When they come around a seminar table in spring 2018, next year’s Humanities Institute faculty fellows will be looking for connections across a range of topics from air pollution to immigration detention, from the cultural landscapes of war to an icon of Japanese fashion and onto a comprehensive study of Chicana/o history of the United States. The faculty cohort will include poet, Katie Peterson, whose project includes poems about difficult conversations and composer, Kurt Rohde, whose work considers embodiment in dramatic music.
With a course release in the next academic year, these scholars will meet weekly in spring 2018 at the Humanities Institute to share their works in progress and gain insights and advice from scholars outside their own fields. The DHI is thrilled to provide this ongoing opportunity for faculty in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, a core program of the institute for more than two decades. Without further ado, here are the 2017-2018 Faculty Research Fellows and their projects:
Javier Arbona, Assistant Professor of American Studies and Design
“Explosive Cultures: Bombscapes and the Order of Law”
Javier Arbona investigates the ordo: the shared spatial, imaginative, and cultural ties between the order of the explosive and the order of the law. Specifically, this project seeks to reveal the cultural landscapes—or “bombscapes”—produced by the seeming opposition, but actual co-evolution, of explosions and the legal attempts to control them.
Hsuan Hsu, Professor of English
“The Smell of Risk: Air Conditioning and Olfactory Aesthetics”
Hsuan L. Hsu explores how novelists, artists, and activists have leveraged the sense of smell to stage the health threats associated with noxious air. He argues that the qualities that have made critics skeptical about olfaction–embodiment, uncertainty, trans-corporeality, and immersion–make it a powerful tool for thinking through the complex ways in which we absorb and negotiate environmental risk.
Lorena Oropeza, Associate Professor of History
“A Chicana and Chicano History of the United States”
This project asserts that Chicana/o History is American history. It frames the history of a people who migrated north from Mexico and settled (and continue to settle) in what is now the United States as key to understanding foundational themes in American history, from slavery to settler colonialism, from 1960s social protest to globalization, and from pop culture to queer studies and identity.
Caitlin Patler, Assistant Professor of Sociology
“The Impacts of Long-term Immigration Detention on Individuals, Households and Communities”
Caitlin Patler examines the social, economic, and health consequences of prolonged detention on detainees and their families. Drawing from one of the first longitudinal studies of immigration detention and release programs in the U.S., she examines data from detainees, their current/former partners, and dependent children to explore the challenges detainees and their households face during and after detention, as well as the collateral consequences of detention and post-release (reentry or deportation) on families.
Katie Peterson, Associate Professor of English
“After Dinner Was Over: Poems About Difficult Conversations”
This project aims to describe the feeling of being in the middle of a difficult conversation, and the book begins with a single poem written about an uncomfortable dinner party. Different kinds of poems written since explore the violence implicit in speaking about certain topics in the historical moment we find ourselves in – but they try to advance tonalities, modes of speech, retreats into silence, metaphors, images, turns in rhetoric, rather than political arguments, and focus on the form of conflict, the feeling of disagreement and misunderstanding, rather than those topics themselves, with the hope that poetry can help us see the problems of politics as immediate ones of living together.
Kurt Rohde, Professor of Music
“Exploring Embodiment in a dramatic musical setting of Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl by Diane Seuss”
In collaboration with Pulitzer Prize Finalist poet, Diane Seuss, Kurt Rohde will compose a piece whereby the blended text and music are so intertwined that it generates a compulsion for the performer to become activated and enact music making that is the very thing being told in the words being sung. For tenor, soprano, and piano, the piece will premiere at the end of the spring quarter 2018 at the Pitzer Center, featuring a guest performance by the Brooklyn Art Song Society.
Michiko Suzuki, Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature
“Reading Material: Kimono in Twentieth-Century Japanese Literature and Film”
This project examines the kimono in modern Japanese literature and film from the 1930s-1980s. Michiko Suzuki explores the increasingly obscured “language of kimono” (what this material object conveys) and, more broadly, how the kimono illuminates critical issues of language and representation, as well as gender and national identity, during a transformational period in Japanese history.
Cecilia Tsu, Associate Professor of History
“Starting Over: Refugee Resettlement in the Reagan Era”
This project chronicles the evolution of Southeast Asian refugee resettlement policy from 1975 to 1992 and its intersection with the rise of modern conservatism in the US. Focusing on Hmong refugees from Laos, the book grapples with questions regarding the role of the state in supporting refugees after they have been accepted for resettlement, the nature and duration of that support, and what happens when refugees do not achieve socioeconomic progress and mobility despite well-intentioned policies.
–Cordelia Ross, DHI Graduate Student Researcher and doctoral candidate in the Department of English