Humanities Institute

Fall 2015 Faculty Fellows

Lucy Atkinson’s (Advertising & Public Relations) primary area of research focuses on the intersection of politics and consumer behavior, particularly among young people. She has received several grants to research the relationships among green marketing, consumer behavior, and sustainability ethics. She is specifically interested in issues of sustainability in the marketplace and how communication campaigns can help or hinder consumer adoption of green and environmentally friendly behaviors. She intends to use the seminar as grounds for exploring the unintended, uncivic consequences of sustainable consumption and advertising.

Donna De Cesare (Journalism) is an author, documentary photographer and educator. Her book Unsettled/Desasosiego: Children in a World of Gangs combines memoir with groundbreaking visual history of the spread of Los Angeles gangs in Central America, earning De Cesare the 2013 Maria Moors Cabot Award for Journalism contributing to InterAmerican Understanding. De Cesare will use the “Imagined Futures” seminar to explore a new sustainable mission for photojournalism, in a time when its viability has been disrupted by challenges resulting from the ubiquity of digital technologies. 

David Edwards (Government) teaches political and social theory, American politics, public policy, and international relations. His research interests include the philosophy of social science, noetic sciences, theories of administration, the theory and practice of public policy, international relations theory, American foreign policy, and U.S.- Russian relations. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled How the World Really Works, and How to Make it Work Better, which explores possible futures of the world and how to make those futures more promising by employing insights from innovative versions of social theory. 

Virginia Garrard-Burnett's (History/Religious Studies) interests include Latin American history, religion, revolution, and the Cold War. Her current work examines the radicalization of North American Catholic clergy from 1960-1990, a period marked by enormous changes in the Church and in governments and Latin American politics and governments. Garrad-Burnett will use the seminar to explore how a particular group of people's faith in an imagined future—one that drew from both Christian and Marxist ideals—moved them to action.

Jennifer Graber (Religious Studies) works on religion and violence and inter-religious encounters in American prisons and on the American frontier. She will use the “Imagined Futures” seminar to explore her new research focus, the intercultural contacts between Euro-Americans and Native Americans, including the new cultural and religious practices that result when vastly different societies inhabit the same place. In particular, she will analyze how Kiowas adapted traditional religious rituals and adopted newer forms of practice to sustain their 19th century community and maintain their ties to the land as it increasingly came under the threat of settlement.

Benjamin Gregg (Government) has authored four books in social and political theory. A three-year COLA Humanities Research Award supports his current project for Cambridge University Press titled Second Nature: The Political, Moral, and Legal Consequences of the Human Species Taking Control of its Genome. The Faculty Fellows Seminar promises opportunities for critical feedback on this project of developing ethical and legal responses to both genetic therapy (for some of humankind’s worst illnesses) and genetic enhancement, which will permanently alter our species.

Barbara Harlow (English) has taught as a visiting professor at universities around the world. In light of her regular teaching of seminars on “literature and human rights/social justice,” as well as her affiliation with the Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, Harlow will use the “Imagined Futures” seminar to explore the emerging and consolidating integration of human rights and social justice issues within the liberal arts/social sciences academic paradigm as well as the growing influence of literary prototypes and practices in arguing the virtues and vicissitudes of human rights and social justice locally and globally.

Heather Houser’s (English) first book, Ecosickness in Contemporary U.S. Fiction: Environment and Affect, argues that contemporary fiction uses affect to bring audiences to environmental consciousness through the sick body. She will use the “Imagined Futures” seminar to complete her current project, “Environmental Art and the Infowhelm,” which will provide an account of how contemporary environmental literature and digital media formally manage specialized scientific information in an era of data deluge and ecological crisis. Her goal is to describe how the aesthetic becomes epistemological and vice versa when information is the central representative strategy.

Madeline Hsu (History/Asian American Studies) is the former Director of the Center for Asian American Studies. Her forthcoming monograph, The Good Immigrants: How the Yellow Peril Became the Model Minority (Princeton UP, 2015) examines the role of student migrations in reframing US immigration laws to privilege the recruitment of knowledge workers, a reform which has since 1965 produced Asians as a class of exemplary immigrants now seen as model minorities. She will use the Faculty Fellows Seminar to explore possible synergies between the transnational and often transgressive mobility of unsanctioned migrants and that of nation-states seeking to assert sovereignty and protect domestic interests.

Joan Hughes’ (Curriculum & Instruction) research scholarship focuses on the role that digital technologies play in education. Her current work examines content-based approaches to educational technology instruction and inquiry approaches to professional learning. She will use the Faculty Fellows Seminar to further develop her thoughts (and a manuscript and new graduate level course) that illustrates an “imagined future” for university-based teacher education programs and their role in developing new teachers who are poised to lead through critical technological-pedagogical decision-making.

Brian Korgel (Chemical Engineering) is a well-known nanotechnology researcher who focuses on the creation of new materials with unprecedented properties. He is the Director of the Industry/University Cooperative Research Center on Next Generation Photovoltaics. He will use the Faculty Fellows Seminar as an opportunity to imagine a future where the pace of innovation and technology development/implementation/commercialization is hastened and nourished by creative collaboration among artists, creative designers, science/technology pioneers and entrepreneurs.

Minkah Makalani (African & African Diaspora Studies) is the author of In the Cause of Freedom: Radical Black Internationalism from Harlem to London, 1917–1939. He intends to use the Faculty Fellows Seminar as an opportunity to work on his current book project, Calypso Conquered the World: C.L.R. James and the Politically Unimaginable in the Trinidadian Postcolony. His project is a historical examination of James’s thinking about democracy and coloniality, and his sense of the artist’s role in direct democracy and building a Caribbean future beyond already available forms of governance.

Patricia Somers (Educational Administration) is interested in the development of the entrepreneurial university (also known as academic capitalism), which grew out of the economic, social, and political shifts dating to the 1990s that demanded more technological and research contributions from higher education. The entrepreneurial university has radically broken away from the original purpose of universities. Her proposed work as a faculty fellow in the Humanities Institute will focus on how the medieval university transformed into the entrepreneurial university of today and what the structure and philosophy of the latter portend for the future.

Shirley Thompson (American Studies/African & African Diaspora Studies) is Associate Director of the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies. She is currently researching a book project entitled No More Auction Block for Me: African Americans and the Problem of Property, which traces out some of the legacies of slavery for African American encounters with property and ownership. Supported by the one year long Mellon New Directions Fellowship, Thompson intends to use the “Imagined Futures” seminar as an opportunity to relate her book project to present situations facing African-Americans.


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