The University Record, April 9, 2001

Institute for Humanities awards 2001–02 fellowships to 13

By Elizabeth Woodford
Institute for the Humanities

The Institute for the Humanities has awarded fellowships to seven faculty and six graduate students to support research projects they will pursue during 2001–02.

Institute Director Tom Trautmann, who chaired the selection meetings, said, “We are extremely pleased with the strong group of applicants to the Institute for the coming year. The selection committees had very difficult choices to make in forming this year’s cohort of Fellows.” The outside evaluators for the faculty fellowship selection process were Svetlana Alpers (history of art, University of California, emerita), Charles Newman (English, Washington University) and Anthony Yu (Divinity School, University of Chicago). Helping to select the graduate student fellows were Julie Ellison (English) and Elizabeth Anderson (philosophy).

The Institute’s resident fellows will include the following faculty and student members:


  • Collins
    Derek Collins, assistant professor of classical studies, “Master of the Game: Competition and Performance in Greek Poetry.” Most Greek poetry, Collins says, was composed for live performance rather than reading, and most performances were competitive. Poets vied with other poets, and performers competed among themselves. Collins plans to spend the year studying the details of performance competitions in ancient Greece—how the competitions were structured; who won, who lost and on what basis—and situating them within a wider Mediterranean and comparative context. Collins will be the John Rich Faculty Fellow.

  • Hubbs
    Nadine Hubbs, assistant professor of music theory and of women’s studies, “Composing Oneself: Gay Modernists and American Musical Identity.” Combining musicology, queer studies and American cultural history, Hubbs’ work focuses on the eagerly awaited creation of an “American style” in art music by Copland, Thomson, Bernstein and others of their New York circle ca. 1936–50. She is probing the cultural mechanisms by which these queer artists, working in America’s most notoriously homophobic era, served as architects of its national identity.

  • Keane
    Webb Keane, associate professor of anthropology and visiting associate professor of Asian languages and cultures, “Missionaries, Protestants and Dilemmas of ‘Modernity’ in Indonesia.” Keane’s work concerns the articulations of linguistic and material practices, the nature of historical self-consciousness, and the ethics and politics of cross-cultural encounter and infra-cultural change. He explores these theoretical problems by close study of the missionary project and the process of conversion on the Indonesian island of Sumba over the course of the 20th century.

  • Kivelson
    Valerie Kivelson, associate professor of history, “Muscovite Sketches: Maps and Their Meanings in 17th-Century Russia.” Kivelson, who will be the Hunting Family Faculty Fellow, plans to investigate notions of space and place, land and landscape, and ultimately, the relationship between the czar and his subjects that emerges in early Russian maps. Since medieval times, the very soil of the Holy Russian Land has figured prominently in the Russian imagination, often in highly politicized ways. Maps, with their associated legal and diplomatic records, offer an almost untouched source for exploring Russian ideas about territory, empire and governance in historical context. This study allows for new insights into how Russian political structures functioned in practice and the ways local beliefs and practices affected and moderated official ideologies and legislation.

  • Mrázek
    Rudolf Mrázek, professor of history, “Jakarta, Indonesia: The Post-Colonial Metropolis, 1930–2000.” The idea for this work grew out of an oral history project Mrázek conducted over the past seven years, interviewing senior citizens of Indonesia about their childhood and early youth in the late colonial era. Over time, he says, “The project veered away from the late colonial to the post-colonial and the troubling present.” His aim is not to write another history of Jakarta. Rather, he will inquire how “buildings and educational institutions” and the “wonders and comforts of space-conquering technology” build up neighborhood, distance and nearness; how the metropolis translates into a sense of life, power and politics. Mrázek will hold the Steelcase Research Professorship.

  • Olynyk
    Patricia Olynyk, assistant professor of art, “Hybrid Creatures.” Olynyk’s fellowship year will culminate in the construction of an interactive installation that incorporates sculpture, prints, paper and digital media. In the course of the creative process, she will explore notions of individual, collective and hybrid forms of identity, and especially “the ways in which the human imagination is bound in structures found in nature.” This ambitious project stems from her larger interest in the connection between human culture and the environment, and the transformative effects of genetics and technology on human society. Olynyk will be the Helmut S. Stern Faculty Fellow.

  • Steinmetz
    George Steinmetz, associate professor of sociology and of German, “Precoloniality: German Ethnographic Discourse and the Colonial State.” Looking at the colonies in the German overseas empire (1884–1918), Steinmetz identifies at least three differing forms of colonial “native policy.” In southwest Africa, German policy culminated in genocide and deliberate dismantling of native social structures. In Samoa, it mostly respected traditional idioms, and codified and defended customary law. In Qingdao, Germany’s Chinese treaty port colony, policy first unfolded under the sign of segregation and disdain but then, reversing course, introduced a program of cultural rapprochement. Why such differences? Steinmetz will argue that the Germans who established these colonial states had different preconceived notions about the to-be-colonized cultures, that these pre-existing discourses varied in terms of their degree of internal heterogeneity, and that ongoing native policy was affected by these discursive formations. Steinmetz will be the A. Bartlett Giamatti Faculty Fellow.

    Graduate students

  • Amoko
    Apollo Amoko, English, “The Problem with English Literature: Canonicity, Citizenship and the Idea of Africa.” Among the many questions Amoko considers are these: Why does African literature continue to occupy such a marginal place in English programs in the West? Why is Africa thought to be the natural home for texts written in historically European languages and aesthetic forms? Why is there a tendency to couple African literature and Afro-Caribbean literature both in metropolitan and African universities, as if race constituted the foundational category of aesthetic classification? In the process, his focus moves from examination of institutions of literary criticism to the processes of cultural production. Amoko will hold the James A. Winn Graduate Student Fellowship.

  • Dawdy
    Shannon Dawdy, anthropology and history, “Capital of Neglected Empire: Colonials and Creoles in French New Orleans, 1699–1769.” Dawdy’s project is an interdisciplinary history that integrates archaeology, social history and anthropological theory. The main question the project is concerned with is how new societies form under conditions of colonial neglect. Dawdy will hold the Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Student Fellowship.

  • Lehrer
    Erica Lehrer, anthropology, “Trauma, Tourism and Identity: Reconstructing Jewishness in Poland.” Lehrer’s dissertation is an ethnography exploring the post-communist revival of the historical Jewish neighborhood of Kazimierz in Krakow, Poland. She tries to show how the process of coming to terms with the tragic disappearance of the prewar Jewish world from Polish soil—for both Jews and Poles—is mediated by and finds expression in the Jewish tourist industry.

  • Pegler-Gordon
    Anna Pegler-Gordon, American culture, “In Sight of America: Photography and U.S. Immigration Policy, 1880–1930.” Pegler-Gordon argues that new methods of observing, photographing and documenting immigrants were central to the introduction of racial immigration restrictions in the United States 1880–1930. Comparing the experiences of Chinese, European and Mexican immigrants, she shows that these groups both challenged discriminatory immigration policies and created concerns about the reliability of photographic identity documentation.

  • Seri
    Andrea Seri, Near Eastern studies, “Local Power: Structure and Function of Community Institutions of Authority in the Old Babylonian Period.” This study aims to identify local structures of authority and to determine how and why they functioned in ancient Mesopotamia during the Old Babylonian period. Seri traces the inevitable and necessary interactions between royal and local interests, a relationship that is characterized alternately by tension or compliance, depending on the historical situation. Her findings challenge characterizations of these ancient states as monolithic and authoritarian units that uniformly suffocated local activities, leading her to question some social theories on the organization of ancient Mesopotamian government and society. Seri will be the Hunting Family Graduate Student Fellow.

  • Wood
    Eben Wood, English, “Black Abstraction: Umbra and the Terms of an African-American Avant-Garde, 1960–1975.” Wood is tracing the origins, membership and significance of the Umbra Workshop, a small circle of predominantly African American writers and artists working in New York 1961–63. This group produced a short-lived but extremely influential literary magazine of the same name. He is looking closely at how these artists and writers defined artistic and literary abstraction, and how they employed it to critique literalism/realism in a sociopolitical and aesthetic context.