The Center constitutes an annual group of faculty Fellows whose research interests relate to one or more of these three broad areas of humanities research. UWM faculty, and faculty from other UW System schools and beyond, are selected to participate as Fellows. Lectures, seminars, conferences, and colloquia are coordinated around the year’s research theme.
The Center also hosts faculty from other countries who come to us with Fulbright or ACLS Fellowships, or support from their own institutions. Typically, the Center provides these International Fellows of the Center, as they are designated, with an office in the Center along with the other Center Fellows and as much research assistance, including library privileges, as possible.
Joel Berkowitz (Foreign Languages and Literature)
“Plotting Yiddish Drama”
Joel Berkowitz’s work focuses on a new initiative of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project (www.yiddishstage.org), the research consortium he co-founded in 2013. The Digital Yiddish Theatre Project recently launched a new undertaking called Plotting Yiddish Drama, which provides a powerful digital reference tool for the study of the Yiddish dramatic repertoire in the form of a searchable, metadata-enriched data set of the plot synopses of Yiddish dramas. As of the summer of 2018, 36 of these synopses are available online, with plans to expand that number into the hundreds. Plotting Yiddish Drama will serve specialists as well as lay people seeking information on Yiddish drama’s rich cultural legacy.
Miren Boehm (Philosophy)
“The Limits of Thought in David Hume’s Philosophy”
Miren Boehm’s work is both historical and philosophical. Her main philosophical question concerns the limitations of cognition and how these limitations affect scientific theorizing. The work is also historical because Boehm examines this question within David Hume’s philosophy. Hume was concerned with the foundations of science in a very special kind of way that interpreters are only now beginning to understand. Miren Boehm plans to devote her year at the Center to begin writing a book, Hume and the Limits of Thought as the Foundation of Science, which will address the question of the relation between experience and observation and thinking as well as the implications, as Hume understands them, for scientific theorizing.
Rachel Buff (History)
“Terms of Occupancy: Refugees, Migrants, Vagrants and Public Discourse, 1930–Present”
Rachel Buff is working on a new project called “Terms of Occupancy: Discourses of Itinerancy in the 20th and 21st Centuries.” Her work looks at the words used in policy and popular culture for people on the move: migrants, refugees, vagrants, fugitives and so on. These different words shape the political context in which we understand belonging and exile. The project will take shape in various scholarly and critical public interventions.
Elana Levine (Journalism, Advertising, and Media Studies)
“Her Stories: Daytime Soap Opera and US Television History—Public and Digital Projects”
In the final stages of completing a book project, Her Stories: Daytime Soap Opera and US Television History, which is under contract with Duke University Press, Elana Levine will use her fellowship to launch more public-facing and digital outreach efforts connected to her scholarly work. Her Stories is a history of the U.S. daytime television soap opera as a gendered cultural form and a central force in the economic and social influence of American broadcast network television from the late 1940s through the 2010s. It traces the production, reception, and narrative history of the U.S. TV genre of the daytime “soap opera,” daily dramatic serials that were named after the domestic goods advertised to the programs’ presumed audience of women. The projects emerging from the book are meant to share its insights about this genre, its connections to women media creators and audiences, and its significance in shaping American television history as a whole with a broader public than might access an academic book. These projects include a moving-image documentary, potentially in multiple-episode series form, and one or more web-based projects that share some of the primary materials Levine has gathered in researching this book. Among these is a large collection of fan-targeted magazines about the genre that Levine aims to catalog and present digitally in order to contextualize these publications and the insights they offer for understanding feminized media culture and the history of American television.
Thomas Malaby (Anthropology)
“Ritual, Bureaucracy, Game: Modernity and its Cultural Forms of Control”
Over the fellowship year, Thomas Malaby will continue to develop his work on the increased role that games and game-like systems—designed overwhelmingly by private institutions—play in digitally-mediated experience. The primary argument of Modern Games, the book planned as the culmination of this research, is that this shift to using games is part and parcel of a larger turn in modernity toward contriving systems (elections, the market, empirical inquiry) whose legitimacy, in contrast to most earlier regimes, rests precisely and explicitly on their indeterminacy. It furthermore suggests that digital networking technology has vastly increased the scope of this modern institutional project of deploying games, and raised new possibilities for institutional manipulation and control.
Aragorn Quinn (Foreign Languages and Literature)
“Staging the Resistance: Performing the Politics of Translation in Modern Japan”
Aragorn Quinn’s book project explores the intersection of translation, politics, and performance in modern Japan. Grounded in the aftermath of the Meiji Restoration in 1868 and tracing its legacy on stage, this project tells the story of the crucial role that performance—specifically embodied memory—played in the changing understandings of the imported Western concepts of “liberty” (jiyū) and “revolution” (kakumei).