The University of MichiganNews Services
The University Record Online
Updated 11:00 AM April 5, 2004



news briefs


UM employment

police beat
regents round-up
research reporter


Advertise with Record

contact us
meet the staff
contact us
15 humanities fellows named

The Institute for the Humanities has awarded fellowships to nine faculty members and six graduate students to support research projects they will pursue while in residence at the institute during 2004-05.

"Out of the stiffest competition in the history of the institute, we have chosen an extraordinary group of fellows," says Institute Director Daniel Herwitz, who chaired the selection meetings. "In response to overwhelming demand, we have been able to increase the number of our 2004-2005 Faculty Fellows from seven to nine.

"Our Faculty Fellows come from architecture, music, law, creative writing, history, romance languages, medicine, women's studies and political science, making ours a place for expanded faculty dialogue next year. Our graduate fellows have never been more globally—as well as historically—focused. The year should be a dynamic one."

The outside evaluators for the faculty fellowship selection process were Katherine Bergeron (music, University of California, Berkeley), Françoise Lionnet (French, University of California, Los Angeles) and Anthony Yu (Divinity School, University of Chicago). Helping to select the graduate student fellows were Gillian Feeley-Harnik (anthropology), Diane Owen Hughes (history) and Michael Schoenfeldt (English).

The fellows, followed by their project titles, are:

Nicholas Delbanco, professor, English language and literature, Hunting Family Professor

"Anywhere Out of This World—A Book of Essays"

Delbanco has two projects in mind for his fellowship year. The first will be a compendium of previous writing. "I would hope to work in the old-fashioned mode of meditation/rumination in which the author brings together disparate-seeming subjects and attempts a linkage," he says. "A working title for the whole is 'Anywhere Out of This World,' a phrase from Baudelaire, who made explicit that yearning for 'elsewhere' that will power several of these pieces." The other project is an "Introduction to Literature" textbook for the general undergraduate audience.

Bruce Frier, professor, classical studies and law

"Style and Remembrance: The Golden Age of the Roman Cinaedi"

The cinaedi was a group of men—apparently, a large group—that during the early Roman Empire adopted a "lifestyle" characterized by flamboyant and often effeminate dress, make-up, hairdos, and other affectations. Surviving literary sources describe them, almost always in vitriolic terms, mainly as gender transgressors who foreswore the ordinary conduct expected of males. Interestingly, the ancient authors are far less concerned with the cinaedi's actual homosexual practices than with the clothing and make-up. Frier's most immediate interest is in how the external style of the cinaedi was related to the group's self-definition and to the perception of others.

William Jack Glover, assistant professor, architecture, Steelcase Research Professor

"Making Lahore Modern"

Glover is examining connections between urban architecture and colonial society in Lahore, the capital city of Punjab Province in British India (1849-1947). He is concentrating on projects that sought to translate familiar Indian objects and urban settings into a new network of ideas about how life ought to be led. The authors of these projects (British and Indian architects, planners and reformers) imagined a smooth and reversible flow between the visible world and invisible principles, between a physical setting and an improved social milieu, in a process that was ideally "natural." Their goal was nothing less than to create a new kind of person, and they found the material environment of the city to be crucial to the task.

Linda Gregerson, professor, English, John Rich Professor

"Magnetic North" (a collection of poems)

Gregerson will work on a fourth collection of poems, tentatively entitled "Magnetic North." Formally, she will investigate a variety of means for rendering the poem-on-the-page as a visual cognate for the poem-on-the-voice. Thematically, she will employ materials from the history of science.

George Hoffmann, associate professor, romance languages

"What it Meant to Have Faith: The Changing Experience of Belief and Doubt in Early Modern France"

A modern "loss of faith" has been traced variously to urbanization, the industrial revolution and the rise of a scientific outlook. But Hoffman finds that secularization may be a story better told not as the struggle against religion but as a process that unfolded within religion itself. The Reformation and Counter-Reformation's propagation of a subjective imperative of belief laid the foundation for modern expressions of skepticism through the scrutiny to which "believers" increasingly were subjected and subjected themselves. It may have been the Renaissance insistence upon sincerity on the part of the worshipper, over and above simple assent, that ushered in the current era of fundamentalisms—be they religious or scientific.

Susan Juster, associate professor, history

"Sacred Violence in Colonial America"

The American colonies present something of a paradox for students of early modern religious violence. Though the starkest and most brutal forms of persecution were noticeably absent from the British colonies, the European periphery produced some new and sometimes bizarre forms of sacred violence—such as ritualized assaults on Native Americans—that combined racial contempt and religious fervor. The difficulty of disentangling religious violence from other forms of aggression in a colonial context lies at the core of Juster's project, which examines a broad array of punitive acts, from the burning of slaves to the atrocities of the Indian wars as well as more conventional examples of sacred violence, such as the looting of churches and the persecution of dissenters.

Mika LaVaque-Manty, assistant professor, political science

A. Bartlett Giamatti Faculty Fellow

"Meaningful Competitions: From Dueling to Title IX"

LaVaque-Manty is studying the changing arguments about merit, achievement and political status in the development of the modern state. He contrasts theories of inherent human equality and dignity with actual social practices, and explores how tensions between liberty and equality get sorted out in such practices. Why did some European middle classes adopt aristocratic customs such as dueling in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, when their ideals would have suggested their condemnation? And why did working-class movements make mass sports part of their politics 100 years later? What is the broader political significance of late 20th century debates about the terms on which previously disadvantaged groups such as women or the disabled get to participate in pursuits of "excellence"?

Jonathan Metzl, assistant professor, women's studies and psychiatry

"Protest Psychosis: A Cultural History of Schizophrenia"

African Americans are disproportionately stigmatized by schizophrenia. Numerous studies show that, as a result of physician misdiagnosis, Blacks have more than a 65 percent higher rate of schizophrenia than whites and one-seventh the rate of affective disorders. African-American psychiatric patients also receive more antipsychotic medications than do white psychiatric patients, and they are more likely to be described by their doctors as being hostile or potentially violent. Metzl is examining the antecedents, consequences and implications of this diagnostic and treatment imbalance using the methods of historical analysis and cultural studies.

Bright Sheng, professor, music composition, Helmut F. Stern Professor

"The Monkey King—A Martial Arts Musical"

Sheng has written four staged works: the operas, "Madame Mao" and "The Song of Majnun"; a musical-theater work, "The Silver River"; and a ballet, "Chi-Lin." During his fellowship year, he plans to develop a piece that originated from a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) fantasy/adventure Chinese novel, "Journey to the West," which tells the traditional story of the Monkey King. The work will combine theater (with influences of Asian drama), music (fusion of American-musical style with a touch of rap music, and Chinese classical and operatic music), dance, acrobatics and visual spectacle.

Andreea Boboc, English

James A. Winn Graduate Student Fellow

"Evidence and Feminine Authority in Late Medieval England, 1389-1463"

What constituted evidence in medieval England? Since no medieval legal theory of evidence exists, we must infer these practices from texts that, although not always concerned with legal questions of evidence and proof, nevertheless serve to define what is or is not true. Boboc plans to focus on literary texts that construct feminine authority in a wide array of roles: virgin, mother, wife, widow, businesswoman, anchoress and saint. She believes inferences from these literary and non-literary narratives can contribute significantly to the study of medieval evidence.

Benjamin Bogin, Asian languages and cultures

Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Student Fellow

"Tantric Buddhism, Visual Arts, and Liberative Violence in Seventeenth-Century Tibet: A Microhistorical Study of the Memoirs of Yolmo Tenzin Norbu (1598-1644)"

Bogin is conducting an annotated and detailed study of the memoirs of Yolmo Tenzin Norbu (1598-1644), a Tibetan Buddhist priest, painter and ritual expert. This close attention to biographical and historical literature, he believes, will lead him to understand the expression of abstract religious ideals in historical and local contexts. To this end, on the basis of Yolmo Tenzin Norbu's memoirs, he will examine the distinction between monks and non-celibate tantric priests in the light of the author's conversion from the former to the latter; the production, consecration, veneration and trade of sacred art; and the political role of prophecy and violent "black magic."

Anne O'Brien Fisher, Slavic languages and literatures

Sylvia "Duffy" Engle Graduate Student Fellow

"The Con Man as Cultural Text: Appropriations of Il'f and Petrov's Ostap Bender"

Fisher's dissertation focuses on one of Russian literature's most popular con men, Ostap Bender. Bender, created in 1928 during the early Soviet period, does not fit neatly into binary models of official versus unofficial literature and high versus low culture. Tracing the ways in which Bender has been interpreted, appropriated and performed by Soviet and post-Soviet readers, Fisher reexamines the hierarchies and mechanisms of power between literary producers, regulators and consumers. Her project shows that the figure of Bender is an important vehicle for negotiating issues of identity, agency and community.

Asli Igsiz, comparative literature

Hunting Family Graduate Student Fellow

"Fragments of Home-land, Narratives of Return: Rewriting History, Politics of Genre and Collective Memory in Compulsory Greek-Turkish Population Exchange"

She is examining the types of genres used in the aftermath of political upheaval to make public the private stories of events. Her exploration of why different cultural settings require different genres to convey stories of rupture begins with a broad question: What does a cultural setting "do" with political rupture, on an individual and collective level, and why? Previous scholarship on rupture leans heavily on trauma theory based on Freudian notions of mourning and delayed understanding. But she believes that approach homogenizes experiences of ordeal and disregards individual and cultural agency. Instead she is undertaking an interdisciplinary cultural analysis of collective memory, one that introduces genre as a critical site for studying rupture in relation to collective memory.

Karen Johnson, classical art and archaeology

Hunting Family Graduate Student Fellow

"Materializing Childhood: A Multidisciplinary Approach to the Study of Children in the Roman World"

Childhood is as elusive in its definition as it is in its experience. Considering how difficult it is for us to detail our own childhood experiences, imagine the pitfalls of describing the childhood of past individuals, particularly from an archaeological perspective. Johnson addresses this challenge both by outlining in broad terms what kinds of artifacts speak to the material world of children and childhood and by examining actual artifacts excavated from the Roman Egyptian town of Karanis, occupied during the first to fourth centuries C.E. Her multidisciplinary analysis produces new ways to glean information from artifacts and also reveals a depth to children's life experiences and concepts of childhood across the Roman world.

Ronit Ricci, comparative literature

Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Student Fellow

"Islamic Literary Traditions in Javanese and Tamil"

Ricci is studying two Muslim communities that were in touch for many centuries across the Indian Ocean, one in India on the Coromandel coast of Tamil Nadu and the other in Java. Her inquiry focuses on the Tamil and Javanese versions of a well-known text, "The Book of One Thousand Questions," which tells of a meeting between a Jewish leader in Arabia with the Prophet Muhammad, the many questions he asked the prophet and his subsequent conversion to Islam. Through a comparison and analysis of the story's Tamil and Javanese versions, Ricci raises questions about the role literature plays in religious conversion and the power of shared ideas to transcend geographical and cultural boundaries.

More Stories