The University Record, March 25, 1998

Humanities Institute names 11 fellows


By Elizabeth Woodford
Institute for the Humanities

The Institute for the Humanities has awarded fellowships to six faculty and five graduate students to work at the Institute in 199899. Their projects are related to the Institute's theme for the year, "Form and Pattern."

Institute Director Tom Trautmann, who chaired both selection committees, emphasizes the excellence of those applying: "Reviewers of the applications for fellowships believe, as I do, that this year we had an unusually strong field of applicants. We are grateful to the outside reviewers who helped the Institute's Executive Committee shoulder the burden of the difficult Faculty Fellowship selection-Michele Oka Doner (artist, New York), Barry Gaspar (history, Duke University) and Dalia Judovitz (French and Italian, Emory University). Our thanks, too, to the Graduate Student Fellowship selection committee: Matthew Biro (history of art), Nancy Florida (Asian languages and cultures) and Tobin Siebers (English)."

The fellows and their projects are:

  • Julia Potter Adams (associate professor, sociology) will write "State Formation in the Colonial Indies: Theories of Agency and Patterns of Empire." Her research draws on humanistic approaches from cultural studies and anthropology, and social sciences approaches from economics and political science. This "binocular" perspective enriches and deepens her study of patterns of colonial rule and of the formation of colonial rulers and states. Adams will be the Dean's Distinguished Faculty Fellow.

  • Luis O. Gmez (professor, Asian languages and cultures) specializes in Buddhist Studies. In "Cultivated Wisdom and Formless Awareness," he examines metaphors of intuition in the Tibetan Controversies of the eighth century known as the "Council of Lhasa." Part of his project is to provide annotated translations of source documents. By comparing these with similar controversies in other traditions, such as Hindu debates on the nature of grace and Western parallels such as the Quietist and Jansenist controversies, Gmez means to "gradually display the psychological and social parameters of such theological discourse." Gmez will hold the Steelcase Research Professorship.

  • Sadashi Inuzuka (assistant professor, School of Art and Design) will create a large new ceramic installation, "Exotic Species." This project addresses the impact of toxins on aquatic organisms in the Great Lakes and expands on the artist's long-standing interest in the relationship between the natural world and human society.

  • Bruce Mannheim (associate professor, anthropology) is analyzing "Pattern in Quechua Verbal Art." When the Spanish colonized Peru, the multi-linguistic natives retreated to southern Peru and eventually became Quechua speakers. In the process, the reductive category "Indian" was born. Mannheim explores this process of "national formation" by studying the linguistic and religious forms through which Southern Quechuas became "a nation surrounded" in Peruvian Society. He will be the John Rich Faculty Fellow.

  • Erik Mueggler (assistant professor, anthropology) spent months in the field studying the Llop', a rural highland minority community in southwest China. In "Spectral Subversions: Ritual Form and State Power in Southwest China," he examines Llop' ritual forms used to treat affliction, mourn the dead, promote fertility and evade domination. These daily practices became a way for them to explore questions of community and justice within the context of a state that defined itself as the "ultimate arbiter of these values." Mueggler will be the Hunting Family Faculty Fellow.

  • Margaret R. Somers (associate professor, sociology and history) ultimately aims to craft a theory of rights based on the comparative history of Anglo-American citizenship from the 14th through the 19th centuries. In "The People and the Law: The Making of Modern Citzenship," she will argue that modern citizenship was not merely a by-product of the transition from feudalism to capitalism, but that it emerged from the "interaction of national legal institutions and rules with tenacious patterns of local citizenship practices." Somers will be the A. Bartlett Giamatti Faculty Fellow.

  • Alexandre Dauge-Roth (Romance languages) is analyzing the French testimonial literature of AIDS sufferers and concentration camp survivors. In "Altered Identities and the Home of Testimony," he asks: what are the narrative strategies of bearing witness to experiences that "traumatically alter the subject's identities," experiences that estrange people from themselves and dislocate them from their former places in "the society to which they return or belong?" Testimony, he argues, represents a way of renegotiating identity and a path home. Dauge-Roth will hold the Rackham Dean's Graduate Student Fellowship.

  • Andrew Kirshner (music composition) will write "Relive the Magic: An Evening with Tony Amore," an experimental music-theater piece. Amore, an aging pop-icon based on Frank Sinatra, is making his final appearance on stage at the taping of a public TV gala, a pledge-week special honoring the singer's long life and career. The piece explores the themes of "aging, self-invention, reality and myth-making in the ephemeral context of American media-culture." Kirshner, the work's principal performer as well as its composer and librettist, will be the Hunting Family Graduate Student Fellow.

  • Jonathan Metzl (American culture) is a psychiatrist with a passion for literary studies. His dissertation, "Biological Psychiatry, the Prozac Promise, and the Promise of Postmodernism," analyzes advertisements for antidepressants. He asks: What is really being advertised? Which models of mental illness are assumed and promoted? Which repressed? Metzl hopes to "destabilize the certainty with which biological psychiatry" is touted in advertisements-and in a medical system that devalues the human interaction of the "talking cure" by promoting the quick, pharmaceutical fix. Metzl will hold the Director's Graduate Student Fellowship.

  • For John Su (English), the diasporic subject is the representative postmodern one: "Alienation and displacement from ancestors, tradition, and community, long the daily existence of the marginalized, colonized, and oppressed, have now become a mainstream experience." His dissertation, "Postmodern Nostalgia: Narratives of Return and the Longing for Foundations," argues that authors as diverse as Chinua Achebe, Kazuo Ishiguro, Toni Morrison and Jean Rhys compose narratives of loss and yearning to restore communal moral foundations by recovering lost places of memory.

  • Jennifer Trimble (classical art and archaeology) notes that in the Roman Empire, portraits often combined individualized faces with stock bodies called "types." Her dissertation, "The Aesthetics of Sameness: Elite Self-representation in the Early and High Roman Empire," studies the contexts of two of the best-known female "types." Trimble asks what this visual replication meant to the statues' patrons and viewers, and how this aesthetic of sameness worked within the cultural, social and political world of the empire.