Sixth Year Alt-Ac Fellows

Humanities graduate students seeking non-faculty careers after receipt of their PhD are offered support through the following three components: a) full-year stipends for 6th-year students interested in pursuing non-faculty careers under our alt-ac program, b) mentored training for entering the job market; c) remunerated positions in the Civic Humanists Program, which brings high school students to campus, sends faculty to inner city schools, and involves undergraduate and graduate students at many levels (see the civic humanists page).

To apply for our 6th-year graduate programs, see our Calls & Deadlines page.

Fall 2018-Spring 2019

Elena Vicentita Valdez (English)

“The Recovery Project"
Elena Vicentia Valdez will be working this year with Dr. Gabriela Baeza Ventura, Dr. Caroilna Villarroel, and Dr. Lorena Gauthereau at the Arte Publico Press's Recovery Project, to curate a houston Public Library exhibit on the Latino literary heritage of Texas, featuring items from the project's collections, including photographs, first edition books, and early 20th century Spanish-language newspapers. In the spring she will also curate a larger exhibit on the illustrations published in Arte Público's children's books for Latin Arts Now! 2019.

Fall 2017-Spring 2018

Peter Zuk (Philosophy)

“Painting the World Good"
We are pleased to report that Peter’s work in the alt-ac program allowed him to obtain a Research Associate position in Baylor College of Medicine’s Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy for 2018-19. He will be continuing his work on ethical issues in neuroethics and the governance of medical information commons.
Peter’s dissertation work examines the concept of well-being, especially its relation to affective experience. He argues that previous philosophical theories of well-being that appeal to affective experience have characterized it too narrowly, leaving out the full range of goods and bads that theories of this kind can accommodate.

Fall 2016-Spring 2017

Kyle G. Sweeney (Art History)
"Bestowing Beauty: Masterpieces from Persian Lands" at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Kyle Sweeney’s interests in analyzing networks and mechanisms of artistic exchange between Christians and Muslims in the Middle East led him to the field of Islamic ceramics, which he studied during his year as fellow in the Art of the Islamic Worlds department at the MFAH. His specific tasks included research, development, and programming in preparation for the launch of Bestowing Beauty and its accompanying catalogue of over 100 works of art from the Persianate world. In the course of his research, he became particularly interested in vessels produced in the Levant during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. This region witnessed tremendous amounts of cross-cultural activity among the Mamluks, the Ilkhanids, and the Crusaders from Europe. Portable objects produced in this area were made by craftsmen capable of working in multiple stylistic modes and often contained hybrid visual vocabularies that appealed to multiple audiences. Ultimately, Sweeney’s research at the MFAH on ceramics from Islamic lands helped move the department towards its goals of opening the exhibition on schedule and publishing a major exhibition catalogue.

Sophia Hsu (English)
"Genres of Population: Biopolitics and the Victorian Novel"
Sophia Hsu's work analyzes how nineteenth-century British literature conceptualized the population and ideas of demographic health, security, and reproduction. Hsu will apply her research, which attends to the intersection between the emergence of the population as a concept and the rise of public health techniques and policies, to contemporary issues of public health in Houston, in collaboration with local public health institutions. Her collaborations will bring healthcare providers, educators, and students; medical historians, archivists, and researchers; and local governments and public servants into conversation together about what it means to promote and maintain a healthy and safe community.

Fall 2015-Spring 2016

Carolyn Van Wingerden (Art History)
Picturing and Prejudice: Early Modern European Images of Muslims at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston
Carolyn Van Wingerden’s project explores the early modern images of Muslims and turbaned figures dating from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Sarah Campbell Blaffer Foundation. Inspired by her dissertation research which covers the longer time period of 1400 to 1700, this study primarily focuses on material by early modern Dutch and Flemish artists from the prints and drawings collections at the MFAH and the Blaffer. Some of the most evocative early modern images we have of the European perception of Muslims were created by Netherlandish printmakers and draughtsman, yet their work is often overlooked due in part to preferences for elaborate high art paintings by the general public and initially by the discipline of art history. These works have further been understudied because the ties between Venice and Istanbul had historically been so strong. Wingerden argues that, although Venice was closer to Istanbul geographically, Antwerp, one of the most important artistic and commercial centers in sixteenth-century Europe, and Amsterdam, which takes over this role in the seventeenth century, possessed connections with the Ottoman Empire that deserve further exploration.

Melissa Venator  (Art History)
“Lost Worlds: Machine Art and the Museum”
Houston is home to the largest collection of mechanical sculptures by Jean Tinguely outside of his native Switzerland. Melissa Venator's project examines the conservation and display of these fragile artworks. Tinguely authorized conservators to perform a wide range of repairs; however, museums often lack the resources to keep their mechanical art running. Consistent with precedent set by Basel’s Museum Tinguely, Melissa concludes that museums should film their objects in operation and use the documentation to enhance gallery and online displays and to record the object for future generations.