Andrea Miller • Cultural Studies
The Forensics of a Strick: UAV Infrastructure and Racialized Drones Discourse in the U.S. War on Terror
Andrea Miller is a Ph.D. student in the Cultural Studies Graduate Group. Her research explores affective ecologies of drone warfare in the U.S. War on Terror, examining the relationship between digital and embodied experiences of targeting and surveillance, process of racialization, and the prevalence of incitement to violence rhetoric in the construction of terrorist subjectivities. Andrea received her M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Georgia State University in 2014 and currently serves as a board member of the Society for Radical Geography, Spatial Theory, and Everyday Life.
Omar Abdullah • Cultural Studies
The Politics of Punchlines
Omar Abdullah is a Ph.D. student in the Cultural Studies Graduate Group here at UC Davis. His work lies in the intersection of Media Studies, Performance and Practice, and Critical Race Theory. He examines performances of comedy within the rhetoric of “post-racial” America. Abdullah explores ways in which comedians discuss race in an allegedly post-racial era. Abdullah has performed as an actor and comedian himself, having appeared in several SanFrancisco Bay Area productions, including being a main-stage performer at ComedySportz San Jose.
Ksenia Fedorova • Cultural Studies
Feedback Interfaces in Media Arts and Technoculture
Ksenia Fedorova is a media art researcher and curator. She holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy/Aesthetics (Russia) and is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies. Her research interests include: aesthetics, philosophy, history, media, technocultural studies, curatorial studies, and media art theory. Fedorova is the co-editor of “Media: Between Magic and Technology” (2014). She has been an initiator and curator of the “Art. Science. Technology” program at the Ural branch of the National Center for Contemporary Arts (Russia) and was a member of the Jury of PRIX Ars Electronica, 2012.
May Ee Wong • Cultural Studies
The Global Sustainable City
May Ee Wong is a Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies with a designated emphasis in Critical Theory. Wong’s dissertation research examines the aesthetics, epistemologies, and ideologies behind the contemporary notion of the global sustainable city as mobilized through the operative metaphor of the city as laboratory from the 1960s onwards. The global sustainable city stands for an ideal urban condition that provides solutions to urgent problems such as climate change, mass urbanization, and fossil fuel depletion. Comparing architectural designs and operational urban laboratories manifested in global cities, Wong asks how architects, urbanists, and scientists mobilize the notion of the city as a metabolic organism in urban laboratory discourse and practice to envision the global sustainable city as our collective future in a time of global ecological risk. This summer, Wong will conduct field research of sustainable urbanism and future cities projects, visiting The Crystal, (the largest exhibition in the world on sustainability by Siemens), the Urban Innovation Centre in London, and the Future Cities Laboratory in Singapore.
Michael Martel • English
Governing Victorians: Localist Writing and the State, 1850-1914
Michael Martel’s dissertation, “Governing Victorians: Localist Writing and the State,” explores the forms, circulation, and reception of localist writing in order to write the cultural history of the British local state, the model of rule wherein central state powers are deferred to local authorities. Ranging from postal directories to local government handbooks, series novels to specialist periodicals, nineteenth-century localist writing was analogous to the local state–centrally produced, locally implemented–and bolstered the locally-situated practices of governance in an otherwise libertarian political culture. Through chapters on Anthony Trollope, George Eliot, Thomas Hardy and Robert Tressell, Martel, and English Ph.D. candidate, demonstrates how narrative literature drew upon the forms of localist writing in order to imagine alternative orders of local rule. The HArCS fellowship will enable Martel to conduct archival research in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Xan Sarah Chacko • Cultural Studies
Pivoting the Imperative to Collect: An Institutional History of the Millennium Seed Bank
A Ph.D. candidate in Cultural Studies, Xan Sarah Chacko’s work aims to examine collaboration that develop among different professionals through the science of seeds as a shared object of knowledge for the purposes of agricultural innovation, food security, biodiversity preservation, and challenging frontiers on basic genetic science. Through archival and ethnographic fieldwork in the United States and England, Chacko will research the relationship cryogenic seed banks have with the historical movement of plant bodies, agricultural applications, and debates around biodiversity Chacko will begin her archival research in England at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the Millennium Seed Bank.
Elizabeth Crachiolo • English
Sensitive Plants and Natural History in Early Modern England
Elizabeth Crachiolo is a Ph.D. candidate in English. Her dissertation examines the role of sentient plants in shaping ideas about bodies and emotions in the early modern period, at the dawn of empirical science. The HArCS Dean’s Fellowship will allow her to conduct necessary archival research for her first chapter, which focuses on specific plants, both real and imaginary, suspected of having sentience, such as Mimosa pudica, a member of the legume family whose leaves and branches move in response to touch. Because their sentience (and, at times, their existence) was not universally accepted, naturalists debated about the truth of the legends and how we know what we know.
David Tenorio • Spanish and Portuguese
Sex after the Revolution: Queer Futurity, Sexual Politics, and the Poetics of Hope in Mexican and Cuban Cultural Production
David Tenorio is interested in the representation of queer futurity as portrayed by contemporary artists, performers, writers, and filmmakers in Cuba and Mexico. Drawing on theories of queer temporality and affect, his main research questions a) tease out the relation between time and queerness, b) examine the depiction of time in queer Cuban and Mexican contemporary cultural texts, such as digital storytelling, performance videos, films, literature, and visual art, and c) trace how these depictions tantalize a queer poetics of hope from which to articulate a critical vision of the future. By employing participatory video, digital ethnography, visual studies, and literary analysis, Tenorio surveys the contradictory sites which allow queer artists to produce cultural texts within a normative structure, creating networks of dissidence that oppose a social binary of homo/heterosexuality. He argues that queer renditions of utopia propose alternative forms of establishing intimacy, fostering belonging and creating inclusive spaces for citizenship to those dictated by normative heterosexual logics of imagining the future.
Scott Tsuchitani • Cultural Studies
Art and Social Change in Japan: Initial Field Research
Scott Tsuchitani is a visual artist and Cultural Studies Ph.D. student who interdisciplinary work takes place at the intersection of art, activism, and pedagogy. His research brings together multiple modes of creative practice (visual, relational, performance, digital networks, and broadcast media) to activate academic and cultural discourses in “Japaneseness” in a transnational context, thereby engaging diverse constituencies in informed public dialogue as a participatory form of knowledge production.
Cordelia Ross • English
Enclosing History: 12th to 16th Century Subterranean English Narratives
Cordelia Ross, Ph.D. candidate in the English department, specializes in medieval literature and ecocriticism. Her dissertation project evolves from emerging ecocritical and postcolonial approaches to Western European medieval literature. Often considered a period shaped exclusively by humans’ interactions with one another, more uncommonly known is the the Middle Ages also produced texts about human experiences within their natural environment. Rather than prioritizing the human social experience and treating the space as a passive entity to be filled, Ross emphasizes how natural space actively participates in shaping the narrative experience. Ross turns to subterranean spaces in the 12th century, tackling the concern with geographic and ethnic instability with its renewed interest in naturalism and its relation to truth. Ross argues that recognizing the agency of natural space in these medieval texts is a crucial but overlooked approach to this scholarship.
2014-2015 HArCS Fellows
Megan Ammirati • Comparative Literature
Rewriting Theater History in East Asia: Classical Japanese Dance and a Methodology for Female Performance
Ammirati is a Ph.D. student in comparative literature specializing in Chinese, Japanese and British drama. Her work examines the professionalization of the East Asian female actress in the twentieth century and the effect such a change had on concepts of realism, women’s liberation and artistic creation. With the support of the HArCS dean’s award, she will research women’s theater in Kyoto by studying Japanese classical dance or Nihon buyō.
Pearl Chaozon-Bauer • English
The Victorian Epithalamium
Chaozon-Bauer’s dissertation, “Performative Subversions: The Epithalamium, Sappho, and the Victorians,” studies how the Victorian epithalamium—the marriage celebration poem—is enmeshed with one of the most dramatic moments of legal and political transformations over the institution of marriage. Chaozon-Bauer, a Ph.D. candidate in English, argues that the Victorian marriage celebration poem is a queering genre, a genre that is interested in unconventional models of intimacy, alternative models of kinship, and in the fictional more than the factual. She’ll investigate how nineteenth-century poets emphasized the genre’s instability so that they could radically reconfigure a genre typically associated with traditional heterosexual romance amid evolving historical and cultural conditions.
Matt Franks • English
Franks, a Ph.D. candidate in English, argues that Anglophone women writers in the inter-war period narrated a crucial yet under-theorized shift toward greater flexibility, productivity and inclusiveness in eugenic models of generational futurity. Writers such as Virginia Woolf, Edith Ellis, Jean Rhys, Olive Moore, and Katherine Mansfield traced how certain deviant subjects—such as “inverts”—were increasingly invited into eugenic national futurity, whereas previously they would have been excluded as “unfit” and “degenerate.” While scholars now recognize the centrality of eugenics in securing family and sexual normativity in early twentieth-century texts, Frank’s project, titled “Queer Eugenics: Modernism and the Biopolitics of Generational Futurity,” intervenes into these accounts by investigating how deviant figures also took up and repurposed eugenic discourse for their own ends, with contradictory effects.
Diana Pardo Pedraza • Cultural Studies
Sacrificial Landscapes in the Colombian War
A Ph.D. candidate in cultural studies, Pardo Pedraza explores how mines affect la vida campesina, that is, the vital connection among lands, crops, animals, and people. Through ethnographic fieldwork in the most landmine-affected provinces in Colombia, she aims to investigate a) how landmines occupy, transform, and disable la vida campesina and b) how peasants transform and re-enable their lives while inhabiting mined territories. In the current implementation of the Victims Law and the Colombian peace negotiations with FARC guerrillas in Havana, serious post-conflict and reconciliation discussions require consideration of the material affective presence of mines and their effects on human bodies and their lands, agricultural practices and economies.
Navid Saberi-Najafi • Comparative Literature
Persian Beast Fables
A Ph.D. student in comparative literature, Saberi-Najafi specializes in medieval English and classical Persian literatures. During the summer of 2014, Saberi-Najafi will conduct research on the arcane Simurgh, which has been a major source of fascination to some of the most eminent medieval Persian authors to pinpoint and analyze the depiction of non-human animals in Qur’anic exegesis and in Persian and Hadith literatures. Also, he will prepare an article for publication on the mystico-jurisprudential portrayal of the Simurgh, which is one of the dimensions of his project.
Cara Shipe • English
Bodies Beholden: Race, Disability, and Slavery in Literature of the 19th-Century U.S.
A Ph.D. candidate in English, Shipe’s dissertation investigates how we are trained to “see” and thus “know” race, how race is configured in relation to disability, and what is at stake in the process of their visual identification. She argues that 19th-century sentimental narratives of disability anchored what we now know as race through their presumption of racial visibility and their shaping of visual cues of racial difference as embodied differences. However, the act of beholding bodies through these texts also reveals the ways disability motivates slippages in racial subjectivities, thus complicating scientific and medical classifications of bodies.
Alexander Stalarow • Music
Listening to a Liberated Paris: Pierre Schaeffer Experiments with Radio
A Ph.D. candidate in musicology, Stalarow’s work examines the origins of French electronic music in the final moments of World War II. His dissertation engages the cultural context and aesthetics of composer/engineer Pierre Schaeffer’s radio experiments in the early 1940s and their connection to his postwar electronic compositions. Doing so reveals musical and technological continuities between Vichy and postwar France, two cultures that historical memory has placed in absolute opposition. With the support of this fellowship, Stalarow will begin his research at Schaeffer’s private archives in Normandy and at the Institut National de l’Audiovisuel (INA) sound archives in Paris.
Christopher Wallis • English
Nocturnal Emissions in Milton’s “Mask”
With the assistance of the HArCS Dean’s Fellowship, Wallis, a Ph.D. candidate in English, will complete a chapter of his dissertation concerning the representation of utopian space in early modern English literature. The chapter highlights how the female body is rendered a utopian space in John Milton’s A Maske Presented at Ludlow Castle (1634), a work that reflects many concerns circulating in seventeenth-century England regarding female chastity. Wallis contends that the masque challenges didactic treatises that depict women’s bodies as operating against chastity, and instead presents an understanding of female chastity as dependent on the body.
Tobias Wilson-Bates • English
Wilson-Bates, a Ph.D. candidate in English, studies time machines in Victorian literature and culture. Wilson-Bates is interested in how our modern concept of the mechanical, one bound to a specific set of technologies, was born in the escalation of industry in the nineteenth century. His project investigates the curious technology of the novel and its relationship to time and industrialization. While many studies in his field have focused on fictional technologies, there is no in-depth study of the novel as a technology complicit in producing the material conditions of industrialization. He approaches this concept with narratology, a critical technique that takes into account the formal structure and physical form of the text as an object of study.
Zhen Zhang • Comparative Literature
Soviet Experience as Translation
A Ph.D. candidate in comparative literature, Zhang will travel to China to collect textual and filmic materials for his dissertation project titled A Romantic and Revolutionary Encounter: Translated Soviet Experience and Chinese Socialist Modernity. Zhang’s project examines how imported Soviet-Russian cultural practices in China formulate the image of China as a socialist state and how such a discursive encounter reinforces Chinese nationalism. In one of the chapters, Zhang will focus on the literary and cinematic exchanges between China and the Soviet Union during the 1950s. Such transnational and translational cultural practices have their specific historical background, a time period that has witnessed the establishment of a socialist China and its close sociocultural ties to the Soviet Union.