HUMANITIES RESARCH CENTER

Faculty Research Fellows

Academic Year 2023–2024

Fall 2023

Sophie Crawford-Brown

Assistant Professor of Art History and Director of the Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations Program

Project: "Shaping Identities on Republican Temples"

Through analysis of central Italic temple decoration, this project ultimately seeks to illuminate the social, political, and religious histories of identity formation for the Romans and the various Italic peoples whose lands they colonized. It asks how local identities and histories were asserted or even invented during a period of sweeping political change, and shows how the interactions between colonizer and colonized shaped a new visual language.

Danielle Ward-Griffin

Assistant Professor of Musicology, Shepherd School of Music

Project: "Televising Opera: Broadcasting and Performance in Anglo-American Culture (1947–75)"

Televising Opera: Broadcasting and Performance in Anglo-American Culture (1945–75) is the first book on the relationship between television broadcasting and opera performance. Examining both new operas written for television and repertory operas remade in the studio, this book project traces how British, American, and Canadian broadcasters used television to respond to what they saw as a crisis in opera performance, production, and composition in the mid-twentieth century. Drawing upon previously unexamined documents from media and stage archives, this book excavates the theatrical roots of opera on television, examines how television renewed realism as a stage aesthetic, maps out how broadcasters stimulated new composition, and sketches out the early principles for co-production. Ultimately, Televising Opera offers not only a transnational history of opera on television, but also a new way of theorizing the relationship between the performing arts and technology.

Spring 2024

Farshid Emami

Assistant Professor of Art History

Project: "Urban Images and Civic Selves: Single-Page Paintings and Their Publics in Early Modern Iran"

This project is a book-length study of single-page paintings and their audiences in early modern Iran. Previous scholarship has examined these materials primarily from a biographical perspective or in terms of their stylistic features. In Dr. Emami's study, on the other hand, adopts an urban-social approach to reveal the ways in which the production and perception of figural imagery were entangled with the social experiences and urban subjectivities that emerged in the early modern period. In substantiating this argument, Dr. Emami particularly draws on a corpus of Persian-language literary works in verse and prose that afford an emic perspective on paintings and their publics. This project expands our understanding of a major subject in the field of Islamic art history, while also contributing to scholarly debates about early modernity, subjectivity, and the entanglement of urban experiences with the visual cultures of the early modern world.

Elizabeth Petrick

Associate Professor of History and founding co-director of the Science and Technology Studies Program

Project: "The Tablet Computer: The Idea of a Machine"

This book project concerns the idea of a particular kind of technology: the tablet computer. For roughly forty years, computer developers attempted to create a device that resembles the modern tablet. The tablet computer has been defined in many ways throughout its history. It was its features as a material object; a kind of interface; and a computer centered around interactivity and communication, personal control, and consumer ownership. It could be like a book, a notepad, a personal assistant—but better. It had the potential to augment human abilities of learning, communication, and organization. It could revolutionize children’s education, business productivity, communication for autistic people, or the very basis of human-computer interaction itself. This history involves the movement of and changes to the idea of what a tablet computer was and what it might be good for, as it was translated between people, technologies, publications, marketing materials, and users. The book traces these ideas from the 1970s to the 2010s and ultimately argues that the tablet computer has been and is, from the perspective of many of the ideas behind it and of the people who worked with those ideas, a failure.


Inaugural Vice President for Research Fellowship Recipients

Research and Promotion Fellowship for Associate Professors

Shih-Shan Susan Huang

Associate Professor of Transnational Asian Studies

Project: "The Dynamic Spread of Buddhist Print Culture: Mapping Buddhist Book Roads in China and its Neighbors"

The Dynamic Spread of Buddhist Print Culture: Networks and Book Roads in China and its Neighbors is the first monograph that applies the network approach to explore the dynamic spread of Buddhist print culture in China and among its neighbors. It will be published by Brill in the series Crossroads: History of Interactions across the Silk Routes, edited by Angela Schottenhammer. This book examines major Buddhist printed images and texts produced in the formative six centuries of 850–1450 not only as static cultural relics but also as objects “on the move,” as they were connected to other cultural products, and transmitted along networks and book roads in a transnational and multicultural context. By applying interdisciplinary approaches pertinent to art history, history of the book and print culture, and religious studies, this study intends to shed new light on the “life” of Buddhist print culture from visual, textual, social, and religious perspectives, taking into account both the initial stage of manufacturing and the “afterlife” of circulation and reception.

Nicole Waligora-Davis

Alan Dugald McKillop Professor and Department of English Associate Chair

Project: "The Murder Book: Race, Forensics, and the Value of Black Life"

Drawing its title from police homicide notebooks, Dr. Waligora-Davis's second monograph, The Murder Book: Race, Forensics, and the Value of Black Life, focuses on the critical nexus among race, forensics, criminal and tort law, visual culture and narratology. Tracing the first half of the long-20th century (1890–1950), this monograph underscores a different legal itinerary within debates on ethics, advocacy, and race by foregrounding the legal fictions underpinning our judicial system and the social narratives fostering these myths. This project moves beyond the substantive body of work on race in jurisprudence localized around the racial makeup of juries and race bias in sentencing, and instead reads critically the process that occurs in acts of legal interpretation ranging from the descriptive formulation of a crime to the framing and inclusion of evidence in criminal justice proceedings. Dr. Waligora-Davis tackles the role forensics, specifically a forensic imagination in American sociopolitical culture, plays in shaping understandings of race, of human value, of crime, of injury and victimhood, and of pathological social behavior—forms of meaning making that (re)engineer approaches to public policy.

Senior Faculty Distinguished Research Fellowship

Elizabeth Brake

Professor of Philosophy

Project: "Relationship Wrongs"

There are certain wrongs distinctive to intimate personal relationships. Such relationships create characteristic vulnerabilities which these wrongs target or exploit, including vulnerabilities arising from the essential features of such relationships (such as proximity and access) and vulnerabilities arising from the social norms and expectations typically surrounding such relationships (which can be used to manipulate or avoid censure). Dr. Brake's project focuses on an under-studied class of such wrongs, the subtle and cumulative wrongs which arise over repeated interactions in an ongoing relationship and can form part of intimate partner violence. This project aims to open a new area of sustained inquiry in feminist philosophy and philosophy of sex and love.


Past Faculty Fellows

2022–2023

Niki Kasumi Clements, the Watt J. and Lilly G. Jackson Associate Professor in the Department of Religion, "True Confessions: Foucault in the Archives"

Esther Fernández, Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures, "Democratizing the Classics in Spain (1975-1982)"

Alexandra Kieffer, Associate Professor of Musicology in the Shepherd School of Music, "Music and the Sacred in Secular Modernity"

Brian Ogren, the Anna Smith Fine Associate Professor of Judaic Studies in the Department of Religion, "'Reel' Kabbalah: On Cinematic Representations of Jewish Esoteric Lore"

William Suarez-Potts, Associate Professor in the Department of History, "Law, Sovereignty, and Wealth in Mexico, 1808-1863"

Harvey Yunis, the Andrew W. Mellon Professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures, "Plato’s Symposium: Greek Text with Introduction, Literary and Philosophical Commentary, and History of Interpretation"

2021–2022

Natasha Bowdoin, Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing in the Department of Art

Leo Costello, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History

Sarah Ellenzweig, Associate Professor in the Department of English

Sophie Esch, Associate Professor and Program Advisor in Latin American and Latinx Studies in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures

Charles Siewert, Robert & Kathryn Hayes Chair in Humanities, Professor, and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Philosophy

2020–2021

Gordon Hughes, Associate Professor in the Department of Art History

Lacy M. Johnson, Associate Professor of Creative Writing and Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of English

Moramay López-Alonso, Associate Professor in the Department of History

Randal L. Hall, William P. Hobby Professor of American History in the Department of History

Alida Metcalf, Harris Masterson, Jr. Professor of History in the Department of History

James Sidbury, Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History, and Affiliated Faculty with the Center for African and African American Studies

Nicole A. Waligora-Davis, Associate Professor and Alan Dugald McKillop Associate Chair in the Department of English

2019–2020

Tani Barlow, George & Nancy Rupp Professor of Humanities in the Department of History

Steven Crowell, Joseph and Joanna Nazro Mullen Professor Emeritus of Philosophy (as of 2022)

Julie Fette, Associate Professor and Program Advisor of French Studies in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures

Randal L. Hall, William P. Hobby Professor of American History in the Department of History

Gisela Heffes, Professor of Latin American Literature and Culture in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures

Mark P. Jones, Joseph D. Jamail Chair in Latin American Studies and Professor in the Department of Political Science

Kirsten Ostherr, Gladys Louise Fox Professor of English and Director of the Medical Humanities Program and the Medical Humanities Institute

Christopher Sperandio, Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing in the Department of Art

Vida Yao, former Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Rice University and current Associate Professor of Philosophy at UCLA (as of 2023)

2018–2019

Martin Blumenthal-Barby, Professor of German Studies in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures and Co-Director of the Cinema and Media Studies Program

Esther Fernández, Associate Professor in the Department of Modern and Classical Literatures and Cultures

Emily Houlik-Ritchey, Associate Professor of English, Director of the Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations Program, and Associate Director of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality

Anne C. Klein, Professor in the Department of Religion

Elora Shehabuddin, former Professor in the Department of Transnational Asian Studies and in the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality at Rice University and current Professor of Gender & Women's Studies and Global Studies at UC Berkeley (as of 2022)

George Sher, Herbert S. Autrey Professor of Humanities in the Department of Philosophy

2017–2018

Gwen Bradford, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy

Niki Kasumi Clements, the Watt J. and Lilly G. Jackson Associate Professor in the Department of Religion

Lisa Lapinski, Assistant Professor of Sculpture in the Department of Art

William Parsons, Harry and Hazel Chavanne Professor of Religious Studies and Chair of the Department of Religion

Fay Yarbrough, William Gaines Twyman Professor in the Department of History and Associate Dean for Faculty and Graduate Programs in the School of Humanities