The University Record, April 26, 1999
OVPR names arts, humanities fellows
By Lee Katterman
Office of the Vice President for Research
The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR), LS&A and the Vice Provost for the Arts have announced the recipients of the Michigan Humanities Award and Michigan Arts Award for academic year 1999-2000. Now in their fifth year, these award programs constitute a major commitment on the part of LS&A, OVPR and the Vice Provost for the Arts to enrich the cultural life of the humanities and creative arts at the University.
The awards are given annually to tenured, full-time faculty engaged in major scholarly and creative projects in the humanities and creative arts. They provide each recipient's department or program with funds to employ a visiting teacher-scholar, enabling the awardees to be released from teaching responsibilities for one academic term.
Michigan Arts Award
Jim Cogswell, associate professor of art and design, will undertake the stage design for a dance performance "H'UN (Lacerations): In Memoriam (1966-1976)," an orchestral work by Bright Sheng, associate professor of music, dedicated to the victims of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Prof. Evelyn Velez-Aguayo, Department of Dance, will choreograph and perform the work. Although Cogswell's ideas for the stage design are still evolving, he plans to set "H'UN" in a highly abstracted Chinese garden, dominated by black, white and red, possibly incorporating sculpture of elements such as a rock, a bridge or a waterfall, punctuated with banners moving in and out of the space above the performer. This performance will premiere during the 2000-2001 season.
Stephen Rush, associate professor of dance and of music technology, will complete his composition, "Conciertino Brasiliera, Concerto for Clarinet and Orchestra." The composition will bring together the orchestra, a specifically Western medium, with South Indian singing, a form that Rush has been intensively studying. Once complete, the composition will be scored for orchestra, and Rush will record the work with clarinetist Richard Stolzman and the Seattle Orchestra in summer 2000.
Michigan Humanities Award
Elizabeth Anderson, associate professor of philosophy, will devote her effort to Feminist Epistemology and Philosophy of Science: A Handbook for Practitioners, a Guide for the Perplexed. Her systematic review and assessment of the claims of feminist epistemology and philosophy of science will explore some of the conflicting, bold hypotheses and intriguing, widely dispersed, and underanalyzed lines of evidence; and a set of organizing concepts (such as "gender," "objectivity" and "situated knowledge") whose multiple possible meanings beg for clarification. Anderson plans to lay out different possible meanings, assess them, then sort promising lines of inquiry from dead ends.
Cherry, professor of classical studies, will use his award to
complete work on "Landscape Studies and Survey Archaeology in Prehistoric and Classical Greece." Landscape has become a powerful framing concept in a wide range of fields, and Cherry wants to bring this power to classical studies. He plans to prepare a major article that will analyze and evaluate more than 60 surveys of Greece in terms of their impact on our understanding of Greek prehistory, an article scholars working elsewhere in the Mediterranean will find helpful. He also will collaborate with Susan Alcock, associate professor of classical archaeology and classics, on a book, tentatively titled Landscapes of Classical Antiquity, for a Cambridge University Press series, "Key Themes in Ancient History."
The project by Nancy Florida, associate professor of Asian languages and cultures, "Remembered Lives: Memory Work Among the Women of the Javanese Palace," explores the dialogic construction of life histories among a select group of women associated with royal service in the old Indonesian court city of Surakarta, Central Java. These women‹former court servants, performing artists, cast-off concubines and unhappy princesses‹have storied pasts, some of which span modern Indonesian history. Oral histories from them have been collected and this project will complete the interview collection and lead to the publication of the project's results.
Sandra Gunning, associate professor of English and of American culture, will work on her forthcoming book, The Politics of Mobility and Identity in Early African American Literature. This work examines the novels, memoirs, autobiographies and travelogues of 18th- and 19th-century African American men and women, and addresses the contradictory roles of Africans (and eventually African Americans) living in the English-speaking Americas. Gunning is especially interested in the times when these people were both eager participants in and staunch resistors to overseas American and European colonizing missions.
Leslie Pincus, associate professor of history, is undertaking a project, "The Culture of Social Transformation in Twentieth Century Japan," that explores the relationship between intellectual culture and the transformative social practices in 20th-century Japan. At the heart of this project is an extraordinary figure, Nakai Masakazu‹academic philosopher, cultural theorist, filmmaker and organizer‹whose trajectory during the volatile decades surrounding World War II reveals with unusual clarity the complex and sometimes tangled web of connections between intellectual discourse, public culture and social life.
In a project titled, "Toward a Fallible Objectivism about Value," Peter Railton, professor of philosophy, will work on making connections between valuing and ethics for a book to be published by Cambridge University Press. Railton has for a number of years been writing about value, morality and objectivity. Through these papers, a consequentialist "objectified subjectivism" about value and morality has emerged, as he has struggled with questions about moral deliberation, respect for others, the nature of value discourse, the relations of value to morality, the metaphysics of epistemology of value, value conflict, normativity and practical reason. He will continue this work during the coming academic year with a leave at an interdisciplinary research center at the Ecole Polytech-nique in Paris.
Robertson, professor of anthropology, will begin work on a book about the cultures of Japanese colonialism during the wartime period of 1931-45. Her project, "Beauty and Blood: Making Japanese Colonial Cultures," is informed by the content of the scholarly and popular debates and material practices in Japan, both shaping and shaped by the structure of a new culture of and for the "imagined community" of Greater East Asia. Her overall aim is to illuminate the gendered, embodied and exhibited political culture of the Japanese Empire.
Root, professor and chair of the Department of History of Art, will complete a book on "Persia and the Parthenon: Comparative Essays on the Art of Empire." Her study will be published by Cambridge University Press under the title, Essays on the Art of Emulation. Based on a high level of dramatic intellectual activity in discourse on the nature of Near Eastern and Greek cultural interactions that have occurred over the last half-dozen years, Root will focus on an analysis of ways in which Athenian sculpture works relative to features of the sculpture of the Persian empire. Each sculptural program resolves specific needs to project visual messages about ideal social order on a major official monument.
Arlene Saxonhouse, professor of political science, will explore the status and significance of free speech in ancient Athenian political culture and political thought for her project, "Free Speech and Democratic Theory in Ancient Greece." She will study these attempts in the earliest democratic society to grapple with the meaning of free speech, its relationship to democratic regimes and the limits that may be necessary. This work can offer a theoretical depth to contemporary debates about free speech, but without the contemporary overlay of rights language that infuses the modern discussion. This perspective will enable us to move beyond claims to rights to free speech to a sense of its relation to the political community, when it is not understood as a right, but as a principle that supports or undermines democratic principles.
Zen has been touted as an iconoclastic and antinomian tradition that rejects scholastic learning and ritualism in favor of naturalness, spontaneity and freedom. In the project, "How to Read a Zen Kôan: Chao-chao's Dog and the Buddha-Nature of Insentient Objects," Robert Sharf, associate professor of Asian languages and cultures, will work on a book that will refocus our understanding of Zen in general, and the elegant literary genre of kôans in particular. The audience for the book includes scholars in a range of associated fields as well as knowledgeable lay readers. Sharf hopes to demonstrate the need for a complete rethinking of our approach to medieval Buddhist monastic culture in China, Korea and Japan.
In "Study of Gender Relations and Sexual Meanings in the Kojiki," Hitomi Tonomura, associate professor of history, will explore the earliest literary expression of Japanese attitudes toward gender relations and sexual meanings as they are represented in the Kojiki (the Records of Ancient Matters). Compiled in the early eighth century, the Kojiki is the oldest extant writing and one of the narrative bases of the native belief system that later came to be called Shinto. Its importance to the Japanese culture can be compared to that of the "Book of Genesis" for Judeo-Christian societies. But far from being an esoteric text of the past, the goddesses and gods showcased in the Kojiki visibly occupy Japan's modern landscape. Tonomura's project seeks to understand and interpret the fundamental text that has given rise to the construction of "tradition" in modern Japan.