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Present Postdoctoral Fellows

Victoria Aschheim
Rebecca Clark
Emilie Connolly
Max Fraser
James Godley
Sean Griffin
Yui Hashimoto
Joshua Kaiser
Elizabeth Lhost
Monica Nesbitt-Williams
Lakshmi Padmanabhan
Nicholas Rinehart
Whitney Robles
Alexander Smith
Derek Woods

 

Victoria Aschheimvictoria

PhD Princeton University

Dissertation: "David Lang's Archive"

Victoria Aschheim studies music of the United States, particularly in the 20th and 21st centuries, and its relations (practical, theoretical, metaphorical, imaginative) to memory, ethics, and civic life.  Her research blends compositional process and analysis with social aesthetics and comparative arts.  Her book project, Citizen Composer: David Lang and the Aesthetics of Community, traces the musical language and artistic strategies by which the American composer David Lang reshaped principles of objectivity and transparency after the zenith of minimalism.  The results of this transformation, she argues, are musical experiments in inclusion and participation – community action – in a digital age and in a political moment of polarization and alienation.  Her next project asks why, beginning in the mid-1980s, and in response to conditions of social emergency, minimalist and postminimalist composers turned to the choral ensemble and, often, to the genre of the oratorio.  These works, she proposes, inaugurate new forms of hybridity in American concert music – between sacred and secular, theatrical and documentary.  Out of the shadow of opera, the elastic composite of chorus and instruments emerges as a medium that empowers these composers to record and reassemble the real and the historical.  Victoria’s writing appears in Notes: The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association and in Staging History: 1780-1840 (Bodleian Library Publishing) and is forthcoming in American Music.

Rebecca Clarkbecky

PhD Univeristy of California, Berkeley

Dissertation:  "American Graphic"

Rebecca Clark’s research and teaching focus on twentieth and twenty-first century American literature and visual studies. Her first book project, American Graphic, explores what it means—in terms of form, content, and affect—when we recognize moments in written and visual texts as “graphic,” at once viscerally grotesque and coolly clinical, particularly in a post-’45 American context. She is planning a second project about uninvited guests in contemporary American literature and film and is particularly interested in scholarly work that is not just about the relationship between image and text, but created using both. Publications include an article on Teju Cole and bed bugs in the journal Narrative and an original comics adaptation and analysis of Thomas Hoccleve’s 15th-century poem “My Compleinte” in the journal postmedieval.

Emilie Connolly

PhD New York University

Dissertation:  "Indian Trust Funds and the Route of American Capitalism, 1795-1865"

Emilie Connolly is a historian of Indigenous North America, the history of capitalism, and the nineteenth-century United States. Her book manuscript, Fiduciary Colonialism: Indian Trust Funds and the Routes of American Capitalism, examines how the federal government became both dispossessor and trustee to the continent's first peoples. The project argues that federal trusteeship, often cast as a benevolent practice, in fact advanced an imperial strategy named fiduciary colonialism: a form of territorial acquisition and population management carried out through the expansion of administrative control over Indigenous wealth. Research for this project has drawn support from the American Council for Learned Societies, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the John E. Rovensky Fellowship for Business and Economic History. At Dartmouth, Emilie will begin work on a second project, provisionally titled "Indians Not Taxed," which will explore the shifting relationships between taxation, citizenship, and Indigenous sovereignty in the nineteenth-century United States.

Max Fraser

Max Fraser

PhD Yale University

Dissertation:  “The Hillbilly Highway: A Social History of Transappalachia, 1918-
1974.”

Max Fraser's research and teaching work focuses on American labor and working class history, American politics, and popular culture. He has been the recipient of the Patricia and Phillip Frost Award from the Smithsonian's American Art Museum, the Edwin Small Prize from Yale University, and was named a finalist for the 2018 Allan Nevins Prize by the Society of American Historians. His publications have appeared in American Art, Labor, New Labor Forum, Raritan Quarterly Review, Southern Cultures, and elsewhere, and he writes frequently for popular journals such as Dissent and The Nation. His first book, The Hillbilly Highway: Transappalachia in the Twentieth Century, will be published by Princeton University Press.  In 2020, Max will join the faculty at the University of Miami as an assistant professor of American History.

James Godley

PhD University at Buffalo, SUNY

Dissertation:  "Against Infinite Grief: Mourning and Speculative Invention in Postbellum American Literature"

James Godley’s work explores mourning as a process of retroactive invention in literary and philosophical works, particularly in relation to questions of infinity, solace, afterlife, and inheritance. His current book project, Unthinkable Loss: Mourning and the Object of Speculation in Nineteenth Century US Literature, examines how slavery, the privatization of mortality, and the Civil War instituted vast changes to the ritual structure and philosophy of death in the nineteenth century, impelling American literary authors to find new ways of mapping speculative futures for those who would otherwise have been condemned to a futureless end. Combining literary-historical, philosophical, and psychoanalytic perspectives, this project will constitute the first of a two volume set devoted to the problem of “infinite grief” in modern and contemporary US literature.

Godley’s publications include Inheritance in Psychoanalysis (SUNY Press, 2018), a co-edited anthology of theoretical interventions into biological, anthropological, aesthetic, and clinical notions of inheritance, and an article on the critique of finitude in Hegel and Lacan in Angelaki. Additionally, he has a forthcoming essay on Melville’s Confidence Man and authoritarian populism in Postmodern Culture and another essay that explores the psychoanalyst D.W. Winnicott’s notion of potential space as a concept of afterlife in the anthology, A Step Closer to Heaven (Routledge). 

Sean GriffinSean Griffin

PhD University of California, Los Angeles

Book project: The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus

Sean Griffin is a philologist and historian, who specializes in both the most ancient and most recent periods of Russian and Ukrainian civilization. His research is interdisciplinary and brings together fields as diverse as medieval religion, post-Soviet literature and politics, and the colonization of Russian Alaska. His first book, The Liturgical Past in Byzantium and Early Rus, was published with Cambridge University Press in 2019.

Yui HashimotoYui

PhD University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Dissertation: "The Tale of Two Cities: A Feminist Critique of Economic Development and Neoliberal Multiculturalism in Milwaukee"

Yui Hashimoto is a feminist economic geographer whose research focuses on how race, class, and gender intersect with the contested terrain of urban economic change. She is examines how urban economic change both shapes and is shaped by multiracial solidarities, labour organizing, and socially reproductive work. In particular, she focuses on how different scales of racial politics of American cities contour such economic change and movement building. In her dissertation, she specifically highlights how colourblind redevelopment strategies, in fact, work to exacerbate already-existing racial and class inequalities in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Moreover, colourblindness elided the contradictions in the City of Milwaukee and its boosters’ strategies while also limiting labour and community organizing efforts in the city. After completing her dissertation in Geography in May 2018, she will begin a project that builds on her dissertation to interrogate multiracial solidarities between Asian American and Black activists organizing around issues of urban economic change.

Joshua Kaiserjkaiser_photo2

JD-PhD Northwestern University

Dissertation: "The Hidden Sentence: Understanding the Historical Rise of a Broader, Lesser Known Form of Penal Control in the United States"

Joshua Kaiser’s research uses a critical, sociological lens to study state power, criminal law, and social inequality.  Thus far, he has used interdisciplinary approaches and mixed methods to study this subject in three main projects.  The first investigates a vast but unknown set of 35,000 U.S. penal laws that he calls “hidden sentences,” meaning all state-imposed imposed punishments inflicted upon criminalized people beyond their formally recognized, judge-issued sentences.  He argues that these policies form a hidden aspect of the penal system that legitimizes and continually reinforces race, class, and other inequalities by reifying societal assumptions. Kaiser’s second area of research on state power and inequality illuminates the social, multidimensional (racial, gendered, and criminal) process of genocide in Darfur and elsewhere.  He is also the co-author of Iraq and the Crimes of Aggressive War and several articles on racialized segregation, criminal entrepreneurship, and legal cynicism in the U.S.-led invasion and occupation of Iraq.

Elizabeth Lhost

PhD University of Chicago

Dissertation:  Between Community and Qānūn: Documenting Islamic Legal Practice in 19th-century British India"

Elizabeth Lhost is a historian of law and religion in modern South Asia. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Chicago in the Departments of South Asian Languages and Civilizations and History and before joining the Society of Fellows, held a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. Elizabeth is currently working on the manuscript for a book called "The Office of Islamic Law: Paperwork, Politics, and Possibilities in Modern South Asia (1800–1950)," which traces the history of Islamic law and legal practice in British India through everyday paperwork and writing practices. While at Dartmouth, she also plans to begin work on a second project investigating religious, ethical, and moral responses to new financial instruments around the turn of the twentieth century. In addition to the history of modern South Asia, Elizabeth's research and teaching interests also include global history, legal studies, science and technology studies, and religious studies, particularly as they relate to privacy, autonomy, and human rights. Her research has been supported by the Fulbright student program, the Social Science Research Council, the American Institute of Pakistan Studies (AIPS), the American Council of Learned Societies, and the Mellon Foundation and has appeared most recently in the Journal of Islamic Studies and Itinerario. Elizabeth currently serves on the AIPS Board of Trustees and recently became a fellow at the Internet Law & Policy Foundry. 

Monica Nesbitt-Williams

PhD Michigan State University

Dissertation: "The influence of internal social change on local phonology"

Monica Nesbitt-Williams is a linguist specializing in phonology—speech sounds and sociolinguistics—the study of how social factors impact language.  Her research and teaching focus on the impact of macro- (e.g. social class and ethnicity) and micro- (e.g. valley girl) social characteristics on language variation and change.  She utilizes a variety of experimental, e.g. priming and speech perception tasks, implicit attitudes tasks, and acoustic methods to investigate language structure and to identify the social factors that condition such patterns.  Her dissertation examined the impact of economic change (from a mostly manufacturing to service industry society) in the 20th century on the Michigan English dialect. A related project examines the loss of regional dialect features in New England and other parts of North America. She has taught English as a Second Language courses, as well as courses on language and gender, introduction to linguistics, the globalization of English, and language in society. 

Lakshmi PadmanabhanLakshmi

PhD Brown University

Dissertation: "The Untimely Image: On Feminist Inactivism and Postcolonial Ethics"

Lakshmi Padmanabhan is a scholar of film and media studies, specializing in South Asian and diasporic visual cultures. Her first book project, "The Untimely Image: Cinematic Form and Feminist Historiography,” addresses the recent turn to experimental documentary and video in South Asian art and activism, examining how formal experiments with cinematic temporality index queer feminist politics. Padmanabhan’s project develops an untimely cinematography of civil disobedience by collecting a visual archive of inaction at the margins of feminist protests, and situating these interventions within the longer history of anti-colonial practices of democracy. The aim of the project is to challenge the desire for motion that underpins film analysis and political theory under late capitalism. While at Dartmouth, Padmanabhan begins her book-length study of documentary cinema in the aftermath of 9/11 within the South Asian diaspora. This study in invested in understanding the aesthetics and politics of the archival turn in diasporic avant-garde film and contributes to contemporary debates on visualizing racialized violence and the role of documentary in representing political crisis. She is a member of the Women & Performance editorial collective, and is editing a special issue of the journal on the theme of “Performing Refusal.” Her academic writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Women & Performance, Post45, and New Review of Film and Television Studies. She has curated experimental film programs with Magic Lantern Cinema and Brown University in Providence, RI, and BRIC Arts in Brooklyn, NY.

Nicholas Rinehart

PhD Harvard University

Dissertation:  "Narrative Events:  Slavery, Testimony, and Temporality in the Afro-Atlantic World"

Nicholas Rinehart's research and teaching focus broadly on Black literature in the Americas and the comparative history of Atlantic slavery. His first book project, Narrative Events: Reading Slave Testimony in the Afro-Atlantic World, examines enslaved testimonial practices across historical periods, colonial geographies, and expressive forms—including legal complaints, mystical visions, epistolary writings, folk ethnographies, and lyric poems, among others. Harnessing the resources of comparative literature, historical anthropology, and queer studies, it reorients prevailing conceptions of literary-historical time in the study of slavery. His research has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, Journal of Social History, Journal of American Studies, MELUS, and Winterthur Portfolio, with additional essays in the Dictionary of Caribbean and Afro-Latin American Biography (Oxford UP) and Cambridge Companion to Richard Wright (2019). His public writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Transition: Magazine of Africa and Diaspora, ReVista: Harvard Review of Latin America, Public Books, and LARB. He is also a co-editor, along with Wai Chee Dimock et al., of American Literature in the World: An Anthology from Anne Bradstreet to Octavia Butler (Columbia UP, 2017).

Whitney Robles

PhD Harvard University

Dissertation: “Curious Species: How Animals Made Natural History, 1700–1820”

Whitney Barlow Robles is an interdisciplinary historian whose research spans early American history, environmental studies, the history of science, and material culture theory. Her first book project, Curious Species: How Animals Made Natural History, 1700–1820, positions animals like corals, rattlesnakes, fish, and raccoons as central protagonists of the history of eighteenth-century science. The project uses historical methods, ethnography, material culture analysis, and scientific research to examine how animals facilitated and foreclosed the production of knowledge. Portions of this work have received Harvard University’s Bowdoin Prize in the Natural Sciences, the Hakluyt Society Essay Prize, and Best Historical Reenactment by Bunk in their Best American History Reads of 2018. Her most recent publications have appeared in The New England Quarterly, the book The Philosophy Chamber: Art and Science in Harvard’s Teaching Cabinet, 1766–1820, and Common-place: The Journal of Early American Life. At Dartmouth, Whitney will continue research on her second book project, tentatively titled The Collector’s Paradox, which studies the history of zoological collecting in America and its paradoxical requirement that animals must be killed and converted into museum specimens in the name of preserving species. Whitney is an affiliate researcher with the Stanford-based Natural Things | Ad Fontes Naturae research group, a global natural history project in the digital humanities, where she is tracing the interlinked paths of food history, natural history, and empire using digital methods and historical objects like squid and breadfruit.

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Alexander Smith

PhD University of Waterloo, Canada and Macquarie University, Australia

Dissertation:  "Detectors, Reference Frames, and Time"

Alexander is a theoretical physicist working in the field of quantum information science. Taking an information-theoretic approach, his research focuses on situations where both gravitational and quantum effects are important, with the aim of better understanding the interplay between the two. In particular, he is interested in how our classical notion of time emerges from a quantum theory of gravity, physical measurement models in quantum field theory, the entanglement structure of quantum fields in curved spacetime, and how recently proposed satellite experiments can better test general relativity.

Derek WoodsDerek Woods

PhD Rice University

Dissertation: "What Is Ecotechnology? Biopolitics and Trophic Form in U.S. and Canadian Cultures of Science"

Derek Woods works on modern environmental literature in English and contributes to the interdisciplinary field of science and technology studies. Entitled What Is Ecotechnology?, his first book project describes the role of technology in the cultural reception of the ecosystem concept following the Second World War. Each chapter offers a different answer the project’s central question, addressing topics such as the influence of cybernetics on ecological science writing, the terrarium as an experimental technology and literary setting, the terraforming genre in science fiction, and the biopolitics of industrial chemistry. These sites shape the politics, aesthetics, and ontologies operative as humans wake up inside a biosphere that exceeds our control—up to and including the recent framework of “Earth system science” and its role in understanding climate change. At Dartmouth, Derek is starting a second book about the techniques through which writers and artists represent scales outside the human sensory world. The Poetics of Scale is an anatomy of these techniques, emphasizing their relationship with concepts of scale from the philosophy of science and new materialist theory.