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Fall 2019 Faculty Fellows

Narrative Across the Disciplines

Samuel Baker(English) is an Associate Professor in the Department of English. Since finishing his first book, Written on the Water: British Romanticism and the Maritime Empire of Culture, Dr. Baker has been publishing on ethics in the novel, especially, lately, the gothic novel. His Faculty Fellows project will be entitled “Gothic Care and the Narrative Turn.”

Deborah Beck (Classics) studies the ways that Classical epic poetry tells grand tales of gods and heroes that also make meaningful emotional connections with individual readers.  She is the author of Homeric Conversation (Harvard 2005) and Speech Presentation in Homeric Epic (University of Texas 2012) and a two-time Plumer Visiting Research Fellow at St. Anne’s College, Oxford.  Her current project, under contract with Cambridge University Press, is a book on epic similes in Homer, Apollonius, Vergil’s Aeneid, and Ovid’s Metamorphoses. As a Faculty Fellow, she will weave together perspectives from cognitive psychology, linguistics, and literary for understanding how people interpret similes.

Pramit Chaudhuri(Classics) is Associate Professor of Classics at the University of Texas at Austin and co-director of the Quantitative Criticism Lab. He specialises in the Latin poetry of the early Roman empire set within a broader study of classical and early modern epic and tragedy. His book, The War with God (Oxford 2014), explores literary depictions of ‘theomachy’ (conflicts between humans and gods) and their mediation of issues such as religious discord, philosophical iconoclasm, political struggle, and poetic rivalry. His Faculty Fellowship project explores computational and biological approaches to the study of literature, with a particular focus on intertextuality and stylometry.

Andrea Marsh(School of Law) is a Clinical Lecturer and the Director of the Richard and Ginni Mithoff Pro Bono Program in the William Wayne Justice Center for Public Interest Law. Her Faculty Fellows project will focus on client narratives and client voice in law.

Madeline Maxwell(Communication Studies) is a Professor in the Communication Studies Department. She teaches and conducts research in the ethnography of communication, the study of the interaction of language and culture. Her current projects involve adaptations to communication technology and talk in conflict mediation. Her project for the Faculty Fellows seminar is entitled “Narrative Approach to Conflict and Mediation.”

Julia Mickenberg (American Studies): Nearly all of Mickenberg’s work, whether on children’s literature or women’s history, is concerned with underlying narratives. She’s beginning a project on the Jewish, Communist, feminist, poet, playwright, essayist, radio personality, “juvenile” writer, amateur women’s historian, teacher, and activist Eve Merriam (1916-1992), whose work and life link the secular Jewish Old Left, second-wave feminism, and child liberation, and call into question the easy divisions between children and adults, women and men, Old and New Left. This project explores the intimate dimensions of lost cultural narratives and the question of which narratives, which lives, and which works are worthy of History.

Azfar Moin (Religious Studies) is the author of The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam (Columbia, 2012), which traces the role of Sufi Islam in shaping Muslim kingship in Central Asia, Iran, and South Asia. His current project is a longue durée treatment of the practice of sovereignty in Islam with a focus on the relationship between performance and narrative. The questions animating this inquiry is whether the continuities and breaks in rituals of sovereignty tell a different story than the one told by Muslim narrators, and when the story acted out is more significant than the story told.

Megan Raby (History) is a historian of science and the environment. Her first book American Tropics: The Caribbean Roots of Biodiversity Science (University of North Carolina Press, 2017) examines the relationship between the history of field ecology, the expansion of U.S. hegemony in the circum-Caribbean during the 20th century, and the emergence of the modern concept of biodiversity. As a Humanities Institute faculty fellow, she is currently working on a new book centered on the ecologist and environmental author Marston Bates (1906-1974). This project uses Bates’ life and work to explore the power of environmental narratives to cross disciplinary boundaries between the sciences and humanities.

Sonia Seeman (Music) is Associate Professor of Music specializing in ethnomusicology. Dr. Seeman’s interests focus on the music of modern Turkey, the Ottoman Empire, and Southeastern Europe, specializing in Rom (“Gypsy”) communities. She has done field research in Macedonia and Southeastern Europe (1985-87; 1989) and in Turkey (1995-1999; 2003) on Rom, Turkish, and transnational musical practices. Her Faculty Fellows project will be entitled “Bread Money – Musical Movement: Turkish Romani Life Stories.”

Sara Simons(Theatre and Dance) is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the UTeach Theatre program, where she teaches undergraduate students studying to be K-12 theatre teachers.  Her interests include culturally responsive pedagogy and using drama for social change.  As a faculty fellow, she will explore questions of cultural appropriation and examine the pedagogy and ethics of teaching narratives across identity markers, with a focus on both university and K-12 classroom settings.   

Patricia Somers (Educational Leadership and Policy) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership and Policy. She is also affiliated with the Center for Women's & Gender Studies and the Long Lozano Institute for Latin American Studies. Her project discusses the narratives of fear and safety abound in education – interviews with faculty and staff in 2 states, surveys of parents, focus groups with K-12 teachers and administrators, debates over “hard v. soft” deterrents. Tracing a history of these narratives from the first recorded shooting at the University of Virginia, she will discuss how these narratives give voice to the students, parents, administrators, faculty, teachers, and staff at educational institutions.

Bartholomew Sparrow(Government) studies American Political Development—specifically, the interplay between national and extranational factors in the political, societal, and cultural development of the United States. He is the author of The Strategist: Brent Scowcroft and the Call of National Security (2015), The Insular Cases and the Emergence of American Empire (2006), Uncertain Guardians: The News Media as a Political Institution (1999), and From the Outside In: World War II and the American State (1996).  “Narrative Across the Disciplines” offers him, as the author of a recent biography, the opportunity to further investigate the relationship of narrative and political science.

Paul Stekler (Radio-Television-Film) is a documentary filmmaker whose films about American politics have won numerous national awards and have all been aired nationally on PBS.  His films include Sundance Special Jury Prize winner George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire, the Peabody Award winning Vote for Me: Politics in America, three films that aired on PBS’s POV series (Last Man Standing: Politics Texas Style; Louisiana Boys: Raised on Politics; and Getting Back to Abnormal, about post Katrina New Orleans), and two of the Eyes on the Prize civil rights history series films.  His most recent project, Postcards from the Great Divide, was a series of short films about politics in nine states that launched on the Washington Post’s website. His Fellow Seminar topic, ‘Narrative Storytelling in Film,’ will focus on his current work about how one makes films about politics, using thirty plus years of footage from numerous previous documentaries as the subject matter.

Rebecca Torres(Geography and the Environment) is an associate professor in the Department of Geography & the Environment, associate of the Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies (LLILAS), associate of the Population Research Center (PRC), and affiliate of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies (CWGS) at the University of Texas at Austin. Her areas of interest include (im)migration, Children/Youth Geographies, Gender, Feminist Geography, and Activist/Engaged Scholarship. Her current research focuses on Mexican and Central American unaccompanied child refugees/migrants. For her Humanities Faculty Fellows project she will examine unaccompanied children’s experiences with everyday state practices of transnational migration control along the U.S./Mexico Border.