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Simpson Center for the Humanities

2016-2017 Society of Scholars

  • Ruby Blondell (Classics)
  • Sarah Dowling (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell)
  • Stephen Groening (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media)
  • Michelle Habell-Pallán (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)
  • LaShawnDa Pittman (American Ethnic Studies)
  • Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)
  • Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva (History)
  • Amanda Swarr (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)
  • Sasha Welland (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)
  • Megan Ybarra (Geography)
  • Oscar Aguirre Mandujano (Near Eastern Studies and Middle Eastern Studies)
  • Jesse Meredith (History)
  • Adriana Vazquez (Classics)

Ruby Blondell (Classics)

Helen of Troy on Screen

This project studies the representation of Helen of Troy and her story in mainstream, live-action, Anglophone film and television. It examines Helen's presence in silent film, Hollywood epic, and various television genres (science fiction, fantasy, documentary, miniseries), asking how each uses her to examine questions surrounding female beauty, sexuality, and erotic agency while engaging with the cultural authority of ancient Greece.

Sarah Dowling (Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences, UW Bothell)

Remote Intimacies

Remote Intimacies revises a book manuscript that describes a foundational contradiction in official multiculturalism: linguistic assimilation is a prerequisite to inclusion. I argue that from 1980 to the present, a period of language panic in the U.S.A., multilingualism emerged as an important commitment in poetry. Multilingualism challenges poetic conventions, particularly the expectation of straightforward speech by distinctive, first-person speakers. These deviations from the norms of poetic personhood contest the prescriptive role of the protestant ethic and the dominant image of the U.S. as post-racial. In eschewing poetry’s lyric “I,” multilingual poems are enabled to investigate histories of exclusion and violence.

Stephen Groening (Comparative Literature, Cinema & Media)

Television and Collectivity

Television and Collectivity revisits a period when television was new and, much like contemporary digital media, shaped debates about political power and social change. I argue that a surprising range of postwar European philosophers responded to television as emblematic of an emergent era in which the simulation of reality and abolition of distance through the transmission of image and sound would bring new challenges to collectivity and therefore the power for groups to coalesce and act.

Michelle Habell-Pallán (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Beat Migration: Sounds of Cultural Citizenship

Beat Migration intervenes in nativist discourses that question the national belonging of Latinos. It offers the first comprehensive study of Latino cultural citizenship embedded in the potent site of popular music. As a transmedia project that migrates from traditional text-based research, to museum exhibit, to digital platform, and returns to text-based scholarship, the book provides a model for contemplating how the content of research relates to the form of its dissemination.

LaShawnDa Pittman (American Ethnic Studies)

Coerced Mothering: African American Grandmothers from Slavery to the Present

This project explores the caregiving experiences of African American grandmothers from slavery to the present. Combining archival, qualitative, and census data, this study explores the role black grandmothers played in the changing racial landscape from their and their grandchildren’s perspectives. I explore three themes: the relationship between coercion and African American grandmothers’ caregiving from slavery to the present; the ways in which cultural and coercive forces, parents, and the State have changed over time and in doing so changed the nature and implications of grandparent caregiving; and the differing ways women respond.

Chandan Reddy (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Marriage in Our Time

Less than six months ago gays and lesbians gained the right to marriage in the United States, marking a sea change in U.S. history, culture, and law nearly without precedent. The culmination of the marriage equality movement, the legalization of gay marriage was widely celebrated. Amidst these celebrations and even the many denunciations of marriage equality, nearly entirely absent in the media as much as in academia is an assessment of the meaning of marriage at this historical moment. What exactly was won? What is marriage in our time and how do we go about knowing it? "Marriage in Our Time: Race, Rights, and the Meaning of Equality" is a timely cross-over academic work that answers these questions.

Ileana M. Rodríguez-Silva (History)

Race, Masculinity, and the Newspaper: Forging Black Publics in Puerto Rico

Race, Masculinity, and the Newspaper examines the work of a set of Afro-Puerto Rican intellectuals and politicians in the early-twentieth century to cultivate black/brown publics in a US colonial context, which disavowed race-identifications through the pervasive discourses of racial harmony and racial fusion. The ultimate goal is to unearth the multiple practices they elaborated to advance their critiques of racialized domination, and to read their praxis as forms of theorizing about racial subjectivity-formation in the Spanish-speaking Caribbean.

Amanda Swarr (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Forcing Sex: Violent Contestations over South African Masculinities

Forcing Sex is a book project focused on causes and representations of sexual violence in South Africa. Unlike other work in Masculinity Studies, it is concerned with disruptions to masculinities by those who do not identify as men. Addressing public assaults of women, “corrective” rape of lesbians, debates over intersexuality, and sexual assaults of children, this work analyzes violence enforcing the boundaries of gender, theorizing racialized masculinities to provide insight into how to confront gendered violence.

Sasha Welland (Gender, Women & Sexuality Studies)

Cancer Aesthetics: A Feminist Manifesto on the Meantime of Life and Death

Cancer Aesthetics juxtaposes the feminization of U.S. cancer culture under neoliberal management of chronic crisis with feminist responses that take up the “social fact” of cancer as a way to think about and protest broader social conditions. An assembled archive of feminist cancer scholarship and cultural production serves as contextual history for an ethnographic account of how patients and caregivers narrate, visualize, and theorize embodied and gendered encounters with cancer. This interdisciplinary inquiry into the counter-aesthetics of those who inhabit cancer’s chronic meantime of life and death asks not how art can palliate but how it gives form and power to activist responses to the inadequacies of contemporary cancer management.

Megan Ybarra (Geography)

Green Wars: Conservation, Remilitarization, and Decolonizing Activism in Guatemala's Maya Forest

Green Wars is an ethnography of how Maya land activists challenge settler colonial conservation in Guatemala’s tropical forest. Bringing together political ecology and Indigenous Studies, I argue that the Guatemalan nation-state uses settler colonial logics of elimination, denying “local” indigenous rights by imagining their eventual disappearance with the concomitant ascendance of “global” conservation. Today, the fate of the Maya Forest hinges on the meaning and practices of protection for “protected areas.” In centering the role land-as-relationship in political ecology, the book imagines what the repatriation of land and life might look like in conservation practice that respects indigenous self-determination.

Oscar Aguirre Mandujano (Near Eastern Studies and Middle Eastern Studies)

Poetry and Politics in the Early Modern Ottoman World: The Court of Bayezid II (r.1481-1512)

Poetry and Politics investigates the creation of new forms of political communication by Ottoman scholars during the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. It argues that Ottoman scholars produced a new literary language in order to express political thought by transforming traditional forms of poetry and prose. My research focuses on the composition, editing, and circulation of Turkish and Persian poetry, as well as diplomatic correspondence compiled in book format during the reign of Bayezid II (1481-1512).

Jesse Meredith (History)

Cities of the Plan: Visions of the Built Environment in Northern England, 1960-1985

This dissertation is a cultural history of the built environment in postwar Britain. It examines the language and images that urban planners deployed and how this discourse shifted over time in response to economic necessities, political changes, postcolonial immigration, and mounting public opposition or indifference. I connect postwar planning to contemporary urban movements, exploring the ways various actors offered competing visions of the built environment as a locus of political, social, and affective transformation.

Adriana Vazquez (Classics)

Vates and Initiates: Roman Poetic Manipulation of Greek Mystery Cult

This dissertation reconsiders the world and literature of the Roman Augustan period through the lens of Greek mystery cult as an important tool for reshaping religious, political, and poetic thought. The Greek mystery religions, with their focus on written material and on the achievement of a kind of immortality in death, provided new and exciting mechanisms for negotiating life under a new political regime, the Roman Principate.