Jacqueline Arthur-Montagne Text Networks in the Early Roman Empire
In the first centuries CE, the early Roman Empire witnessed a new literary phenomenon: text networks. Text networks are stories whose permeable narratives allowed them to circulate and adapt across multi-cultural audiences and reading communities in the Mediterranean and Near East. Not only were these texts translated into numerous ancient languages, but the characters and themes within the stories were also ‘translated’ into specific social and religious contexts. The Greek Alexander Romance, for example, depicts its eponymous hero as a paradigm of Greek heroism. But in the Latin, Syriac, Hebrew, Persian and Arabic versions, Alexander metamorphosed into a universal emperor, Christian missionary, and even Islamic prophet. My dissertation examines the origin and development of four text networks in Late Antiquity. One important component of my study of text networks is tracking their geographical spread from the first to sixteenth centuries CE.
Patrick Bergemann A General Theory of Denunciations
The central aim of my dissertation is to come up with a general theory of denunciations. I seek to understand who denounces whom. For example, are certain types of individuals targeted as scapegoats? Do people accuse others of similar or different statuses? Are there consistencies across different historical periods and places? To answer these questions, I have constructed three datasets – one based on several hundred denunciations from the Spanish Inquisition, another based on all extant records of the Salem Witch Trials, and the third from the testimony of Hollywood writers, directors and actors accusing each other of being Communists during the McCarthy Era.
Guillaume Beaudin A Conquista Espiritual
My research focuses on the mendicant religious orders, particularly Franciscans both in Spain and New Spain. The sixteenth century saw a relatively small-scale migration of members of these orders to Central America. They came in order to undertake what a group of Franciscans in a letter to Charles V called a conquista espiritual. These friars had a great importance on the history of Mexico: in addition to administering an astronomical numbers of baptisms - some friars claimed to have baptized thousands of Amerindians in one day - they codified native languages and wrote ethnographic works that serve as our main primary sources on pre-Cortesian Mexico. My goal with this project is to find a way to track the movement of mendicant friars from Europe to New Spain, then within New Spain from one religious house to another, and finally, in some cases, back to Europe. With this project I will be able to visualize the gradual integration of Mexico into the Catholic world in a new light, as the product of the movement of a relatively small number of friars into one of the frontier lands of Christianity.
David Driscoll Mapping the Movement of Lyric Poets in the Archaic and Classical Greek World
Our project is a study of the movement of lyric poets in the archaic and classical Greek world. In this time period, the most important for lyric poetry in antiquity, the travel of poets like Pindar and Simonides formed a vital part of the economy of symbolic capital between city-states: democratic assemblies and tyrants competed to attract the most prestigious poets, the Athenian empire drew talent to Athens from across its range, and religious festivals offered venues for poets to showcase their talent before audiences from across the Greek world. An important recent study on this movement is Hunter and Rutherford (eds) Wandering Poets in Ancient Greek Culture: Travel, Locality and Pan-Hellenism (2009).
Luke Parker The Literary Life of the Russian Emigration, 1918-1940
This project emerges from my dissertation work (expected completion Spring 2014), which focuses on the Russian-language work of Vladimir Nabokov in relation to contemporary German thinking on urban modernity, technology, and mass culture. In the course of the dissertation I have had cause to question his place within the broader First Wave community. Resident in Berlin from 1922-1937, his creative attention began to focus into the '30s on Paris, with his correspondence, performance, and publication taking place increasingly in France rather than Germany. I envisage my Humanities + Design work forming the basis of a final chapter on Nabokov and Paris. Once collected, however, the data will furnish grounds for a separate article, if not book-project, on the broader literary history of the Russian emigration between the wars.
Bronwen Tate Critical Traffic: A Literary Use Map
As scholars, we often have an intuitive sense that certain passages in a given novel or particular poems by a given poet receive more critical attention than others. But how stable are these “key passages” or “significant poems” over time? To what extent do they reflect shifting critical trends and interests? How evenly distributed are they within a work? I would like to build a tool for visualizing scholarly quotation over time. The primary purpose of such a tool is make hidden patterns visible. We might notice, for example, that scholars have concentrated on passages from the beginning and end of a novel, while the middle remains relatively undiscussed. Or we could ask how stable the most frequently analyzed poems by Elizabeth Bishop have remained as critical interest in her work has increased dramatically. This project proposes that we think of books as cities with well-navigated critical pathways and busy intersections of dialogue, but also deserted neighborhoods and neglected squares. It is a critical commonplace that there are “used” and “unused” parts of books. This tool would allow us to visualize and analyze trends that we now perceive intuitively or by conjecture.
Molly Taylor-Poleskey Food Consumption at the Court of Friedrich Wilhelm
My project charts change in food consumption at the court of Friedrich Wilhelm, the “Great” Elector, of Brandenburg-Prussia (1640-1688). The court of Brandenburg-Prussia underwent considerable transformation in this period: from the destruction of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648) to becoming a court fit for a king (and poised for the royal ascent of the Hohenzollern in the next generation). Cultural change and influence are difficult things to track systemically. The food consumed at court, however, offers concrete evidence about the transformation process while also revealing some of cultural and political values of the court and elector. Consumption patterns also help us understand the functioning of the court, the most important political institution of early modern Europe.
Jonathan Weiland Complexity of Interactions in the Classical Roman Period
I study the Roman period of the classical past, which extends across a massive swath of Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Within the boards of the Roman Empire (and outside of it) there were was a great deal of movement and migration. Not just by emperors and armies, which the majority of ancient history focuses on, but also of everyday people, basic commodities, and humble artifacts. The project I have in mind will allow an audience to see and compare some of the many networks of movement within the Republic and Empire by using overlapping data sets. There are over a dozen potential data sources which could be included, such as trade amphora with merchant markings from shipwrecks, artifacts made from identifiable material types, and letters by ancient authors such as Pliny or Cicero. These sources could be included at some time, but what I want to focus on at first are funerary inscriptions, and the ancient coinage. Ultimately, with this project I want to help show that the Roman world was one of intense interaction which no single information source illustrates well, to expose the complexity of interactions during this period, and to emphasize that lacuna in our knowledge of activities can lead us to unsafe assumptions.
Hans Wietzke What was an author?
I am writing a dissertation entitled ‘Poses in prose: cross-genre typologies of authorial self-fashioning’, supervised by Reviel Netz, Alessandro Barchiesi, and Maud Gleason. In short, the project investigates the question ‘What is an author?’ It departs, however, from the Foucauldian focus on the author as an instrument for interpreting, categorizing, or excluding texts, and instead examines how Greek and Roman authors, sampled from a wide generic and chronological spread, textually fashioned their own identities. My larger goals are: 1) to show how self-fashioning helps us understand how authors position texts in generic as well as wider social contexts; 2) to gauge how uniformly Greek and Roman authors presented themselves and their goals; 3) to gain some perspective on the differences and similarities between Greek and Roman authorial self-fashioning and similar practices in ancient China and early modern Europe; and 4) to demonstrate that we can profitably use both qualitative and quantitative methods to investigate these questions.