Junior Research Fellows:

David Cisneros (Communication)
Citizenship, a feeling: Affect, emotion, and immigration rhetoric
U.S. immigration and border policy are obviously emotionally charged and highly polarized issues. But, which affects and emotions structure immigration rhetoric? How do they influence the politics of citizenship and the lives of immigrants? This book explores such questions by bringing together critical theories on affect and emotion to examine contemporary discourses of immigration and citizenship. Exploring popular media artifacts, political rhetoric, and cultural discourses of immigrant activists, the book explores how affects and emotions saturate public discourses of immigration and U.S. citizenship, and the possibilities for interrupting and dis/rearticulating these emotional investments to achieve a more progressive racial democracy.

Rini Mehta (Comparative & World Literature / Religion)
Between National and Comparative: Unworlding Indian Cinema
My interest lies in developing a history and pedagogy of Indian cinema utilizing comparative methodology. My research in the next two years will be geared towards finding a common ground between differential categorization of world cinemas (using Indian cinema as a paradigm) on the one hand and the mapping of world cinema on the grid of global capitalism. Given that the history of world cinema--as an entire body of work of a composite of individual pieces--is only 120 years old, and that the production and distribution of cinema has been contingent upon a certain flow of capital and materials, it is possible to find a theoretical framework that can be used to gauge the socio-political context of all cinemas. Indian cinema is a useful paradigm because it provides the volume, history, and variations that such a project requires.


Senior Research Fellows:

Samantha Frost (Political Science / Women's and Gender Studies)
Phenotype: A Case for the Meaning in Life
As life scientists trace how the environment's physical and chemical characteristics shape biological processes, they realize that a) cultural experiences also shape those processes and b) the meaning of cultural experiences differs among individuals in ways not captured by demographics. Consequently, scientists are asking how culture shapes subjectivity in ways that shape biological activity. This is a critical juncture for scholars who work in the humanities because the questions scientists pose are at the center of a range of theoretical analyses of the ways that cultural norms and practices constitute embodied subjectivity. In this project, I explore how theoretical approaches to analyzing the incorporation of social norms and embodied subjectivity might be used by scientists in their research.

Hina Nazar (English)
Educating for Freedom: Enlightenment Narratives of Autonomy, Gender, and Social Influence 
Straddling the fields of eighteenth-century literature and culture, political theory, and the philosophy of education, Educating for Freedom: Enlightenment Narratives of Autonomy, Gender, and Social Influence explores the paradoxes and promises built into the modern liberal belief, originating in the Enlightenment, that freedom is something that can be taught. Tracing a century of writing on education—from John Locke and Mary Astell in the 1690s to Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin in the 1790s—this project develops a new critical history of liberalism, one that directs attention away from the exigencies of contract theory to the normative and characterological assumptions underwriting liberalism. Highlighting the central role women and an emergent feminist movement played in the development of eighteenth-century narratives of education, Educating for Freedom is also less dismissive than some recent scholarship of Enlightenment claims regarding rational self-cultivation. Bringing eighteenth-century writers into dialogue with a broad grouping of recent poststructuralist, pragmatist, and liberal theorists of education and socialization (Foucault, Dewey, Mead, Rawls, Gutmann), it identifies as one key trajectory of modernity the desire to bring social reproduction to self-consciousness so that it permits internal dissent and social critique.