University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota

Faculty Fellows, Fall 2014

Elaine Auyoung
English, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

The Suggestiveness of Realist Novels

This project argues that the phenomenology of reading nineteenth-century realist fiction is shaped by an unacknowledged but fundamental aesthetic struggle, using cognitive accounts of reading and perception to reveal the way in which realist writers use empirical details to cue readers to conceive of implied persons and scenes that seem to exist beyond the printed page.

Mark Collier
Philosophy Discipline, Morris

Experimental Philosophy

Experimental philosophers challenge the status quo in philosophy by casting aside their armchairs and incorporating data about how people across a variety of cultures think about philosophical topics. This approach is extremely controversial since it challenges a number of traditional assumptions that philosophers have made while going about their business.

Katharine Gerbner
History, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

Christian Slavery: Protestant Missions and Slave Conversion in the Atlantic World, 1660-1760

This research asks why enslaved and free Africans participated in Christian rituals in the Protestant Caribbean, arguing that their conversion conditioned the emergence of whiteness, transformed the practice of religion, and redefined the idea of freedom in both Europe and the Americas.

Njeri Githire
African American & African Studies, CLA, Twin Cities

(In)edible ideologies: Food, Identity and the (Post)Colonial Subject in African Literary and Cultural Expression

This work examines the representation of food, (non)-eating & related tropes in contemporary African literary production as a lens through which to critique the intertwined histories of global economy and local practices that generate oppressive material conditions determined or symbolized by lack of food.

Dominic Taylor
Theatre Arts and Dance, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

Ice, Man – Black in White:
Black Bodies on Stage in Classic White Roles

Recently there has been a spate of work on Broadway and in other venues that use African-American actors to exemplify classic White constructions of culture. How do these works function, and how might Black Culture invert & invigorate these works using alternative mechanisms of performance?

Faculty Fellows, Spring 2015

Matteo Convertino
Environmental Health Sciences, Public Health, Twin Cities

HumNat-Health: From People, to People.
Theory, Computers, Art

The advancement of science imposes the interaction of models and laypersons to manage and prevent negative outcomes of complex human-natural systems. This research aims to develop a computational environment enabling clinical researchers, experts from other disciplines, and stakeholders to execute computing experiments on a distributed grid infrastructure.

Katherine Hayes
Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

Bohemian Flats Public Memory Project:
Archaeology, Public History and Heritage

The Bohemian Flats Public Memory Project will investigate the historical and archaeological remains of riverfront immigrant communities of the turn of the 20th century as a means to evoke public dialogue on the issues of immigration in the past and present in the Twin Cities.

Kathryn Milun
Sociology & Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts, Duluth

Creating Sustainable Infrastructure With Commons-Based Design: The Solar Commons Project and Beyond

Using solar infrastructure owned as a community trust, the Solar Commons in Phoenix, AZ, generates revenue for local low-income housing. I will work with colleagues in design, environmental engineering, law, and anthropology to reiterate the Solar Commons as a community wealth-building tool in MN.

Leslie Morris
German, Scandinavian & Dutch, CLA, Twin Cities

She did not speak

I am writing a hybrid memoir that moves between prose poetry, memoir, and philosophical inquiry, and has at its center an extended rumination on loss, memory, narrative, knowledge and family secrets. This project is an attempt to grapple not only with buried family history and the mystery of my subsequent illness, but more broadly with the links between knowledge, the unconscious and family history. In writing the project, I foreground epistemological questions not only about the origin of memory and narrative, but the very knowability of the nature of consciousness. How can representation exist if the experience of my coma, which caused profound effects, is not present in conscious memory? I am not seeking epistemological stability to elucidate the lacunae of my coma or my family’s Holocaust experience. Instead, the epistemological darkness is what I intend to explore.

Erik Redix
American Indian Studies, College of Liberal Arts, Duluth

Deluge at Bakweyawaa: American Colonialism in the Twentieth Century and the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe

In 1923, the Winter Dam was completed to generate hydroelectricity and created the Chippewa Flowage, a 23,000-acre body of water that devastated the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe (LCO) Reservation in northwest Wisconsin. The creation of the Flowage destroyed cemeteries, roads, wild rice beds, and the community of Bakweyawaa. Throughout the 1910’s the tribe repeatedly voted against offers by Wisconsin-Minnesota Light & Power Company (today known as Xcel Energy) to flood tribal land. In 1920 the federal government interceded via the passage of the Federal Power Act, which allowed the Federal Power Commission to condemn tribally owned lands without consent. The following year, Wisconsin-Minnesota Light & Power was granted a license to build the Winter Dam despite the protests of the tribe. In the license, Wisconsin-Minnesota Light & Power was required to address serious issues such as relocation of the village of Bakweyawaa and the flooding of roads, burial sites, and wild rice beds. However, the power company failed to adequately address most of the damage caused by the creation of the Flowage. The creation of the Flowage obliterated the ability of the Lac Courte Oreilles to survive by traditional labor, resulting in decades of poverty.

David Valentine
Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

Off the Rock: Human Futures in Outer Space

Commercial outer space—or “Newspace”—advocates seek to transform humanity by developing infrastructures to colonize outer space, which as an urgent task to ensure humans’ survival. My study seeks to understand these visions in US American historical and cultural terms, but also asks about the naturalized assumptions we have about life and humanness.

Grad/Postdoc Fellows, 2014-15: Sawyer Seminar

Nenette Luarca-Shoaf
Art Historian, Curator

The Mississippi River in Antebellum Visual Culture

This work considers visual representations of the Mississippi River between 1830 and 1861, building on recent scholarship that has dealt primarily with text-based narratives and descriptions, and focusing on images of the river that circulated widely, such as landscape paintings, prints, panoramas, urban views, and river maps. These objects helped to cultivate different aspects of the river’s character.

Jane Mazack
Water Research Science Graduate Program, Twin Cities

Entomology and Stream Ecology in SE Minnesota

This project will determine whether D. mendotae and other cold stenothermic insects require cold temperatures to complete their life cycles and whether climate change, specifically warmer air temperatures, will eliminate these cold stenotherms from stream systems and alter the diet and growth of trout that inhabit these streams.

Laurie Moberg
Anthropology, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

Fluid Landscapes: Materializing the Future after Natural Disasters in Thailand

This project considers how experiences with global climate change disasters affect human imaginings of the future and relationships with nature. Examining recurrent episodes of flooding on Thailand’s rivers as climate change disasters, I question how human and nonhuman stakeholders, from river communities to state administrators to environmental NGOs to rivers themselves, make meaning from floods and negotiate a disrupted and uncertain future in their aftermath. Unprecedented floods in 2011 drew these constituencies together in a shared experience of nature’s unpredictability; varied responses to the floods, however, demonstrate conflicting understandings of both human and riverine capacities. Specifically, the Thai state’s 350 billion baht (US$11 billion) water management plan to subdue Thailand’s unruly rivers has provoked public outcry and anti-dam protests from NGOs and northern Thai river communities who see the plan as destructive to river ecosystems and community lives and livelihoods. My research intervenes in this critical post-flood period as people develop new narratives about water and reformulate their relationships with rivers. Using ethnographic methods to engage both human and nonhuman perspectives, I query how human actions and articulations work to materialize different visions of the future and how rivers both participate in and disrupt these human practices and agendas.

Grad Fellows, Fall 2014: Community of Scholars Program

Jamal Adam
Organizational Leadership, Policy, & Development

Identity Development of Somali College Students

This qualitative research will conceptualize how undergraduate Somali students at a research university construct their identity in the context of their lives as college students and how they describe the influence of the opportunities and challenges they encountered there on the trajectory of their individual identities.

Jameson R. Sweet
History, College of Liberal Arts, Twin Cities

The Mixed-Blood Moment: Race, Land, and Law among Dakota Mixed-Bloods in the Nineteenth-Century

This work examines the Dakota “mixed-blood” reservation in Minnesota and how decades of litigation, debates over citizenship and the legal definition of mixed-blood, treaty negotiations, and legislative acts regarding this land, were formative to federal Indian policy.

Maiyia Yang
Organizational Leadership, Policy, & Development

Educational Identities of Karen Refugee Women in the Twin Cities Metro

Using primarily interviews and observations, this study will elicit insight about the educational experiences of nine Karen refugee women and how they negotiate what it means to be educated in different sociocultural contexts from their lived experiences in Burma, Thailand, and the USA

Visiting Fellows, 2014-15

Emily Johnson
Choreographer & Director, Catalyst Dances


SHORE is a multi-day performance installation of dance, story, volunteerism, and feasting. It is a celebration of the places where we meet and merge – land and water, performer and audience, art and community, past, present, and future.

Anaïs Nony
French & Italian, Moving Image Studies, CLA

Technical Memory: Thierry Kuntzel’s Video Art and the Early Web Experience in France

My work is the first rigorous and systematic study of French theorist and video artist Thierry Kuntzel (1948-2007). Kuntzel merits this attention because his work has particular relevance for the current age of proliferating mobile devices as it questions how engaging images on screens can fundamentally reshape practices of memory. This sustained study of Kuntzel’s oeuvre examines and emphasizes the continuity between his influential film theory and his largely neglected video experiments in seriality and the simultaneity of multiscale viewing. My project extends our understanding of how a new visual culture emerging in the 70s reorganizes relations between memory and the constitution of the individual subject. It thus serves as a pre-history of contemporary screen mediation and offers a range of critical insights into our current digital and wired mediascape.

Karin Vélez
Department of History, Macalester College

Catholic Landings in Frontier Zones: Jesuits, Converts and the Flying House of Loreto, 1290-1750

This research is interested in spiritual encounters, comparative empire, the spread of Catholic devotion, the experience of indigenous women on the American frontiers, and the communal formulation of myths.

Visiting Fellow, Spring 2015

Ryland Angel
Counter-tenor and Composer

The Call

Inspired by the ancient Swedish form of ‘calling’ from hilltop to hilltop, Angel’s project will be a mass exploring various ways of interpreting “the call”: to worship, to prayer, to people, to artistry, to harvest, to eat, to attention, to mindfulness, to action… Potential co-writers include Wilco guitarist Nels Cline, Swedish producer Emanuel Olsson, and Ann Waltner.