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Humanities

Anthony Briggman, PhD
Candler School Of Theology
Irenaeus of Lyons and the Normativity of Early Christianity

The aim of this project is to complete a book, entitled God and Christ in Irenaeus, which is due to Oxford University Press in December, 2017. Irenaeus, the second-century bishop of Lyons in ancient Gaul, was the most important Christian thinker in the first hundred years after the completion of the New Testament writings. This study investigates Irenaeus’ understanding of God and Christ with an eye toward identifying the manner in which he incorporated conceptions of God that existed in Hellenistic Judaism and Greek philosophy. This second book compliments my first, The Theology of the Holy Spirit according to Irenaeus of Lyons (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), which elucidated the influence of Second Temple Jewish traditions concerning the Spirit of God on Irenaeus’ notion of the Holy Spirit. Taken together, these studies establish Irenaeus’ account of God and Christ, which is at the root of almost every form of contemporary Christian belief. These studies are historically important because understanding Ireneaus’ thought is essential to understanding the earliest struggle to define normative Christianity - a struggle in which Irenaeus was arguably the leading protagonist. But since nearly all contemporary Christian traditions stand in the line of Irenaeus’ thought, these studies also inform contemporary attempts to define normative Christian belief and ethics. Therefore, while this is a historical study, this book also contributes to popular and scholarly conversations surrounding contemporary questions of Christian religious identity and normativity.

Mikhail Epstein, PhD
ECAS: Russian and East Asian Languages and Cultures
The Phoenix of Russian Philosophy: Soviet Thought after Stalin (1953-1991)

My objective is to complete my study The Phoenix of Russian Philosophy: Soviet Thought after Stalin (1953-1991). The book is projected to be roughly 160,000 words, or 500 printed pages, a length necessitated by its broad thematic scope. The book proposal has received positive reviews and has been accepted for publication by Bloomsbury Academic Publishing (London, New York). The release from my two-course instruction duties (preferably in the Spring 2018 semester) would allow me to achieve this goal. The book provides, for the first time in any language, a systematic and detailed examination of the development of Russian philosophy in the mid-to-late Soviet period, from the death of Stalin in 1953 to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Countering the traditional view that under the Soviet regime, the country was an intellectual wasteland, the book offers a coherent account of Russian thought in the second half of the twentieth century. It provides new insights into such previously neglected or under-investigated areas as late Soviet Russian personalism, nationalism, religious thought, culturology, and postmodern conceptualism. My research is connected with the contents of undergraduate and graduate courses I have taught at Emory: “Philosophy and Religion in Russia,” “The Phantom of Empire,” and “Russian and Western Postmodernism.” My research identifies eight principal trends of Russian philosophy in the period in question, and seeks to overturn the standard perception of Soviet philosophy as intellectually barren and dominated by a monolithic Party ideology, and to present instead a surprisingly rich and nuanced picture, as yet largely ignored, of highly creative and unorthodox ways of thinking. Accordingly, the main part of the book is divided into eight chapters, each devoted to a specific trend. The order of chapters is defined by the increasing influence of corresponding trends over a four-decade span: from the overwhelming hegemony of Marxism in the 1950s to the growth of neo-rationalist and nationalist alternatives to it in the 1960s-70s, the ascension of religious philosophy in the 1970s-80s, and the emergence of postmodernist thought in the 1980s. Each chapter will contain several sections devoted to individual authors representing a certain intellectual trend. The Russian intellectual scene of the second half of the twentieth century is unique in world philosophy: it is a history of thought struggling desperately to escape the thrall of an ideocratic system, a prison fashioned by the strenuous and sacrificial efforts of thought itself. What makes the lessons of Russian thought so important for the post-communist world is its internal tension, its struggle against itself, against its own utopian constructs and political manifestations. This self-contradictory movement of thought, shattering its own foundations, lends an unprecedented, sometimes tragic and even “suicidal” quality to Russian philosophy. Four chapters of the book are largely complete, and abridged versions of two have been published as articles in scholarly journals. Now I need time to concentrate on completing the four remaining chapters and assembling the overall argument into a coherent, well-structured whole. This project will fill a significant gap in current research on the history of Soviet Marxist, non-Marxist, anti-Marxist, and post-Marxist thought, tracing its evolution in the post-Stalinist period, when these ideas came to be tested amid the most passionate and historically fertile intellectual debate.

Ruby Lal, PhD
ECAS: Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies
Mughal Empress of India, Nur Jahan

I am currently writing a third book on the Mughal Empress, Nur Jahan (contracted with W. W. Norton, NY), who governed India along with her husband from 1614 to 1627. The only woman among the Great Mughals, she was a late `migrant¿ to the court, a widow, a mother before she became Jahangir’s twentieth wife. Despite obsessive references in court records, the delight with which people and tour guides in South Asia invoke her, Nur has remained outside history, a bewildering phenomenon that does not fit into familiar patterns of royal power in India, the Islamic world, or Europe. One argument advanced for the absence of serious study of her career and power is that of a paucity of sources. In my book, I bring together the `facts of contemporary chronicles and the legends of the public imagination. To the rich record of Nur’s history, her husband’s memoir, the writings of courtiers, tradesmen, diplomats, her poetry, coins, imperial orders and trend setting architecture. I add, for the first time, a detailed record of how tour-guides, custodians of tombs, and visitors to monuments in Agra, Lahore, Kashmir, tell Nur’s story. How they conflate events and figures into the saga of the Empress, and extend her legend. Such legends, excluded from scholarly histories driven by `hard facts, need attention because they provide absorbing glimpses of unexplored aspects of the historical past, including the lives of singular women leaders. Any serious commitment to studying history requires that we carry the history of legends into the domain of academic history, and bring this academic history to a wider domain.

Margaret T. McGehee, PhD
Oxford College: Humanities
On Margaret Mitchell’s Grave: Women Writers Imagining Modern Atlanta

The dominant historical narrative of Atlanta, Georgia’s postwar development typically chronicles the efforts of a powerful, all-male coalition of white and black leaders to craft an image of Atlanta that would attract business and tourists to the seemingly racially progressive city. My book project tentatively titled, On Margaret Mitchell’s Grave: Women Writers Imagining Modern Atlanta, traces a history of female-authored writing in and about Atlanta that complicates this standard narrative and in effect reveals how that prevailing triumphal story of modern Atlanta has neglected women’s complex negotiations of the city’s development from World War II to the present. The book manuscript specifically examines depictions of Atlanta in the fiction and non-fiction of multiple writers, including Celestine Sibley (1914-1999), Anne Rivers Siddons (1936- ), Pearl Cleage (1948- ), Toni Cade Bambara (1935-1995), Tayari Jones (1970- ), and Karin Slaughter (1971- ), several of whom were journalists in Atlanta during its dramatic transformation into an international city. Their constructions of place literally move Atlanta into the twentieth century and figuratively move the city beyond its common association with Mitchell’s famous tome, Gone With the Wind (1936), and its film adaptation. I contend that these writers achieve the latter by crafting complicated and at times contradictory spatial representations that illuminate social tensions, especially as related to race, at work in not only Atlanta but in the modern and contemporary South as well.

Niall W. Slater, PhD
ECAS: Classics
Fragmentary Republican Latin: Comedy and Tragedy

Roman literature from before the last decades of the Republic survives only in fragments (apart from the plays of Plautus and Terence), yet these wide-ranging fragments are essential to our understanding of the growth of a Roman national identity and the development of the Roman literary heritage. The Loeb Classical Library makes the significant texts of Greek and Roman literature available with generally up to date facing translations. As part of a new ten volume Loeb edition of Fragmentary Republican Latin, replacing a nearly century old shorter edition (Warmington's Remains of Old Latin), my project will edit and translate the fragments of two of the most important early poets, the comedy writer Caecilius Statius and the tragedian Lucius Accius, as well as all tragic fragments of unknown authorship from this period. Editing and translating such fragments presents particular challenges, since almost all the remains of early Latin literature come down to us as quotations in later literary authors or ancient scholarly works on grammar, literary history, and metrics. Thus the state of their text depends on the nature and quality of transmission of the larger works in which they are contained. My edition and translation, however, builds on substantial advances in our understanding of these texts achieved by recent French, Italian and German editions of the individual authors. Preparation for the new digital Loeb Library (as well as print) will make all these texts vastly more accessible to students and general scholarly readers as well as classicists.

Kylie M. Smith, PhD
SON: Academic Advancement
Race, psychiatry and nursing in the American South 1940-1970

The history of the impact of Jim Crow law and custom on the health of African Americans in the South East USA has been well documented. Similarly, the role of nurses in the provision of health care, and the challenges faced by African American women as nurses in the South has been the subject of a number of significant scholarly works. However, none of these works address the issue of mental health, either within African American communities or as an issue within nursing. This is despite a large body of work devoted to understanding the development and impact of the psychiatric profession on American life, and the strong connection between social policy and mental health in the early to mid-20th century. This project addresses this gap in both psychiatric, and nursing, history. It uses extensive archival sources to investigate the nature of psychiatric care for African Americans in asylums in Georgia, Alabama and North and South Carolina, and uses nurses as the lens through which to explore both the development of the mental health professions, and the relationship between health care providers and patients. Nurses represent a vital point of negotiation between theory and practice in mental health, and their role in contesting or enabling Jim Crow laws within psychiatric hospitals can shed important light on the impact of segregation, and desegregation, on patients, communities, and the professions. Mental health continues to be a serious problem for minority communities in the South East, and is further complicated by the overlay with criminalisation and incarceration. This project seeks to understand the foundations of these problems, and to analyse this history for its continued impact on the health and well-being of African Americans in the South.