Christian de Pee



Hunting Family Faculty Fellow
assistant professor, history

Visible Cities: Text and Urban Space in Middle-Period China, Eighth through Twelfth Centuries
Between the eighth and twelfth centuries, Chinese authors created literary forms and genres that made the cities of the period visible in new ways. Rather than using these texts to reconstruct the physical layout of Tang- and Song-dynasty cities and then analyzing these reconstructions, de Pee proposes to understand writing as a replication of movement through space and to understand the resulting text as a landscape. This approach will preserve historical continuities between textual form and urban space, as well as historical ways of experiencing the urban landscape.

Lisa Disch



John Rich Professor
professor, political science and women's studies

Rethinking Re-Presentation
Is political representation legitimate only insofar as it approximates direct democracy, with representatives closely linked and precisely accountable to their constituents? With approval ratings for the Congress at an all-time low, many US citizens would say ‘yes’ to this question. Although they may be especially prominent today, animosity toward political representation and idealization of participatory politics are deep-seated features of US political culture. Disch’s research seeks to rehabilitate political representation as a form of democratic politics in its own right. She argues that political representation does not merely mirror but mobilizes, not merely reflecting existing demands but generating them. Inspiration on this point is taken from literary and cultural scholars who are accustomed to think of representation as an activity. As a political theorist, however, Disch will need to address the question of how to evaluate that activity: the aim to define a standard of evaluation by which to differentiate between more and less democratic instances of political representation.

Basil Dufallo



Hunting Family Faculty Fellow
assistant professor, classical studies and comparative literature

The Captor’s Image: Greek Art in Roman Ekphrasis
While at the institute Dufallo plans to complete work on a book titled The Captor’s Image: Greek Art in Roman Ekphrasis (under contract with Oxford University Press), which focuses on descriptions of Hellenic art objects (ekphrasis) in classical Latin literature. Dufallo’s book argues that a new understanding of this technique affords us much fresh insight into what Greek culture meant for the Romans, specifically into how the Romans understood the Greek influence on their own identity. Roman ekphrasis in particular helps us perceive the complex cultural and political stakes inherent in the trope’s utilization when literary texts confirm, as much as they challenge, the priority of the visual image, an aspect of ekphrasis with which modern criticism and theory has been less concerned.

Julia Hell



Helmut F. Stern Professor
associate professor, German

Imperial Ruins: Imagining the Decline of Rome from Napoleon to Hitler
In the wake of the Roman Empire, all modern European projects of imperial mimesis were haunted by the specter of decline, captured in images of Rome in ruins. In Imperial Ruins: Imagining the Decline of Rome from Napoleon to Hitler, Hell explores the role played by the Roman Empire and its ruins in European discourses about empire between 1800 and 1945, tracing the visual scenario of the imperial ruin gazer across a wide variety of textual and visual materials, ranging from the end of the eighteenth century to 1945.

Carol Jacobsen



John Rich Professor
professor, art and women's studies

Trial in Error
Carol Jacobsen will research and produce a new body of work in video and photography titled "Trial in Error." The project is based on historical and contemporary public documents and interviews with women recently released from prison, and will be presented in New York and elsewhere.

Amy Kulper



Steelcase Research Professor
assistant professor, architecture

Immanent Natures: the Laboratory as Metaphor in Architectural Design
Kulper’s book considers the role of the scientific laboratory in shaping the experimental legacy of the discipline of architecture. Her proposed research is to pursue the analogical construction of architecture as a laboratory in all of its aspects: as a fundamental link between positivist experiment and artistic experimentalism; as an instrumental lens on the natural world that helps construct spatial typologies appropriated from the sciences; as a trope that contributes to architecture’s preoccupation with its own design methods and processes; as a legacy that fundamentally shapes architecture’s critical project through the incorporation of scientific terminology, statistics and values; as a primary contributor to notions of autonomy in avant-garde production; as a pervasive force in the “self-fashioning” of the architect; and as an enabling metaphor allowing construction, design, and city planning to be conceptualized as (quasi) sciences.

Alaina Lemon



Hunting Family Faculty Fellow
associate professor, anthropology

Penetrating Minds: Reading Others in a “post” Orwellian World
The Cold War conditioned the rise of techniques central not only to surveillance and espionage, but also to stage and screen. Cell phones or social networking sites may seem the newest. Lemon’s research juxtaposes older but more diffuse techniques for “penetrating minds”: acting and telepathy. Her book will trace conversations across the ocean that knit theatrical aesthetics to paranormal science, while also stiffening the “Iron Curtain,” and will track how it is that techniques for reading others now perform other social realities.

Anton Shammas



Helmut F. Stern Professor
professor, comparative literature and Near Eastern Studies

Blind Spots, and Other Essays on Translation
This book project is based on Shammas’ (rather oxymoronic) personal experience as a practitioner of translation, from and into Arabic, Hebrew and English, on the one hand, and as a teacher of translation theory on the other; and on some of the blind spots he detected, or so he has imagined, in both. The essays will span different foundational moments in the history of translation, starting with the translation into Latin of an eleventh century book by an Arab mathematician to whom Cervantes owes his novelistic perspective, through the resistance to translation embodied in the frustrating experience of the Arab-Jewish interpreter Columbus took with him on his first voyage, and ending with the attempts at translating the pain of tortured Palestinian prisoners into the legal English language of the affidavit. And some other moments in between.

Katherine Brokaw



James A. Winn Graduate Student Fellow

Tudor Musical Theater: Staging Religious Difference from Wisdom to The Winter’s Tale
Brokaw’s dissertation examines performances of both sacred and secular music in drama from the late-medieval morality plays to those of Shakespeare. The plays she explores re-present on stage the music that was significantly prevalent in religious and social life, music like Catholic ritual in sung Latin, Protestant hymns, peddler's ballads, and country dances, for example. These musical moments echo with Tudor England's religious changes, and with ongoing disputes about the spiritual efficacy of musical ceremony.

Puspa Damai



Mary Ives Hunting and David D. Hunting, Sr. Graduate Student Fellow
American culture and English

Welcoming Strangers: Hospitality in American Literature and Culture
By exploring nineteenth- and early-twentieth century American literature, this study seeks to demonstrate the centrality of hospitality and abuse of hospitality in American culture. Reading literary texts closely and in context, this study contends that examining American literature from the point of view of hospitality creates a space or threshold for the other of the nation and empire to be heard and received.

Ben Gunsberg



Sylvia "Duffy" Engle Graduate Student Fellow
English and education

The Old Promise of New Media Composition
This project explores relationships between technological innovation and composition pedagogy in American colleges and universities by analyzing the ways prominent conceptions of print-mediated writing have changed over the past half-century. Gunsberg links this historical analysis to more recent controversies, arguing that the proliferation of “new media” and Internet technology recasts and reconfigures older pedagogical promises to suit the demands of our precipitous “digital revolution.”

Alan Itkin


Alan Itkin

Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Student Fellow
comparative literature

Classical Motifs and the Representation of History in the Works of W.G. Sebald
Itkin’s dissertation argues that the representation of the traumatic historical events of the twentieth century in the works of the German author W. G. Sebald owes an essential debt to the classical tradition of epic poetry of Homer, Virgil, Ovid, and Dante. He argues Sebald's works reject a realist mode of historical representation in favor of one modeled on the idea of raising the dead past and bringing it into the living present associated with three linked classical motifs: nekyia (the raising of the dead), ekphrasis (the description of a work of art), and katabasis (the journey into the underworld). Sebald’s appropriation of these classical motifs to frame his literary representations of the traumatic historical events of the twentieth century, including the Holocaust, Itkin argues, may be seen as a response to the critical demand for new modes of representation adapted to events which defy traditional, realist means of representation.

Graham Nessler


Graham Nessler

Mary Fair Croushore Graduate Student Fellow

A Failed Emancipation? The Struggle for Freedom in Hispaniola During the Haitian Revolution, 1789-1809
Nessler’s dissertation examines conflicts over the meaning of liberty and citizenship in the colonies that became Haiti and the Dominican Republic during the Haitian Revolution (1789-1809). This revolution brought about the transformation of the French slaveholding colony of Saint-Domingue into the emancipationist and independent nation of Haiti. During this period, Santo Domingo (the colony that later became the Dominican Republic) also experienced profound political and social changes, passing in 1795 from the rule of slaveholding Spain to that of the emancipationist French Republic. Drawing upon abundant governmental and private correspondences, articles from assorted periodicals, and notarial acts created by individuals seeking to escape from enslavement, Nessler’s project investigates the implications of these political changes for the fifteen thousand men, women and children who were held captive in Santo Domingo when its cession transpired. Nessler will ultimately contend that the case of Santo Domingo severely challenged the French Republican emancipationist project and its grand promises of universal liberation and equal citizenship.

Nafisa Essop Sheik


Nafisa Essop Shiek

A. Bartlett Giamatti Graduate Student Fellow

Relations of Governance: Gender, Law and the Making of a Colonial State
Nafisa Essop Sheik’s work explores how administrative struggles over gendered customary practices amongst European settlers, Zulu-speaking Africans and immigrant Indians shaped the making of a colonial settler state in Natal, on the east coast of South Africa, in the nineteenth century. She investigates the ways in which colonial discourse and legal interventions around intimate relations such as marriage created a nineteenth century British colonial state that was gendered by its own administrative efforts.