The University Record, April 8, 2002

Humanities Institute names 13 Fellows

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 2002–03.

“This is an outstanding cohort of Fellows, among the best the Institute has had,” said Institute Director Tom Trautmann, who chaired the selection meetings. “We had an exceptionally strong group of applications this year, including many more excellent ones than we have places. There were many painful choices to make.”

The outside evaluators who aided the Institute’s executive committee in the faculty fellowship selection process were Katherine Bergeron (music, University of California–Berkeley), Mitchell S. Green (philosophy, University of Virginia) and Helen Vendler (English, Harvard University). Helping to select the graduate student fellows from U-M were Arlene Keizer (English, and Center for Afroamerican and African Studies), Erik Mueggler (anthropology) and Louise K. Stein (musicology).

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

Faculty Fellows

Evan Chambers
, associate professor of music composition, for “Movement/Metaphor/Music”

Music is not the notes, says Chambers. In his experience as a composer, music precedes its notation, emerging first as physical sensation, as gesture, as an urge to capture movement in sounds. In his project, Chambers will examine how physical movement metaphors underlie our musical understandings and develop revised notions of how human effort is encoded into sound. He will integrate these ideas into a series of musical compositions and into a short publication that will be part scholarly article and part artistic manifesto.

Halperin (Photo by Martin Vloet)
David Halperin
, professor of English, for “Homosexuality’s Closet”

Halperin will look into the distinctive uses gay men have made of non-gay culture, their particular ways of adapting that culture to suit their own needs and purposes. He wants to inquire into the reasons for their emotional investment in specific elements of non-gay culture (from grand opera to Judy Garland). He intends to approach the topic of gay subjectivity in a non-psychological way, by looking at gay men’s cultural practices, and by asking what gay men’s identifications with aspects of non-gay culture can tell us about the inner life of gay men, the distinguishing features of gay male subjectivity and ultimately what it means to be gay. Halperin will hold the John Rich Professorship.
Lieberman (Photo by Paul Jaronski)
Victor Lieberman
, professor of history, for “Politicized Ethnicity in Pre-colonial Burma”

According to Lieberman, “The historiography of national identities has shifted from an almost universal assumption of primordialism to what is now an almost equally hegemonic assumption that such loyalties were an entirely ‘modern,’ post-1750 European creation.” Lieberman will use Burma’s Irawaddy basin

c. 1450–1830 for a case study of how culture became politicized in a pre-print, pre-capitalist, non-European environment. He means to show both that certain Southeast Asian national self-images had pre-colonial origins and that nationalism is not an exclusively modern generic phenomenon. While focusing on Burma, Lieberman also will explore parallels to early modern France. He will hold the Steelcase Research Professorship.

Michalowski (Photo by Marcia Ledford)
Piotr Michalowski
, professor of Near Eastern studies, for “Reading the Last King of Babylon”

Michalowski will study the writings of the last king of Babylon, Nabonidus (556–539 B.C.), who was vilified by his own countrymen under Persian rule, ridiculed in a scroll from Qumran, portrayed as a vindictive madman by the author of the Book of Daniel, and whose very name was taken away when he was renamed Nebuchadnezzar by some anonymous Jewish scribe, a change first attested in the Daniel tradition. This bad press hounds him to our day. Meditating on history, myth, iconography and textual interpretation, Michalowski hopes to unravel the processes that led to the rewriting of this amazing scribe-king in such negative light. He will be the Helmut F. Stern Professor.

Siegmund (Photo by Bill Wood)
Stefanie Siegmund, assistant professor of history and of Judaic studies, for “Converting Indians, Jews, Turks and Tuscans: Expressions of Religious Faith and Identity in Catholic Italy after the Council of Trent”

Siegmund is working on a project that explores the meanings of “conversion” in Tuscany after 1563, the year the Council of Trent concluded. While the Catholic Church was particularly interested in converting Jews, it also paid attention to the conversions of “Indians” and Turks who arrived on Italian soil, and of men and women ordinarily thought of as Catholics–Christians born and raised in Tuscany. Siegmund has collected a set of documents from the late 16th and early 17th centuries that will allow her to compare descriptions of conversions and of various efforts to convert Jews, Turks, Indians and local Christians.

Valerie Traub, professor of English and of women’s studies, for “The Emergence of Race in Early Modern Europe: Literature, Medicine, Cartography”

Traub is investigating how a “cultural logic of bodily normalization” came into being over the course of the 17th century. In looking at how the strands of race, gender and sexuality interwove to form a web of social definition, she will be studying three areas of discourse—literature, medicine and cartography—and will approach race, gender and sexuality as connected strands in the web of social definition. During this fellowship year, she will focus especially on race and how the terms of the discussion about race have changed. Formerly discussed in terms of natural versus unnatural, race came to be articulated through a logic of normality and abnormality. Traub will be the A. Bartlett Giamatti Faculty Fellow.

Edward West
, professor of art and design, for “‘So Called’: Representing Hybridity”

As an artist of mixed race, West will be using the visual as a powerful means to embody some of the particular experiences that lie at the heart of the complex state of racial hybridity. In collaboration with colleagues in various fields, he plans to explore constructions of mixed racial identity across cultures and disciplines, and to coalesce these histories/destinies into empathic visual representations. West will hold the Hunting Family Faculty Fellowship.

Graduate Student Fellows

Jose Amador de Jesus, student in history, for “Tropics of Disease: Race, Nation and Transnational Medicine in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Brazil, 1898–1940”

Amador is examining the development of tropical medicine in Latin and South America during an era when medical understanding of infectious diseases and their control changed fundamentally. Attention shifted from environmentalist approaches to new biological agents of disease, such as bacteria and parasites, and to animal vectors, such as mosquitoes. These tropical countries were sites for the United States to carry out medical experiments. Amador’s big question is: How did changing notions of disease, race and space affect literary representations of the nation? To answer this question, he will draw on the usually walled-off fields of literature, medical history and post-colonial studies.

Boyd (Photo by Martin Vloet)
Melanie Boyd, student in English and women’s studies, for “The New Incest Narratives: Unruly Victims, Representational Transgressions, and the Possibilities of Danger”

Boyd is studying incest narratives—women’s self-consciously political accounts of sexual violation at the hands of their fathers or step-fathers. Applying the tools of literary analysis and feminist theory to these narratives, she argues that recent texts have taken a new turn, have become “unruly.” By this she means that they abandon the category of innocent victim, re-value sexual pleasure and the “damaged” self, and embrace the possibilities of danger. In so doing, they challenge dominant presumptions about the impact of trauma upon narrative, desire, pleasure and agency.

de Leon
Cedric de Leon student in sociology, for “Radicals in Our Midst: Republicanism, Pre-Marxian Socialism, and the American Two-Party System”

Since scholars of “American exceptionalism” have identified innumerable obstacles to the formation of left parties in the United States, de Leon is intrigued by the fact that in the Jacksonian Era, 1828–1860, both major parties subscribed to a set of anti-capitalist politics. Instead of asking “why no socialism in the United States,” he asks “what were the conditions that enabled the two major parties to embrace anti-capitalist politics at that time, only to abandon them shortly thereafter?” The pro-capitalist consensus in the two-party system is not a natural fixture of the American political landscape, de Leon says, but rather the outcome of a peculiar historical conjuncture. De Leon will hold the Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Student Fellowship.

Colette Moore, student in English, for “Representing Speech in Early English”

Moore’s research examines the ways that speech was reported in late medieval English texts, and the implications of these methods for reading the works of the period. Speech marking illustrates a premodern interpretation of quotation that is masked by the insertion of overly precise quotation marks by modern editors. Understanding the methods and implications of medieval speech marking is critical to our present-day reading and editing of early texts.

Rempel (Photo by Marcia Ledford)
Jane Rempel, student in the Interdepartmental Program in Classical Art and Archaeology, for “Rural Settlement and Elite Representation: Social Change in the Bosporan Kingdom”

Rempel’s dissertation focuses on the Bosporan Kingdom (now southern Russia and Ukraine) during the fourth and third centuries B.C., a period when its purview included not only the ancient Greek colonies, but also neighboring indigenous population groups. Her work is primarily concerned with the larger social implications of the changing rural landscape in the kingdom at that time. Rempel will be the Hunting Family Graduate Student Fellow.

Schober (Photo by Martin Vloet)
David Schober, student in music theory and composition, for “George Perle’s Six New Etudes: Bi-rhythmic Butterflies,” “New Approaches to Musical Symmetry” and “Jewel of Sokkuram” for wind ensemble

As a candidate in the joint Ph.D. program in music theory and composition, Schober will write both an analytical study and an extended composition. The study concerns George Perle, recipient of the 1986 Pulitzer Prize in Music, who sought to reconcile Arnold Schoenberg’s practice of 12-tone composition with the hierarchical relationships of traditional key tonality. As an exploration of his interest in Korea and East Asia, Schober is composing “Jewel of Sokkuram” for the relatively young wind ensemble repertoire. His first step will be to analyze the strategies other modern composers have used to overcome the problems of tonal and timbral differentiation inherent to wind ensemble sound production. He will hold the James A. Winn Graduate Student Fellowship.