Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellows

The Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships support a year of research and writing to help advanced graduate students in the humanities and social sciences in the last year of PhD dissertation writing. Now in its fifteenth year, the program has supported over 1,000 promising emerging scholars.

This program is made possible by a generous grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Read more about this fellowship program.

Please note: affiliations shown are as of time of award. Please click on fellows' names for current information.

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Watch "Emerging Themes and Methods of Research: A Discussion with ACLS Fellows," an annual meeting session featuring recent ACLS fellows. 

Rebekah Ahrendt
Rebekah Ahrendt  |  Abstract
During the period known as the Second Refuge, displaced Huguenots maintained extensive networks that encouraged the exchange of ideas and of music. The opera not only provided employment for these exiles, but was itself a site of refuge, a space where a lost identity could be nostalgically reconstructed. Using the career trajectory of a Huguenot impresario as a map, this dissertation describes the environments Huguenots encountered across Europe in order to answer questions about the mechanisms of musical exchange and the stakes of performance in a changing world. It constructs an alternative history of French opera by examining specific performances, one that demonstrates that the French nation-state is an inadequate framework for understanding “French” opera in the decades around 1700.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, University of California, Berkeley  -  A Second Refuge: French Opera and the Huguenot Migration, 1685-1713

Rachel I. P. Lears
Rachel I. P. Lears  |  Abstract
This dissertation focuses ethnographically upon the first generation of young Uruguayan musicians to come of age alongside digital media, exploring how the visual culture of popular music harnesses social meaning by indexing and constructing space, time, affect, and knowledge. Tracing how these artists negotiate political subjectivity, cultural memory, and collective identification, this project opens windows onto broader social conflicts surrounding the role of music in the “post-liberal” terrain of contemporary Latin American politics; the social practices through which cultural producers position themselves vis-à-vis the state and the market in a small country in the Global South in the twenty-first century; and the effects of digital multimedia upon epistemologies of musical knowledge.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, New York University  -  Between Two Monsters: Underground Music and Visual Culture in Twenty-First Century Uruguay

Hannah Chadeayne Appel
Hannah Chadeayne Appel  |  Abstract
Oil extraction sites—from Kazakhstan to Trinidad and Tobago, Equatorial Guinea to Indonesia—vary radically, but the technology, people, contractual regimes, and infrastructure the oil industry brings to them do not. This modular nature of the industry—repeating, standardized, flexible—allows partial simplifications of what would otherwise be unmanageable complexity and proliferating ethical muddles. This research follows the work of simplification and replication in the Equatoguinean oil industry, work intended to disentangle the production of profit from the specificities of the supply site. Following the work of simplification shows the techniques through which the petroleum industry separates itself from the ethical situations it creates.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Stanford University  -  Crude Fictions: Oil and the Making of Modularity in Equatorial Guinea

Elizabeth Lew-Williams
Elizabeth Lew-Williams  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates America’s first major attempt to control the movement of people across its borders. In 1882, the Chinese Restriction Act barred Chinese laborers from immigrating to the US, but implementing this policy proved impossible. When the federal government failed to stop illegal immigration across the US-Canada border, white locals reacted violently, systematically expelling their Chinese neighbors. This project traces this story of exclusion and expulsion: how immigration policy instigated racial violence and how racial violence transformed immigration policy. It argues that Chinese Exclusion was not a top-down policy; rather, it was a tortured process, in which federal failures became local problems and local crises had national and international ramifications.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Stanford University  -  The Chinese Must Go: Immigration, Deportation, and Violence in the American West, 1882-1892

Rachel Applebaum
Rachel Applebaum  |  Abstract
This dissertation describes how the Soviet Union used cultural diplomacy—especially the idea of “friendship of the peoples”—to build and maintain its postwar empire in Eastern Europe. It focuses on Soviet relations with Czechoslovakia, and examines how a fantasy of international friendship was promoted by Soviet and Czechoslovak authorities, understood by ordinary citizens in both countries, and challenged during the tumultuous period between 1945 and 1969. In particular, it examines social and cultural contacts between Soviets and Czechoslovaks, including student exchanges, pen-pal correspondence, tourism, and the distribution and reception of Soviet film, fine art, and literature in Czechoslovakia.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Chicago  -  Friendship of the Peoples: Soviet-Czechoslovak Social and Cultural Contacts from the Battle for Prague to the Prague Spring, 1945-1969

Annette Damayanti Lienau
Annette Damayanti Lienau  |  Abstract
This dissertation compares the politics and poetics of language choice in Indonesian, Senegalese and Egyptian literary history (as national case studies from Asia, Africa, and the Middle East). The dissertation comparatively examines key historical moments through which the contours of literary nationalism were posited and challenged by ideologically informed, transnational literary movements (Communism and Islamism). This combination of national case studies is in part due to the shared religious heritage (among the majority of writers) of the three nations considered. The position of Egypt, Senegal, and Indonesia at the center and periphery of a literary realm with a common Islamic textual tradition therefore offers a primary basis for comparison between the case studies.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Yale University  -  In the Spirit of Bandung: On the Politics and Poetics of Linguistic Choice in the Comparative Literatures of Indonesia, Egypt, and Senegal, 1905-Present

Michitake Aso
Michitake Aso  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the social and environmental consequences of the introduction of rubber into the political economy of French colonial Vietnam. Colonialism, the environment, and scientific knowledge played key roles in the emergence of the rubber industry during the twentieth century. This dissertation analyzes the business of rubber, workers’ experiences of plantation life, and the region’s natural and social landscapes in order to discuss worker health and environmental transformations. Rubber plantations were not only places of brutal working conditions, but also experimental sites where knowledge was generated, tested, and implemented and where conceptions of human rights were debated and reworked, often violently.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Forests without Birds: Ecology and Health on the Rubber Plantations of French Colonial Vietnam, 1890-1954

Jonathan M. Livengood
Jonathan M. Livengood  |  Abstract
In the twentieth-century, statisticians, econometricians, computer scientists, and philosophers developed the formalism of structural equation models to quantitatively describe causal structures for the purpose of predicting the results of implementing new policies or taking new actions in a given context. Recently, philosophers have been trying to adapt the formalism of structural equation models to identify the causes of a given effect. This dissertation makes contributions to both fields of research. It proposes and solves a causal inference problem characteristic of many social and medical sciences, and considers the prospects for adapting the formalism of structural equation models to produce a theory of cause-identification characteristic of history, ethics, law, and diagnostics.

Doctoral Candidate, History and Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh  -  On Causal Inferences in the Sciences and Humanities

Melissa A. Bailey
Melissa A. Bailey  |  Abstract
This project traces the role of measure and number in physical encounters of exchange in the Roman and Late Roman Mediterranean. It examines the determination of value through material practice: The creation of specific kinds of instruments and measuring units and the habits of literacy, numeracy, and craftsmanship through which these were embodied and applied. Through a series of specific case studies, it shows how mundane technologies like coins and measuring units structured the apprehension of reality and gave rise to communal “spaces” of potential conversions in which the principle of physical manipulation itself acquired a special importance. This project also demonstrates how, over time, measuring units were continual sites for communal action and negotiation of imperial power.

Doctoral Candidate, Classics, Stanford University  -  To Separate the Act From the Thing: Technologies of Value in the Ancient Mediterranean

Lydia Wilson Marshall
Lydia Wilson Marshall  |  Abstract
This dissertation investigates how people escaping slavery formed communities in nineteenth-century Kenya. Analysis centers on the economic insularity and cultural heterogeneity of runaway slave groups. First, the project explores the relative economic integration of such nascent groups into regional networks. Second, it investigates whether fugitive slaves developed homogenized sociocultural norms or maintained long-term cultural plurality. The above inquiries benefit from an archaeological and ethnohistorical comparison of fugitive slave groups and the coastal hinterland communities that neighbored them. These comparisons reveal the plasticity of ethnic identity for all hinterland groups and a concurrent need in runaway slave communities for both isolation from and connection to outsiders.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of Virginia  -  Fugitive Slaves and Community Creation in Nineteenth-Century Kenya: An Archaeological and Historical Investigation of Watoro Villages

Maria Belodubrovskaya
Maria Belodubrovskaya  |  Abstract
The stated goal of the Stalinist state was to use Soviet cinema as its “mighty propaganda weapon.” Contrary to what is commonly believed, however, this goal was never attained. Under Stalin, Soviet cinema saw its film output plummet, its filmmakers systematically underemployed, and many of its new films banned. All attempts by the Stalinist state to boost film production failed to produce results, and it was forced to compromise on a small number of propagandistically deficient films that Soviet filmmakers could successfully deliver. This dissertation examines four institutions of Soviet cinema—filmmaking practices, aesthetic traditions, administration, and censorship—to explain how and why this compromise between state and artists emerged.

Doctoral Candidate, Film Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Banned Films: Soviet Cinema under Stalin and the Failure of Power

Noah Millstone
Noah Millstone  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the role of handwritten political tracts in the fraught political life of pre-Civil War England. It argues that the production, circulation, and reception of manuscripts was a critical part of early Stuart political practice, and situates manuscript tracts at the intersection of news and political thought, and between factional maneuver and the history of reading. Scholars who have dealt with related problems have focused almost exclusively on print, which has led to the systematic exclusion of hundreds of widespread, explicit, and radical religious and political texts. Restoring these tracts to the center of the story reveals the deep suspicion and danger that helped wreck the stability of early Stuart England.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Stanford University  -  “Plot’s Commonwealth”: The Circulation of Manuscripts and the Practice of Politics in Early Stuart England, 1614-1640

James Ethan Bourke
James Ethan Bourke  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the meaning and political implications of Isaiah Berlin’s theory of value pluralism. Value pluralism is the idea that goods or values are often conflicting and incommensurable to one another; that is, they cannot be measured by a common rubric or systematically ranked against one another. The argument has four main parts: 1) an analysis of what Berlin and others have meant by “value pluralism;” 2) a critique of current attempts to link value pluralism to one or another political view; 3) a new interpretation of the core claim of incommensurability and an analysis of how it affects practical reasoning; and 4) a constructive argument about the liberal-democratic institutions and practices that value pluralism supports.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Duke University  -  The Politics of Incommensurability: A Value Pluralist Approach to Liberalism and Democracy

Joseph Moshenska
Joseph Moshenska  |  Abstract
The sixteenth and seventeenth-centuries in England were riven with disputes concerning the reliability of knowledge, the nature and value of the body, and the possibility of access to the divine. “Feeling Pleasures” contends that the sense of touch played a crucial and unacknowledged role in these debates. While recognized as the most fundamental and reliable of the senses, touch was also seen as too base and bodily to be of true worth. This project explores the responses to this ambiguity among poets, particularly Spenser, Donne, and Milton, as they acknowledged to the transformation of touch in a variety of spheres: reformation debates surrounding sacred objects; discussions of the social propriety of touching; and the rethinking of the senses occasioned by the rise of experimental science.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Princeton University  -  “Feeling Pleasures”: The Sense of Touch in the English Renaissance

Erin Claire Cage
Erin Claire Cage  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores how changing attitudes towards celibacy, marriage, and the priesthood during the age of Enlightenment shaped the religious politics of the French Revolution as well as the lived experiences of French clerics. This study emphasizes the central role that clergymen played as both formidable advocates and opponents of the marriage of priests. During the Revolution, the majority of clerics remained celibate, yet a significant minority either embraced marriage or married under duress. The project investigates how political and religious authorities responded to the vexing problem of reconciling the existence of several thousand married French priests with the formal reestablishment of Roman Catholicism and clerical celibacy in post-Revolutionary France.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Johns Hopkins University  -  Clerical Celibacy, Sex, and Marriage in Enlightenment and Revolutionary France

Somangshu Mukherji
Somangshu Mukherji  |  Abstract
As an undeniably cultural artifact, music has been subject to humanistic inquiry for centuries. How does this square with the equally ancient, yet conflicting, fascination with music as a scientific object, which has yielded important insights into the physics of musical sound and, more recently, the biology and evolution of musical behavior? This dissertation develops a cognitive, theoretical answer to this question by considering similar issues in language research, specifically ideas from the Minimalist Program in generative linguistics. In particular, it focuses on the unique, innate ability of the human mind to compute grammar and create meaning in both language and music, and argues from this that the musical mind has a peculiar biology that optimally suits it to its various aesthetic functions. This, in turn, helps address certain cultural concerns in music, such as its cross-stylistic variation, and helps tackle certain philosophical puzzles about musical knowledge, expression, and beauty.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, Princeton University  -  Generative Musical Grammar: A Minimalist Approach

Sinem Arcak Casale
Sinem Arcak Casale  |  Abstract
In the early modern period, the Shiite Safavids of Iran and the Sunni Ottomans of Turkey developed a complex relationship in which tenuous peace alternated with bloody conflict. This dissertation is the first systematic study of this relationship from the perspective of visual culture, and focuses on objects exchanged by these empires through gifting. These objects enriched the visual culture of each court, and led to the formulation of two distinctive artistic canons. Far from supplementing the letters that envoys carried, they carried powerful messages of their own. Through an examination of the gifts’ ritual presentation and reception, this dissertation also investigates the use of material culture to project both political power and cultural influence in the early modern world.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  Gifts in Motion: Ottoman-Safavid Cultural Exchange, Sixteenth to Eighteenth Centuries

Michael Joseph Mulvey
Michael Joseph Mulvey  |  Abstract
Today, French suburban high-rise communities or grands ensembles d’habitations evoke the hyperbolic images of flame-engulfed cars and youth riots. Postwar French technocrats, however, imagined the communities as cornerstones of a welfare state committed to the preservation of the family’s nurturing function. Families of all classes with female domestic caregivers “liberated” from work by housing and maternal allocations by male breadwinners would move from rent-controlled apartments to condominiums with financial solvency. “Concrete Frontier” asks three questions: what vision of society inspired a commitment to the grands ensembles, what shapes of domestic life did they engender, and what sociocultural processes gave rise to their abandonment?

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  France’s Concrete Frontier: Gender, Family, and Social Policy in High-Rise Communities, 1945-1975

William Cavert
William Cavert  |  Abstract
London was the first city in world history whose air was continually polluted by smoke, and this dissertation shows how Londoners both embraced and regretted their newly smoky air. Between 1550 and 1750, coal became the primary fuel for domestic fireplaces and burgeoning industries, a process resulting from political policies and choices as well as demographic and economic conjunctures. Through debates centering on morality, paternalism, and the public good, coal burning came to be associated with the hearth and the family, growth and prosperity, even as coal smoke was widely perceived to signify dirtiness, disorder, and danger. The production of pollution was both a material and a moral process, both a changing energy regime and a new set of responses to a troubling urban environment.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Northwestern University  -  Producing Pollution: Coal, Smoke, and Society in Early Modern London

Dara Orenstein
Dara Orenstein  |  Abstract
A new billboard on I-95 in New Jersey advertises a spatial product that has quietly come to define the topology of globalization in the United States: “Heller Industrial Park—Now a Foreign-Trade Zone!” Foreign-trade zones (FTZs) are parcels of land located on US soil but off US customs territory—akin to Mexico’s maquiladoras and China’s special economic zones. Proposed in 1894 and authorized in 1934, FTZs now dot every state of the union, totaling over 750 strong, and they have spawned a cornucopia of related “special taxing districts,” naturalizing extraterritoriality in the name of economic development. Yet not one humanities scholar has studied them. This dissertation uncovers their economic, political, and cultural logic, offering a field guide to a world hidden in plain view.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, Yale University  -  Offshore Onshore: Foreign-Trade Zones on US Soil, 1846-1989

Giuliana Chamedes
Giuliana Chamedes  |  Abstract
Between 1929 and 1949, the Catholic Church led an international campaign against communism on both sides of the Atlantic. From the pulpit and the printed page, Catholic leaders exposed how communism threatened religious faith and urged laypeople and politicians to turn against the atheistic Soviet Union. Scholars have neglected the influence of the Catholic Church in setting the terms for anticommunism as an ideology and a movement. By drawing upon a wealth of new archival sources—consulted in sites as diverse as the Secret Vatican Archive, the Italian and French state and foreign ministry archives, and the FDR Presidential Library—this dissertation reveals the unexplored connection between domestic anticommunism and the Vatican's diplomacy. Using oral history and textual analysis, it shows how a transnational network of Church officials and laypeople helped construct the communist enemy that would populate the Western political imagination for decades to come.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  The Making of the Communist Enemy: The Catholic Church and the Ideological Origins of the Cold War, 1929-1949

Nathan Perl-Rosenthal
Nathan Perl-Rosenthal  |  Abstract
This project shows how patriot leaders’ old regime epistolary training shaped their political organizing during the late eighteenth-century age of revolutions. Through case studies in the American and French Revolutions and the Dutch Patriot movement, it shows how differences in epistolary habits led patriots to create public networks that differed in their structure, organization, and ideological content. These, in turn, helped create different routes towards kingless government in each revolution. As the first comparative study of the revolutions in several decades to be based on archival research in multiple national contexts, it offers a new account of the process of political radicalization in the late eighteenth century.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Corresponding Republics: Private Letters and Patriot Societies in the American, Dutch, and French Revolutions, ca. 1765-92

Elizabeth Anne Chiarello
Elizabeth Anne Chiarello  |  Abstract
This study examines how institutional scripts and individual identities influence professional ethical decision-making within and across institutional environments. Focusing on the Emergency Contraception (EC) conflict in pharmacies, this dissertation considers how legal, organizational, political, and professional factors interact with salient identities to influence pharmacists’ accounts of dispensation. Data consist of interviews and surveys of pharmacists in four states with different laws, a liberal and conservative county in each state, and hospital and retail pharmacies in each county. Initial findings suggest that identification of ethical issues varies by work setting and that pharmacists who oppose EC reconcile ethical challenges by separating professional duties and personal beliefs.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Irvine  -  Pharmacists of Conscience: Ethical Decision-Making Across Legal, Political, and Organizational Environments

Justin James Pope
Justin James Pope  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines a revolutionary movement that swept through slave societies of the British Atlantic between 1729 and 1742. During that period, enslaved people from the Caribbean to British North America rose up against the planter class. Colonial authorities acknowledged a “dangerous spirit of liberty” uniting slaves, yet historians have not explored the relationship between these uprisings. This study explains the causes behind these real and imagined insurrections and explores what they tell us about Britain’s eighteenth-century empire. This project also examines the link between British anxiety in the 1730s and the First Great Awakening. British fear of slaves and Catholics contributed to Protestant fears that they were not saved, that God was not on their side.

Doctoral Candidate, History, The George Washington University  -  Whispers and Waves: Insurrection, Conspiracy, and the Search for Salvation in the British Atlantic, 1729-1742

Margareta Ingrid Christian
Margareta Ingrid Christian  |  Abstract
The dissertation defines a new category of space in German culture at the turn of the twentieth century: air, ether, aura, and atmosphere denote a space sensible in and of itself, as space. It contextualizes these aerial spaces in aesthetic, scientific, and occult discourses that challenge old conceptions of space and fixed notions of matter at the end of the nineteenth century. It argues that evocations of aerial spaces trace the afterlife of scientific terms in cultural discourses. More importantly, they localize the attempt to engage the empirical sciences for objects of knowledge that evade the grasp of science. They embody a cognitive borderland between concept and metaphor, between scientific knowledge and non-rational objects of knowledge, and point to human engagements with cognitive limits.

Doctoral Candidate, German Literature and Language, Princeton University  -  Air, Ether, Atmosphere: A Cultural History of Fluids around 1900

Noer Fauzi Rachman
Noer Fauzi Rachman  |  Abstract
This dissertation reveals the ways the new land reform policy and rural social movements in Java, Indonesia, have challenged the structures and processes of state land control, land acquisition, and development policy and practice. It exemplifies how rural movements and land reform policy processes have been mutually constituted through continuous and ongoing processes of movement success and movement setback. This dissertation provides a complex and detailed understanding of how the land politics, management ideologies, and practices of different agencies of a single national state—in this case the National Land Agency and the Ministry of Forestry— conflict, compete, and come together with the objectives of rural social movements at different historical moments.

Doctoral Candidate, Environmental Science, Policy and Management, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Resurgence of Land Reform Policy and Rural Social Movements in Indonesia

Rossen Lilianov Djagalov
Rossen Lilianov Djagalov  |  Abstract
This project is dedicated to understanding the forms and evolutions of post-WWII leftist culture. Taking its cue from Benedict Anderson, it argues that literary culture helped constitute the imagined community of the international left. Leftist culture supplied the common reading that sustained it and the aesthetic forms in terms of which it imagined and represented itself. Focusing on three distinct genres—the proletarian novel of the 1940s and 50s, the guitar poetry of the 1960s and 70s, and the third-world novel of the same period—their circulation networks, and international reception, this project accounts for the fragmentation of socialist internationalism in the postwar decades and its replacement by globalization as the primary vehicle of transnational culture.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Yale University  -  Literary Imaginings of Socialist Internationalism in the Age of the Three Worlds

William Joseph Rankin
William Joseph Rankin  |  Abstract
In the decades surrounding World War II, there was a broad and coherent shift in the mapping sciences from an interest in the authoritative representation of terrain to an interest in developing pragmatic infrastructural tools that would be installed as part of the landscape. By looking at three major international projects—the International Map of the World, the US Army’s grid-based alternative to latitude and longitude, and the various efforts to create a worldwide radio-navigation system, leading to GPS—this dissertation argues that the transformation of geographic space into a new kind of engineering service both inaugurated a new politics of global spatial legibility and constructed a new, geographically embedded subject for whom nationally defined space would become increasingly irrelevant.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Science and Architecture, Harvard University  -  After the Map: Cartography, Navigation, and the Transformation of Territory in the Twentieth Century

Boryana Y. Dobreva
Boryana Y. Dobreva  |  Abstract
This project uncovers the role of recent German-Balkan works in articulating transnational identity in and through literature. Drawing on Postcolonial and Western theories of subjectivity and hybridity, this dissertation argues that the historical and cultural context from which Eastern Europe has developed as Europe’s “Other within” requires a reconfiguration of present theoretical models. Consequently, this research introduces Balkan critics’ discursive approaches to identities in order to generate productive readings of literature by Bulgarian and Russian émigrés. Analyzing their fictional narratives through an East-West lens, this study shows how thinking about identity and migration in literary and historical perspectives proves useful for understanding the shifting identities and borders in Germanic Europe and beyond.

Doctoral Candidate, German Studies, University of Pittsburgh  -  Subjectivity Regained? German-Language Writing from Eastern Europe and the Balkans through an East-West Gaze

Eric J. Rettberg
Eric J. Rettberg  |  Abstract
Modernism was often greeted derisively by a skeptical public that thought ridiculous the idea that these new literary and artistic works were art, that saw them instead as nonsense. “Ridiculous Modernism” departs from the typical critical dismissals of such charges and argues that various ideas of nonsense were actually central to many of the literary achievements of modernism. Modernists were not mere victims of the idea that their work was nonsense. Rather, they were slyly defining themselves both within and against that idea. By exploring nonsense as a multifaceted cultural phenomenon that fascinated many of the most influential modernists, this project emphasizes sides of modernism often obscured by critical emphasis on heightened artistic seriousness during the period.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Virginia  -  Ridiculous Modernism: Nonsense and New Literature, 1900-1950

Yiftah Elazar
Yiftah Elazar  |  Abstract
The meaning and value of individual freedom was the core issue in an unusual philosophical debate that took place in Britain while the American Revolution was raging across the Atlantic. Dozens of writers responded to the democratic theory of freedom proposed by the dissenting minister Richard Price in his bestselling “Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty” (1776). Price defended the claims of the American colonists by arguing, on moral and theological grounds, that the core principle of freedom is individual and communal self-government. The dissertation studies the hitherto neglected 1776 British Freedom Debate between Price and his critics, recovering arguments for the intrinsic relation between individual liberty and democratic participation in politics.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Princeton University  -  Liberty and Self-Government: Richard Price and the 1776 British Freedom Debate

Michael Robbins
Michael Robbins  |  Abstract
“Quarrels with Ourselves” argues, in the wake of the proliferation of “language-centered” poetries of “non-selves,” that the living, feeling self quarreling with itself provides a formal resolution to dilemmas that have plagued the poetic subject since the heyday of confessional verse. This study proposes that in its grappling with questions of intentionality, affect, political engagement, style, and poetic speaking, the poetic self is not a figure of solipsistic self-regard, but an allegory for larger social and moral problems of responsibility and justice, shame and authority.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Chicago  -  Quarrels with Ourselves: Just Realism in Contemporary Poetry

Emran El-Badawi
Emran El-Badawi  |  Abstract
As the scripture “par excellence” of the late antique Near East (ca. 180-632), the Qur’an aimed to reconfigure the teachings of competing prophetic traditions and their scriptures, especially the Hebrew Bible and Gospel Traditions. Furthermore, the supremacy of Aramaic language and culture in this context meant that the Arabic text of the Qur’an narrated, refuted, challenged, and “corrected” the doctrines and language of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions (i.e. the Gospel texts preserved in the Syriac and Christian Palestinian Aramaic dialects) to fit the idiom and religious temperament of its sectarian audience. The hermeneutical approach, which is dubbed “dogmatic re-articulation,” adopted various phrases and rhetorical schemes from the Aramaic Gospel Traditions, while removing Christological elements contained within them in order to promote its firm monotheistic vision.

Doctoral Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago  -  Sectarian Scripture: The Qur’an and its Dogmatic Re-Articulation of the Aramaic Gospel Traditions in the Fractured Late Antique Near East

Strother E. Roberts
Strother E. Roberts  |  Abstract
“Harvesting the Woods, Harnessing the Waters,” situates the early American environment within the broader context of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Atlantic World, providing a valuable corrective to the excellent but inward-looking environmental histories that have preceded it. This project explores the growth of an overlapping network of local, regional, and trans-Atlantic markets in natural resources and studies the impact that local inhabitants’ choices within these markets had upon both the land- and waterscapes of the colonial Connecticut Valley. It shows that these early modern markets worked to displace the impact of resource consumption in much the way that modern wealthy nations purchase improved ecological conditions at the expense of developing-world trading partners.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Northwestern University  -  Harvesting the Woods, Harnessing the Waters: An Environmental History of the Colonial Connecticut Valley

Christine Folch
Christine Folch  |  Abstract
Leftist former Bishop Fernando Lugo was able to topple the six-decade ruling Colorado Party in Paraguay in April 2008 by channeling discontent among Paraguay’s citizenry over unfulfilled promises and the status quo by linking all these complaints to one issue: Paraguay’s hydroelectric dam shared with Brazil, Itaipú Binacional. Based on 19 months of ethnographic (“studying up”) and documentary research, this project shows how the Paraguayan state operates at the Triple Frontera, where Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina meet. Given the impact of outside powers on the make-up of the Paraguayan nation-state and the economic weight of the dam, the ability to steer the course of Itaipú translates to a perceived ability to determine the future of Paraguay. In the attempts to control the dam and construct “hydroelectric sovereignty,” we see the reconfiguration of the Paraguayan nation-state as it responds to internal and external pressures.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  Territory Matters in the Triple Frontera: Ciudad del Este, Itaipú, and the Paraguayan State

Adam R. Rosenblatt
Adam R. Rosenblatt  |  Abstract
“Last Rights” is a political, historical, and philosophical study of the international teams of forensic scientists that investigate mass graves after human rights violations, collecting evidence for war crimes tribunals and identifying the dead. It focuses on the complex political landscape in which these investigations take place, where tribunals, mourners, and transitional governments all claim a stake in exhumations. Analyzing the ethical dialogue among forensic experts and other stakeholders, it finds that mass grave exhumations have produced unique and transformative uses of the human rights framework to address this complexity. Dead bodies, however, have remained “silent stakeholders” in the forensic dialogue. The dissertation thus argues for the ethical significance of violated bodies that are now identified and repatriated to their mourners.

Doctoral Candidate, Modern Thought and Literature, Stanford University  -  Last Rights: Forensic Science, Human Rights, and the Victims of Atrocity

Ellery Elisabeth Foutch
Ellery Elisabeth Foutch  |  Abstract
The pursuit of perfection pervades 19th-Century American art and culture. While historical interpretations of this era posit a binary opposition of competing desires—an embrace of progress and new technologies versus anti-modernist nostalgia—this work identifies and analyzes a previously unstudied phenomenon: the desire to stop time at a “perfect moment,” pausing the cycle of growth, decay, and rebirth to arrest and preserve a perfect state that forestalls decay or death. Four case studies in diverse visual media illuminate this notion of the perfect moment: Titian Peale’s Lepidoptera portfolios and specimen cases; Martin Johnson Heade’s “Gems of Brazil” hummingbird paintings; films, photographs, and sculptures of bodybuilder Eugen Sandow; and Harvard’s collection of glass botanical models created by Leopold & Rudolf Blaschka.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, University of Pennsylvania  -  Arresting Beauty: The Perfectionist Impulse of Peale's Butterflies, Heade's Hummingbirds, Blaschka's Flowers, and Sandow's Body

Michael P. Rossi
Michael P. Rossi  |  Abstract
This study is a cultural history of color research in Progressive Era America. Color was an important topic for a diverse array of turn-of-the-century researchers, including physicists, anthropologists, industrialists, and artists. Color confounded the ability of science to signify subjective phenomena; it offered insight into the roots of sensation; it held the key to understanding how human beings learned about the world and structured their societies; and it was a powerful commercial tool. In working through questions of science, sensation, mind, and society, vision researchers applied their scientific studies to questions about what, who, and how a modern American society would be.

Doctoral Candidate, Science, Technology and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  The Rules of Perception: American Color Science, 1858-1931

Mayhill C. Fowler
Mayhill C. Fowler  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces how the involvement of artists and art officials shaped both the arts and the state in interwar Soviet Ukraine through the story of theater director Oleksandr “Les” Kurbas (1887-1937). The transformation of Kurbas’ theatre and social milieu shows that the Soviet attempt to separate artists and audiences by ethnos managed to inhibit, rather than encourage, cultural exchange. Soviet Ukraine, home to an explosion in the arts in the 1920s, never amounted to more than a province—artistically and politically—by the late 1930s. Ultimately, it argues that the crucial factor for creativity may not be primarily the degree of freedom accorded by a state, but rather the meaning ascribed to art by officials, audiences, and artists.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  Beau Monde: State and Stage on Empire's Edge, Russia and Soviet Ukraine, 1916-1941

Anat Schechtman
Anat Schechtman  |  Abstract
The dissertation offers a new reading of Descartes’ causal proof for the existence of God in the “Meditations.” Descartes argues that insofar as we grasp the infinite, an infinite being must exist. Yet, do we really grasp the infinite? The dissertation shows that Descartes defends this position by an appeal to the dependence of the idea of the finite on the idea of the infinite. It is then suggested that this method of invoking dependence foreshadows Kant’s transcendental method. In addition, an examination of proofs in Descartes’ “Geometry” suggests that they, too, invoke dependence, between the “construction” of a geometrical problem and its solution. What emerges from this investigation, then, is a unified account of this method of Descartes’ which both illuminates and connects his philosophy, theology, and mathematics.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, Yale University  -  Grasping the Infinite: Descartes’ “Meditations” as an Exercise in Transcendental Philosophy

Hilary E. Fox
Hilary E. Fox  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the development of the self in the Old English translations of Gregory the Great’s “Dialogues and Pastoral Rule,” Boethius’s “Consolation of Philosophy,” and Augustine’s “Soliloquies,” all traditionally associated with the rule of Alfred of Wessex. While not positing an equivalent to modern or postmodern understandings of selfhood, these translations conceptualize a self that is embodied and (to an extent) private. Further, they use metaphors involving the body and its location in space to articulate both a distinctively “Alfredian” epistemology and what we might today call a self or an individual.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Notre Dame  -  Mind, Body, Soul, and Self in the Alfredian Translations

Erik Rattazzi Scott
Erik Rattazzi Scott  |  Abstract
Georgians were perhaps the most visible ethnic minority in the Soviet Union, and as a diaspora found niches of vital significance at each stage of Soviet history. A small but highly mobile community, Georgians headed the state that built socialism, provided the food and entertainment when Soviet citizens desired new forms of consumption and leisure, dominated the burgeoning second economy, and were among the first to seek exit from the Soviet Union amidst the rising nationalism that accompanied its demise. By focusing on the aspects of Soviet life where Georgian prominence was greatest, the dissertation explores the broad sweep of Soviet history by bringing to light the unique roles played by this dynamic group.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Familiar Strangers: The Georgian Diaspora in the Soviet Union

Supriya Gandhi
Supriya Gandhi  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the Persian writings on Indic religions of the Mughal prince Dara Shikoh (1615-59), the social contexts of their production, and their later reception. It argues that such interventions of interpreting and codifying Indic knowledge formed a constituent part of the construction of Mughal kingship, and influenced the ways in which Hindus came to systematize their traditions from the seventeenth through the nineteenth centuries. It treats the visual and literary topos of royal encounters with Muslim and non-Muslim spiritual authorities, the hermeneutics of equivalence making in the Persian translations of Indic works, and the role of Dara Shikoh’s legacy and memory in eighteenth and nineteenth-century articulations of a monotheistic Hinduism.

Doctoral Candidate, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University  -  Forging Equivalences: Dara Shikoh, Persian Translations of Indic Works, and the Mughal Genealogies of Hinduism

Augustine Sedgewick
Augustine Sedgewick  |  Abstract
In the 1930s, coffee drinking in the US increased for the first time in three decades. This dissertation uses the countercyclical expansion of the coffee trade to link Roosevelt’s domestic and foreign policies in a new way and to reframe the history of the depression and the New Deal. Coffee’s abundance expressed a broad shift in US political economy underway after 1932 toward mass consumption, international development, and freer trade, especially within the Americas. By stretching the value of the dollar across a more complex international division of labor, this shift subsidized the emergent US welfare state, which deployed consumer purchasing power to soothe domestic social crises. In sum, this American System displaced the costs of rehabilitating US capitalism abroad, particularly onto Latin America, and anticipated the global form US prosperity and power would take in the postwar era.

Doctoral Candidate, History of American Civilization, Harvard University  -  The American System in the World Depression, 1929-1945

Jeffrey Garmany
Jeffrey Garmany  |  Abstract
This dissertation queries how “governance”—as a process where social behavior is organized, coordinated, and guided—is produced and maintained in spaces where the institutions of “government” are essentially absent. In Brazil, for example, where more than one-third of the total urban population lives in favelas (urban slums), researchers continually report that social and political order is maintained in slum communities, even when the state has no visible presence. Though oft-publicized examples from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo suggest that drug traffickers often control such communities, most favelas in Brazil are not governed by outlaw authorities. Through a case study in a favela in northeast Brazil, this research explains the paradox of social order in ungoverned spaces.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of Arizona  -  Governance without Government: Explaining Order in a Brazilian Favela

Jacob Stoltzfus Sider Jost
Jacob Stoltzfus Sider Jost  |  Abstract
British conceptions of literary immortality—how creative works and their authors can endure beyond death—changed fundamentally in the eighteenth century. Earlier writers such as Shakespeare and Milton appealed to poetic immortality, relying on short lyric verses to preserve themselves and the subjects they celebrated. Eighteenth-century authors such as Richardson and Boswell, in contrast, developed a model of prose immortality, in which exhaustive documentary detail gives authors and characters a vivid existence beyond death. This project describes and explains this changing conception of literary immortality between 1709-1791, drawing on the essay, long poem, novel, memoir, and biography while connecting this development to contemporaneous intellectual and religious history.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Harvard University  -  The Afterlife of Samuel Johnson, LLD: Literature and Immortality in Britain, 1709-1791

Amanda Jo Goldstein
Amanda Jo Goldstein  |  Abstract
Examining literary, scientific, and hybrid experiments on the development of living bodies after the French Revolution, this dissertation traces attempts at what Goethe named “tender Empiricism” and Blake “sweet Science”: poetic physiologies and physiological poetics that sought to revise the scene of empirical observation and contest the then-deepening distinction between the natural and human sciences. From Diderot to Goethe, E. Darwin, and Marx, the project seeks out historically-available alternatives to the idealist conceptions of “life,” “matter,” and “figure” that have dominated the twentieth century’s reception and deconstruction of romantic aesthetics, inhabiting various hylozoist positions, and investigating the afterlives of pre-Newtonian, active matter.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, University of California, Berkeley  -  “Sweet Science”: Poetic Biologies around 1800

Elizabeth Son
Elizabeth Son  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines a range of Asian and Asian American performances that deal with the history of Japanese military sexual slavery during World War II. Military sexual slavery involved the coercion of an estimated 200,000 Asian girls and young women, euphemistically called “comfort women,” into sexually servicing Japanese troops. It investigates how survivors, activists, and artists have utilized different modes of performance (protests, trials, theater, dance, and testimonial acts) to contest the transnational suppression of this history. Drawing from theoretical and methodological frameworks in performance studies, cultural studies, and gender and sexuality studies, this project traces international collaboration among activists alongside the global circulation of performance practices between Korea, Japan, Europe, and the United States. It argues that these performances should not be seen as disparate events, but as part of a transpacific genealogy of redressive acts that gesture towards alternative sites of redress outside of state-sponsored parameters.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, Yale University  -  Performing Redress: Military Sexual Slavery and the Transpacific Politics of Memory

Brian D. Goldstone
Brian D. Goldstone  |  Abstract
This dissertation assesses the conceptual and ethnographic itinerary of miracles in northern Ghana, a rural, often pathologized region whose largely Muslim population has recently become the object of evangelistic efforts undertaken by Pentecostal-charismatic churches from the south. Drawing upon extensive fieldwork and archival research, as well as a range of philosophical, historical, literary, and theological materials, the project explores the myriad grammars of wonder through which miracles—as sign events, as technologies of conversion—have so passionately, unremittingly, and indeed controversially made their way into this long-vilified hinterland. To apprehend the salvific and world-constituting powers of the miraculous, this project suggests, is to perceive a repertoire of practices and sensibilities that lie at the heart not only of the charismatic incursion into northern Ghana, but of the proliferation of this brand of Christianity across the continent as a whole.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Duke University  -  A Fire Upon the World: The Passions and Powers of Pentecostalism in Northern Ghana

Bettina Y. Stoetzer
Bettina Y. Stoetzer  |  Abstract
While Berlin is currently promoted as a flourishing “Green City” and “Europe's Nature Capital,” debates about immigrant segregation and unemployment stress the emergence of troubled neighborhoods and “ghettos” in the city’s body. Based on fifteen months of fieldwork in Berlin, this dissertation uses several case studies—multicultural gardens, forest schools, urban parks, and a post-unification era nature park at Berlin’s fringes—to examine how “natural” landscapes become sites of contestation over national belonging and race. Drawing on participant observation and interviews with several immigrant and refugee communities, as well as environmentalists, public officials, foresters, and East and West German nature lovers, this project asks: how are social inequalities and notions of belonging reconfigured in conflicts over the creation, use, and management of greenspaces?

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, University of California, Santa Cruz  -  At the Forest Edges of the City: An Ethnography of Racial Geographies and National Belonging in Berlin and its Countryside

Richard J. Guy
Richard J. Guy  |  Abstract
This dissertation inquires into the spatial aspects of control, resistance, and communication in the Dutch East India Company (VOC), as revealed by the architecture of its ships, 1740-1790. Both the general class of East Indiamen and several individual case studies are considered. Official discourses on shipboard order and design (from VOC records, plans, shipbuilding treatises, Articles of Employment, instructions for officers and ships’ logs and accounts) are combined with sources for VOC seafarers’ spatial practices and largely unacknowledged seafaring traditions, especially mutiny trial documents and shipwreck narratives. These records are analyzed to understand how space use aboard contributed to the VOC’s social order and to the image it projected to its servants, trade partners, and competitors.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Architecture, Cornell University  -  First Spaces of Colonialism: Architecture, Space, and Society of the Ships of the Dutch East India Company, 1740-1795

Elizabeth Thornberry
Elizabeth Thornberry  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces the history of sexual violence in South Africa’s Eastern Cape from the precolonial period through the passage of the Native Administration Act. While precolonial Xhosa law punished both consensual and non-consensual illicit sex, colonial law punished consensual illicit sex more readily than rape. In response, rural Xhosa communities redefined sexual violence as seduction or adultery, while in urban areas, women struggled to attain any form of redress. In the twentirth century, fears of “black peril” (the rape of white women by black men) diverted the attention of both white and black elites from sexual violence aimed at black women. As elder men lost control of younger generations, new masculine identities justified sexual violence as a male prerogative.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Stanford University  -  Historicizing Sexual Violence in South Africa’s Eastern Cape, 1848-1927

Angela S. Hawk
Angela S. Hawk  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the history of insanity in the major Pacific gold-rush regions of the nineteenth century. Drawing on extensive archival research in California, British Columbia, and eastern Australia, it demonstrates that the interconnected character of the mining booms created a substantial migrant patient population that circulated within and between these regions. In turn, the themes of mobility, mining, and migration came to inform a distinct trans-Pacific discourse on insanity, one concerned with the unique mental strain posed by gold-rush living and the inherent incapacity of certain migrant “classes” to cope with its vices and disappointments. This discourse subsequently shaped major international legal trends defining the racial and socio-economic boundaries of the “healthy” nation.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Irvine  -  Madness, Mining, and Migration in the Pacific World, 1848-1900

Darian Marie Totten
Darian Marie Totten  |  Abstract
In studies of the Roman economy, historical approaches have modeled big-picture, empire-wide economic processes, often eliding local and rural contexts, while archaeological work has focused too closely on the small-scale, single site experience. This research instead investigates the interactions between local rural contexts—those mechanisms driving wider scale regional economies—by emphasizing the movements of people and objects in activities of production and consumption. It studies the archaeological and literary evidence from southern Italy, a region once characterized as economically marginal and now seen as highly prosperous, to assess the integral role of these connections from the first through sixth centuries C.E.—a period encompassing the Late Antique transition and the fall of the Roman empire. This dissertation argues that southern Italy was more resilient to the vicissitudes of the larger Mediterranean economy because of the quality and consistency of its regional connections, developed over time through these economic flows.

Doctoral Candidate, Classics, Stanford University  -  Scales of Connectivity in the Late Antique Landscape: Economic Networks in Southern Italy

Toshihiro Higuchi
Toshihiro Higuchi  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the Cold War politics of environmental radiation safety standards for radioactive fallout from atmospheric nuclear weapons testing from 1945 to 1963. Focusing on the birth of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and that of the US Federal Radiation Council (FRC), the dissertation analyzes US national security and science policy behind these regulatory reforms. It also seeks to address the relationship between the new advisory committees and US policy toward a limited test ban in 1963. Based on multi-archival research in Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Russia, and the United States, the historical investigation illuminates multinational interactions among policymakers and scientific experts in a global search for “acceptable risk” in the Cold War world.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Georgetown University  -  Nuclear Fallout, the Politics of Risk, and the Making of a Global Environmental Crisis, 1945-1963

Gleb Tsipursky
Gleb Tsipursky  |  Abstract
This dissertation is the first in-depth study of Soviet policy from 1945 to 1968. Since state-sponsored clubs, festivals, and cafes constituted a crucial site of activity for youth, policies on cultural leisure had a defining impact on youth socialization. This project examines the motivations for policy shifts among top-level officials; their realization at the local level; debates about youth cultural leisure in the press; and the responses of youth to these top-down initiatives. It argues that in the post-Stalin era, popular culture policy became fundamental to constructing youth identity, influencing consumption desires, contesting “western” popular culture, impacting state-building, shaping gender norms, inspiring generational tensions, and empowering youth agency.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Pleasure, Power, and the Pursuit of Communism: State-Sponsored Youth Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1945-1968

Lauren Hirshberg
Lauren Hirshberg  |  Abstract
This project explores the complex relationship between the Marshall Islands and the United States during the Cold War through a focus on the history of Kwajalein, an island that became a US suburban missile range during this time. It interrogates the expansion of a US military empire following World War II as sanctioned through a UN Trusteeship agreement in Micronesia offering the US strategic access to the region for weapons development. It examines how US control of Kwajalein impacted Marshallese primarily through loss of land and subsequent displacement to the island of Ebeye that became an overpopulated urban labor camp for Kwajalein. It also examines the role the missile range ultimately played in negotiations for Marshallese decolonization during the 1970s and 1980s.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Targeting Kwajalein: US Military Imperialism in the Marshall Islands during the Cold War

Shannon D. Walsh
Shannon D. Walsh  |  Abstract
This dissertation explains the development and variation in practices within three types of specialized institutions (policy agencies, police units, and the courts) that address violence against women in Latin America. A structured, focused comparison of Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica is conducted to generate a broader explanation of strengthening institutions and state capacity in Latin America to address the needs of marginalized populations. It proposes that states are more likely to construct institutions and transform their practices: 1) when states are made vulnerable to civil society demands by human rights-based political and legal frameworks and 2) when a national women’s movement works in coordination with international women’s organizations and key state actors.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, University of Notre Dame  -  Engendering State Institutions: State Response to Violence Against Women in Latin America

Maile S. Hutterer
Maile S. Hutterer  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the aesthetic, symbolic, and cultural relevance of the medieval flying buttress, utilized continuously from the mid-twelfth to seventeenth century. An element that has been studied primarily in terms of its structural implications, this project recognizes it as a building component that was fully integrated into church design and exploited for its unique and highly visible typology. As the first detailed analysis of flying buttresses, the dissertation begins by investigating typology and dissemination. It then reconnects the flyer to the physical church and its iconographic interpretation, first through an investigation of the medieval planning principles underlying design, and then by situating it within the context of church reform and sacred place.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, New York University  -  Broken Outlines and Structural Exhibitionism: The Flying Buttress as Aesthetic Choice in Medieval France

Thomas K. Ward
Thomas K. Ward  |  Abstract
This dissertation links the emerging sense of an ordinary speaking voice in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England with the development of an ideology that privileges the voice as the medium most closely connected to consciousness. It argues that encounters with colonial voices abroad, shifts in devotional and pedagogical practices, and the rise of print and popular literacy produced a new awareness of the voice as a physical phenomenon rather than as a disembodied bearer of discourse. The aura of immediacy that eventually became associated with the spoken word cannot be separated from the historical contingencies that caused certain non-normative voices to be perceived as more bodily and therefore to be excluded from the emergent notion of an English subjectivity.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Pennsylvania  -  Inside Voices of the English Renaissance

Carrie L. Hyde
Carrie L. Hyde  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces the rhetorical development of US citizenship, as it was conceived through figures of political dispossession—both systematic exclusion and voluntary renunciation. Moving between fiction (by Rowson, Hawthorne, Douglass, Stowe, and Hale), legal debates, and political philosophy, it examines how writers and legislators used negative exempla to both formulate and unsettle emergent definitions of citizenship. While citizenship has often been understood as a virtual form of “property”—which obtained specificity through its distinction from both chattel slavery and a gendered domestic sphere—the literary and legal texts in this dissertation establish dispossession as an organizing principle of the antebellum political imaginary.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  Alienable Rights: Negative Figures of US Citizenship, 1790-1868

Mari K. Webel
Mari K. Webel  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a history of sleeping sickness in the Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika regions of East Africa, focusing on the preparation, implementation, and aftermath of sleeping sickness research and prevention programs in the early twentieth century. It explores how sleeping sickness research and prevention functioned at a nexus of African mobility, local and colonial political power, and developing ideas about disease prevention in tropical medicine. It argues that, contrary to medical history conceptions of colonial research and prevention programs as nationally bounded and highly centralized, sleeping sickness work in East Africa constantly adapted to contingent local circumstances. Local leaders and colonial scientists contended with African communities’ demands for treatment, resistance to examination, and claims on the use of land and waterways. Sleeping sickness research and prevention work created new economic relationships, reshaped existing social and political interactions, and set new ground rules for African agriculture and trade.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Tropical Medicine, German Imperialism, and the Local History of Sleeping Sickness at Lake Victoria and Lake Tanganyika, 1898-1914

Alvan A. Ikoku
Alvan A. Ikoku  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces the use of literary rhetoric in the development of tropical medicine from 1865-1935. It argues that the growth of tropical medicine was facilitated by the rise of specific genres of scientific writing, namely the scientific article, the medical report, and the public health pamphlet. Colonial specialists of the tropics used these genres to write more “scientifically” and maintain objectivity when describing human and geographic difference. Yet their writing on Equatorial Africa continued to reveal a disciplinary disorder. Malaria, in particular, demanded the use of literary scene, image, and a metaphor for the classification of African space, warm ecologies, and native children. The result is a corpus—malaria literature—that this project defines and examines to show how medical specialists and their literary contemporaries shaped malaria research, control and eradication

Doctoral Candidate, English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University  -  The Writing of Malaria, 1865-1935

Leah J. Whittington
Leah J. Whittington  |  Abstract
This dissertation approaches the interaction of rhetoric, ethics, and politics in Early Modern literature through the reception of classical scenes of supplication in Renaissance authors from Petrarch to Milton. Scenes of supplication like those in Homer and Vergil provide occasions for Early Modern readers to consider the questions of pity, clemency, and forgiveness, which were integral to the political and religious upheavals of the Reformation. Renaissance authors use the structure of classical supplication scenes to articulate ideas about the relationship between people and their government, the role of emotion in judgment, the place of mercy in justice, and the dynamic interaction between the reader and the writer of a text.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Princeton University  -  The Rhetoric and Ethics of Supplication from Vergil to Milton

Joshua I. Jelly-Schapiro
Joshua I. Jelly-Schapiro  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the central role of the Caribbean and its artists on the cultural landscape of the wider world from the 1950s to the present. Glancing back to the period when the British West Indies were gaining their independence, coincident with the triumph of Cuban Revolution, it explores how and why many of the region’s foremost intellectuals came to argue that the Caribbean’s diverse territories should all be understood to belong to a single region bound together by key commonalities of history and culture. It offers a reading of how the islands’ foremost musicians, artists, and writers have shaped understandings of “Caribeanness” across the half-century since—and of what is at stake in their continuing to conceive of the Caribbean as coherent region.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of California, Berkeley  -  The Caribbean in the World: Imaginative Geographies in the Independence Age

Bess Williamson
Bess Williamson  |  Abstract
This dissertation traces the development of the idea of “accessibility” as a key component of the disability rights cause in the United States. Focusing on the time period from the end of World War II, when policymakers and medical professionals sought to reintegrate disabled veterans into civilian life, to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990, it considers how the design of things ranging from public buses to can openers became implicated in the call for inclusion. As advocates of disability rights asserted that the government, not just individuals with disabilities, bore the responsibility to improve access, they introduced a “right to design” that explicitly linked the design of places and things to the entitlements of the citizen.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Delaware  -  The Right to Design: Disability and Access in the United States, 1945-1990

Alexander L. Kaye
Alexander L. Kaye  |  Abstract
The project analyzes the legal philosophies of Orthodox Jewish Zionists around the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, against the backdrop of the intellectual and sociopolitical contexts in which they operated. While recognizing the impact of the Jewish rabbinical canon, the project traces the influence of European, British, and American legal theories on the writings of religious Zionist leaders and the proceedings of the rabbinical courts in Palestine and, later, Israel. It explores the way that Orthodox Zionists rabbis conceived of their own legal thinking and writing, and also the way that it was conceived of by others—including secular Jewish Zionists and the British Mandate authorities.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  The Legal Philosophies of Religious Zionism, 1937-1967

Hsiao-pei Yen
Hsiao-pei Yen  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the intellectual oeuvre and varied expeditions of foreign and Chinese scientists who researched the geology, paleontology, anthropology, and archaeology of China’s northwestern and southwestern frontiers from 1911 to 1951. It explores how concerns with human civilization, the individual search for intellectual identity, and national interests motivated these scientists to inquire into the Chinese frontier, and how ideas were exchanged and shared among scientists in certain intellectual networks. Ultimately, it highlights the tensions between participating in global scientific community and the desire for the indigenization of imported knowledge systems experienced by Chinese scientists.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Harvard University  -  Constructing the Chinese: Paleoanthropology and Anthropology in the Chinese Frontier, 1920-1951

Jaeeun Kim
Jaeeun Kim  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the contestations over the membership status of colonial-era ethnic Korean migrants to Japan and northeast China and their descendants in the colonial, Cold-War, and post-Cold War eras. The century-long span of this study involving colonial rule and belated and divided nation-state building during the Cold War highlights the crucial importance of three factors which have been neglected in existing literature: (1) the dynamically evolving macro regional context, which has shaped trans border membership politics in the region; (2) the essentially political, performative, and constitutive nature of transborder nation-building; and (3) the documentary techniques of the modern state, the durable traces of which have constituted the conceptual grid through which the “homeland” state identified its transborder “kin,” left durable documentary traces on which the claim to national belonging could be grounded, and thus shaped the experience of transborder membershlp politics on the part of these Korean populations of colonial-era migrant origin.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Colonial Migration and Transborder Membership Politics in Twentieth-Century Korea