2014-2015 IHR Research Fellows

IHR Faculty Fellow

Jennifer Derr, History
“A New Nile: the construction of the environment and the practice of the state in colonial Egypt”

IHR Year-Long Dissertation Fellow

Joanna Meadvin, Literature
“Makhn Amerike / Haciendo la América / Making America”: Jewish Immigrants Write the Jewish Americas (1890-1970)”

Summer Dissertation Fellows

(Funding provided by the Division of Graduate Studies)

Nickolas Conrad

Nickolas Conrad, History
“Leaving the Church: studies in the dissolution of religious belief in France, 1870-1940”

The secularization theory about the decline of religion has been widely rejected, but the growth of unbelief in Northwestern Europe remained unexplained. Consequently, there has been a lively growth in research on unbelief in the last ten years. I am examining the process of the loss of faith in modern France by examining biographical works, personal testimonies, nineteenth-century publications, diocese documents, pamphlets, journals, and letters. The IHR 2014 Summer Research Fellowship gave me the opportunity to work on the first chapter for my dissertation about the loss of faith among freethinkers and former priests during Third Republic France (1870-1940). The French freethought movement and anticlericalism reached its height during this politically tumultuous period. In my first chapter I explore the relation of nineteenth century science, French politics, and biblical exegesis that helped create the cultural conditions for religious crisis. The award also granted me the time to submit an essay for a freethought magazine and to present a paper about my research to the British Association for the Study of Religion.


Patrick Madden, History of Consciousness
“The Rise and Decline of Commercial Society: Adam Smith and the Problem of Historical Progress”


Sophia Booth Magnone

Sophia Booth Magnone, Literature
“The Speculative Agency of the Nonhuman: Animal, Object, and Posthuman Worldings”

What does it mean to be, think, live, and act as a nonhuman? How can humans recognize, respect, and learn from the beings that we tend to classify as “things” rather than “persons”? My dissertation investigates some literary possibilities of nonhuman agency, looking at forces, desires, and ways of being that challenge anthropocentric categories of personhood. I draw upon 19th-century French Decadent literature as well as modern and postmodern science/speculative fiction; both genres are engaged in projects of speculation, producing a series of imaginative human/animal/object hybrids. I read these texts to consider what kinds of agency might emerge in defiance of human expectations; together, the texts suggest the need for humans to remain open to perpetual revision of what it might mean to be, to act, to matter. With the generous support of the IHR, I was able to draft a second chapter of my dissertation, which looks at the plight of the research object in two SF novels about super-intelligent cyborg dogs; and make significant progress on a third, which compares two stories of technologically constructed women to pursue the feminist potential of the (often misogynist) notion of women as artificial beings.


Lauren Shufran

Lauren Shufran, Literature
“The Protestant Reformation and the English Amatory Sonnet Sequence: Salvation and the Trouble of Ending”

Thanks to a generous IHR summer fellowship I was able to write and submit the first chapter of my dissertation, “The Protestant Reformation and the English Amatory Sonnet Sequence: Salvation and the Trouble of Ending.” The project contends that even a genre as ostensibly resistant to theological discourse as Petrarchan “love poetry” registers the Reformation’s ubiquity by the degree to which it appropriates, repurposes, and is captivated by its language. My first chapter reads Edmund Spenser’s Amoretti – a sequence of entreaties to an earthly beloved whose suit ends successfully in a betrothal – as also negotiating Catholic and Reformed positions on election and justification, the means by which a man’s sins were thought to be absolved, declaring him righteous before God. I also shaped the chapter into an article-length publication and made significant edits to another article on “Virtue and Versification in John Milton’s Comus,” both of which I will submit for publication review within the month.


Dustin Wright, History
“‘You can stake our land but you can’t stake our spirits’: Dispossession and anti-military base struggle in western Tokyo”

Summer Research Fellows, Summer 2014

Jessica Barbata Jackson

Jessica Barbata Jackson, History
“Problematizing Jim Crow: Italian Immigrants in the Gulf South, 1880-1924”

Through an exploration of the treatment of Italian and Sicilian immigrants in the Gulf South, my dissertation investigates the extent that racially-marked immigrants like Italians challenged and endangered the racially binary mandates of Jim Crow. With the generous support of the IHR Summer Research Fellowship, I was able to perform extensive archival research in New Orleans this summer at the University of New Orleans, the Italian American Research library, the Louisiana Supreme Court Law Library and New Orleans Public Library’s Louisiana Division & Special Collections. In addition to analyzing maps for Italian street names, evaluating the membership practices of Sicilian benevolent societies, securing access to the complete marriage records of Orleans parish (which will allow me to track the rates of intermarriage between African Americans and Italian immigrants), and locating court cases where Italians were found in violation of miscegenation laws, I was additionally able to examine the records of the 1898 Constitutional Convention in Louisiana. These resources, which will serves as the basis for the second chapter of my dissertation, provide insight into the state’s disenfranchisement debates and will enable me to assess the extent that Italians complicated southern understandings of race, identity and citizenship.


Isaac Blacksin

Isaac Blacksin, History of Consciousness
“Conflict Journalism and the Knowledge-Productions of War”

My summer research consisted of interviews with journalists and “fixers” in Beirut and Baghdad, as well as participant observation of reporting trips in the region. I conducted some 35 hours of interviews with 20 foreign correspondents and local fixers working for prominent American newspapers, magazines, and radio networks. My aim was to examine journalistic knowledge production in the Middle East, and to assess the roles of factuality, narrative, representation, and cultural translation – especially as related to violence and religion – toward this end. How does objectivity function as a value or ideology in the journalistic account? In what ways do journalistic depictions of war and belief shape understandings of the “other”? When is local knowledge of conflict considered an “authentic” journalistic knowledge? What is “violence” for the journalist? These were some of the questions addressed.

The data gathered will allow me to explore the epistemological grounds of journalism in the Middle East; to interrogate journalistic concepts and values as articulated by correspondents and fixers; and to track how representational practices affect the discursive power that is journalism’s precondition and result. I made progress in tracing the particular organizations of reality, relationships between fact and meaning, and structures of information – in short, the forms of knowledge – generated and obfuscated by journalistic discourse. The support of the IHR was critical in allowing me to speak with and observe journalists in the field.


Melissa Brzycki

Melissa Brzycki, History
“Inventing the Socialist Child, 1949–1976”

The IHR Summer Research Grant allowed me to do preliminary dissertation research in Shanghai, Tianjin, and Qingdao to get a better understanding of the sources available in these archives, refine my dissertation prospectus, and strengthen my applications for external funding. For my Ph.D. dissertation, I intend to research visions of socialist childhood in the early Chinese Communist state, 1945-1976. My research will include explorations on the thinking, institution-building, and daily practices by which childhood was re-established in the context of socialist nation-building from 1945-1976. I am specifically interested in the project of socialist childhood in urban centers and their more rural suburbs, to better understand how industrialization and the shift to socialism brought major changes to every area of life, including family dynamics and child rearing.


Asad Haider, History of Consciousness
“Class Composition and Uneven Development”


Rita Jones

Rita Jones, History
“A Curious Healing: Women, the Body, and Spiritual Transformation in late nineteenth century Protestant Movements”

The 2014 IHR Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to make a significant amount of progress to expand my master’s thesis into a larger dissertation project. With material from archives in Washington D.C. and Boston, I draw attention to a paradigmatic shift in late nineteenth century Protestantism in which several Christian denominations fostered female-led movements to advance women’s health, gynecology, and obstetrics. I argue that these connections should encourage historians to reexamine the relationship between Christian theology, the history of medicine, and the construction of the female body. I am grateful to the IHR for their generous support.


Nicholas Kalivoda

Nicholas Kalivoda, Linguistics
“Agreement in Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec”

My IHR Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to travel for a week to the town of Teotitlán del Valle in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, where I recorded and transcribed conversations and stories in the local Zapotecan language. I am putting these materials to use as I begin work on my second qualifying paper, in which I will address several puzzles in the pronominal and subject-verb agreement systems of Teotitlán del Valle Zapotec, comparing these phenomena with their analogues in other Zapotecan languages and in other languages of the world. My trip played a crucial role in allowing me to establish relationships with numerous native speakers of Zapotec in Teotitlán, and these ties will facilitate future research on additional linguistic phenomena in the language.


Muiris MacGiollabhui​

Muiris MacGiollabhui, History
“Carrying the Green Bough: A Transatlantic History of the United Irishmen, 1795-1820”

This project charts the history of the United Irishmen, a revolutionary organization born of the revolutionary vigor we associate with the late eighteenth century, outside the boundaries of their Irish homeland, and instead examining them within an Atlantic context through the long eighteenth century. Often studied within constricting Anglo-Irish and American (US) contexts, this project will explore their impact on the greater Atlantic World. The IHR Summer Research Fellowship has given me the opportunity to visit both the National Archives in London, and the Jamaican National Archives in Kingston.

What I have found is fascinating. Exiled United Irishmen who were conscripted into the British military, instead of facing rebellious maroons in Jamaica, chose to desert and formed interracial communities committed against British rule in Jamaica. In particular, I was able to highlight a policy of exile evident in British colonial policy that affected both the Maroons of Jamaica and the United Irishmen. Intended to become a chapter of my dissertation, this research is step one in a project that will bring me to Canada, the American South, Germany, and Southern Spain.


Stephanie Montgomery

Stephanie Montgomery, History
“Women Criminals: Gendered Criminality and the Prison in China, 1930-1949”

The IHR Summer Research Fellowship allowed me to travel to China to visit the Tianjin, Qingdao, and Shanghai municipal archives in the summer of 2014. The sources I found will allow me to write grant proposals and continue preliminary research for my proposed dissertation titled, “Gender, Criminality, and the Prison in China, 1928-1953.” My research will examine the relationship between state visions and actual conditions in women’s prisons during a quarter century of political change encompassing Nationalist political control, Japanese occupation civil war, and the early years of the People’s Republic of China.

I began my research in Shanghai for three weeks, where I found booking and sentencing reports, as well as medical certificates for deaths, illnesses, pregnancies, and births, especially for the Shanghai-Jiangsu No. Two prison. I then went to Tianjin for two weeks, where I found internal documents from the Tianjin detainment center and the Tianjin No. Three Prison, which included health and infirmary reports, legal cases and trials, transcripts of legal statements, and future women’s prison blueprints and detailed plans. Finally, travelling to Qingdao for one week, I found internal prison and local government documents from Shandong Prisons No. One, Two, Three, Five, and Six, and from the previous subject of my M.A. research, the Qingdao City prison. The documents included information on prison finances, inmate rosters, and employee information.

During my visit, I also met with Professor Jin Guangyao of Fudan University in Shanghai, who wrote introduction letters which granted me access to archives in all three cities. I also met with Professor Hou Jie of Nankai University’s history department in Tianjin, who advised me during my stay and assisted me in gaining access to useful resources at Nankai. In Qingdao, I met with Professor Cai Qinyu of the Sociology department at Ocean University, who researches relief organizations in the late imperial and Republican period, and offered helpful suggestions for further resources at the archive, including an introduction to the head archivist. Dr. Jin and Dr. Hou have both agreed to advise future dissertation research in China in affiliation with Fudan University and Nankai University, respectively.


Jessica Neasbitt, History of Consciousness
“Surgeons, Speculums, and Specialization: Exploring the Role of Pathologization in the Birth of American Gynecology”

Can the invention and increase in popularity of controversial gynecological cosmetic surgeries be better understood by a careful examination of the formation of American gynecology as a discrete medical specialty?

My research explores the ascendancy of, and narratives surrounding, female genital cosmetic surgery (FGCS) in the U.S. In an effort to ascertain whether or not the growing popularity of FGCS is related to the long, well-documented history of the female body being viewed as non-normative and/or pathological in Western cultures, I traveled to North Carolina in order to conduct archival research at both Duke University and UNC Chapel Hill. While there, I was given access to several rare collections, which included the personal papers of J. Marion Sims, the physician credited as being the “father of American gynecology”, as well as the papers and published works of many of his peers. I was also granted access to Duke University’s medical instruments archive, and allowed to handle and photograph the medical devices invented and used by the founders of American gynecology. Having access to all of these archival materials has enriched my project greatly, and has added nuance and balance to my research into this complex relation of past and present medical practices and technologies.


Lisa Schilz, Literature
“Temporalizing Texas: A Hemispheric, Transnational, and Multilingual Study of Comparative Revolutions”

How might our conceptions regarding the U.S.-Mexican border be different if we understood the complicated prior history of relations in the borderland spaces, when U.S. and Anglophone hegemony was not assured? My project focuses on the early national period in the space that would become Texas and maps out a hemispheric, transnational, and multilingual web of texts that examine revolution. Especially important is revolution’s inherent liminality: between expectation and fulfillment lies an unknowable future and an ambiguous present rife with possibilities and perspectives that demand an excavation of multiple, conflicting temporalities. I examine Charles’ Sealsfield’s das Kajütenbuch (1841), a German-language novel that contextualizes the Texas Revolution as part of a hemispheric network and ambivalently depicts it as heroic liberation, mercantile opportunism, and piratical butchery. I then trace out spatially and temporally diffuse associations, such as connections with U.S.-Mexico relations and poinsettismo and the shifting boundaries and fluid politics of Comanchería. I argue that this textual web reframes the spatial and temporal markers of the borderlands, troubles Eurocentric notions of property and revolution, and underscores non-Anglos as historical actors in their own right. Through the IHR, I was able to utilize archives and site visits to flesh out these textual networks.



S. Ayana Smythe, History of Consicousness
“\’New representation regimes\’: Questions of citizenship in Postcolonial Italy”


Erik Zyman

Erik Zyman, Linguistics
“The Syntax of the Verb Phrase in P’urhepecha”

What rules determine how words can and can’t be put together to form sentences, and how much do they vary from one language to the next? To contribute to the project of answering these questions, I traveled to the island of Janitzio in Michoacán, Mexico, to work with native speakers of P’urhepecha, an indigenous language with no known relatives. By asking speakers how acceptable particular sentences of P’urhepecha sounded to them, I uncovered some intriguing differences between the syntax of Janitzio P’urhepecha (JP) and that of familiar languages like English. For example, JP, like many languages, allows sentences like Tom wants that his wife be happy; but JP apparently also allows the embedded subject to ascend into the main clause and become its object: Tom wants his wife that be happy. In the English sentence I gave all the men hats, “all” and “the men” can be reversed; but JP doesn’t allow this reversal. The next step is to determine what are the fundamental grammatical characteristics of JP and English that are responsible for these differences. I am grateful to have been supported by the IHR and the NSF (under a Graduate Research Fellowship); this support made my trip possible.

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