2022-23 EVC Fellows

 

Dorian Bell

Associate Profesor
Literature

Professor Bell's book-in-progress, White Populism: Race and Grievance in the 21st Century, asks a deceptively simple question: When white people look at themselves, what do they see? One thing they often don’t see, according to a certain critical consensus, is race. Camouflaged as the default universal, unraced and unmarked, against which racial difference is measured, whiteness turns racelessness into power. But the critique of color-blindness isn’t enough. A new white racial consciousness, steeped in grievance and stoked by demagogues, is emerging—and the full contours of that consciousness remain unmapped. Treating white grievance as a transnational social movement, Professor Bell's book anatomizes the political, cultural, and economic currents fueling its global rise. Today’s white grievance, Bell argues, is deeply conspiratorial; fundamentally parasitic on the racial experience of others; and intensely projective of anxieties gripping white people. These elements are not without historical precedent. In combination, though, they announce something new.

Hunter Bivens

Associate Profesor
Literature 

The East German Construction Novel of the 1950s: Work, Affect, and Obstinacy
In a series of socialist realist novels and reportages written in the early 1950s, East German authors sought to capture “the new feeling of work” under socialism, to portray the collective enthusiasm of building a new world out of the ruins of fascism and war. In the GDR, this construction literature received an ambiguous reception even at the time, was dismissed as propaganda in the West, and is now largely forgotten. Why revisit it now? Drawing on the theorization of living labor elaborated in Oskar Negt and Alexander Kluge’s work, particularly History and Obstinacy, and contemporary Marxist feminist accounts of social reproduction theory, this book argues that East German construction literature provides us with a set of case studies in the social reorganization of work and the emotions and infrastructures that attend to it, even as these novels attempt to contain these transformations through socialist realist aesthetic strategies. The much-bemoaned awkwardness of these novels, then, is perhaps not only to be found in their didacticism but in the limits of that didacticism, where they seek both to portray and to disavow the transformation of work and the working class in the GDR and in doing so confront the question: what is socialist affective labor and what could it have been?

Terrence Blackburn

Associate Profesor
Earth & Planetary Sciences

Professor Terry Blackburn is a geologist specializing in determining the age of Earth materials. He currently pursues multiple projects that use the natural decay of uranium to construct geologic timelines of past events, including the recent determination of an approximately two hundred-thousand-year-old mammoth tusk found 150 miles offshore Santa Cruz in 10,000 feet below the water surface. Blackburn’s larger focus has been constructing history of subglacial precipitates--stalagmite-like mineral accumulations that form beneath glaciers—which he uses to understand how polar ice sheets respond to past climate change.

Anna Friz

Associate Profesor
Film & Digital Media

Transmission arts are an emergent category within media art which focuses on artists’ uses of the electro-magnetic spectrum and broadcast media—in other words, art in which the electromagnetic spectrum is an intentional actor (either formally or conceptually) in the work. "A Book of Transmissions: Critical Radio Practices" will explore critical radio and transmission art practices focusing on the past 25 years, rethinking radio through selected independent works from the Americas, particularly as nurtured through autonomous radio platforms and media activism, and by works which engage the micro-local and the translocal. The book will update contemporary writing on radio and transmission art (which tends to privilege works created in the context of European national public radio platforms) by considering the significant contribution that independent art practices from the Americas bring to ongoing debates of wireless medium history and media theory.

Aims McGuinness

Associate Profesor
History

Prof. Aims McGuinness is completing a book about the history of democratic socialism in the United States in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1948, more than three decades before Bernie Sanders became mayor of Burlington, VT, another socialist named Frank P. Zeidler won election as mayor of the city of Milwaukee, WI. Zeidler won re-election in 1952 and 1956. Like Sanders, he would eventually run for the presidency. But Zeidler’s career was in other ways very different from Sanders’. Although Zeidler was revered by many in Milwaukee, he never attained anything close to the national prominence or influence of Sanders. In his study of Zeidler’s political life, Prof. McGuinness reflects on the prospects for democratic socialism in the United States as well as more basic questions, such as the value of idealism or loyalty. Do alliances or compromises with non-socialists weaken or strengthen the socialist cause? What is the point of principles if the chances for success are low, or even non-existent? Is hope a source of strength for activists, or is it an obstacle?

G.S. Sahota

Associate Profesor
Literature

Transposed Minds: Indo-German Cultural Exchange and a Critique of Identity
Professor Sahota will continue research and writing toward the completion of Transposed Minds: Indo-German Cultural Exchange and a Critique of Identity, a book project that comprises a multilingual and cross-cultural analysis of key moments in the literary and philosophical relations between India and Germany over the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, engaging especially with questions of identity, universality, and sociopolitical transformation through cultural encounter. The project aims to furnish the humanities and interpretive social sciences with the research paradigms that will help foster collective approaches to contemporary crises such as climate change, authoritarian nationalism, and religious communalism. Professor Sahota will in particular work on a chapter retracing the connection between Franz Kafka (1883-1924) and the Urdu writer Nayer Masud (1936-2017). The chapter explores Naiyer Masud’s translation of Franz Kafka and the formation of a Kafkaesque idiom in Urdu for engaging allegorically with the plight of Muslims in Independent India. Themes such as the breakdown of cultural transmission, the erosion of mimetic capacities, and the hallowing of worlds through processes of abstraction and allegorization will be of central concern. Sahota will argue that the connection, or indeed identification, of Masud with Kafka is mediated by the experience of minoritization and emergency in both writers in disparate but interconnected contexts of ultranationalist hegemony. Through a quasi-isomorphic alienation vis à vis majoritarian movements the works of these two writers establish an uncanny affinity with each other. In doing so the bodies of work these two writers have bequeathed the present century often map onto each other formally (in the rhetoric of abstract allegory) and thematically (through the discourse of what Walter Benjamin termed the “sickness of tradition”), thereby mutually inflecting the interpretation of each other’s socio-political plight while sending alarming signals into the twenty-first century. The chapter engages with theorists such as Hannah Arendt, horrors such as the making of superfluous populations, and problems such as the refugee in the era of nationalist hegemony.

Melanie Springer

Associate Profesor
Politics

During the fellowship year, Professor Springer will pursue two article-length projects. Drawing on her long-standing interests in federalism, state politics, and political geography, the first journal article scrutinizes rhetorical notions of federal vs. state vs. native sovereignty in the American context. The project explores power-sharing within a political system that must balance the widening power of the federal government, the so-called “co-equal” state governments, and the semisovereign tribal governments – each within overlapping geographical boundaries. Springer’s work focuses on 1) how these three levels of government interact politically within shared geographic space given varied notions of political sovereignty, 2) underscores the underappreciated complexities of American federalism, and 3) illuminates how long-standing power dynamics continue to shape these patterns. The second article builds on this tension and Springer’s broader concern for inequity in electoral inclusion to examine the current state of Native American voting rights. Using the 2018 voter ID incident in North Dakota as a starting point, this work 1) explores the disproportionate impact that several restrictive state electoral laws have had on Native participation rates over time, and 2) highlights issues of tribal sovereignty and racism in relation to state control of elections. The study demonstrates that the unique inter-governmental position that Native tribes hold creates particular challenges to their participation in state and federal elections, and explores how effective recent federal interventions might (or might not) be in curbing current voter suppression efforts.