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. 

Kurt Andrew Beals
Kurt Andrew Beals  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the ways in which twentieth- and twenty-first-century German-language poets have engaged with advertising and commercial media. Along with Dada and Concrete Poetry, it addresses recent developments in Digital Poetry that integrate commercial and technological innovations into poetic production. Drawing on the aesthetic theory of the Frankfurt School as well as recent work in media theory, it considers these movements in relation to the media environments in which they emerged, from the print media of the Weimar Era to the interactive media of the digital age, arguing that these literary movements are best understood not in opposition to, but in the mainstream of the media history of the past century.

Doctoral Candidate, German Literature and Culture, University of California, Berkeley  -  From Dada to Digital: Experimental Literature and Commercial Culture

Nicholas Adrian Knouf
Nicholas Adrian Knouf  |  Abstract
This dissertation proposes the concept of the "sonic field" to follow the equivocality of sonic noise and its distribution throughout space and time. Noise is both something that can be captured in processes of accumulation as well as an unstable fluid that resists containment. The sonic field highlights how these processes simultaneously overlap, interacting in unpredictable ways. Examining this interplay requires a careful understanding of the intersection of psychological, social, and environmental spheres. Through a critical analysis of early information theory and music, sonic accelerationism, robotic performing objects, and sonic collectivity, the dissertation follows noise as it contributes to fluid processes of psychological and social transformation.

Doctoral Candidate, Information Science, Cornell University  -  The Embolus and the Ostium of the Sonic Field

Phillip Emmanual Bloom
Phillip Emmanual Bloom  |  Abstract
This dissertation identifies a paradox at the heart of Song-dynasty Buddhist art. On the one hand, the celestial pantheon was given visual form in increasingly bureaucratic, rational ways. On the other hand, the boundary separating that divine realm from the human world became increasingly permeable; gods and ghosts became an omnipresent part of daily life, routinely represented in text and image. This study argues that the key to understanding these parallel phenomena lies in the Water-Land Ritual, a massive rite, codified in the Song, that involves feting all beings in the cosmos, both Buddhist and non-Buddhist. Using numerous sculptures, paintings, and texts, it reconstructs the early history of the ritual and links its rapid rise in popularity to new understandings of the media of painting and sculpture.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University  -  Descent of the Deities: Early Icons of the Water-Land Ritual and the Transformation of the Visual Culture of Song (960-1279) Religion

Riyad Sadiq Koya
Riyad Sadiq Koya  |  Abstract
This project develops a history of the marriage question for Indian indentured laborers from the 1850s to 1955. Part I develops a historical account of colonial marriage legislation, which validated non-Christian marriage by civil registration, and charts growing nationalist concern at the failure of colonial states to recognize the personal laws of Indian migrants. Part II analyzes the importance of the marriage question for debates on the abolition of indenture, and develops a history of post-indenture marriage laws to the 1950s. The project elucidates a complex geography of legal pluralism in the intersection of personal and territorial laws on the Indian marriage question, and charts the boundary between law and religion effected by the civil registration of Indian marriages.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  Indian Indentured Labor, Imperial Citizenship, and the Geography of Legal Pluralism, 1850-1955

David W. Bond
David W. Bond  |  Abstract
The BP Oil Spill defined a vital frontier of knowledge. Unfolding a mile underwater, this shockingly large oil spill overwhelmed the official understanding of both oil spills and the ocean. This ethnography centers on the new scientific knowledge and political responsibility emerging in the wake of the BP Oil Spill. Specifically, it documents the novel scientific and regulatory labor that went into mastering this deepwater blowout. Based on three months of fieldwork in laboratories and eight months in hearings and meetings, this research describes the epistemic politics of an environmental disaster. This process is significant not only for how official knowledge of the BP Oil spill was produced and validated but also for what was left out. The limits of this disaster have come to rest not on the edges of observable impacts but on the legibility of such claims within the now singular science of the BP Oil Spill.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, The New School  -  Hydrocarbon Frontiers: Science and Politics in the BP Oil Spill

Jeb Lit
Jeb Lit  |  Abstract
This project explores the contribution of medieval and early modern Christianity to the emergence of modern Western emotional norms. More specifically, it studies the ways in which Reformation thinkers grappled with the paradox of an omnipotent and omniscient being who had nevertheless experienced genuine human passions: What did it mean for God to feel? Did Jesus take on the entire range of human emotion, including those like envy or fear, or only the more positive ones? Could his emotions be spontaneous if he had foreseen all events from the beginning? This project explores the ways in which individuals and communities experimented with the boundaries of permissible feeling through sustained meditations on the figure of God, and demonstrates that modern assumptions about the emotions borrow heavily from non-secular (and specifically Christian) conceptions of self and morality.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  A Reformation of Tears: Christianity and the Invention of Western Emotions

Melissa May Borja
Melissa May Borja  |  Abstract
This project explores the religious dimensions of the joint effort by the American government and Christian voluntary agencies to resettle Hmong refugees in the United States after the secret war in Laos. Chronicling the development of a National Resettlement strategy and its local implementation in Minnesota, it focuses on the religious encounters set in motion by the administrative arrangements of refugee assistance, which put refugees in the care of religious voluntary agencies and congregations to which government delegated the responsibilty of providing essential resettlement services. This study of the relationship between Hmong refugees and Christian resettlement workers investigates the complications of expanding public capacity through contracts with religious institutions, as well as the meanings of religion and practices of pluralism and multiculturalism in twentieth-century United States. This project illuminates how new religious diversity complicated old practices of governance and how Americans attempted to govern new religious diversity.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  "To Follow the New Rule or Way”: Hmong Refugee Resettlement and the Practice of American Religious Pluralism, 1976-1990

John F. López
John F. López  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores how Aztec and Spanish hydraulic practices affected Mexico City’s form. The measures taken by each group to avoid flooding were transformative. In 1521, it was an island-city; by 1700, a reclaimed mainland. Like the Aztec, the Spanish sought to control the lakes surrounding the city to prevent inundations; yet while the Aztec relied on containment, the Spanish undertook drainage. Despite the scholarship on pre-Columbian and colonial hydraulics and Mexico City’s form, no research in Spanish or English relates the city’s form to its lacustrine environment. What flood control methods did the Aztec and Spanish use? How did these methods shape two different cities? How did the two groups differ epistemologically in conceiving of Mexico City’s aquatic condition?

Doctoral Candidate, Architectural History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  The Hydrographic City: Mapping Mexico City's Urban Form in Relation to its Aquatic Condition, 1521-1700

Larissa Brewer-Garcia
Larissa Brewer-Garcia  |  Abstract
Within the imperial reach of the Spanish Crown in the Americas in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, new intersections of blackness, Christianity, and humanity took shape in Spanish discourse. This dissertation examines these intersections in histories, dramatic and poetic works, religious treatises, hagiographies, and legal ordinances about blacks from colonial Peru and New Granada. Beyond Babel demonstrates how genre and Christian humanist notions of language and bodily difference affected inscriptions of black subjects into the Spanish American archive and literary canon. By employing interdisciplinary methods to interpret written expression and performance in these texts, this dissertation also argues that blacks sometimes manipulated moments of linguistic translation and Christian norms to influence their fashioning as black subjects. These myriad representations and performances of blackness in colonial Spanish America have been overlooked by contemporary scholarship due to the tendency to project contemporary models of race backward to the early modern period.

Doctoral Candidate, Romance Languages, Hispanic Studies, University of Pennsylvania  -  Beyond Babel: Translations of Blackness in Colonial Peru and New Granada

Noora Anwar Lori
Noora Anwar Lori  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines state power and citizenship in the UAE where almost 90% of the population are non-citizens. It explains how state-building has developed around the construction of a citizen/non-citizen boundary over the past 40 years. Combining ethnographic and archival methods, the dissertation weaves together the institutional (state) and discursive (citizen) levels of these boundary-drawing processes to show how they limit and shape citizenship practices. The study examines this citizen/non-citizen boundary through an analysis of the contestations between top-down state interventions and bottom-up civil society forces around three core issues of residency, naturalization, and the selective enforcement of cultural and moral codes. It finds that as citizens partake in the enforcement of this boundary, they increasingly face the scrutiny and impermanence experienced by migrants. The case contributes to the study of how non-citizen labor impacts the political development and citizenship practices of labor-receiving countries.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Politics, Johns Hopkins University  -  Unsettling State: Non-Citizens, State Power, and Citizenship in the United Arab Emirates

Rosie Bsheer
Rosie Bsheer  |  Abstract
This project is both a historical study of how requirements of oil development shaped the production of the Saudi state form and its physical geography, and an anthropological account of how the Saudi modern has been imagined and reproduced through material practices: from acts of political commemoration and transformations in cultural landscapes to the production of exhibitions and the national archive. Explaining the contradictions that animate these practices elucidates the conjuncture of forces that produced a distinctive Saudi petro-modernity, one that brings together religious lineage with Al Saud’s dynastic rule. It also allows us to gauge how this petro-modernity has effected broad-ranging transformations of self, sociality, and material infrastructure of everyday life.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Making History, Remaking Place: Archives, Exhibitions, and Historical Geographies in Saudi Arabia

Duncan MacRae
Duncan MacRae  |  Abstract
The emergence of a written intellectual discourse on Roman religion in the final two centuries BCE fundamentally altered Roman understandings of their own religious tradition. To understand the emergence of this discourse and its effects, this project examines the writing and reading of systematizing books on Roman religion between the second century BCE and late antiquity. Drawing on a wide range of evidence, including Roman, Greek, and early Christian literature, this study argues that intellectual writing was the site for the elite construction of "Roman religion" as a closed system. In order to clarify the relationship between text, ritual, and theology, the dissertation also proposes a comparison between Roman evidence and the early Rabbinic textualization of Judaism.

Doctoral Candidate, Classics, Harvard University  -  The Books of Numa: Writing, Tradition, and the Making of Roman Religion

Tekla Lenore Bude
Tekla Lenore Bude  |  Abstract
This dissertation argues that musica celestis, heavenly music or mystical song, is central to much of the devotional and mystical literature of the Late Medieval period in England. Mystical song is produced by God or his angels and is normally only audible to saints and those without bodies, though devout humans may also experience it on earth. Mystical song connects the human to a direct experience of divinity, and by aiding in the transgression of corporeal and mental boundaries, articulates the self it transgresses. Mystical song operates in the production of nonfiction and it is also central to the greatest works of Medieval English literature, from William Langland's Piers Plowman to Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde.

Doctoral Candidate, English Language and Literature, University of Pennsylvania  -  Mystical Song and Musical Postures in Late Medieval England: Text, Self, Performance

David Jones Marshall
David Jones Marshall  |  Abstract
This research examines the political geographies of Palestinian children, and the ways in which their everyday spaces and practices are shaped by broader social and political processes. It begins with an investigation into the role of the child in the moral geopolitics of the Palestinian/Israeli conflict. From here, the the dissertation explores how the competing discourses of Palestinian nationalism and international humanitarianism, and the legacy of forced migration, have shaped the spaces of childhood in a West Bank refugee camp, from homes to schools, streets, and youth centers. Finally, using participant observation, visual methods, and guided tours, it explores how children reshape the discursive spaces of childhood through their everyday practices.

Doctoral Candidate, Geography, University of Kentucky  -  A Children’s Geography of Occupation: Imaginary, Emotional, and Everyday Spaces of Palestinian Childhood

Katharine A. Burnett
Katharine A. Burnett  |  Abstract
This study explores how literature written in and about the US South before the Civil War reflected the tension in the plantation system that formed the economic basis of the region. On one hand, the southern economy was invested in laissez-faire, liberal capitalism that emphasized individual opportunism, modernization, and participation in global commerce. On the other, the predominance of slavery and the social structures that sustained the individual plantations created a culture that was isolated, rural, and socially oppressive. The form imaginative writing took during this time represents the cultural impact of an economy invested in both international capitalism and a version of provincial feudalism.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Tennessee, Knoxville  -  The Dixie Plantation State: Antebellum Fiction and Global Capitalism

Tara A. McKay
Tara A. McKay  |  Abstract
In the last decade, acknowledging and reducing same-sex sexual transmission of HIV has been increasingly prioritized in global health policy debates. This study presents a cross-national examination of the social mechanisms by which global AIDS policy prescriptions concerning same-sex sexual transmission have been integrated into national policies or, alternatively, become sites of tension between states. Quantitative analyses of UN General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS Country Progress Reports highlight the roles of hierarchies and ties among states in the adoption of same-sex sexual transmission as a national AIDS programming priority. Additional qualitative analyses of ethnographic and archival data from Malawi, an African country where same-sex sex remains highly contested, provide a closer examination the social underpinnings of adoption and resistance of global AIDS programming priorities concerning same-sex sexual transmission of HIV.

Doctoral Candidate, Sociology, University of California, Los Angeles  -  Invisible Men: The Construction and Diffusion of Global Health Priorities Concerning AIDS

Emily Chua
Emily Chua  |  Abstract
This is an ethnography of news production in China. Through the everyday struggles and dilemmas experienced by journalists and editors, it explores the ethical complexities involved in transforming China’s former socialist-propaganda apparatus into the highly commercialized media industry it is now. It show that Chinese news-producers inherit from the Mao-era a conviction that their writing should improve society. New conditions of commercial competition, however, make them doubt the possibility that writing can guide society’s development. A discourse of materialism, individualism, and cynicism emerges among them. Their experience is symptomatic of China’s broader post-socialist transition, in which government-led reforms have resulted in the conflation of social and commercial value.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley  -  Writing for the Masses after Mao: The Ethics and Economics of News Production in Contemporary China

Megan C. McNamee
Megan C. McNamee  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines medieval notions of the efficacy of images through the study of the graphic elements (pictures, figures, complex schemata) that populate manuscripts devoted to the arts of the quadrivium—arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. It considers these objects in the context of their production and use in the monastery and cathedral schools: centers of learning for the whole of the educated class, lay and ecclesiastical. It examines a corpus of visual and textual material assembled from a great number of seldom-studied manuscripts, one that permits investigation of period-specific ideas on a range of integrated issues: relations between word and image, the nature of cognition, the quality of intellectual sight, and pictorial strategies for representing the sensible and incorporeal.

Doctoral Candidate, History of Art, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  Picturing Number: Visualizing Quadrivial Concepts in the Central Middle Ages

Cyd Cipolla
Cyd Cipolla  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the role of religious, psychiatric, and popular representation in the creation of violent sex offender legislation in the United States, and the feedback of that criminal category into systems of sexual identity. All sex offenders in the United States are subject to increased penalties and surveillance, but the most dangerous sexual criminals, generally called violent sex offenders or violent sexual predators, are held in special facilities indefinitely. The project uses a combination of archival research and textual analysis to argue that these laws both rely on and produce a concept of static biological criminality that, due to the entwined history of sexology and forensic psychiatry, is figured as a form of sexual identity.

Doctoral Candidate, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Emory University  -  "After These Horrendous Crimes, that Creature Forfeits His Rights”: The Violent Sex Offender as Exceptional Criminal

David J. Medeiros
David J. Medeiros  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the morpho-syntax of imperative clauses, advancing several interrelated hypotheses. First, it offers substantial empirical evidence that imperative clauses can be syntactically embedded in a number of languages. It argues that syntactic variation with respect to embedding can be reduced to two properties, namely overt morphological variation and the independently motivated theory of Feature Transfer (Chomsky 2008). It further argues that imperative subjects must be case valued (i.e. null imperative subjects are pro). The study proposes a model of imperatives at the syntax-semantics interface based on modals, according to which imperative semantics results from the interaction of a directive speech act operator (if present) and a modal.

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor  -  The Morpho-Syntax of Imperatives

Noah Constant
Noah Constant  |  Abstract
This thesis investigates contrastive topic (CT) constructions, with the goal of understanding the variation in their form and meaning across languages. On the semantic side, it develops a compositional account within a Roothian (1985) framework, treating CT as an operator that introduces nesting into focus alternative sets. In terms of its realization, it places special emphasis on the syntactic and prosodic reflexes of contrastive topic. Empirically, the study draws most heavily on English and Mandarin Chinese, investigating how the distribution of the Mandarin CT particle NE can inform analyses of English CT intonation, and vice versa. By providing an explicit theory of CT, the thesis contributes to a clearer picture of the role that the notions "topic" and "focus" play in natural language analysis.

Doctoral Candidate, Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst  -  Contrastive Topic: Meanings and Realizations

Patrick Mello
Patrick Mello  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the relationship of the eighteenth-century novel to the religious and political history of toleration in the British Isles, arguing that several developing features of the novel made it an apt forum for discussion and debate of Britain’s difficult history of religious persecution and of the pluralistic reality of its ever-expanding empire. Some novels published in and around the two Jacobite Rebellions, for instance, complicate the conventional understanding of Anglican toleration as one of the great achievements of Whig government and the Enlightenment by presenting it as a relativistic, opportunistic, and, ultimately, self-contradictory doctrine promoting political expediency over freedom of conscience.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of Notre Dame  -  Toleration, Persecution, and the Novel

Doreen Densky
Doreen Densky  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines in how far "Fürsprache" (advocacy)—the triangulated scene of speaking for somebody (or a group) before somebody (or a group)—is a constitutive device in and around the writings of Franz Kafka (1883-1924). It argues that the rhetorical figure of "Fürsprache," with roots in the legal-rhetorical, sociopolitical, and religious spheres, is a form of communication that manifests itself in the narrative structure, characters, and topics of his literature. Via careful contextualization and close readings starting with a text that Max Brod entitled "Fürsprecher," the project elucidates three fundamental issues: delegated speech in connection with authorship, the nexus between legal-political and narrative representation, and advocacy as a mode of institutionalizing literature.

Doctoral Candidate, German Studies, Johns Hopkins University  -  Literary Advocates: The Rhetoric and Poetics of Speaking-For in Franz Kafka

Eliot Michaelson
Eliot Michaelson  |  Abstract
This dissertation proposes a new theory of what context-sensitive terms pick out, or refer to, relative to a context, and of how such terms are used to effectively transmit thoughts about objects. Standardly, the reference of such terms has been explained by appealing to speakers' mental states—in particular, to objects that speakers have in mind. Contrary to what this standard theory predicts, speakers can succeed in referring despite being confused about the world in ways that prevent them from having a single object in mind. On the alternative presented in this dissertation, speakers' mental states exhibit a distinctly plan-like structure. Careful attention to this structure allows for both the identification of a referent amidst ordinary confusion and for the development of a significantly improved theory of communication.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles  -  This and That: An Inquiry into the Meaning and Use of Highly Context-Sensitive Terms

Connor Doak
Connor Doak  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the intersection of gender, politics, and poetic experimentation in the work of the Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky (1893-1930). It argues that Mayakovsky shifts his representation of masculinity throughout his career, using verse as an instrument to negotiate with the hegemonic masculinities of Tsarist Russia, revolutionary Russia, and the Soviet Union. The methodology involves close readings of Mayakovsky’s texts informed by both theoretical approaches to masculinity and the specific historical and cultural masculinities that existed during this period in Russia and the USSR. The study traces how Mayakovsky responds to and shapes Russian and Soviet masculinity following transformative events such as World War I, the October Revolution, and Stalin’s rise to power.

Doctoral Candidate, Slavic Languages and Literature, Northwestern University  -  Poetry in the Matador's Cape: Masculinity in the Work of Vladimir Mayakovsky

Ali Colleen Neff
Ali Colleen Neff  |  Abstract
This ethnographic project, focusing on five women popular musical artists of Dakar, Senegal, asks how young, urban West African women practice critical, indigenous, and Sufi aesthetics—particularly those involving voice and spectacle—to cultivate resources amongst the contexts of regional poverty and political strife. Drawing from two year’ collaborative fieldwork conducted in the Wolof language, it contextualizes global aesthetic and postcolonial theories with an extensive study of local musical, social and ethnic traditions as practitioners engage in modes of self-writing to remember, imagine, and remake their self-described “Africanity.”

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Studies/Communication Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Generation “Fly to Fly”: Sounding Bodies, New Cosmopolitanisms, and Urban Transformation in the Sounds and Styles of Senegalese Women’s Pop

Erica Dobbs
Erica Dobbs  |  Abstract
In countries with no prior history of immigration, why do some political actors treat new immigrants as citizens? Using Spain and Ireland as cases, this dissertation argues that how societies address past political demands from minorities—whether religious, ethnic, or cultural—affects both the institutions that give access to civic life and the behavior of key political organizations. Accommodation of demands can create both institutional and organizational political ‘space’ for minorities—and in turn future immigrants. Therefore, new immigrants may unintentionally benefit from past social conflict, suggesting that a capacity for change and institutional flexibility may matter more for their incorporation than historical state-building processes or a prior history of immigration.

Doctoral Candidate, Political Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  Constituents without Citizenship: Migrant Political Incorporation in New Destination Countries

Niels Niessen
Niels Niessen  |  Abstract
This project identifies a cinematic movement from the North of Francophone Europe that it calls the "Cinéma du Nord" (Cinema from and of the North). The "Nord" to which this movement owes its name is constituted by the French administrative region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais and by Wallonia. These bordering regions have in common that they have suffered economic crises since the 1950s, when their coalmines became depleted and their industries antiquated. Subsequently, since the 1990s, they have been the source of a stream of cinematic productions that has captivated an international audience. This dissertation argues that this "Cinéma du Nord" emerges out of these regions’ endeavor to reimagine themselves after decades of recession and to relocate themselves at the crossroads of Europe.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities  -  A North Wind: The New Realism of the French-Walloon "Cinéma du Nord"

Marina Dobronovskaya
Marina Dobronovskaya  |  Abstract
This research investigates the process and politics of urban planning and historic reconstruction of Soviet cities after World War II. For reasons of historical importance, focus, and comparative analysis, it examines the reconstruction of the Russian city of Novgorod. The objectives are: to analyze the ideology of urban planning and the philosophy and plans for reconstruction of historic towns; to explore how decisions were made, and the difference between plans and results; to place Soviet reconstruction and preservation policies in comparative Western-European context; and to show what impact postwar reconstruction has had on present-day urban planning and preservation policies.

Doctoral Candidate, Historic Preservation, University of Delaware  -  The Material Culture of Stalinism: The City of Novgorod, Urban Reconstruction, and Historic Preservation in the Soviet Union after World War II, 1943-1955

Anne O'Donnell
Anne O'Donnell  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the institutions and experiences of revolution through the prism of one event: the desertion of the Russian Empire's capital, Petrograd, in March 1918, and the installation of the Bolshevik regime in Moscow over the next six years. It undertakes a fine-grained study of the built environment, material culture, and information networks of the Soviet capital to develop a cultural history of material life in the non-market economy, arguing that the practices created to manage material life shaped not just the operation of that economy, but the implementation, unfolding, and fate of the revolution itself. These practices so deeply marked both personal relationships and institutions that even after the revolution ended, they proved impossible to leave behind.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Princeton University  -  A Noah's Ark: Moving to Moscow, Material Life, and Information in Revolutionary Russia, 1916-1924

Andrew Eschelbacher
Andrew Eschelbacher  |  Abstract
Eschelbacher, Andrew Labor in the Cauldron of Progress: Jules Dalou, the Inconstant Worker, and Paris's Memorial Landscape French populist identity and changing notions of masculinity converge in the monument projects of Jules Dalou, revealing the fissures in the Third Republic’s attempts to unify the nation. Treating the worker as France’s representative man, Dalou intervened in a memorial sphere where the laborer’s ambiguous position manifested the effects of profound cultural traumas. This dissertation investigates how Dalou consistently altered his representations of the worker as he explored French identity at the intersection of a culture of traditions and a new age of science and industry. As Dalou pursued the monumental idiom appropriate to communicate this Modernity, his projects illustrate the social angst of the fin-de-siècle and anticipate visual language of divisive twentieth-century ideologies.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, University of Maryland, College Park  -  Labor in the Cauldron of Progress: Jules Dalou, the Inconstant Worker, and Paris's Memorial Landscape

Howard Pashman
Howard Pashman  |  Abstract
This dissertation analyzes how a group of insurgents reestablished legal institutions during a time of violent upheaval. Early in the American Revolution, colonial governments collapsed and people took the law into their own hands. They enforced harsh, revolutionary justice. But by the end of the war, Americans had rebuilt legal institutions such as courts and legislatures. This dissertation examines one state in detail, New York, to understand how Americans made revolution work and how they transformed a chaotic popular uprising into a functioning legal system. The key element in that change proved to be property redistribution. By confiscating property from British sympathizers and selling it to supporters of independence, New Yorkers rebuilt legal structures that were strong enough to enforce state policy. Expropriation helped to turn revolutionary instability into a durable legal order.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Northwestern University  -  Making Revolution Work: Law and Politics in New York, 1776-1783

Paul Flaig
Paul Flaig  |  Abstract
This dissertation focuses on the influence of American slapstick comedy on German media practices during the Weimar period (1919-1933), especially filmmaking, advertising, avant-garde art, and intellectual reflection. It addresses how Weimar culture reappropriated slapstick and its forms, including a montage of gags, a grotesque body, an industrial/urban mise-en-scène, and slapstick’s status as globally circulating commodity. The dissertation is comprised of comparative analyses of the films of Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton, and Felix the Cat with works by playwright Bertolt Brecht, Dadaist Raoul Hausmann, filmmakers Guido Seeber and Paul Leni, and comedian Curt Bois.

Doctoral Candidate, Comparative Literature, Cornell University  -  Weimar Slapstick: American Eccentrics, German Grotesques

Thomas Welsh Patteson
Thomas Welsh Patteson  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a historical study of the role of new instruments in the development of musical modernism in Weimar Republic Germany (1919-1933). Combining an examination of primary source documents with theoretical perspectives drawn from historical musicology and technology studies, the work consists of three studies of particular instrumental technologies, and examines how each embodies tensions between aesthetic ideals and material realities. The study also explores how new instruments related to broad shifts in cultural attitudes accompanying the emergence of electrical technologies in the first decades of the century. On the basis of this research, further conclusions are offered concerning the larger question of the relationship between technology and art in twentieth century culture.

Doctoral Candidate, Music, University of Pennsylvania  -  Universal Instruments: Music, Technology, and Modernism in the Weimar Republic

Thomas Jacob Fleischman
Thomas Jacob Fleischman  |  Abstract
Through an exploration of food production and consumption in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) in the 1970s and ‘80s, this dissertation reveals the common intellectual project that was industrial agriculture on both sides of the Iron Curtain. It analyzes the East German response to stagnating crop yields, sickly livestock, and rising production costs, placing these developments alongside the parallel array of scientific experiments, innovations, and Cold War propaganda that became known as the Green Revolution. It places three pigs—the industrial pig, the garden pig, and the wild boar—at the center of this story, interpreting these "historical documents" in order to reveal the central role of natural and man-made systems in East Germany's food and environment.

Doctoral Candidate, History, New York University  -  Three Little Pigs: Industrial Agriculture and Garden Farming in the German Democratic Republic, 1970-1989

Charles Andrew Rathkopf
Charles Andrew Rathkopf  |  Abstract
Some explanations are reductive; others are not. Current philosophical theories of explanation are ill-equipped to identify the conditions under which non-reductive explanations are preferable to reductive ones. This project remedies this situation by providing a theory of explanation that shows how these conditions should be identified. The need for such a theory is particularly great in the domain of complex systems, in which the presence of many interacting elements makes information about the properties of individual elements less explanatory than information about patterns of interaction between elements. The study argues that the reason some explanations ought to remain at a higher level has nothing to do with human epistemic limitations, and everything to do with the way the world is organized.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of Virginia  -  Complex Systems and Non-reductive Explanation

Matthew Fox-Amato
Matthew Fox-Amato  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the place of photographic images and image-practices in the cultures of American slavery and antislavery—from the birth of photography in 1839 to the end of the Civil War in 1865. It relates photography to earlier image-making technologies, and explores how this new art helped white southerners to defend slavery, northern reformers to mobilize opposition to slavery, and enslaved people to shape their identities. Ultimately, this dissertation argues that proslavery and antislavery forces influenced photography by cultivating its potential as a vehicle to document the social world, and it argues that photography simultaneously offered both sides a heightened sense of legitimacy and urgency that fueled the sectional crisis and made compromise all the more unthinkable.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Southern California  -  Exposing Humanity: Slavery, Antislavery, and Early Photography in America, 1839-1865

Emiliano Ricciardi
Emiliano Ricciardi  |  Abstract
Collectively known as “Rime,” Torquato Tasso's lyric poems enjoyed a remarkable musical fortune in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Indeed, they received more than 500 settings by composers operating in varied contexts, ranging from Sicily to Central Europe. By focusing on selected case studies, this dissertation shows that the musical fortune of the “Rime” originated from a complex interplay of cultural, political, and market forces, which varied from decade to decade and from region to region. Furthermore, it illustrates how composers reacted musically to the “Rime,” tracing influences and differences between compositional personalities and schools. In so doing, this project sheds light on Tasso's impact on the musical environment and offers a multifaceted examination of the relationship between poetry and music in the early modern period.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, Stanford University  -  The Musical Reception of Torquato Tasso's “Rime,” 1572-1620

Jessica M. Frazier
Jessica M. Frazier  |  Abstract
In the 1960s and 1970s, US women activists in the peace movement and in liberation struggles turned to Vietnamese women for fellowship and inspiration. Peace activists saw Vietnamese women as collaborators against war and violence, while African American, Chicana, and Asian American women in their respective liberation movements viewed Vietnamese women as fellow revolutionaries. However, interactions with Vietnamese women tested US activists' assumptions. Vietnamese women in the North Vietnamese Women’s Union and in the National Liberation Front’s Women’s Union of Liberation promoted their causes to an international audience in the ways that they saw fit. They represented themselves as peace collaborators or as warriors, as equals to men or as victims. Sometimes they bolstered US activists' beliefs; other times they undermined those beliefs.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Binghamton University, State University of New York  -  Making Connections in Vietnam: Transnational US Women Activists and the Meanings of Race, Gender, and Revolution, 1965-1975

Zachary Samalin
Zachary Samalin  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the interrelation of disgust and aesthetic theory in the late Victorian novel, taking works by Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, Thomas Hardy, George Gissing, and John Ruskin as its main points of departure. Through detailed studies of individual authors, the study tracks the development of an aesthetics of disgust in the Victorian social novel. At the same time, by engaging with both Enlightenment aesthetic discourse on the opposition between the beautiful and the disgusting, and the Victorian sanitary reformist rhetoric of social revulsion, it analyzes the unprecedented importance afforded to this negative emotion in nineteenth-century British culture and society.

Doctoral Candidate, English, City University of New York, The Graduate Center  -  The Masses Are Revolting: The Aesthetics of Disgust in the Late Victorian Novel

Edward Moore Geist
Edward Moore Geist  |  Abstract
Using the Soviet and American civil defense programs as a means of exploring the ways in which the two superpowers adjusted to the realities of the nuclear age, this dissertation seeks to understand why Soviet and American citizens envisioned nuclear war in radically different ways, and how these alternative visions affected both official policy and the popular imagination. By examining the ways in which civil defense impacted life during the Cold War, it seeks to understand how popular and institutional culture shaped the conception of nuclear attack and vice versa. In time, the Soviet Union and the United States developed radically contrasting civil defense programs reflecting the fundamental differences between the two societies.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill  -  Two Worlds of Civil Defense: State, Society, and Nuclear Survival in the USA and USSR, 1945-1991

Debapriya Sarkar
Debapriya Sarkar  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores various speculative intellectual modes—the probable, the predictive, the prophetic, the hypothetical, the conditional, and the conjectural—as they are distributed across literary and scientific forms of writing in early modern England. The idea of possibility was crucial to the development of new methods of learning, such as induction, experiment, and theories of probability. Yet possible knowledge also drew extensively from elements of poetic writing, such as allegory, epic, and utopian discourse. By engaging with philosophy, social history, literary studies, and the history of science, this project maps the contours of possible knowledge across a broad historical span to trace its changing configurations into the modern disciplines of the humanities and sciences.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Rutgers University-New Brunswick  -  Possible Knowledge: Forms of Literary and Scientific Thought in Early Modern England

Aimee M. Genell
Aimee M. Genell  |  Abstract
This dissertation is a history of the ‘Egyptian Question’ in international relations. In order to explore the relationship between international law and European imperial expansion before World War I, it examines the significance and consequences of maintaining Ottoman sovereignty in Egypt during the British occupation (1882-1914). The project recasts the Ottoman Empire as a weak but major actor in European diplomacy. British legal justifications for the occupation of Egypt demanded the retention of Ottoman institutions and shaped administrative practices. The British experience in Egypt produced a flexible model of rule largely based on Ottoman practices that was then exported to the Ottoman-Arab provinces following the First World War.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Columbia University  -  Empire by Law: Ottoman Sovereignty and the British Occupation of Egypt

Andrew Thomas Simpson
Andrew Thomas Simpson  |  Abstract
This dissertation focuses on how medical centers became major employers in the early postwar years; how they leveraged Great Society monies to take an active role in promoting community health and job training initiatives; how each leveraged particular services like cardiac surgey and transplantation medicine during the 1970s and 1980s; how each medical center emerged as central to efforts to reinvent urban economies around the promises of biotechnology in the mid-1980s and 1990’; and how the creation of multi-hospital systems encouraged an entrepreneurial business model that forced AMCs to renegotiate their relationships with cities, employees, and patients while raising questions about the appropriateness of their charitable protections.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Carnegie Mellon University  -  Making the Medical Metropolis: Academic Medical Centers and Urban Change in Pittsburgh and Houston, 1945-2010

Guadalupe Gonzalez Dieguez
Guadalupe Gonzalez Dieguez  |  Abstract
This project focuses on a medieval Spanish-Jewish thinker, Isaac ibn Latif, who engaged in speculation about the end of days around 1240, in the multicultural setting of thirteenth century Toledo. Latif's thought stands out due to a peculiar synthesis of philosophy and mysticism, best shown in his adoption and mystical reworking of the tradition of political philosophy (he is the first translator into Hebrew of the work of Alfarabi, founder of Islamic political philosophy), and in his view on time, which merges linear and cyclical elements. The dissertation traces his views on esotericism, Bible exegesis, politics, and time in his seven extant works, none of which has ever been translated, focusing on the most important among them, The Gates of Heaven, which is found in an unpublished manuscript.

Doctoral Candidate, Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University  -  Isaac ibn Latif (1210-1280) between Philosophy and Kabbalah: Timeless and Timebound Wisdom

Danielle C. Skeehan
Danielle C. Skeehan  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how Atlantic commerce shaped and defined understandings of “home” for an emergent bourgeois class. Drawing on extensive archival research, it argues that the genealogies of Atlantic commercial writing and domestic fiction are one and the same. Read alongside domestic fiction, a commercial and material history of the bourgeois home reveals the expertise of domestic laborers, indentured servants, and slaves who transformed imported and homespun commodities into signifiers of polite, genteel domesticity. This home surfaces initially as a contested space, and the store of knowledge and “gendered literacy” that becomes the property and virtue of the bourgeois woman is, first and foremost, the territory of domestic servants.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Northeastern University  -  Creole Domesticity: Women, Commerce, and Kinship in Eighteenth-Century Atlantic Writing

Angela C. Haas
Angela C. Haas  |  Abstract
This project examines the interrelated cultural, social, and psychological processes by which miracles transformed from symbols of trust in God into symbols of human deception throughout the eighteenth century in France. While studies of religious belief during this period continue to pose reason and faith as the century’s primary competitors, this dissertation argues that individual religious beliefs were most influenced by a growing tension between authority and autonomy. It reveals how publicized debates over miracles generated both distrust in authority, and self-confidence in judging religious doctrines independently. These reciprocal developments led individuals to restructure their religious beliefs to reflect their own perceptions of reliable evidence, witnesses, and legitimate authority.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Binghamton University, State University of New York  -  Miracles in the Press: Religious Authority and Intellectual Autonomy in Enlightenment France

Martha Anne Sprigge
Martha Anne Sprigge  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the experience of World War II and its cultural ramifications in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with a focus on musical practices of mourning and commemoration. While competing public and private versions of the recent past prevailed in the postwar years, official mourning in the GDR eventually revolved around the selective commemoration of “anti-fascist” heroes. Previous scholarship has neglected the music that accompanied commemorative practices, regarding it as a mere extension of communist propaganda. This study demonstrates that musical compositions contributed a multifaceted space to rituals of commemoration, where competing narratives of the past could coexist, thus offering a "performing cure" for working through the traumas of both personal loss and national destruction.

Doctoral Candidate, Music History and Theory, University of Chicago  -  Abilities to Mourn: Musical Commemoration in the German Democratic Republic, 1945-1989

Joanna Christine Hecker
Joanna Christine Hecker  |  Abstract
Art Historians have long counted Francisco de Holanda among the rare comtemporary primary sources regarding Michelangelo’s unwritten art theory, but few have examined Holanda’s work at length or on its own terms. In the 1530s and 1540’s, when he produced an extensive art-theoretical treatise and many score of drawings, Holanda was perched upon the margin of European artistic and cultural power; at the same time, the Portuguese king for whom he worked was a sovereign of decadent political and economic power. This uncertain status imbued Holanda’s work with a sense of anxiety and self-conciousness. His texts and images serve as a point of entry into questions about sixteenth-century modes of cross-cultural translation and apporpriation, artistic identity as a function of cultural identity, the reform of religious art in an increasingly interconnected world, and art as a defintive elelnt of humanity itself.

Doctoral Candidate, Institute of Fine Arts, New York University  -  Outside Looking In: Francisco de Holanda and the Margins of Renaissance Art

Kyle Joseph Stine
Kyle Joseph Stine  |  Abstract
In recent years, as digital technologies have swept across the motion picture industry, scholars have seen the need to rethink what cinema is today and in what capacity it can be said to continue. Studies typically resolve this crisis in one of two ways: by proclaiming the "end of cinema" or by showing how new technologies satisfy the continued demands for narrative and photorealism. What has largely escaped consideration is that the "digital revolution" opens up a new understanding of the history and trajectory of cinematic technologies. This dissertation explores how cinema was calculative from the very beginning, with celluloid film being used in areas that had no pretensions toward narrative or photorealistic representation such as scientific imaging, data storage, and early analog computing.

Doctoral Candidate, Film Studies, The University of Iowa  -  Calculative Cinema: Technologies of Speed, Scale, and Explication

Stephanie Hinnershitz
Stephanie Hinnershitz  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores the roles that foreign Asian students in American universities played in the struggle for civil rights between 1915 and 1968. Although Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese students who came to America to obtain a college education were only “visitors” to the United States, they became deeply involved in a multitude of social movements and linked civil rights to labor organization, anti-imperial protests, and the promotion of immigrant rights along the West Coast. This dissertation makes use of student publications, minutes from interracial student meetings, yearbooks, and government documents to explore for the first time how visiting students from China, Japan, and the Philippines influenced a multicultural and interracial movement for civil rights in America.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Maryland, College Park  -  "One Raw Material in the Racial Laboratory": Chinese, Filipino, and Japanese Students and West Coast Civil Rights, 1915-1968

Barbara D. Swanson
Barbara D. Swanson  |  Abstract
Plainchant and monody (or solo song), two repertoires that have typically been viewed as distinct in histories of music, were in fact closely related to one another in the late sixteenth century. Examination of post-Tridentine plainchant reforms, early solo songs and operatic recitative, as well as humanistic writings reveals that reform-minded clerics and secular humanists came into personal contact with one another, read many of the same texts, and grappled with similar musical issues. A comparison of chant reforms by Vatican cleric Giovanni Guidetti with late sixteenth-century monodies by Emilio de’ Cavalieri demonstrates the many stylistic and cultural connections including the importance of speech-like rhythms as a means of affective and ethical transformation.

Doctoral Candidate, Musicology, Case Western Reserve University  -  The Rhetoric of Musical Reform: Plainchant, Solo Song, Affect, and Ethics in Early Modern Rome

Christine I. Ho
Christine I. Ho  |  Abstract
This dissertation explores how sketching practice became the basis of the reform of traditional brush-and-ink painting (guohua) during the first 17 years of the People’s Republic of China (1949-1965). Through an investigation of state-sponsored sketching tours undertaken by landscape painters Fu Baoshi, Li Keran, and Guan Shanyue, this project argues that sketching was a form of Maoist thought reform that reshaped a formerly elite art into a revolutionary medium. Under a regime that called for the unity of art and politics, the perceptual and physical demands of sketching practice redefined aesthetic modernity, national landscape, and the relationship between intellectuals and the collective.

Doctoral Candidate, Art History, Stanford University  -  Drawing From Life: Sketching, Landscape, and the Formation of Socialist Realist Guohua

Jessica Elaine Teague
Jessica Elaine Teague  |  Abstract
This dissertation reveals the sustained engagement between American literature and sound reproduction technologies during the twentieth century. Through an analysis of writers such as Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), John Dos Passos (1896-1970), Alan Lomax (1915-2002), Sidney Bechet (1897-1959), Langston Hughes (1902-1967), Amiri Baraka (b. 1934), Tom Wolfe (b. 1931), William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), and August Wilson (1945-2005), it explores how literature theorizes sound and directly engages with sound reproduction technologies either as a mode of composition or inspiration to extend formal techniques. The project contends that literary innovations were shaped by phonographic technologies, and that texts played a key role in tutoring the ear to listen amidst a modern multimedia environment.

Doctoral Candidate, English & Comparative Literature, Columbia University  -  With Ears Taut to Hear: Sound Recording and Twentieth-Century American Literature

Justin Horn
Justin Horn  |  Abstract
After falling out of favor for much of the twentieth century, moral realism—the view that there exist objective moral standards that hold independently of anyone's attitudes toward them—has made an impressive comeback among philosophers, and now has many sophisticated defenders. This dissertation provides a detailed examination of the challenge to moral realism raised by the emerging field of evolutionary psychology. A mounting body of evidence suggests that the content of our moral judgments has been significantly shaped by natural selection. The project argues that this evidence poses an insurmountable skeptical challenge for those who would hold that morality is a domain of robustly objective truth. This skeptical challenge can be avoided by contemporary anti-realist views of ethics.

Doctoral Candidate, Philosophy, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Do Facts about Human Evolution Undermine Moral Realism?

Nick P. Valvo
Nick P. Valvo  |  Abstract
This dissertation analyzes literary misrepresentations of economic life. Following recent work in early modern economic history, we can no longer see credit as an expedient used to navigate a cash economy. Just the opposite is nearer the truth: cash was the expedient used to navigate an economy primarily based on credit. Yet in much of the literature of the period, credit is presented as an exceptional phenomenon, a troubling expedient to be avoided except in dire cases of contingency—a representation that fails to capture the economic realities faced by people of all classes. The project argues that the utility of credit as a category in moral argument hampered its descriptive potential, and that this distance from verisilimilitude gives us new openings to interpret the literature and history of the period.

Doctoral Candidate, English, University of California, Davis  -  Penurious Payments: Debt, Dependence, and Communal Form in Eighteenth-Century Britain

Hannah Doherty Hudson
Hannah Doherty Hudson  |  Abstract
"The Myth of Minerva" focuses on the novels of the Minerva Press, the most prolific English fiction publisher of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Drawing on extensive archival research, this project argues that the Minerva Press's many novels present a challenge to critical frameworks that privilege the singularity of authorial genius. Instead, these novels offer a model of authorship that redirects attention from the individual author to a broader field of literary production: each novel is written, and intended to be read, as one in a group of many. Tracing the connections between genre development, reception history, and the material conditions of publication, this dissertation challenges traditional prestige-focused accounts of the rise of the novel.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Stanford University  -  The Myth of Minerva: Publishing, Popular Fiction, and the Rise of the Novel

Sarah Elizabeth Vaughn
Sarah Elizabeth Vaughn  |  Abstract
This dissertation is an ethnographic study of the effects of climate change on racial citizenship in coastal Guyana. It focuses on how racial citizenship is informed by the eviction of people from their land for the construction of canals and the state-sponsored engineers who manage the canals' construction. Eager to prove their commitments to international climate change policy, the state’s tenuous commitments to the canals have involved confronting both the practice of climate science and the recognition of people’s claims to racial-generational land titles. Exploring this unique site, the dissertation focuses on the daily enactments of racial politics, climate science, legal processes, and global ethics situated at a complex historical, environmental, and political conjuncture.

Doctoral Candidate, Cultural Anthropology, Columbia University  -  Vulnerable Publics: Climate and Property in Guyana

Sarah Ives
Sarah Ives  |  Abstract
The story of South African rooibos tea is, in one sense, a story about a plant, an indigenous crop with specific qualities that make it valuable and intensely political. Yet, it is also a story of cultural and geographic margins—of globalization and isolation, ‘whiteness’ and ‘colouredness,’ migrants and indigeneity. Finally, it is a story of economic marginality and the ways these tensions are experienced in rural South Africa through a meaning-laden, niche commodity. By exploring how residents reject a temporally incarcerating cultural indigeneity and instead claim a heritage based on an indigenous plant, this research examines how rooibos is entangled with political, economic, and environmental struggles over land, labor, and social belonging in South Africa and in a globalizing world.

Doctoral Candidate, Anthropology, Stanford University  -  Tea Stories: Cultivating Value on the Margin in South Africa’s Western Cape

Lev E. Weitz
Lev E. Weitz  |  Abstract
When non-Muslims in the medieval Middle East began to make frequent use of Muslim judicial institutions, Syriac Christian bishops perceived this as a threat to communal boundaries and their own authority. In response, they developed a tradition of Christian marriage law in order to define a community of lay believers distinct from the Muslim and Jewish neighbors with whom those lay people shared many practices. This project argues that, in seeking to mark Christian communal belonging and religious difference in marital practice, the bishops adopted ethical norms and legal analytic techniques similar to those of their Muslim contemporaries. An endeavor meant to distinguish the rhythms of Christian social life from that of Muslims thus entailed a convergence of Christian and Muslim intellectual traditions.

Doctoral Candidate, Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University  -  Family, Law, and Society: Syriac Christians in the Abbasid Caliphate

Annaliese Jacobs
Annaliese Jacobs  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the networks of knowledge and intimacy crucial to early nineteenth century British Arctic exploration. It focuses on the complex web of “companions” —wives, indigenous guides, sailors, and brother officers—who navigated and narrated the Arctic from the 1820s to the 1850s. In the encounter with a harsh environment and extra-imperial space (as experienced and imagined) categories of race, class, and gender were unsettled, exposing the blurred boundaries between “public” and “private” in this most homosocial enterprise. These intertwined networks of knowledge and intimacy ultimately constructed a close association between polar exploration and British identity, one with enduring power for an imperial nation.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign  -  Companions: Knowledge, Intimacy, and Empire in British Arctic Exploration, 1818-1859

Rebecca J. H. Woods
Rebecca J. H. Woods  |  Abstract
This project explores the global diffusion of British livestock in the late nineteenth century. As pastures were cleared and stock fattened, imperial landscapes and livestock were refashioned to suit the tastes of British consumers. In Britain and abroad, breeders balanced standardizing their stock for modern mass production with maintaining the distinctiveness of their animals. The outcome was the establishment of an economic, technological, and cultural complex for circulating livestock and dead meat—a juggernaut of imperial production that reshaped the cultural and economic interactions of distant locales, their landscapes and, ultimately, the character of Britain and its colonies. The same system, divested of its imperial trappings and disseminated still further, brings meat to tables today.

Doctoral Candidate, History; Anthropology; and Science, Technology, and Society, Massachusetts Institute of Technology  -  The Herds Shot Round the World: Four Breeds and the British Empire, 1820-1900

Katie L. Jarvis
Katie L. Jarvis  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the political activism and cultural representation of Parisian merchants called the Dames des Halles during the French Revolution. In order to highlight the complexity of female political practice, it analyzes the economic, ritual, and gendered elements of the Dames’ activism. It inquires how marketplace reform affected their collective concerns. The project also studies how other actors deployed the Dames’ image for their own political ends, and probes the genre poissard, whose evolving literary representations of the Dames informed their cultural construction. By examining the relationship among the Dames’ economic interests, activism, and literary image, this dissertation creates new pathways in the sociocultural methodology of history.

Doctoral Candidate, European History, University of Wisconsin-Madison  -  Politics in the Marketplace: The Popular Activism and Cultural Representation of the Dames des Halles during the French Revolution

Albert Monshan Wu
Albert Monshan Wu  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines how German missionaries and Chinese Christians contested and negotiated the future of Christianity in China from the 1860s to the 1940s. Through these encounters, Christianity adapted to global threats, such as Communism, and responded to particular enemies, such as Confucianism. Chinese Christians challenged Western missionaries to re-think tenets of Christian theology. This dissertation contributes to several scholarly literatures: the globalization of Christianity, European responses to secularization, and the history of Christianity in China. By presenting a transnational narrative of change for both Europe and China, this dissertation illustrates the ways in which Christianity had to embrace particulars in order to become more global.

Doctoral Candidate, History, University of California, Berkeley  -  German Missionaries, Chinese Christians, and the Globalization of Christianity, 1860-1940

Erin Kappeler
Erin Kappeler  |  Abstract
This dissertation uncovers a forgotten tradition of poetics in American literary history. It argues that literary scholars in the late nineteenth century abstracted social relations into verse traits and turned a set of ideas about racial and national identity into the genre of free verse poetry. The dissertation analyzes popular poetic theories in the late nineteenth-century American academy; details the process whereby Walt Whitman was constructed as the father of free verse poetry; analyzes the role that anthologies of the so-called new poetry played in creating the genre of free verse; and examines the ways in which Poetry magazine's readers resisted the newly genericized metrical conventions of free verse experiments.

Doctoral Candidate, English, Tufts University  -  Shaping Free Verse: American Prosody and Poetics ,1880-1920

Joseph L. Yannielli
Joseph L. Yannielli  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines the role of Africa in the American abolition of slavery. At its heart is the story of the Mendi Mission, operated by American abolitionists in what is now Sierra Leone between 1842 and 1882. The story of the mission challenges conventional interpretations of the era of the United States Civil War. Ranging from Indian Territory to Nova Scotia, Connecticut to South Carolina, Alabama to Guyana, England to the Gold Coast, the mission illuminates the geographies of abolition in all their breadth and complexity. Most importantly, it reveals a vibrant and ongoing engagement with Africa, connecting the sectional debate over slavery to the broader matrix of the Atlantic World.

Doctoral Candidate, History, Yale University  -  Dark Continents: Africa and the American Abolition of Slavery

Sarit J. Kattan Gribetz
Sarit J. Kattan Gribetz  |  Abstract
This dissertation examines conceptions of time and rhythms of daily life among ancient Jews from the second to the sixth centuries C.E., and the ways in which members of the rabbinic community synchronized their daily lives with the temporal systems of surrounding religious communities on both a conceptual and a practical level. Based on close readings of rabbinic legal and exegetical texts from Palestine and Babylonia, the dissertation analyzes the role that central rituals and observances—such as morning and evening prayers, menstrual purity laws, and other "time-bound" commandments—played in marking and structuring the time of ancient Jews within the Roman and Sasanian empires.

Doctoral Candidate, Religion, Princeton University  -  Conceptions of Time and Rhythms of Daily Life in Rabbinic Literature, 200-600 CE

Ori Yehudai
Ori Yehudai  |  Abstract
This dissertation studies Jewish out migration from Palestine and Israel between 1945 and 1967. It examines the re-migration of Jews who immigrated there but decided to leave and the emigration of native-born who sought opportunities overseas. The dissertation seeks to understand the social and political roles that emigration as a phenomenon and emigrants as individuals played in the process of Zionist and Israeli nation-building. It examines the experiences, motives, and personal backgrounds of individual emigrants and the institutional reactions to their departure in Israel and in Jewish communities and organizations in receiving countries. Its main focus is on the tensions arising from the anti-emigration atmosphere prevailing in the country during the period under investigation.

Doctoral Candidate, Modern Jewish History, University of Chicago  -  Out from Zion: Jewish Emigration from Palestine/Israel, 1945-1967

Jaclyn H. Kirouac-Fram
Jaclyn H. Kirouac-Fram  |  Abstract
This project considers why the urban bus has fallen out of favor with American travelers since the middle of the twentieth century. Rather than crediting the overwhelming success of the private automobile, it insists that particular historical moments have transformed the urban bus into a signifier of racial blackness. This project explores how urban spatial, political, economic, and racial dynamics intersect with broad understandings of collective transportation to produce the racial connotations that form the foundation for decreased urban mass transit bus ridership, elimination of intercity bus service, resistance to public school forced-busing programs, and the generally negative connotations under which bus riders suffer in most American cities.

Doctoral Candidate, American Studies, Saint Louis University  -  “Yellow Rolling Cell Blocks”: The Urban Bus and Race in the United States