Humanities Institute

Faculty Affiliates

Spring 2017

Phillip J. Barrish (English) teaches American literature in the English department. He is the author of American Literary Realism, Critical Theory, and Intellectual Prestige 1880-1995 (Cambridge UP, 2001); White Liberal Identity, Literary Pedagogy, and Classic American Realism (Ohio State UP, 2005); and The Cambridge Introduction to American Literary Realism (Cambridge UP, 2011). He has recently begun writing about US American literary engagements with health care as a system and has published articles on the political economy of health care in dystopian fiction and medical professionalism in Robert Herrick’s The Web of Life (a striking 1900 novel by a University of Chicago professor).  While participating in the 2016-17 HI faculty seminar Barrish hopes to make progress on his book manuscript “American Literature and the Political Economy of Health Care,” as well as to begin developing a new course on medicine and the humanities, which will no doubt draw on what he learns from other seminar participants.

David Crews (Integrative Biology) focuses his research on the consequences of endocrine disrupting chemicals in the environment on development, immunity and health. It is evident that increasing life expectancy and lower infant mortality is of little value if the environment in which humans grow and live is compromised. The primary issue facing us today is not mortality, but morbidity, the quality of life.  I believe that given the world we live in, and will continue to live in, the future is best served by treating the symptoms of the rising influx of patients, preferably before advanced stages manifest. Simply put, we can never make whole affected individuals, but we can make them better. The diseases themselves are emergent properties of the developing individual encountering unique exposures during different stages of their life history. It is the interaction of the individual with their environment that is making them ill, not their genes. His seminar project is entitled “Environmental Contamination: EDCs and the Burgeoning Human Health Crisis.”

J. Brent Crosson (Religious Studies/Anthropology) is an anthropologist of religion and secularism who works in the Caribbean. His research has focused on contestations over the limits of legal power, science, and religion in the Americas. Prior to joining the faculty at UT Austin, he was an ACLS/Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellow at UC Santa Cruz and a Ruth Landes Memorial postdoctoral fellow in cultural anthropology at NYU. His research on Caribbean practices of healing and legal intervention--known as obeah, spiritual work, or science--has been published in The Journal of Africana Religions. His work on race relations and solidarities has appeared in the Duke University Press journal Small Axe.  As a Humanities Institute fellow he hopes to dialogue with other scholars on notions of healing and politics as he prepares his book manuscript Experiments with Power:  Science, Healing, and Religion Against the Law.

Cynthia G. S. Franklin (Social Work) has a primary research area in mental health interventions with at-risk youth and families and dropout prevention. She has over 200 publications and national and international presentations related to these areas. Dr. Franklin has worked with other researchers including her PhD students to advance research and training on Solution-focused brief therapy (SFBT). She helped to create the Solution-focused High School, Garza High School, in Austin, Texas that has been recognized as a model school program for dropout prevention. Dr. Franklin holds two prominent international leadership positions as the President-Elect for The Group for Advancement of Doctoral Education in Social Work and the Editor-in-Chief for the Encyclopedia of Social Work, Online. Her seminar project is entitled “Inter-disciplinary Teams and Adolescent and Family Mental Health.”

Alan W. Friedman (English) has published five books, including Fictional Death and The Modernist Enterprise, which concerns how Western culture (like all cultures) reveals itself most nakedly in constructing, managing, and reacting to death and dying, and how it tells that story in its medical practices, associated rituals, death certificates, memorials, artistic depictions, and literary narratives.  He has served on the Board of the Austin Hospice and now serves on the Advisory Board of the Final Acts Project, for whom he delivered a keynote address (May 2016), “Death as a Cultural and Medical Phenomenon,” co-sponsored by the English Department’s 2016-17 TILTS on “Health, Medicine, and the Humanities.”  His focus in the seminar will be on the trade-off between end-of-life care in this country (which is disproportionally expensive, at least for well-off Caucasians, and often counter-productive) and the new emphasis on wellness and patient-centered care practiced at places like the Dell Medical Center.

Gloria González-López (Sociology) has conducted research on sexuality and gender with Mexican immigrants, and more recently, she has been studying incest and sexual violence in Mexico. Two of her books examine her research in these areas, Family Secrets (New York University Press 2015) and Erotic Journeys (University of California Press 2005). She is also a couple and family therapist by training and has worked with Latina immigrant women with histories of sexual violence. She is an academic consultant for professionals working in sexual violence prevention and treatment programs at grassroots organizations and academic institutions in Mexico. She will use the seminar to nurture her writing of a book manuscript that explores the professional experiences of scholars conducting empirical research on dangerous, controversial, and/or sensitive topics and the ways in which they engage in self-care practices promoting their well-being.

Laurie B. Green (History) is engaged in a book project titled “The Discovery of Hunger in America: The Politics of Race, Malnutrition and Poverty, 1965-1975.” As a Faculty Fellow, she will be further exploring heated contestation over malnutrition and starvation that became bound up with highly-charged conflicts about race, physiological and mental development that have consequences for today. This work reflects her interests in comparative/relational studies of race and gender, social movements, urban studies and migration, poverty and public health. She is the author of Battling the Plantation Mentality: Memphis and the Black Freedom Struggle (University of North Carolina Press, 2007), and co-editor of Precarious Prescriptions: Contested Histories of Race and Health in North America (University of Minnesota Press, 2014).

Madhavi Mallapragada (Radio-TV-Film) is an associate professor in the Department of Radio-TV-Film and a member of the Center for Health Communication at UT. She is the author of Virtual Homelands: Indian Immigrants and Online cultures in the United States (2014) and Race and Ethnicity in US Media Industries (in progress; under contract). She will use the Humanities Seminar to discuss and develop a new book project, tentatively titled, "Disability Tropes in Media Culture: Debating Health, Critiquing Normativity." The research she hopes to examine in this project focuses on children's media, the use of media stereotypes around disability and ill health, and the idea of visibility and invisibility in disability rights discourse. A significant section of the research will be focused on online and social media as they emerge as tools in redressing public stereotypes about disability in children's every day and media culture.

Susan Rather (Art History) is the author, most recently, of The American School: Artists and Status in the Late Colonial and Early National Era (Yale, 2016) and a short article on Thomas Eakins’s well-known surgical subject, The Gross Clinic.  She is developing a course on “Art, Art History, and Medicine,” designed to attract premed students in a preemptive strike against the largely ahistorical visual training—however productive for its purposes—that has swept U.S. medical schools since the late 1990s.  The seminar offers a timely opportunity to reconsider the first iteration of that course (Fall 2016) while learning from colleagues who have longer engagement with medicine and medical humanities.

John A. Robertson (Law) holds the Vinson & Elkins Chair at The University of Texas School of Law at Austin, where he specializes in Health Law and Law and Bioethics.  He is the author of The Rights of the Critically Ill (1983) and Children of Choice:  Freedom and the New Reproductive Technologies (1994), and articles on advance directives, organ transplantation, reproductive rights, assisted reproduction, embryo screening, and legal rights to select offspring characteristics.  He has served on or been a consultant to national bioethics advisory bodies, including those on organ transplantation, assisted reproduction, and fetal tissue and stem cell research.  His interest in the Faculty Fellows Seminar derives from his long involvement with ethical and legal issues at the beginning and end of life, and current efforts to make health care interactions more patient-centered.  He is especially interested in exploring literary representations of patient experience, using John Updike’s late poetry and short story “The Half-Filled Glass” as examples.

Sergio Romero (Spanish and Portuguese) examines language variation and change from complementary variationist and socio-cultural perspectives. He is a specialist on Mayan languages and Nahuatl and has published on syntactic change in K’iche’ as well as on new dialect and new register formation in K’iche’, Q’eqchi’ and Nahuatl. He has also published extensively on the emergence of pastoral registers and the translation of Christian theology and ritual into indigenous languages. His current research examines ritual language, healing and the ontology of disease in Ixhil Mayan. His seminar project is entitled “Healing, sacred calendars and Ixil Maya ritual language in Nebaj, Guatemala.” 

Sahotra Sarkar (Philosophy/Integrative Biology) is a philosopher and biologist who works on the history and philosophy of science, the spread of disease, and conservation biology. He is currently working on how certain diseases have come to be “neglected” and what that means for social justice and public policy. Currently he is working on Zika which is an example of a disease the spread of which could have been prevented if certain other diseases such as dengue and chikungunya had not been neglected. He will use the “Health, Wellbeing, and Healing” seminar to develop a framework to integrate different perspectives on health policy including One Health and the Neglected Tropical Diseases project. 

Dustin Tahmahkera (Mexican American and Latina/o Studies) is a citizen of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma and an interdisciplinary scholar of North American indigeneities, critical media, and cultural sounds. For the Faculty Fellows seminar, he will explore the restorative puha (Comanche for “medicine”) of indigenous soundscapes through a dual emphasis on ways of “becoming sound” as an embodiment of restoring good health and as the formations of sonic vibrations. Contributing to his third book project tentatively titled “Sounds Indigenous: Listening for Sonic Sovereignty in Indian Country,” Tahmahkera will particularly focus on the possibilities of honor songs as affective conduits for communal and individual healing and wellbeing.

Fall 2017

Robert H. Abzug (History/American Studies) is Audre and Bernard Rapoport Regents Chair of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and American Studies, and founding director of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Abzug’s research and writing have traversed various fields but concentrate on aspects of the evolution of moral consciousness in American life. His most recent book is an annotated/abridged edition of William James’s Varieties of Religious Experience (2012). Abzug is currently finishing a biography of the American psychologist Rollo May (Oxford 2017) that focuses on the interpenetration of religion and psychotherapy in modern American culture.

Paul Bonin-Rodriguez (Theatre and Dance) is the author of Performing Policy (2014), which assesses how arts policy research and development initiatives since the 1990s have radically reshaped artistic practices nationwide. He comes to the University with a 25-year career as a writer-performer and dancer. His current research focuses on how artists engaged as public intellectuals can and should play active roles in all aspects of society, including governance, health, education, and community development. Nationally, he has served and supported a number of initiatives dedicated to expanding the role of artists in the public sector, including Leveraging Investments in Creativity, Common Field, the Center for Arts Leadership, the National Performance Network, Next Generation, and the Ford Foundation. As the head of the forthcoming Minor in Arts Management and Administration, he plans to use this seminar to support the program development as well as his own research.  

Ann Cvetkovich (English/Women’s and Gender Studies) is Ellen Clayton Garwood Centennial Professor of English and Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.  She is the author of Mixed Feelings:  Feminism, Mass Culture, and Victorian Sensationalism (Rutgers, 1992); An Archive of Feelings:  Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures (Duke, 2003); and Depression:  A Public Feeling (Duke, 2012). Her proposed project for the Humanities Institute is a book called The Sovereignty of the Senses, which articulates notions of sovereignty, as well as democracy and freedom, in affective and sensory terms. The concept emerges from her previous book Depression: A Public Feeling (Duke 2012), which argued against the medical model of depression in part by describing it as the sensory experience of capitalism and histories of oppression. With this new project, she places her emphasis more strongly on strategies for social transformation, liberation and health that are grounded in the material practice and the everyday life of the body. 

Kathleen M. Higgins (Philosophy) works in the areas of aesthetics, philosophy of emotion, and nineteenth century German philosophy.  Her current research focuses on the healing role that aesthetic phenomena can play in the context of bereavement (taking aesthetic phenomena to include many ritual and socially prescribed activities, emotional sharing, and various forms of memorializing, whether or not these take the form of art).  She will use the “Health, Wellbeing, and Healing” seminar as an opportunity to get feedback on this research, focusing in particular on the healing potential of aesthetic activities in mitigating survivor guilt.

John Hoberman (Germanic Studies) is a medical historian specializing in race and medicine studies. He is the author of Black & Blue: The Origins and Consequences of Medical Racism (University of California Press, 2012) and several articles on related topics. Most recently, “Why Bioethics Has a Race Problem” appeared in the March-April 2016 issue of the Hastings Center Report. He has lectured at medical schools and other medically affiliated institutions on the topic of medical racism. He has taught “Race & Medicine in American Life” seven times since 2001 and served on the social medicine subcommittee of the UT-Dell Medical School curriculum committee. His Fall 2017 Seminar project,  “Medical Liberalism and the Challenge of Race,” examines the failure of organized medicine to recognize and dismantle the belief system that has perpetuated medical racism in the United States.

Lori K. Holleran Steiker, Ph.D., ACSW (Social Work) is an addictions therapist turned teacher-scholar in the School of Social Work.  Her research explores adolescent and emerging adult substance misuse prevention, substance use disorder interventions, and recovery with an emphasis on peer-to-peer mentorship. She is the founder of University High School, Austin’s first recovery high school. Her Signature Course “Young People and Drugs” utilizes her own text, Youth and Substance Use:  Prevention, Intervention and Recovery (2016).   She wishes to use the Humanities Institute Faculty Fellowship as an opportunity to get interdisciplinary input on innovations to raise awareness, lower stigma, and improve recovery networks and services for youth with substance use disorders and their families.

Julie A. Minich (English/Mexican American and Latina/o Studies) researches the intersections between Latina/o studies, disability studies, and gender/sexuality studies. Her first book, Accessible Citizenships: Disability, Nation, and the Cultural Politics of Greater Mexico (Temple UP, 2014), received the 2013-2014 MLA Prize in United States Latina and Latino and Chicana and Chicano Literary and Cultural Studies. She will use her time in the Faculty Fellows Seminar to advance a new book project, tentatively titled “Enforceable Care: Health, Justice, and Latina/o Expressive Culture,” examining how Latina/o writers and cultural workers represent racial health disparities in the period between the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Affordable Care Act.

Luisa Nardini (Musicology) has two books coming out in 2016. The first, Interlacing Traditions: Neo-Gregorian Chant Propers in Beneventan Manuscripts, is a study of an extended repertory of liturgical music that circulated in southern Italy after the diffusion of Gregorian chant (8th-9th cent.) and that shows signs of influence by the several groups (Romans, Franks, Byzantines, Normans, Jews, and Muslims) that populated southern Italy in the Middle Ages. The second, Intersecting Practices in the Production of Sacred Music c. 1400 - c. 1650, collects the proceedings of a recent conference held at UT on sacred music in Europe and Latin America during the Early Modern Era. She is currently working at another book, Liturgical Hypertexts: Prosulas for the Proper of the Mass in Beneventan Manuscripts that will include an edition and study (both online and in print) of a substantial repertory of sacred music from southern Italy. Her project for the Humanities Institute is a study of the Mass for the Dead in Italian manuscripts from the 10th to the 13th centuries. She was awarded the “Gladiatore d’Oro,” the highest honorific prize of the Province of Benevento (Italy) in 2012 and held a Grace Hill Milam Centennial Fellowship in Fine Arts for 2012-2013.

Abena Dove Osseo-Asare (History) teaches in the History Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research addresses the history of science and medicine in African settings. Her first book, Bitter Roots: The Search for Healing Plants in Africa (Chicago, 2014), examines the transformation of six plants into pharmaceuticals. Her next project, Atomic Junction is an ongoing study of one of the first national nuclear program in postcolonial Africa. As a faculty fellow at the Humanities Institute, she will explore the history of radiation and health. She received her PhD in the History of Science from Harvard.

Sharmila Rudrappa (Sociology/Asian American Studies) is the author of Discounted Life: The Price of Global Surrogacy in India (NYU Press, 2015). Her current research focuses on how human tissue, body parts, and life processes such as pregnancy are deemed property, and become marketable commodities. As Faculty Fellow she will examine the bivalent meanings of property, the first which refers to the material qualities that make human sex cells and human uteri unique, and the second, which references the right to own something from which flow an individual’s rights to use, sell, or rent their property. 

Keri K. Stephens  (Communication Studies) brings an organizational perspective to understanding how people interact with communication technologies.  She is currently an Associate Director for the Center for Health Communication, an Associate Editor for Management Communication Quarterly, and she has published over 50 peer-reviewed papers.  As a Fellow she hopes to develop an interdisciplinary team interested in better understanding how communication technologies are used in healthcare environments and to improve health.

Madeline Sutherland-Meier (Spanish and Portuguese) specializes in Spanish literature, particularly the Spanish Ballad or Romancero and Spanish periodicals. She has collected ballads in the pueblos of Spain and has published on the modern oral tradition, including the Judeo-Spanish tradition. Her work on romances de ciego or blindman’s ballads, so called because they were sung and sold by the blind in the plazas and on the streetcorners of Spanish cities and towns, led her to begin studying the history of the blind in Spain. She will use the Faculty Fellows Seminar to advance her research on general issues of disability with a focus on the history of disability in Spain. 

Lisa B. Thompson (African and African Diaspora Studies) is an artist/scholar and the author of Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class (University of Illinois Press, 2009) and the play Single Black Female (Samuel French, 2012). During the Faculty Fellows seminar she will conduct research for Remember, an ethnographic theatre piece that examines how caregivers, family members and sufferers of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia navigate the silent epidemic raging through the African American community. Part memoir, part scholarship, and part ethnography, her project also considers the structural, economic, gender, racial and cultural barriers that shape the quality of care experienced by African Americans with the illness.

  • Humanities Institute

    University of Texas at Austin
    HRC 3.360
    Mailcode F1900
    Austin, Texas 78712