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Humanities

Tanine Allison
Emory College - Film and Media Studies
Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Media 

The book, Destructive Sublime: World War II in American Media, calls for a reevaluation of how World War II has been construed in American culture, particularly in the popular moving images found in cinemas, on television screens, and in video game consoles.  The book questions the way World War II has often been construed as the “good war,” despite the fact that it was the biggest and bloodiest conflict in the history of the world.  Scholars of the World War II combat film, such as Jeanine Basinger—author of the only other genre study focusing on World War II in American film, published initially in 1986—tend to emphasize the genre’s narratives of sacrifice and heroism.  In contrast to this approach, I look beyond the narratives of these media and perform close readings of their stylistic properties, particularly their scenes of combat.  With this formalist approach, I challenge the one-sidedness of previous scholars’ readings and demonstrate how combat sequences tell another story.  I argue that these sequences—with their often jarring formal, thematic, and narrative disruptions—give voice to a counter-narrative of the war.  Far from simplistic propaganda or uninventive reiterations of the “good war” mythology, the texts under examination here reveal the World War II combat genre to be capable of a great degree of ambiguity, providing multiple, and often contradictory, visions of war and American culture.

Elena Conis
Emory College - History
The DDT Myths: American Health and the Environment Since WWII 

The DDT Myths” is a book project that analyzes the pesticide DDT’s history from its WorldWar II introduction to its position at the center of a debate about global health and Westernaltruism in the 2000s. The project, which is grounded in U.S. history but has implications forglobal health, has three main aims. First, it critically examines the stories that have beencommonly told about DDT in U.S. history in order to reveal the cultural, social, and politicalfunctions they have served over time. Second, it creates a new narrative of DDT’s historythat includes lost voices, views, and forces; it examines, for instance, the role of familyfarmers in fighting the chemical’s use in the 1940s and reveals the agriculture industry’spositive influence on environmental activism against the chemical in the 1960s. Third, theproject uses this new narrative to show how values, beliefs, and ideas about health and theenvironment have shaped each other in modern times. This new narrative demonstrates thatperceptions of DDT’s risks and benefits have always been historically contingent, and itilluminates the challenges of policy making in arenas where health and environmentalconcerns intersect. Throughout, the project considers how American health andenvironmental values—as revealed through the nation’s relationship with DDT—holdimplications for the state of the environment and the pursuit of health globally.

Dawn Peterson 
Emory College - History
Unusual Sympathies:Adoption, Slavery, and indian removal in the post-revolutionary south

The book manuscript examines the presence of Southeast Indian boys in U.S. plantation households in the decades following the Revolution.  White slaveholders claimed that they adopted these youth to assimilate them into the United States.  My archival research illustrates, however, that influential Southeast Indians sent many of these chldren to live in plantation homes with their own aims in mind.  As U.S. planters invaded the Southeast between 1790 and 1830, a select group of Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw parents placed their sons in elite white homes to expose their mail kin to the language and literacy skills and the social networks supporting the U.S. plantation economy.  In so doing, they hoped to use plantation slavery to support tribal sovereignty.  This historial account speaks to several disciplinary and interdisciplinary conversations.  Joining a growing body of scholarship on interactions between colonial elites, my book demostrates how transational adoption served to both empower leading U.S. whites and a small group of influential Southeast Indians in an expanding South Cotton Kingdom.  Through this central focus on adoption, it simutaneously joins scholarly and popular literatures that connect ideas about race, ethnicity, nation, and kinship to transnational and cross-racial adoption practices in western Europe and the United States.  The book also contributes to anthropological, historical, and literary concerns over the ways in which intimate encounters within colonial households shaped European and Euro-American imperial policies.  Indeed, it reveals how elite white adopters drew on their experiences with Native youth as they formulated federal Indian policy.  Finally, my approach follows a line of recent scholarship tracing the emergence of plantation slavery in Choctaw, Creek, and Chickasaw lands in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and its relationship to Native sovereignty struggles.  By placing adoption within this story, my book highlights some of the mechanisms that enabled this transition to racial slavery and export agriculture. 

Maria Sibau 
Emory College - REALC
Reading for the Moral: Exemplarity and Moral Imagination in Seventeenth-Century  Chinese Short Fiction 

This study aims at a reassessment of the nature of moral representation in Chinese vernacular stories published during the final decades of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and the aftermath of the Qing (1644-1911) conquest. While the central texts examined in this study are Exemplary Words for the World (Xingshi yan, 1632) and Bell in the Still Night (Qingye zhong, 1645), two vernacular story collections that have so far received scant attention in English-language scholarship, I will also draw extensively from other story collections from this period, including the well-known Three Words (San Yan, 1620-1627) by Feng Menglong. The morality displayed in these works has often been cursorily dismissed as “vulgar didacticism,” “stale Confucian morality,” or it has been reduced to an overly simplified notion of retribution—while critical attention has been somewhat disproportionately directed at the subversive aspects, or at the entertainment value of these texts, in line with the dominant narrative of the late Ming as a libertarian and individualistic period. In contrast with earlier approaches, I argue that many of these stories engage in earnest explorations of traditional Confucian virtues such as filial piety, loyalty, chastity, and selfless friendship. In constructing moral exemplars who are often based on actual figures from the recent historical past rather than remote or fictitious antiquity, the redactors do not simply reiterate the traditional virtues as abstract or monolithic norms, but they take pains to show how these virtues play out within the contingencies of time and space, often by embedding moral conflicts in a richly discursive framework.

Devin Stewart 
Emory College - History
The Transmission of knowledge in Tenth-century Baghdad: Investigating the catalogue (987 CE) of ibn al-Nadim

This proposal is part of a larger project devoted to understanding the Fihrist ("catalogue") of Ibn al-Nadim, a bookseller and scholar who worked in Baghdad in the tenth century.  Completed in 987 CE, the Fihrist provides a map of human knowlegde and histories of the various sciences up until that time.  While the work's significance as the single most important document for the transmission of scientific and philosophical works from Greek, Persian, Syriac, and Sanskrit into Arabic has long been recognized, the study of teh text, the author, and the data that it provides-an international project that goes back in the mid-19th century-has witnessed many false assumptions, setbacks, and failures to build on earlier scholarship.  In particular, the major recent editions of teh Fihrist (London, 2009, 2014) by the accomplished Egyptian Arabist Ayman Fu-ad Sayyis have failed to monograph on the Fihrist by Russion scholar Valeriy V. Polosin, and the scholarly papers of the German Arabist Johann W. Fuck (1894-1974), now housed in the University of Halle, which include manuscript plates, notes, partial editions, and unpublished papers related to his eddorts to produce a new edition that never materialized. For this part of the project, I am seeking funds ti syooirt travel to the University of Halle in order to investigate Fuks's unpublisghed materials for one month.  This initial study should enable me to produce compelling applications for subsequent major grants, such Fulbright Hayes, NEH, Guggenheim, ACLS, Gerda Henkel, and so on, in order to produce a monograph on the taxonomy and transmission of knowledge according to Ibn al-Nadim and his views on the cultural and intellectual place of Baghdad in the tenth-century world.  

Nathan Suhr-Sytsma 
Emory College - English
Engaging with Religion": New Nigerian Writing and Secular Criticism

The aim of this project is to explore how contemporary literary texts concernedwith Nigerian forms of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous African religionsoffer a compelling lens on religious transformations and interreligious tensions.The rise of Pentecostal Christianity and reformist Islam has transformedNigeria?s religious landscape, making religious difference an especially potentsite of political friction. Postcolonial literary studies, though, has largelytaken its cue from Edward Said?s ?secular criticism" and has few models for howto approach the conspicuous religiosity of Nigeria or other African countrieswithout reducing religion to a mechanism for coping with modernity?s economic andpolitical travails. In order to develop a non-reductive approach to Africanwriting?s entanglement with the religious, the project engages with debates aboutthe secular and postsecular in literary studies, on the one hand, and work onreligious subjectivities in Africanist anthropology, political theory, andreligious studies, on the other hand. Focusing on twenty-first-century Nigerianwriting, the project considers globally circulating fiction by well-known writerslike Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie alongside Nigerian-published fiction and poetry. Asthese literary texts help to reveal how the relationships among possiblereligious positions are imagined and negotiated, they articulate religion withsocial life in more varied ways than literary scholars or theorists typicallyacknowledge. In so doing, they also reflect on the powers and limits of theliterary in the face of challenging conditions for social change.

Erin Tarver 
Oxford College - Humanities
Sports Fandom and the reporduction of identity

My argument in this project makes an intervention intodistinct philosophical fields that are not often in conversation with one another: Philosophy of Sport, Feminist Philosophy, and Critical Philosophy of Race.  Philosophy of Sport, as a relatively young subfield, has largely confined itself to investigations of the nature of play and competition, ethical questions surrounding athletes, and the aesthetic value of games—in short, to abstracted discussions of sport as such, apart from its larger cultural context. Similarly, although feminist philosophers and critical philosophers of race are often engaged in critical responses to popular culture, they have been curiously willing to avoid engaging with sports and sports fans.  The omissions in both fields have left an important gap, which my project is poised to bridge.  I do so by drawing on philosophical texts in the American pragmatist and French poststructuralist tradition, bringing philosophical analysis to bear on contemporary controversies in sports and sports fandom, and reflecting on my own experience as a life-long sports fan growing up in the American South.