Fellows in Residence

Elisabeth Narkin | Spatial Humanities

Ph.D. Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University

Elisabeth is an architectural historian of early modern France whose research focuses on the intersection of the domestic spaces of châteaux and the social spaces of court relationships. Her current project, Constructing Dynasty: Architecture and the French Royal Family, examines the manner in which the royal family's architecture projects, residential habits, and use of buildings--both independently and within the monarchy's territorial network--advanced a conception of the sixteenth-century monarchy as legitimate, enduring, and in touch with its subjects. With a focus on the royal children as central actors in the crown's long-term socio-political strategies, the project explores domestic architecture from the perspective of its users and argues that their relationship with buildings shaped the built environment as well as French politics. In addition to object-based inquiry and social history, Elisabeth deploys analytical tools like digital mapping and 3D modeling alongside spatial theory to understand spaces that physical changes and non-traditional sources might otherwise obscure.

Laura Richardson | Spatial Humanities  

Ph.D. English, Rice University

Marie Saldaña | Spatial Humanities 

Ph.D. Architecture, UCLA

Marie Saldaña studies the ways in which ephemeral, transient, and natural, "non-architectural" spaces are played out in - and against - the built environment, and how they become transformed in the architectural imagination. She is currently working on a historiography of the idea of the cave in architecture, seeking to elucidate the theoretical notions and practices that rely on the cave for their production and propagation. The persistence of the cave as an archetype belies its contradictory role in concepts of temporality, form, representation, and the blurring of lines between the natural and artificial as expressed in technology. Saldaña's work combines traditional scholarship with multimodal visualizations including maps, drawings, 3D models, and interactive media.

Kyle G. Sweeney | Spatial Humanities 

Ph.D. Art and Architectural History, Rice University

Kyle studies the relationship between Gothic architecture and the social, spatial, and ritual topography of towns and cities in late medieval Normandy. His research focuses on how a confluence of new social values, economic prosperity, and urban rituals gave rise to the extravagant displays of technical virtuosity and sophisticated ornament typical of ecclesiastical architecture at the turn of the sixteenth century. Kyle is particularly interested in visualizing the organization of urban space surrounding churches, as well as the public religious celebrations and royal entries that shaped the experience of the city at the end of the Middle Ages.

Frederic Clark | Rice Seminar 

Ph.D. History, Princeton University

Frederic Clark is a cultural and intellectual historian who specializes in the afterlife of classical antiquity in medieval and early modern Europe. He is especially interested in how the reception of antiquity has shaped--and continues to shape--humanistic scholarship, in everything from its division into periods and disciplines to its notions of evidence and criticism. His first book, under contract with University of Chicago Press, is titled Dividing Time: The Invention of Historical Periods in Early Modern Europe. While a member of the Rice Seminar he will be working on another book project, under contract with Oxford University Press, titled The First Pagan Historian: The Fortunes of a Fraud from Antiquity to the Enlightenment. It offers a 1500-year biography of a spurious ancient text known as the Fall of Troy of Dares Phrygius. Although Dares claimed to be an eyewitness to the Trojan War, in reality he was an ingenious forger, who fooled many into labeling him the first pagan to write history. This study crosses conventional period divisions: it begins in antiquity, and then follows Dares as he was read by a varied cast of Carolingian scribes, twelfth-century poets, Italian humanists, early modern physicians, seventeenth-century philologists, and Enlightenment skeptics. The First Pagan Historian uses the unlikely vitality of forgery to reexamine deeply contested definitions of history, fiction, proof, authenticity, and myth, from Rome to the eighteenth century.

Kathryn Langenfeld | Rice Seminar 

Ph.D. Classical Studies, Duke University

Sebastian Schmidt | Teaching Release Fellow 

Ph.D. History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture, MIT

Gwen Bradford | Teaching Release Fellow 

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy 
Uniqueness and Value


What is it to be unique and why does it matter? In philosophy, uniqueness plays a starring role in transforming the dominant understanding of intrinsic value, namely the value that something has “as an end” or “for its own sake.” Since G. E. Moore’s Principia Ethica, the orthodox conception of intrinsic value has been understood as value that something has in virtue of its intrinsic properties; in other words, the properties that a thing has just by itself. However, this formerly dominant view of intrinsic value was toppled by counterexamples that point to uniqueness as a value-enhancing property. Uniqueness is an extrinsic property – a thing is only unique in relation to other things. If uniqueness enhances intrinsic value, and uniqueness is an extrinsic property, intrinsic value cannot be strictly a matter of intrinsic properties. But the question remains: what is uniqueness and why is it so special? It turns out that the role that uniqueness plays in intrinsic value is surprisingly complex, and it is not at all clear that uniqueness enhances value in the way that these important arguments have assumed. My project is the first systematic and comprehensive study of uniqueness that will bring to light just what uniqueness is and how it matters.

Niki Kasumi Clements
 | Teaching Release Fellow 

Assistant Professor, Department of Religion
Foucault the Confessor: Christianity and Critique in Foucault’s Ethical Turn


My current project engages the later work of Michel Foucault, from 1976 to his death in 1984, as he turns from disciplinary subjects to the “care of the self.” In his turn to ethics alongside power/knowledge in the production of subjectivity, Foucault’s various constructions of Christianity are crucial but understudied indices for his own theoretical aspirations. From History of Sexuality: Volume 1 (La Volonté de savoir) to “The Battle for Chastity” (written for History of Sexuality: Volume 4 [Les Aveux de la chair]), “Christianity” provides Foucault’s foil for both how modern western subjectivity goes awry and how antique Greek and Roman philosophies pose ethical alternatives.

In Foucault the Confessor: Christianity and Critique in Foucault’s Ethical Turn, I trace Foucault’s shifting representations of “Christianity” through his published monographs and lectures (notably at the Collège de France) in order to 1) expose the discursive limitations of his influential reading of modern subjectivity and 2) constructively continue his ethical project, informed by these insights. By critiquing Foucault’s historical reading of early Christian texts, and then unfolding the theoretical implications of his stress on “interiority,” this book extends Foucault’s ethical challenge to “think differently” about subjectivity—now as embodied, affective, and inter-social.

Lisa Lipinski | Teaching Release Fellow 

Assistant Professor of Sculpture, Department of Visual and Dramatic Arts
Holly Hobby Lobby 


The proposed project is comprised of five new mixed-media sculptures, each to be exhibited with a corresponding sound work and a series of screen prints informed by research into political pamphlets in the archives in the May Day Rooms in London. I am interested in the paradoxical or even imaginary processes by which a sculpture might be advanced as a form of argument, as if it were a political pamphlet realized in three dimensions. This work will culminate in an exhibition in Los Angeles in 2018.

William B. Parsons | Teaching Release Fellow 

Professor, Department of Religion
Of Chariots, Navels, and Winged Steeds: Psychoanalytic Encounters with Buddhism


I will finish Part 2 of a three-part book project entitled Of Chariots, Navels and Winged Steeds. Part One (consisting of two chapters) has been completed. Part Two (consisting of two chapters), which I have laid the groundwork for, requires archival research and meetings with scholars. Part Three will be completed in the Fall of 2018 (during my sabbatical). The book traces the development of the psychoanalytic encounter with Buddhism in the context of the three periods (1880-1944; 1945-1969; 1970-present) that mark the psychology and religion movement. The latter term signifies the “wider” scholarly context within which the work seeks to contribute. It consists of major intellectual projects (e.g., the traditional notion of the psychology “of” religion; psychology “as” religion or, more precisely, psychospirituality), dialogical enterprises (e.g., the psychology-theology dialogue -- also called pastoral psychology or practical theology; the psychology-comparativist dialogue – which signifies psychological forays into non-western religions), and as part of a more inclusive social scientific approach to religion (e.g., psychological sociology; psychological anthropology). The more “narrow” scholarly task consists of isolating, unpacking and analyzing the substance of the unfolding historical “dialogue” between, specifically, psychoanalysis and Buddhism (a subset of the psychology-comparativist dialogue) during each of the three periods, focusing on its major players, developments, issues, debates, critiques, and consequences. As indicated in the use of the phrase psychology and religion the project, while focusing on psychoanalysis, will also seek to demarcate the latter with respect to the use of other, relevant projects and dialogical models (e.g., Jungian, Neurocognitive, Humanistic, etc.) operative during the field’s history.

Fay A. Yarbrough | Teaching Release Fellow

Associate Professor, Department of History 
Choctaw Confederates: The American Civil War in Indian Country 


Several American Indian nations, including the Choctaw Nation, officially sided with the Confederacy during the American Civil War. Choctaw legislative documents from the era reveal that Choctaw lawmakers spent a great deal of time talking about their commitment to the Confederate States of America. Choctaw legal authorities even deemed any criticism of the Confederacy or of the Confederate army to be a form of treason against the Choctaw Nation and punishable by death. Lawmakers raised an infantry force, and then later a cavalry, to fight with the Confederate forces. What accounts for this level of commitment to the Confederate cause among the Choctaws? I argue that Confederate ideology appealed to Choctaw authorities in part because the Choctaws were slaveholders who wanted to protect their right to own human property. European traders and settlers introduced the Choctaws to African slaves as early as the 1720s. And by 1860, black slaves comprised 14% of the population in the Choctaw Nation. Moreover, Choctaw political thinkers drew a connection between state’s rights and the sovereign rights of native nations to remain independent of U. S. authority. Thus, many Choctaws were committed Confederates.