Humanities Institute

Fall 2017 Faculty Fellows

Health, Well Being and Healing

Read about the culminating Faculty Fellows Symposium on Health, Wellbeing, & Healing Spring 2018.

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.

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 was 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 emerged 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 placed 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. 

Caroline Faria (Geography and the Environment) is a feminist political geographer working on gender and nationalism in East Africa. Through a feminist and postcolonial lens, she examines how the nation is bounded, reproduced and contested in the performances of gendered bodies. Her current work focuses on the politics of beauty, following the commodity chain of synthetic and human hair production, distribution and consumption from Dubai to Kampala and onto the emerging markets in the newly independent republic of South Sudan. Through the lens of the beauty salon, she explores the political economy of business development, the tensions around and opportunities for new migrants, the shifting notions of fashion and beauty, and the contradictory ways in which the foreign, the modern and the cosmopolitan are both celebrated and worried over. Her seminar project was entitled “Circulating Health and Illness through Beauty: Toxic Mobilities in the Gulf and East Africa.”

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 used 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,” examined 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 had used 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 used 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 was 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 explored 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 examined 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 worked 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 used 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 conducted 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.


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