Visiting Scholars

Each year, the HRC hosts visiting faculty who are engaged in seminars, symposia, and other campus activities.


Visiting Faculty


2017-18 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Christopher Hallett, Professor, Departments of History of Art and Classics, UC Berkeley
“Corinthian Bronzes” Purporting to be Greek Old Masters as Major Artworks of the Late Republic
Christopher Hallett's work examines how our handbooks offer a one-sided account of the art of the late Republic. The emphasis is placed on “public art”—poorly preserved examples of “Roman historical relief”, such as the census scene from the Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbus; or “Roman Republican Portraiture”—veristic portraits known from contemporary coins or later marble copies. Normally there is no mention that this period saw the birth of the world’s first fully-fledged art market, with fabulously wealthy collectors, picture galleries, super-prices, art auctions, temporary exhibitions, prosecutions for art-theft, and evidence for art-forgery. In the short period that separates Gaius Verres from the emperor Nero there came into being a series of great collections of antique artworks; and one notorious category of collectible, prized by the Roman aristocracy, was aes Corinthum, or Corinthia—“Corinthian bronzes”: bronze figurines of exquisite quality. This project sets out to demonstrate that many Corinthian bronzes have come down to us; that most of them are probably ancient forgeries, pretending to be works of earlier periods; and that these should be accounted among the most important artworks of the period: the work of some of the very best artists, and aesthetically just as important as the contemporary “public works” illustrated in our handbooks.

Erin Thompson, Professor, Departments of Art and Music, John Jay College (CUNY)
Forging the Law: How Forgeries Drive the Law and Policy of Antiquities Protection
Erin Thompson's work analyzes recent national and international legal dealings with repatriated antiquities to discover a paradoxical trend: the public face of efforts to protect genuine antiquities are often forgeries. Forgeries are aesthetically compelling and visually complete artifacts, which read as artworks in a way that the genuine ancient artifacts most often discovered in excavations do not. Archeologists, needing to muster support to protect information-rich but aesthetically deficient antiquities, grudgingly accept the forgeries as poster children for their cause. Her project examines this Faustian bargain to understand the way that forgeries create compromise between the agendas of archeologists and those of collectors and dealers, allowing for agreement on the necessity of protecting antiquities, but also encourage policy that deals best with well-preserved ancient “art” but fails to protect the vast numbers of archeologically significant antiquities that are currently being discarded in the spoil piles of looters digging in hopes of uncovering a “masterpiece.”

2016-17 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Aimee Von BokelAssistant Professor/Faculty Fellow, Museum Studies, New York University
Edward, Pauline, and The Invisible Stories of Wealth Accumulation in New York
Aimee Von Bokel's project responds to narratives produced at two New York house museums: The Lower East Side Tenement Museum in Manhattan and the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn. The two historic homes prompt questions about the making of New York’s segregated landscape and the long-term effects of racially discriminatory real estate market, particularly in the twenty-first-century era of gentrification and displacement. Furthermore, as sites of memory with such disparate access to capital, the museums also prompt questions about how we come to understand the city we inhabit. In other words: which stories harden into common-sense truths about the city’s history and which stories get effaced — and why? The two house museums tell visitors about two communities two historic communities. But what the museums don't tell visitors (and perhaps this is outside the scope of the museums’ responsibility), is what happened to the residents of these houses-turned-museums after they moved out. As a result of race-based-mortgage-lending policies, Edward DeGrant, an African-Amercian born in Weeksville, was unable to buy property and accumulate wealth like Pauline Levine, a Polish-American who once lived at 97 Orchard Street -- the site of today's Tenement Museum. Aimee is mapping the stories of Edward and Pauline’s trajectories on multiple platforms ( The next step is to (a) document more resident-trajectories (b) visualize the trajectories, and (c) identify a plan for digitizing handwritten archives.

Carroll Parrott Blue, Professor Emerita, San Diego State University
Creative Placemaking
Carroll Parrott Blue's work has helped her co-create and work with the Southeast Houston Transformation Alliance (SEHTA), a 503c3 non-profit community leadership agency. This work is supported with digital storytelling, interactive multimedia, public art, design and a new opportunity to incorporate Geographic Information Systems Spatial Analysis techniques. Her goal is to merge this area’s facts and figures with its residential voices and visions through team support of GIS programmers, public and architectural historians, artists, historians, creative writers, graphic designers, architects, landscape architects, urban planners and personal digital stories and histories.
Carroll's research examines how SEHTA’s underserved community residents who, united in a commonly held vision, can work as equal partners with supportive academic and other institutions, civic governments, developers, foundations and donors to provide a new community engagement model for Houston’s use in becoming a 21st century city.
Creative Placemaking as an emerging field lacks real-time published information on the blending of personal story, big data and case study analysis. 

2015-16 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Gregory Flaxman, Associate professor of English and Comparative Literature, UNC, Chapel Hill
Off the Grid
Gregory Flaxman’s project takes its title from a phrase that has become the common currency of our Zeitgeist: if you go to the movies, watch cable television, listen to the news, surf the web—in other words, if you’re on the grid—then you’ve surely heard about going off it. Flaxman contends that this colloquialism marks a remarkable and even “epistemic” crisis of contemporary American society.  In essence, his work argues that the recent turn of this phrase bears witness to the emergence of a new biopolitical economy driven by the rapid expansion of digital media, information technology, and surveillance networks. Thus, going off the grid expresses the act (or art) of disappearing at a moment when that very possibility seems to have irremediably diminished.

Maria Whiteman, Artist
Temporal Turns in Ecology
Whiteman’s work delves into the modes of scientific knowledge, taxonomy, display, curation, etc. that shape how we think about and interact with non-human life. She has shown extensively in galleries in both Canada and the United States, and has published work in such venues as Antennae: The Journal of Nature in Visual Culture, and Public. Prof. Whiteman will organize and curate the art exhibition component of the 2015 SLSA conference at Rice.  She is currently working on three collaborative video installations with Prof. Wolfe centered around issues of ecology, environment, energy, migration (both human and animal), and landscape.

2014-15 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Jennifer Borland, Associate Professor of Art History, Oklahoma State University
Domesticating Knowledge: Household Health and the Late Medieval Illustrated Manuscripts of the Régime du corps
Borland will complete the manuscript of her book, “Domesticating Knowledge,” which closely considers several illustrated copies of “Régime du corps,” a late medieval health guide written by the physician of an ambitious French countess, for her to pass on to her four daughters. Although these six illuminated manuscripts represent a relative anomaly in the extensive transmission and dissemination of the Régime text, they are much more than luxurious examples of conspicuous consumption. These indicate that the domestic sphere remained central to the maintenance of health in spite of medicine’s increasing professionalization. At its heart, this project is an art historical study; though it also engages with history, book culture, gender studies, medicine and medical humanities.

Erica Fudge, Professor of English, University of Strathclyde
The Multiple Worlds of Edward Topsell: Of Early Modern Books, Churches and Meat-Markets
Fudge’s current research project is an attempt to understand an aspect of early modern English society that until now has escaped detailed attention: the world of affective human-livestock relations. At a time before the intensification of farming many people lived very closely with animals – a couple of cows, one or two pigs, poultry. This project seeks to go beyond the work of agricultural and economic history to think about what people thought about and felt about their livestock animals, and what the animals themselves would have experienced in their working lives. Fudge will look at Edward Topsell's “Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes” (1607) - the most significant English collection of early modern animal lore - and read it in the context of Topsell's life as a minister in London.

2013-14 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Catherine Wilson, Anniversary Professor of Philosophy, University of York
Futility and Transcendence: Kant and the Problem of Materialism in 18th Century Philosophy
The role of the Lucretian image of nature as presented in De Rerum Natura as adopted, modified, and resisted in the second half of the 18th century is poorly understood and accordingly controversial. Wilson proposes to examine Kant’s relationship to the materialism of the French philosophes as it diffused into German letters. Her intention is not only to try to understand the “critical philosophy” as Kant’s response to the cultural pessimism of his Lucretian-impressed contemporaries, but also to reassess Kant’s value for contemporary moral and political theory in light of his anti-naturalism, arguing that his opponents’ conception of Enlightenment was both more humane and more philosophically tenable. Wilson will also participate in the 2013-14 Rice Seminar, “Materialism and New Materialism across the Disciplines.”

Ian Balfour, Professor of English, York University
Filming Literature In and Beyond the Culture Industry
Balfour will work on a new book about the adaptation of literature into film by drawing on theoretical work on translation and tradition by Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, genre criticism by Northrop Frye and others, as well as recent work on adaptation in film studies (Dudley Andrew, Robert Stam) and the pioneering work of André Bazin. Balfour aims to investigate several different clusters of issues and track them across a wide range of examples, such as genre and its formal consequences, word-image relations, period pieces and the styles of history, the poetics of avant-garde adaptation, and national cinemas and their relation to the world.

Ana Maria Tavares, Assistant Professor, Departamento de Artes Plásticas da Escola de Comunicações e Artes, Universidade de São Paulo
Nature In-Vitro: Interrogating Modernity
Tavares’ project is an interdisciplinary and transnational research and museological project based on her collaboration with Rice University art and architectural historian Fabiola López-Durán. This research project’s main goal is to investigate the role of aesthetics, science, and ideology at the center of the construction of modernity in Latin America. This research raises the question of medium specificity in the study of modernism--as Andreas Huyssens has demonstrated, we cannot talk about modernism and modernity without considering architecture and the built urban environment among its main transmitters. In the underpinnings of these “cultural objects,” Tavares’ artistic work and the scholarly research of López-Durán intersect to examine notions of nature and landscape through the idea of culture and nation.

2012-13 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Simon Keller, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Victoria University of Wellington
Understanding Disagreement about Climate Change: Skepticism, Ideology, and Experts
The disagreement about climate science is a stark feature of political debate and an obstacle to meaningful action on climate change. To understand why people of different political views disagree about climate change, Keller argues that we must understand our relationship with experts and how ideological commitments can rationally influence decisions about which experts to trust. His project specifically examines the disagreement about climate change as a manifestation of rational attitudes to expertise. He examines the types of arguments offered, the sources of argumentation, and the channels through which a concerned non-expert should decide which sources to trust.

John J. May, Assistant Professor Architecture, Landscape, and Design, University of Toronto
Spectral Visions: The Birth of the Energetic of Environment
May’s project focuses on the historical relationship between Postwar scientific instruments and the changing composition of the concept of environment. Examining imaging as a form of environmental representation, he argues that our understanding of the environment is fundamentally inseparable from the emergence of imaging. His project aims to produce a technical and conceptual genealogy of the environmental image, a theory of representation commensurate with questions and problems being posed around the concept of environment, which are today reshaping both the humanities and design practice. In so doing, this research shows how imaging has reorganized and restructured the entire scientific-bureaucratic apparatus that today takes ‘the environment’ as its object of concern.

Paul B. Jaskot, Professor of Art and Architecture, DePaul University
Cultural Fantasies, Ideological Goals, Political Economic Realities in the Built Environment of Auschwitz
This project examines the archive of Auschwitz’s architectural office, one of the largest collections of evidence of a single building office’s activity during the Nazi regime. Using art historical tools to analyze the construction of this politically charged institutional environment, Jaskot explores the intersection of the cultural priorities of the SS, the organization of forced labor for construction, as well as the intertwines goals of racist genocide and imperialist expansion. The SS designed and planned hundred of vernacular structures for the camp that changed dynamically in form and function with war conditions. He argues that the SS building at Auschwitz became a deadly intersection of delusional planning, pragmatic realities, and destructive capacities.

2011-12 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Kairn A. Klieman, Associate Professor of History, University of Houston
Before the "Curse": Petroleum, Politics, and Transnational Oil Companies in the Gulf of Guinea, Africa, 1890's-1980's
Through a series of theoretically-linked case studies situated in the watershed moments of African oil history, Klieman's project provides a history of the changing nature of relations between transnational oil companies, their home governments, and the colonial and post-colonial governments of sub-Saharan Africa, and also elucidates specific events, decisions, and policies that have contributed to the development of the "Oil Curse" - the phenomena whereby despite a massive influx of oil revenues, political, economic, and developmental processes stagnate, creating some of the most authoritarian, impoverished, and corrupt societies in the world. By identifying the historical roots of this modern problem, the book will provide important contributions to the fields of African history, U.S. diplomatic history, international oil history, the history of globalization, and the growing body of literature on the Natural Resource Curse in developing nations.

Kenneth Loiselle, Assistant Professor of History, Trinity University
Enlightenment and Revolution in the French Atlantic: Freemasonry from the Old Regime to Napoleon
This study examines the history of Freemasonry in metropolitan and colonial France from the pre-revolutionary era to 1804. Loiselle's research explores the structural aspects of Masonic sociability during the revolutionary moment as well as the cultural changes wrought by political developments. Topics to be examined include the changing profile of membership in lodges, the relationship between political orientation and Masonic affiliation amongst elites, and the presence of the French and Haitian Revolutions in Masonic cultural texts, notable speeches and songs. This research can help answer a classic question that has continually preoccupied scholarly communities within the humanities as well as political scientists who study revolutionary processes: How were the Enlightenment and the political revolutions of the late eighteenth century in France and Saint-Domingue (later Haiti) interrelated?

2010-11 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Sabine Hake, Texas Chair of German Literature and Culture, University of Texas at Austin
Political Affects: The Fascist Imaginary in Postfascist Cinema
Dr. Hake is a scholar of German cinema and Weimar culture who has written extensively on the history of cinema, theories of modernism and modernity, and the intersection of culture and politics. While at Rice, she will work on a book project on the filmic representation of the Third Reich in American and European films from the 1940s to today. The continuing fascination with fascism in popular culture reveals as much about our changing views of the Third Reich as the quintessential modern dictatorship as about our fascination with totalitarian power and frustration with liberal democracies. She has published five monographs, including most recently Topographies of Class: Modern Architecture and Mass Society in Weimar Berlin (2008). During her fellowhship, Dr. Hake taught a course on “Film and Fascism” through the Department of German Studies.

Mary Poovey, Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities, New York University
A Model of the Future: The History of American Finance Capitalism
While in residence at the Rice Humanities Center, Dr. Poovey worked on a co-authored book project on twentieth-century U. S. finance capitalism, focusing on the core chapters of the book that examine Irving Fisher’s new model of value, which he introduced in 1906. By proposing that the value of capital is based on a forecast of future income, Fisher's model departed from its predecessors, which had linked value to labor or commodities. This way of thinking both accorded with installment-plan payments (a new and popular form of financing the purchase of commodities in the period) and anticipated financial modeling, which made expectations about the future a central component of pricing financial assets. Phrased another way, Fisher’s work made it possible for consumers to rationalize gratifying present desires by pledging future income streams, and it enabled economists to model conditions of uncertainty. The transformation of financial behavior and theory inaugurated by this model laid the groundwork for the innovations in spending patterns and securitization that revolutionized the nation's savings and investment practices during the last half of the twentieth century.  

Despina Stratigakos, Assistant Professor of Architecture, State University of New York at Buffalo
Hitler at Home
Dr. Stratigakos’ first book, A Women’s Berlin: Building the Modern City (University of Minnesota Press, 2008), received the 2009 German Studies Association Book Prize for the best book of the last two years in the fields of history or social sciences. Her current book project, Hitler at Home, examines the aesthetic and ideological construction of Hitler’s domesticity. In her writings and beyond, she works to raise awareness of issues of diversity in architecture. A 2007 exhibition on the children's toy, Architect Barbie, at the University of Michigan addressed the underrepresentation of women from a playful angle. While in residence at Rice, Dr. Stratigakos will teach a course on gender and architecture in the art history department cross-listed with architecture.

2009-10 Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Paul Christesen, Associate Professor of Classics, Dartmouth College
Gymnazein: The Origin and Dissemination of Athletic Nudity in Ancient Greece
Dr. Christesen’s scholarship insists that the roots of mass sport in ancient Greece and the modern-day West provide invaluable insight into the basic societal conditions and values that define our identity and history, making Greek athletics an ideal place to explore the intersection between classical and modern worlds.  Focusing on athletic nudity in particular, his new project investigates the variety of functions which nudity served in its practice by men and women of different social statuses and in diverse social contexts.  He is the author of Olympic Victor Lists and Ancient Greek History  (Cambridge UP, 2007).  

Matthew Guterl, Associate Professor of African American & African Diaspora Studies and American Studies, Indiana University
Mother of the World: Josephine Baker and the Rainbow Tribe
Dr. Guterl has made invaluable contributions to the conversations surrounding the conceptualizations of race within the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Americas.  He has helped add to the historiography of slavery and other racialized labor systems an important transnational dimension.  His current project re-examines  a commonly overlooked episode in the life of superstar Josephine Baker, her effort – subsequent to her career as an entertainer – to adopt and raise twelve children from across the global south, opening up her private life to a new level of public scrutiny.  He has authored two books, American Mediterranean: Southern Slaveholders in the Age of Emancipation  (Harvard UP, 2008) and the award-winning The Color of Race in America, 1900-1940  (Harvard UP, 2001).

Mi Gyung Kim, Associate Professor of History, North Carolina State University
The Aerieal Theater: Balloons and the Public in Pre-Revolutionary France
Dr. Kim's research focuses on the history of science and its relatonship to broader historical and social transformations, including the processes of nation- and empire-building. Her current project examines balloon mania in eighteenth-century France in order to make new claims about science, reason, and power in a society undergoing fundamental and rapid change. She is the author of Affinity, that Elusive Dream: A Genealogy of the Chemical Revoluion  (MIT Press, 2003), a book which connects technical changes in matter theory and chemical dynamics with the emergence of new forms of education, training, and publication. Dr. Kim will teach a course on "Science and Empire" through the Department of History.

Maria Elena Versari, Assistant Professor, Universitá di Messina, Italy
The Foreign Policy of the Avant Garde
Dr.  Versari's current project proposes a new systemic interpretation of the historical avant garde by examining its internal strategies of identity and canonization and by reassessing the workings of its system of national and international alliances and networks. While at Rice, she will engage in a new analysis of how the discourse of the avant-garde assumed and reworked the discourse of political internationalism. She is the author of two monographs for the Scala Archives in Florence, one on Wassily Kandinsky and the other on Constantin Brancusi. Dr. Versari will teach a course in the Art History Department, "Cultural Boundaries: Ethnic Myths and the Search for a National Style."

2008-09 | NEH - Distinguished Visiting Professors and Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

David Gordon, Visiting Scholar from the History Department, Bowdoin College
Ancestors of a Nation: the Political Imagination in Zambian History
His first book Nachituti’s Gift: Economy, Society, and Environment in Central Africa (University of Wisconsin Press 2006) was finalist for the Melville J. Herkovits Award for Best Book in African Studies and has been hailed as a major contribution to the field. His project based on current field research in Africa illuminates the political nature of seemingly religious practices and the religious nature of political practices, challenging the accepted narrative of political secularism. During his residence at Rice, Dr. Gordon will teach a course in the history department and will contribute to the African Studies Workshop.

Carol Harrison, Visiting Scholar from the Department of History, University of South Carolina
Restoring Catholicism in Post-revolutionary France: Gender, Belief, and Secularization
Examining the intersections between faith, feminism, and citizenship, her research assesses the dual role of religion in shaping the lives of families and in limiting women’s citizenship in the aftermath of Revolutionary dechristianization. She is the author of The Bourgeois Citizen in Nineteenth-century France (Oxford UP, 1999). During her fellowship term, Dr. Harrison will teach a course in history cross listed with the Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality.

Avery Kolers, Visiting Scholar from the Philosophy Department, University of Louisville, Kentucky
A Political Theory of Individual Responsibility
Dr. Koler's new project undertakes to understand individual responsibility within institutions and the significance of notions such as participation, complicity, and implication. The project asks how our individual moral agency is determined by a group rather than by ourselves in light of our membership in groups large and small. His first book is Land, Conflict and Justice: A Political Theory of Territory (Cambridge UP, 2008). At Rice, Dr. Kolers will teach a course in the Philosophy Department.

Gerardo Marti, Visiting Scholar from the Department of Sociology, Davidson College
Congregational Diversity and Worship Music
Author of Hollywood Faith: Holiness, Prosperity and Ambition in a Los Angeles Church (Rutgers UP, 2008) and A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church (Indiana UP, 2005), Dr. Marti will examine the intersection of race, religion and music in light of the desire among some church leaders to promote congregational diversity. He hopes to lay the groundwork for understanding what kind of music may accelerate racial and ethnic variety in churches. At Rice, he will teach a course on race and religious faith cross listed in religious studies and sociology.

2007-08 | NEH - Distinguished Visiting Professors and Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Winfried Mennighaus, Visiting Professor from Peter Szondi-Institut für Allgemeine, Freie Universität Berlin
A leading critic and theorist in aesthetic philosophy, Dr. Menninghaus has published works on Celan, Bejamin, Hölderlin, and others. He will offer three seminars at Rice, in conjunction with the HRC’s History of Philosophy Workshop led by Dr. Steven G. Crowell.

Elliot Wolfson, Visiting Professor from the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University
Wolfson is a leading scholar in the field of Jewish mysticism and has published a trio of books representing a new direction in the field. He is also the editor of the Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy. He will teach a course on Jewish Mysticism through the Religious Studies Department while pursuing research on dreams and dream interpretation in Kabbalistic thought. In addition, Drs. Marcia Brennan and Jeffrey J. Kripal will convene a symposium, "Beyond the Beyond" in collaboration with the HRC’s Judaic Studies Workshop, centered on the work of Dr. Wolfson.

Jaqueline G. Campbell, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Connecticut
Dr. Campbell’s research on the Civil War era, examining how race, class, and gender shape military and social history, has yielded publications including When Sherman Marched North from the Sea. She will teach a course on the Civil War and Reconstruction through the History Department. Dr. John B. Boles will also organize a lecture series centered on her work, "New Perspectives on the Civil War."

Hans Poser, Visiting Professor from Technischen Universität in Berlin
Dr. Poser studies the philosophy of science and technology and the history of philosophy. A former president of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Philosophie, he has also served for almost thirty years as the Vice President of the International Leibniz Society. Dr. Poser will offer a course through the Philosophy Department entitled “Introduction to Theories/Practices of Science and Technology Studies.” On the occasion of Dr. Poser’s visit, Dr. Mark A. Kulstad plans to organize the First Annual Conference of the Leibniz Society of North America at Rice.

2006-07 | NEH - Distinguished Visiting Professors and Lynette S. Autrey Visiting Scholars

Joseph Clarke, member of the standing faculty of the English Department of the University of Pennsylvania
His work looks at the cultural power of the novel in the West Indies and in sub-Saharan Africa as well as at the "West Indian fiction boom" of the 1940's and 1950's. While at Rice, Dr. Clarke offered a course on the novel in the Americas, another on women writers from the Caribbean, and a graduate seminar on narrative and cultural difference. He organized the symposium "The Hacienda and the Plantation: Historical, Political and Cultural Legacies."

Pierre Pellegrin, Director of the Center for the History of Arabic and Medieval Science and Philosophy in Paris, France, a unit of the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)
His research interests include ancient political philosophy and ancient philosophical conceptions of science and scientific method, and especially their relationship to actual scientific practice. At Rice University, Dr. Pellegrin taught a course titled "Greek Philosophy of Nature" and a graduate seminar that offered a historical and philosophical examination of Aristotle's Politics. The HRC hosted the conference "Aristotelian Natural Philosophy" focused on Dr. Pellegrin's research.

2007 - NEH - Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Bruno Latour, Institut d'Études Politiques

  • February 5 - Seminar: "The Politics of Multinationalism"
  • February 6 - Public Lecture: “Political Truth: Lippmann's Phantom and Dewey's Great Community”
  • February 7 - Seminar: "Collective Experiments"
  • February 8 - Film: Making Things Public
  • ​February 9 - Seminar: "Cosmopolitics"

2005 - NEH - Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Jean Comaroff and John L. Comaroff, University of Chicago

  • March 28 - Public Lecture: “Criminal Ac/counting: Quantifacts and the Production of the Unreal” (Jean Comaroff)
  • March 29 - Public Lecture: “Ethnicity, Inc.: On the Commodification, Consumption, and Construction of Cultural Identity in a Brave Neo World” (John Comaroff)
  • March 30 - Seminar: “Millenial Captialism and the Culture of Neoliberalism”
  • ​March 31 - Seminar: “New Religious Movements in the Age of Neoliberalism”

2003 - NEH - Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Martha Nussbaum, University of Chicago Law School

  • September 22 - Public Lecture: “Shame, Stigma, and Punishment” (jointly sponsored by the President's Lecture Series)
  • September 23 - Seminar: “Inscribing the Face: Shame and Stigma”
  • September 24 - Seminar: “Beyond the Social Contract: Justice and Mental Disabilities”
  • September 25 - Seminar: “Capabilities, Fundamental Entitlements, and Women's Equality”

Susan Handelman, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

  • March 19 - Public Lecture: “Teaching in the Face of Terror: Strategies of Survival, Humanistic Education, and Cultural Repair”
  • March 18 - Seminar: "Knowledge Has a Face: The Personal and the Pedagogical in Classical Jewish Sources and Postmodern Theory"
  • March 21 - Seminar: "Knowledge Has a Face: Academic Knowledge and Religious Discourse"
  • March 24 - Seminar: "The Student-Teacher Relation, the Construction of Knowledge, and the Rhetoric of Rabbinic Texts: Part 1”
  • ​March 25 - Seminar:  "The Student-Teacher Relation, the Construction of Knowledge, and the Rhetoric of Rabbinic Texts: Part 2”

2002 - NEH - Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Michel Serres, Académie Française

  • April 9 - Seminar: “Euclidean First Definitions”
  • April 10 - Seminar: “Space in Pluto's Timeus”
  • April 12 - Seminar: “Clinamen in Lucretius' De Rerum Natura”
  • April 15 - Public Lecture: “Sciences and Humanities: The Case of J. M. Turner”
  • ​April 17 - Seminar: “Pascal's Geometry”

2000 - NEH - Distinguished Visiting Faculty

Jan Assmann, University of Heidelberg & Aleida Assmann, University of Konstanz

  • October 3 - Public Lecture: “Monotheism and Memory: Freud's Moses and the Biblical Tradition” (Jan Assmann)
  • October 4 - Seminar: "From Short Term to Long Term Memories"
  • October 10 - Seminar: "Paradigms of Learning"
  • October 11 - Public Lecture: “Affect—Symbol—Trauma: Stabilizers of Memory” (Aleida Assmann)
  • October 12 - Seminar: "Reinventing Tradition"
  • ​October 17 - Seminar: "History and Memory"


Postdoctoral Fellows

Begun in 2002, the postdoctoral fellowship program is designed to encourage interdisciplinary teaching and research, facilitate new research communities at Rice, and prepare junior scholars for future faculty positions. 


Postdoctoral Fellows



levantCarta Lab Initiative Fellow

Elvan Cobb | Spatial Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow in Levantine Studies
Ph.D. History of Architecture and Urbanism, Cornell University
Railway Crossings: Encounters in Ottoman Lands

Elvan is a historian of the built environment, exploring the effects of modernization projects on spatial practices. Focusing on the Ottoman Empire, the modern Middle East and the Islamic world, her work brings an interdisciplinary approach to the study of space by engaging with histories of technology, archaeology, travel, environment and the senses. Elvan serves on the editorial team of the International Journal of Islamic Architecture and she is the assistant director of a diachronic archaeological field project in Armenia. 

At Rice, Elvan is affiliated with the Humanities Research Center's levantCarta Initiative and she is working on a book manuscript based on her doctoral work that explores the spatial histories of early railways in Ottoman Anatolia originating from the port city of Izmir. 

Spatial Humanities Initiative Fellows

Joe T. Carson | Spatial Humanities Project Manager
Ph.D. English, Rice University
American Anthropocenes: Race and Deforestation in the Novel

Focusing on the intersection of environmental history and literary aesthetics, American Anthropocenes: Race and Deforestation in the Novel traces the interwoven environmental and racial histories of deforestation from the eve of the Civil War to the Great Depression. From the plantation to the Great Dismal Swamp, the antebellum novel to the contemporary novel, my project illuminates a persistent yet evolving ecological entanglement between human history and environmental change. Taking its cue from late 19th century African American author Charles Chesnutt, my book project reads the pivotal relationship between the black laboring body and the tree, and my research shows the hitherto now unexamined importance of deforestation and timbering in shaping the politics of race and labor in the American south. In turn, by attending this history, we see how American authors use boards, timber and deforestation as aesthetic vehicles to grapple with history, futurity and finality. I argue this archive of timber and race not only anticipates contemporary theories of the Anthropocene, but it illuminates the limits of the Anthropocene as means to imagine new worlds.

Michael F. Miller | Spatial Humanities Project Manager
Ph.D. English, Rice University
Proximity by Proxy: Contemporary Literature and Cultural Theory in the Age of Social Media

Mapping New Media: Theory, Aesthetics, and Politics by Design

Michael F. Miller received his PhD in English from Rice University in 2019. He is co-editor of the forthcoming volume Understanding Flusser, Understanding Modernism, and his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Arizona QuarterlyModernism/modernityboundary 2, and Contemporary Literature, among other venues. He is currently at work on two projects. The first, Proximity by Proxy: Contemporary Literature and Cultural Theory in the Age of Social Media, looks at many recent texts that can be loosely defined as “postdigital” or “post-literary” novels, and it argues that the spatial and affective logics of connection have come to define readers as information users and authors as servers or hosts. The second project, Mapping New Media: Theory, Aesthetics, and Politics by Design, interrogates the networked, computational media that are crucial to the Spatial Humanities. Emphasizing the “designed” nature of the computational media that shape both the Spatial Humanities and the internet—and contemporary internet culture in particular—this project locates and maps the complex relations between computational media technologies, “born-digital” cultural production, and their wide-ranging effects on theoretical, political, and cultural discourses.


Spatial Humanities


Sydney Boyd, Ph.D. English (2018), Rice University
Sydney’s project focuses on how musical performances engage with specific environments to map sound acoustically and theoretically. Her dissertation, Narrative Durations, studies how musical duration affects literary perceptions of temporality in the twentieth century novel and necessarily investigates conceptions of spatiality. The project led her from authors to composers whose work presses against convention to formulate new abstractions of the human by using sound environments to manifest varying temporal experiences. Works written explicitly for listening to a fluctuating environment (such as Cage’s 1952 so-called “silent” work 4’33”) give way to work that relies on a specific architecture, such as Alvin Lucier’s 1981 “I am Sitting in a Room,” a work that comprises increasingly abstract acoustic frequencies of a voice recorded and re-recorded in a room. Tracing these ideas means accepting a transformation of contemporary awareness, where bodies exist in space and time, where we listen to and create alternative environments that provoke new experiences, and in turn, where we continually redefine what it means to be human.
Research Project: Musical Performance Environments: Mapping Sound Experience

Elisabeth Narkin, 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.
Research Project: Constructing Dynasty: Architecture and the French Royal Family

Marie Saldaña, Ph.D. Architecture (2015), UCLA
Marie Saldaña studies the ways in which ephemeral, transient, and natural spaces are played out in and against the built environment, and how they become transformed in the architectural imagination. Her work combines traditional scholarship with maps, drawings, 3D models, and interactive media. She is currently finishing a digital project, "Cave and City", that uses procedural 3D models to explore the way the Greco-Roman city of Magnesia on the Maeander evolved over time in relation to its ritual landscape. She is also beginning a new project on the idea of the cave in the architecture, seeking to elucidate the architectural notions and practices that rely on the cave for their production and propagation, including concepts of temporality, form, representation, and the blurring of lines between the natural and artificial as expressed in technology.. 
Research Project:  Cave and City: The Idea of the Cave in Architecture


Laura Richardson, Ph.D. English (2015), Rice University 
Laura studies American and British modernism. Her current spatial project examines Houston in the 1920s, specifically the city’s cultures of bootlegging. With digital mapping technologies, she is creating an interactive map of Houston in the Roaring 20s, pinpointing speakeasies, busted bootlegging enterprises, and Prohibition-related organized crime efforts. Traditionally, accounts of the Roaring 20s focus exclusively on New York City or Chicago. This project defines Houston’s relationship to the decade that put it on the map, plotting the city’s—and with an eye for Texas’—role in “the Mad Decade.” Laura’s book project, Everyone’s a Critic: Eclectic Modernist Hermeneutics, examines the history of modernist criticism. Female critics were left out of literary criticism’s shift from the pens of poet-scholars to a codified system of analysis in American and British universities. Laura’s work is an archival project that recovers alternative methodologies of literary analysis from the early twentieth-century.
Research Project: Houston in the Roaring 20s

Kyle G. Sweeney, Ph.D. Art and Architectural History (2017), 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.
Research Project: Virtual Rouen


Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows 


Allison Turner, Ph.D. English (2018), University of Chicago
Allison studies eighteenth-century British literature and British Romanticism. Her research brings together the study of literary form with economic history and environmental criticism. In her current project, The Salvaging Disposition, she locates the emergence of a modern sense of waste in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Baconian science and European colonialism began to conceive of the New World as an untapped spring of inexhaustible resources. Alongside this ideology of infinite growth, she argues that the period of early modernity also witnessed a surge of interest in the category of byproduct waste as a site of potential value. This new conception of waste—as salvageable byproduct—is evident in one of British literature’s earliest novels, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719). Indeed, after his shipwreck, Crusoe sustains himself by fashioning an island habitation out of the wreckage that made him a castaway. Allison’s project follows this salvaging impulse in works that have long been associated with the rise of the novel in this period.
Research Project: The Salvaging Disposition: Waste and Form in the Eighteenth-Century Novel

Kali Rubaii, Ph.D. Anthropology (2018), UC Santa Cruz
Kali Rubaii studies the environmental impacts of less-than-lethal militarism, especially how military projects (re)arrange and (re)distribute beings and objects in morally fraught ways in the name of “letting live.” Her book project, Counterinsurgency and the Ethical Life of Material Things, examines how Anbari farmers struggle to survive the rearrangement of their landscape by transnational counterinsurgency projects. Taking toxicity as an analytic for material politics, her book highlights the alterlives of war objects as they facilitate particular configurations of relations among humans, ghosts, plants, animals, and molecular agents, while precluding others. Her current ethnographic research explores how the concrete industry in post-invasion Iraq enforces global regimes of race, class, and cartographies of power, as well as regimes of environmental extraction and degradation. In approaching the corporate-military enterprise of concrete in Iraq, Kali is interested in sharpening resistance strategies that target the vulnerable nexus between coercive power and the physical world.
Research Project: Concrete Landscapes and Toxic Souls


Frederic Clark, Ph.D. History (2014), 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.
Research Project: The First Pagan Historian: The Fortunes of a Fraud from Antiquity to the Enlightenment

Kathryn Langenfeld, Ph.D. Classical Studies (2017), Duke University 
Kathryn studies the intersection of historiography, social history, and material culture in the Later Roman Empire, and her research examines Roman Imperial historiography of the third-fifth centuries CE. She is also interested in the social mechanisms that facilitate the composition and circulation of texts in Late Antiquity. At Rice, she is working on several book and article-length projects examining issues of forgery, censorship, and political disillusionment during the political upheaval of the Late Roman Empire. Her book project, Forging a History: The Inventions of the Historia Augusta, reconsiders the authorship, audience, and perceived historical value of the late fourth-century series of imperial biographies known as the Historia Augusta, which has long been labeled an unreliable “forgery” due to its falsified authorship and fabricated sources. By reconsidering the text’s literary milieu and circulation in fourth-century CE Rome, she argues that the work’s inventions were not meant to deceive but instead satirize the scholarly habits of the author’s reading community and intervene in contemporary political discourses about imperial legitimacy. Through her research, she reframes the Historia Augusta as an important window into the political disaffection of late Imperial intellectual communities. She is also currently developing two article projects on forgery and political tensions within the imperial courts of the third and fourth centuries CE. One explores passages from Ammianus in which forged documents are the foundation of a treason case that ultimately results in several rebellions against the court of Constantius II, and her second article project examines concerns about government overreach and imperial surveillance in historical writers of the third and fourth centuries CE.
Research Project: Forging a History: The Inventions of the Historia Augusta

Sebastian Schmidt, Ph.D. History, Theory & Criticism of Architecture (2017), MIT
Sebastian Schmidt is a historian of urbanism and architecture working on issues of war, race, and memory in cities in the 20th century, with a focus on the United States, Germany, and Japan during and after WWII. Schmidt is currently working on a book manuscript that expands on the research done for his dissertation, tentatively titled Global War, Race, and the City: How WWII Shaped Urbanism in New York, Berlin, and Tokyo. His project positions the global and racial nature of WWII as a shaping force of urbanism—with important consequences for the methodologies of urban history. The war built vast infrastructures that became the foundation for civilian aviation, and it made the world seem a lot smaller and a lot more vulnerable. The war was also charged with strong racial discourses—the US presented itself as a bringer of global freedom while maintaining segregation at home, Germany’s aggressive quest for Lebensraum culminated in the Holocaust and the postwar struggle of dealing with this racial legacy, and the loss of Japan’s multi-ethnic empire in East Asia after WWII shaped the country’s reimagining as a monoethnic nation state. Based on evidence from urban policy, planning, architecture, and art, Schmidt investigates the urbanism of New York, Berlin, and Tokyo—the principal cities of three nations deeply implicated in the war—to challenge the notion that economic globalization alone made cities global. Instead, his work positions the postwar city as a response to war-driven global infrastructures and racial ideologies, and contributes to an understanding of the complex relationship between WWII and urbanism. 
Research Project: Global War, Race, and the City: How WWII Shaped Urbanism in New York, Berlin, and Tokyo


Ademide Adelusi-Adeluyi, Ph.D. History (2016), NYU
Ademide’s research into the history of West African cities combines a set of interdisciplinary interests in African and urban history, technology, cartography and Digital Humanities. While at Rice, she will develop a cartographic database of Lagos’s history, based in part on colonial maps of the city and region dating from the late eighteenth century. Despite attempts to write over local ways of imagining, manipulating and representing space, these British and French maps remain crucial sites of negotiation over the meanings of power, space and time in the city. At no point does Lagos become more visible than when it is marked for destruction, division, or rehabilitation, thus, she uses these maps to reconstruct indigenous conceptions of the past, in place. She is Assistant Professor of History at the University of California, Riverside.
Research Project: Mapping the Constant City: Lagos in its Precolonial and Colonial Contexts.

Shannon Dugan Iverson, Ph.D. Anthropology, University of Texas at Austin
The Mesoamerican cartographic tradition employed very different mapping conventions from those utilized in the Western tradition. Whereas Western maps tend to represent only one moment in time—or attempt to represent a timeless landscape—Mesoamerican maps of the famous Aztec migration journey were able to incorporate space and time simultaneously. For the first time, new technologies that incorporate film and narrative into GIS maps can approximate the complexity and creativity of early colonial and pre-Columbian maps.
Much Mesoamerican scholarship has focused on finding the “truth” embedded in these documents by searching for overlaps between them, and by carefully constructing Western-style maps and histories around them. This project, in contrast, uses narrative digital mapping to study the migration maps on their own terms: as simultaneously linear and cyclical, as mythical and real, as stories that form their own particular chronotopic tradition (that is, the narrative juncture of space and time). By using digital technologies to study an ingenious non-Western cartographic tradition, this project also expresses optimism that Western mapping can represent space-time more fluidly and creatively.
Shannon is an archaeologist who focuses on colonialism and power in central Mexico. 
Research Project: Digital Footsteps 

Abby Spinak, Ph.D. Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Abby studies energy history, with a particular interest in the politics of energy ownership and the role of infrastructure in disseminating economic ideas. In her current project, she explores how ideas of economic democracy have shaped the electricity infrastructure in the United States, from New Dealers’ vast national plan of development-oriented rural electrification to climate change activism in the twenty-first century. During her time at Rice, Abby will be finishing a book on electric cooperatives and teaching classes in the Energy Humanities. She is also affiliated with the Center for Energy and Environmental Research in the Human Sciences.
Research Project: Democracy Electric: Energy and Economic Citizenship in an Urbanizing America  


Ted Geier, Ph.D. Comparative Literature (Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory), UC Davis
Geier works on comparative-historical environmental thought, with special interests in Animal Studies. His dissertation, British and Other Nonhumans of the Long Nineteenth Century: Abject Forms in Literature, Law, and Meat evaluated the poetic and narrative forms through which British and American Romanticism, Penny Dreadfuls, Dickens, and Kafka respond to nonhuman form in daily life, including animal subjection at Smithfield Market in London. His research and teaching interests include film studies, North American environmental traditions, comparative literature, and global ecocriticism. Geier’s current book project considers formal eco-cinematic expression in North American filmmaker Terrence Malick’s work.
Research Project: Nonhuman Forms/Biopolitical Aesthetics: Post-Ethical Cinema and Literature

Alex Tarr, Ph.D. Geography (Designated Emphasis in Global Metropolitan Studies), University of California, Berkeley
Tarr studies the production and representation of urban space/place, emphasizing how subjects claim rights to the city. His dissertation, Have Your City and Eat It Too: Los Angeles and the Urban Food Renaissance examined the historical and contemporary role of food in reimagining futures for Los Angeles. Currently, he is developing a digital platform for the “People’s Guide” project – a distributed collaboration amongst scholars and activists to recover counter historical-geographies of cities. In addition, he is co-authoring, “A People’s Guide to the SF Bay Area,” with Rachel Brahinksy (USF). His research and teaching at Rice addresses the use of web-cartography in the study of urban spaces.
Research Project: The Revolution will be mapped: Visualizing Spatial Justice in the City

Rex Troumbley, Ph.D. Political Science, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Rex’s research examines how institutional treatments of taboo language – cursing, swearing, profanity, obscenity, and racial slurs – are used to determine who counts as a member of the American nation and govern American culture. Examples include Noah Webster’s attempt to create a standard American English with his famous dictionary and psychiatrists theorizing about the brains of patients with Tourette’s syndrome as a type of rewritable media. He is currently developing this research into a book manuscript titled What Gives Taboo Language Its Power? Using Bad Words to Govern American National Culture. Rex's work at Rice focuses on technical methods for steering users away from taboo subjects and towards state-sanctioned discourse, or interventions into the "pre-speech" conditions of possibility for expressions, enabled by digital tools like Google’s SafeSearch filter and predictive keyboards.
Research Project: Digital Political Thought

Ryan White, Ph.D. English, Rice University
Ryan White’s first book, The Hidden God: Pragmatism and Posthumanism in American Thought, will be published in Fall 2015 by Columbia University Press. The Hidden God reads the lineage of American pragmatism alongside recent interventions in posthumanist theory.  Placing the emergence of pragmatism within the context of systems’ theoretical and biopolitical conceptualizations of modernity, the book argues that pragmatism, in particular the complex semiotics of Charles S. Peirce, remains a vital critical resource for our contemporary posthumanist and biopolitical moment. While at Rice, White will study biopolitics as a theory of modernity, in particular how evolving ideas about the nature of “life” adjust to the functional differentiation that is one of modernity's defining characteristics. 
Research Project: Biopolitics, Bare Life, and 'the Threshold of Modernity


Jessie Reeder, Ph.D. English, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Reeder works new forms of unofficial financial imperialism that erupted when Latin America broke free from Spain in the early nineteenth century only to be re-subjugated to the power and influence of the British economy. Reeder read canonical British authors alongside Latin American writers (in their native Spanish) in order to understand how 19th-century British-Latin American contact and the newly emergent practices of "informal empire" troubled preexisting master narratives of international and transatlantic contact. In particular, Reeder claims, Atlantic informal empire runs forcefully afoul of the notion of progress that scholars have thought to underpin so much Enlightenment and 19th-century thought.
Research Project: The Forms of Informal Empire: British-Latin American Network Narratives, 1810-1900


Mariola Alvarez, Ph.D. History, Theory, and Criticism of Art (2012), University of California-San Diego
In her dissertation, Alvarez presents a survey of the Rio de Janeiro-based geometric abstract art and poetry movement known as Neoconcretism.  She examines it within its national and historical contexts to argue that modern visual culture was used politically and ideologically in the production of the Brazilian nation. Alvarez will deepen her research into Neoconcretism as an interdisciplinary  movement, and she will focus on the visual culture and intellectual history of Brazil to examine and question  how culture and nation building converge to support political ideologies. While at Rice, Alvarez will teach an undergraduate course, entitled, “Beyond Frida Kahlo: Women Artists from Latin America, 1945-1985.”
Research Project: Neoconcretism and the Making of Brazilian National Culture, 1954-1961

Elizabeth Farfán-Santos, Ph.D Medical Anthropology (2011), University of California-Berkeley
Farfán-Santos’ dissertation examines the creation of special public policies for the descendants of quilombos (fugitive slave communities). At Rice, Farfán-Santos will expand this research into a book focused on the ways in which special rights for the descendants ofquilombos have changed the ideological positioning of land struggles and social movements in Brazil. She is also working on articles on the history of anthropology and race in Brazil and on Brazil’s increasing influence on multicultural polices in Latin America. Farfán-Santos will teach “History of Race and Racism in Brazil,” “Writing the Body” and other courses on Brazilian history and social life. These will be cross-listed between the history and anthropology departments.
Research Project: (Re)membering the Quilombo: Race, Ethnicity and the Politics of Recognition in Brazil

Sara Stevens, Ph.D. Architecture (2012), Princeton University 
Stevens is working on a book project that connects the architectural and economic history of twentieth-century American landscapes, with a focus on the practitioners who enacted suburbanization and urban renewal. By inserting real estate developers into architectural history, Stevens’ project will expand ideas of the design team to include more than just architects, address the divide between suburban and urban landscapes, and provide one approach to understanding the homogenization of the urban landscape. Stevens will teach an upper level undergraduate course cross-listed between the history and architecture departments entitled, “Capitalism in the Modern City: The Cultural Economy of American Urbanism,” and a Freshman Writing Seminar on “The Visual Culture of Suburbia: The Social and Economic orders of Low-Density Urban Space in the U.S.”  
Research Project: Developing Expertise: Balancing Risk and Selling Security in Architecture and Real Estate in the U.S., 1908-1965


Olivia Banner, Ph.D. in English Literature (2010), University of California, Los Angeles
Banner's dissertation, "The Genetic Imaginary: Cultural and Scientific Narratives of Human Variation in the Postgenomic Era," examines race, disability, sex, and sexuality in light of scientific knowledges and technologies that have emerged with and since the Genome Projects. At Rice, she will expand this into a book on the construction of the postgenomic subject through the convergence of old and new media. 

Michael Gavin, Ph.D. in English (2010), Rutgers University
Gavin's dissertation, "Print and the Cultures of Criticism: Literary Factionalism in England, 1660-1730," examines how poetic controversies gave shape to various conceptions of literary community and print culture in England during this period. During his time at Rice, Gavin will explore the relationships between criticism and other forms of writing, including satire and the early novel, while focusing on the careers of writers and publishers whose work spans generic, social, and national boundaries.

Sarah Levin-Richardson, Ph.D. in Classical Archaeology (2009), Stanford University
Building from her doctoral dissertation, Levin-Richardson’s monograph Beyond Desire: Romans and their Erotic Art explores the intersection of eroticism, desire, and viewing in the Roman period. This project re-examines the erotic art of three (in)famous buildings—Pompeii’s  brothel, the Suburban Baths at Pompeii, and an elite villa in Rome (the Villa della Farnesina)—arguing that social status was key to the ways in which Roman erotic art provoked desire and other emotions. In addition to working on this manuscript while at Rice, she is preparing a series of articles on male and female uses of obscenity in ancient graffiti and a co-authored article revising the traditional active-male/passive-female model of ancient sexuality


Diana Bullen Presciutti, PhD in Art History (2008), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Presciutti’s dissertation “The Visual Culture of the Foundling Hospital in Central Italy, 1400-1600” examines how visual culture shaped perceptions of charity toward abandoned children and the institutions that cared for them. While at Rice, she will revise her dissertation for publication as a book. She will also begin work on a second book project, focusing on the visual culture of institutions of confinement, rehabilitation, and reintegration of “problematic” women and converted Jews and Muslims in sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Italy. Presciutti is now at the College of Wooster in Ohio.

Matthew Wilkens, PhD in Literature (2006), Duke University

In a book manuscript based on his dissertation “Points and Lines: Allegory, Event, and the End of American Modernism,” Wilkens developed a theory of the relationship between allegory and event in contemporary American fiction. He is now working to extend this framework to new areas in digital humanities and science studies. In one current project, he is using computer models to study historical variations in literary genres. His aim is to discover how literature responds to rapid cultural change, and to use this knowledge to refine our current understanding of contemporary literature, as well as to develop new tools and techniques for digital scholarship in the humanities. Matthew Wilkins is now at Notre Dame.


Adrian Weimer, PhD in the Study of Religion (2008), Harvard University

Weimer's dissertation “Protestant Sainthood: Martyrdom and the Meaning of Sanctity in Early New England” examines the rhetoric of martyrdom in seventeenth-century Protestant culture, exploring how Puritans, Baptists, and Quakers imagined themselves within biblical and historical narratives of persecution both to strengthen their authority in matters of religion and to reinforce their models of the true spiritual life. During the term of her fellowship, she will expand the project to include Quaker and Baptist devotional life and will trace the language of martyrdom and persecution into the first decades of the eighteenth century. Weimer is now at the University of Mississippi.


Pei Koay, PhD in Science and Technology Studies (2003) Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

Koay's dissertation, "(Re)presenting Human Population Database Projects: Virtually Designing and Siting Biomedical Ventures," examines the impacts of web-based genetic and genomic representations of health, especially regarding identity-making. Her current research interests include globalization of science, representations of science and technology, race and science, and feminist and postcolonial approaches to studying science and society. She has taught courses on global science, science and gender, and the philosophy of technology for the Department of Philosophy. Koay is now at the Chemical Heritage Foundation's Center for Contemporary History and Philosophy.  

José Pastrano, PhD in U.S. History (2006) University of California, Santa Barbara.

Pastrano's dissertation, "Industrial Agriculture in the Peripheral South: State, Race, and the Making of a Migrant Working Class in Texas, 1887-1930" focuses on the importance of Mexican immigrant labor in the development of a commercial farming economy in Texas. Pastrano's current research examines the politics of a seasonal workforce. He has taught courses on Mexican-American history, migrant labor in America, and 20th-century labor history in the Department of History. Pastrano is now at the University of Texas-Pan American.

Laura Isabel Serna, PhD in History of American Civilization (2006) Harvard University.

In her dissertation "We're Going Yankee: American Movies, Mexican Nationalism, Transnational Cinema, 1917-1935," Serna considers the social function ascribed to the consumption of American films in Mexico in the 1920s and the way that American mass culture was integrated into Mexico's postrevolutionary nation-building project. Her research examines the intersection of discourses on mass culture with debates about immigration, gender, and nationalism. Serna taught courses in the Departments of English and History on histories of silent cinema, consumer culture in the Americas, and culture and nation in Mexico. Serna is now at Florida State University.


Thomas H. Chivens, PhD in Anthropology (2004) North Carolina University at Chapel Hill
Zoe Knox, PhD (2002) Monash University


Michael Decker, PhD in Modern History (2001) Oxford University
Nancy Deffebach, PhD in Art History (2000) University of Texas-Austin

Woodrow Wilson Postdoctoral Fellows


David Gray, PhD in History of Religion (2000) Columbia University


Thomas Jenkins, PhD in Classical Philology (1999) Harvard University