Humanities Institute

Faculty Fellows

Spring 2019

Charles O. Anderson (Theatre and Dance)  is head of the dance program at the University of Texas at Austin and artistic director of dance theatre X (founded in 2003).  As a Faculty Fellow, Anderson will continue to develop engagement strategies to support his latest performance project entitled (Re)current Unrest, an evening length immersive performance installation ‘ritual’ built upon the sonic foundation of Steve Reich’s three earliest works: “It’s Gonna Rain”, “Come Out” and “Pendulum.”  Anderson is drawing upon his dual roles as educator and artist to investigate legacy, authorship, and the history of black art and protest through kinetic storytelling.

Carrie Barron (Dell Medical School) MD, Director of Creativity for Resilience at Dell Medical School is a Psychology Today and DMS blogger, author of the book The Creativity Cure, certified Positive Psychology and Well-being coach, psychoanalyst and talk-therapy oriented psychiatrist. She is exploring clinical conversations and emotional connections that elicit what matters to the patient, the impact of a data-driven versus a narrative-prone culture on wellness and the role of the humanities in healing after trauma.    

Juan J. Colomina-Almiñana (Mexican American and Latino/a Studies) received his Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of La Laguna (Tenerife, Spain) in 2009. He is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies (MALS), and an affiliate of the Department of Philosophy. His books include Los problemas de las teorías representacionales de la conciencia (Tenerife: Universidad de La Laguna, 2010) and Implicaciones de la teoría de los actos de habla (Madrid: EAE, 2011), and he has coedited (with V. Raga) La filosofía de Richard Rorty (Madrid: Biblioteca Nueva, 2010.)
 He has also published more than fifty articles in several collected books and international journals. His research areas of interest focus on the boundaries between Semantics and Pragmatics, Philosophy of Language, Linguistic Anthropology, Philosophy of Mind and Consciousness, Philosophy of Science, and Logic. In 2012, he received the Young Researcher Award from the Spanish Society of Logic. He is a member of the Research Group for Logic, Language, Epistemology, Mind, and Action (LEMA) at the University of La Laguna in Spain, whose main project is “Points of View and Temporal Structures” .

Lauren Gutterman (American Studies/History/Women’s and Gender Studies) studies the history of gender, sexuality, the family, and social movements in the modern United States. Her first book, Her Neighbor’s Wife: A History of Lesbian Desire Within Marriage (forthcoming with University of Pennsylvania Press), traces the personal experiences and public representation of wives who desired women since 1945. Her next project focuses on the evolving historical association between incest and lesbianism. As a Humanities Institute faculty fellow, she will study lesbian and bisexual women’s leadership in the incest survivors’ movement. In particular, she will examine the ways these activists intervened in cultural narratives that cast lesbianism as an adverse symptom of childhood sexual trauma.

Jonathan Kaplan (Middle Eastern Studies) is a scholar of Ancient Judaism whose research focuses on the study of the Hebrew Bible and the history of its interpretation in the Second Temple and early Rabbinic periods. He is the author of My Perfect One: Typology and Early Rabbinic Reading of Song of Songs (Oxford University Press, 2015). His Spring 2018 Seminar project, “The Biblical Jubilee and Ancient Utopian Visions of Liberty,” engages the theoretical literature of Utopian Studies in analyzing the jubilee legislation of Leviticus 25 and how ancient Jewish and Christian writers employed the Levitical jubilee as a tool in shaping the narratives of their utopian visions.

Ayelet Haimson Lushkov (Classics) specializes in Latin literature and its legacy in the present day. Her current project explores the related rhetorics of citation and narrative in the Roman historian Livy, where she argues that citation structures not only the story Livy is trying to tell about Rome, but also about himself and his work – and about the relationship of those things to power. For the Faculty Seminar, she focuses on exploring how the rhetoric of citation intersects with narrative creation across the disciplinary spectrum, and especially the mutual relevance of ancient and modern methods of manipulating information.

Youjeong Oh (Asian Studies) is a cultural and urban geographer. Her first book, Pop City: Korean Popular Culture and the Selling of Place (Cornell, 2018), examines the use of Korean television dramas and K-pop music to promote urban and rural places in South Korea, illustrating how the speculative, image-based, and consumer-exploitive nature of popular culture shapes the commodification of urban space. Her focus in the seminar is to explore the trans-boundary storytelling across urban space, entertainment media, and social media, examining how such constant circulation of stories across multiple domains transforms the social, economic, and spatial dynamics of cities in the digital age.

Gabriela Polit Dueñas (Spanish and Portuguese) Gabriela Polit Dueñas (Spanish and Portuguese) is a literary and cultural critic working on contemporary Latin America. In her previous work, she explored issues of gender, representation and political power (Cosas de Hombres, Escritores y caudillos en la literatura latinoamericana del siglo XX, 2008), and violence and representation (Narrating Narcos. Culiacán and Medellín, 2013). In her forthcoming book Unwanted Witnesses. Journalism and Conflict in Latin America, (2019), she explores journalistic narratives about violence, social suffering, displacement, forced disappearances, migration, corruption and impunity. The analysis includes ethnographic observations of the journalists’ working conditions and of the emotional tolls implied in writing about such topics. Research shows that although the stories talk about many forms of violence and trauma, they are product of the journalists’ empathy, care, and a search for justice. While the narratives give account of conflictive political realities and humanitarian crises, they also show the strength of shared words as the most effective form of healing and building community.

Ann Reynolds (Art and Art History) is an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Art History and the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. In her research and teaching, she focuses on twentieth and twenty-first century art and visual culture in the United States and Europe. Her project for the Faculty Fellows seminar is entitled “Imagining an Altogether: How Individuals Share Culture Through the Stories They Tell Each Other.”

Read about Dr. Reynold's project, "Imagining an Altogether," presented on February 7th.

David Ring (Dell Medical School) is associate dean for comprehensive care and professor of surgery and psychiatry at Dell Medical School. His interests include trauma and post-traumatic reconstruction in the arm, quality and patient safety, common arm illnesses and psychosocial aspects of arm illness. His Faculty Fellows project will be entitled “Health Benefits of Writing and Storytelling.”

Read about Dr. Ring's project, "The Health Benefits of Writing and Storytelling," presented on January 24th. 

Suzanne Scott (Radio-Television-Film) is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Radio-Television-Film in the Moody College of Communication. Her scholarly monograph, Fake Geek Girls: Fandom, Gender, and the Convergence Culture Industry, will be published by New York University Press in Spring 2019, and she is the co-editor of the 2018 anthology The Routledge Companion to Media Fandom. Scott's project will build on her prior work to explore the concept of "transmedia erasure," or instances in which minority characters are isolated on the narrative or paratextual periphery of a transmedia franchise. This concept will also be used to consider how content creators and industry stakeholders discursively disavow or clamp down on the distribution or recirculation of specific media texts, and the narrative impact this has on fans.

Read about Dr. Scott's project, "Franchising, Fans, and the Textual Politics of Transmedia Erasure," presented on January 31st. 

Suzanne Seriff (Anthropology) is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology. Her Faculty Fellows Project will be entitled When Time Stops: Folk Art Narratives in Times of Trauma,” which will discuss narrative and storytelling in folk arts.

Scott R. Stroud (Communication Studies) specializes in the intersection between rhetoric and philosophy. Much of his research extends the thought of the American pragmatists into the realms of rhetorical experience and democracy. He is the author of John Dewey and the Artful Life and Kant and the Promise of Rhetoric. His time with the Humanities Institute will be focused on the rhetorical functioning of autobiography in the struggle against caste oppression in India. This is part of his ongoing work on a book manuscript exploring the influence of Deweyan pragmatism on the Indian politician and anti-caste activist, Bhimrao Ambedkar.


Fall 2019

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.