on the keyword “Community College.” Their work together began at the Simpson Center in September 2015, during a workshop of the Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics program supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Cárdenas served as a faculty mentor to UW doctoral students and McGrail was invited to present on her work as a national leader in bringing digital humanities to community colleges.

Congratulations, Jaime and Anne!

MoskalikJanice Moskalik (Philosophy) has accepted a position as Instructor at Seattle University after defending her PhD dissertation this past August. Janice was awarded two fellowships through the Simpson Center’s Reimagining the Humanities PhD and Reaching New Publics program in the past year.

As a Mellon Fellow for Reaching New Publics in the Humanities, Janice spent much of 2015-16 at Seattle Central College, shadowing a mentor, William Harms, PhD, in teaching classes and developing a new course for two-year colleges, “Philosophy for Children.”

As a Mellon Summer Fellow for Public Projects in the Humanities, Janice worked to expand access to philosophy by connecting the UW Center for Philosophy for Children, Seattle Central College and its students, and K-12 students in Seattle Public Schools. The fellowship also provided support for her scholarship on doing philosophy with children.

At Seattle University, Janice teaches courses that explore questions in ethics, including ethics in health care and questions about the nature of being a person. She also looks forward to connecting interested SU students with the University of Washington’s Philosophers in the Schools Program.

“All of my teaching here at SU aims to incorporate the University's mission, which includes educating the whole person and empowering leaders for a just and humane world,” she said. “I think a philosophical education helps to do this in many ways, and doing philosophy with children works toward this same end.”

Congratulations, Janice!

NovetzkeChristian Lee Novetzke (Jackson School of International Studies) has published a new book, The Quotidian Revolution: Vernacularization, Religion, and the Premodern Public Sphere in India (Columbia, 2016), about the cultural politics surrounding the rise of Marathi literature in 13th-century India.

He co-authored another new book, Amar Akbar Anthony: Bollywood, Brotherhood, and the Nation, with William Elison (Religion, University of California, Santa Barbara) and Andy Rotman (Buddhist and South Asian Studies, Smith College), about a beloved Bollywood film. The book  unpacks the social politics of the 1977 blockbuster, emulating the playful spirit of the film.

“Here is a scholarly work about a popular film that also tries to mimic something of the film’s controlled lunacy, winking at itself every now and again,” says a review in The Hindu.

Christian and his co-authors dressed in the same disguises the film characters wear at the end of the film for a book celebration at the Annual Conference on South Asia at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 2015.

Amar Akbar Anthony actors and book authors

More from the publisher:

Delighting audiences with its songs and madcap adventures, the film follows the heroics of three Bombay brothers separated in childhood from their parents and one another. Beyond the freewheeling comedy and camp, however, is a potent vision of social harmony, as the three protagonists, each raised in a different religion, discover they are true brothers in the end. William Elison, Christian Lee Novetzke, and Andy Rotman offer a sympathetic and layered interpretation of the film’s deeper symbolism, seeing it as a lens for understanding modern India’s experience with secular democracy.

Christian is an organizer, with Sunila Kale (Jackson School of International Studies) and Sudhir Mahadevan (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media) of the February 2017 conference The Intellectual...

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