The Chancellor Jackman Research Fellowships in the Humanities
Jackman Humanities Institute Research Fellows -- 12 months
Research Fellows hold an office on the 10th floor of the Jackman Humanities Building and are central members of a Circle of Fellows. They are University of Toronto tenured faculty members by the time of their fellowship, chosen for their distinction in achievements relative to their career stage, the excellence of their proposed project, and its relation to the annual theme for 2015—2016: Things That Matter.
2015-2016 Things that Matter
Because words are the privileged medium of communication, things have long been characterized as mute. However, a focus on material culture has provided a particularly fruitful field of research in the humanities. Things bear affective, social, cultural, historical, religious, economic, and political meanings and relations. They can be traces of the past, commodities or gifts, symbols of the divine, tools, raw or natural materials, or works of art, furnishings or decorations, or merely be moved out of our way. They provide insights into how people make sense of experience and come together as societies. Whether as relics of ancient cultures or as contemporary commodities, things are at the heart of humanities disciplines. How can we make them talk? What do things tell us about societies and their histories?
Heidi Bohaker, Department of History (UTSG)
Heidi Bohaker (Ph.D. Toronto, 2006) is an Associate Professor of History. Her research interests include the history of the Great Lakes region, with a special focus on Anishinaabe history and treaties between First Nations and colonial powers. She is one of the co-founders of GRASAC, the Great Lakes Research Alliance for the Study of Aboriginal Arts and Cultures. The organization is an international collaborative research partnership of Aboriginal community researchers, museum and archival scholars and university researchers. GRASAC consists of two key components: the network of people who meet, work together on research projects, and exchange ideas; and the web-based software tools that enable remote collaboration and sharing. Bohaker also has a research interest in how information technology can support historical research and is the principal architect of GRASAC’s online database.
Subjects and Objects of Diplomacy: The Materiality and Material Archive of Treaty Agreements between Great Lakes First Nations and the British Crown, 1763-1815
My project examines the period between 1763 and 1815, when British colonial officials entered into twenty-four distinct treaty agreements with First Nations of the eastern Great Lakes region that transferred title of much of what is now southern Ontario to the Crown. The descendants of the Anishinaabeg and Haudenosaunee signatories to these documents continue to assert that the documents are international agreements which created ongoing and intergenerational relationships between the parties. However, the texts of these treaties are in fact taken from deeds widely used in British property law of the period for the conveyance of title to lands from one person to another. My research fellowship on the theme Things That Matter investigates the significant discrepancies in these interpretations by interrogating the archival documents of the agreements alongside Indigenous records, including wampum belts, strings of wampum, and other gifts that were exchanged which served as both metaphors for and marked the acceptance of the terms. As a cultural historian, I move beyond asking how such records in material culture can be made to talk or read as historical sources. I want instead to engage with the cultural meaning of these items, to situate them in their respective cultural contexts, and consider the extent to which the definition of thing as object is a particular artifact of Western thought. In so doing I hope to illuminate the ontological clashes and significant misunderstandings that characterize Indigenous and newcomer interpretations of what these treaties mean today, affecting the capacity of indigenous and newcomer populations to form meaningful and just relationships with each other.
Adrienne Hood, Department of History (UTSG)
Adrienne Hood (Ph.D. UC-San Diego, 1988) is presently Acting Associate Dean Undergraduate in the Faculty of Arts and Science and Associate Professor in the Department of History where she teaches early American history and Material Culture. In addition, for over a decade she was a curator of North American textiles at the Royal Ontario Museum and for several years she was the Associate Director of the Museum Studies Program at University of Toronto. Her books include: Fashioning Fabric: The Arts of Spinning and Weaving in Early Canada (2007) and The Weaver's Craft: Cloth, Commerce, and Industry in Early Pennsylvania (2003). Among her articles are “Cloth and Color: Fabrics in Chester County Quilts.” Layers Unfolding the Stories of Chester County Quilts. Editor, Ellen Endslow, 79-103. West Chester, PA: Chester County Historical Society, 2009 and “Material Culture: The Object.” History Beyond the Text a Student's Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources, editors Sarah Barber, and C. M Peniston-Bird New York: Routledge, 2008.
Early American History in Cloth
My research focuses on a category of materials—cloth—through which I have developed a set of methodologies and questions for a deeper study of social, economic and cultural history. My fellowship research will bring together the many strands of material culture and museology that I have been developing over the decades, the ultimate products of which would intersect as a course, a book, and an exhibit, tentatively titled, Early American History in Cloth. The project will focus on a close analysis of approximately 10-12 artifacts around which to build a complex and multi-layered history of early America that moves forward chronologically from pre-contact to approximately 1860, such as: a Native American basket; a Chinese painted silk destined for the Spanish American missions; negro cloth; a sample book from an early 19th-century American cotton mill; free trade textiles produced to support the 19th century abolition movement. Each of these items is laden with meaning, embedding such issues as class, gender, race relations, trade, technology, travel, leisure, ideological thinking, necessity and luxury. A major press is interested in this as a book project and the Textile Museum of Canada has committed to a student-produced exhibition on the topic. Finally, I will use the time to finish several other object-centered projects that are nearing completion, most notably, “Quilts, Collectors and Collections: The Gendered Craft of Collecting,” “Dress and Memory: The Construction of a Quaker Identity,” and “Making Beds in the Atlantic World.”
John Paul Ricco, Department of Visual Studies (UTM)
John Paul Ricco (Ph.D. U Chicago, 1998) is Associate Professor of Contemporary Art, Media Theory, and Culture in the Department of Visual Studies. He is an art historian and queer theorist, whose interdisciplinary research and writing draws connections between late-twentieth-century and contemporary art and architecture, continental philosophy, and issues of gender and sexuality, bodies and pleasures, pornography and eroticism. He is the author of The Logic of the Lure (U Chicago Press, 2003) and The Decision Between Us: Art and Ethics in the time of Scenes (U Chicago Press, 2014). His current monograph project, The Outside Not Beyond: Pornographic Faith and the Economy of the Eve, will complete a trilogy of books on the ‘intimacy of the outside”. Ricco has also edited issues of Parallax and Journal of Visual Culture, and has contributed essays to Porn Archives (ed. Tim Dean, Duke University Press, 2014) and Nancy and the Political (Edinburgh University Press, 2014).
The Collective Afterlife of Things
Based upon the conjecture of the “collective afterlife” recently put forth by the philosopher Samuel Scheffler, in which he argues that our ability to lead value-laden lives is more dependent upon our confidence in the long-term survival or afterlife of humanity, than our concern with our own survival of death or that of our friends and loved ones, my project asks: what do things tell us about societies and the social dimension of valuing things as mattering, not only based upon their histories, but upon their futures? In other words, their collective afterlives. Based upon this “futurity thesis” of ethical decision, action and responsibility, my project is further motivated by the following question: in what ways are aesthetic forms and experiences, including art as a thing that matters, both in terms of artistic practice and as artistic object/work/thing dependent upon a shared confidence in the future survival of humanity? I explore these questions, by extending and developing upon work that I have recently published on forms of inoperative aesthetic praxis that consist in collectively partaking in the decision to participate in the withdrawal, retreat, and disappearance of the work of art, including in the work’s material manifestation and configuration of things. Out of this I have developed the notion of the already-unmade, as the deconstruction of Duchamp’s readymade work of art. With this current project, I want to identify and examine a number of artistic, literary, and filmic examples, beyond those that I focused on in my recently published work.
Karen Ruffle, Historical Studies (UTM) and Study of Religion (UTSG)
Karen Ruffle (Ph.D. U North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2007) is an Assistant Professor of Historical Studies and Religion. She is a scholar of Indo-Persian Shi?ism, focusing on devotional texts, ritual practice, and material practices in South Asia. Her first book Gender, Sainthood, and Everyday Practice in South Asian Shi?ism was published by the University of North Carolina Press in 2011. Her current research and publications focus on issues of Shi?i material and devotional practices.
Somatic Shi?ism: The Body in Deccani Material and Religious Practice
Shi?i materiality and its practices are fundamentally about the body, centered on such somatic material practices as associative relics, sacred foot-and handprints (qadam sharif), the offering and partaking of food, and in the ritualized performance of self-flagellation (matam). Unlike virtually any other city in the Shi?i world, Hyderabad, the capital of the erstwhile Qutb Shahi dynasty (1518-1687 C.E.) is a city of relics; the bodies of the Shi?i Imams and Ahl-e Bait permeate the landscape in the form of foot- and handprints, shrines, tomb replicas, and metal standards representing them. In this project, I refer to the material culture, ritual practices, and built environment of this particular sacroscape as ‘somatic Shi?ism’. These religious objects have social lives that can be biographically narrated, telling a story that seeks to complicate the history of the Qutb Shahi dynasty and its relationship to Safavid Iran (1502-1736 C.E.) and the hegemonic historical narrative of Shi?i origins in the Deccan. This project seeks to look beyond the archive to the material record, where we can tell a different story about the form and development of Shi?ism in the Deccan in the sixteenth century. Superimposing the landscape of Hyderabad with a sacred geography of relics, replicas of tombs (zarih and ta?ziyeh), battle standards (alam), sacred footprints (qadam sharif), and other votive-talismanic objects, the images, objects, and rituals associated with the Imams and Ahl-e Bait simultaneously engage an Islamic and Indic sensorium and grammar of the body.
Jackman Humanities Institute Research Leaves -- Six Months
Tenure-stream or tenured faculty at the University of Toronto, each receives a six-month leave from the normal teaching and administrative duties in order to undertake research (including travel) on the project proposed in their application, and are chosen for demonstrated excellence of their record of scholarship and the merit of the research proposal.
Janice Boddy (PhD UBC 1982, Anthropology) is Professor of Anthropology. She is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on Muslim Sudan and N.E. Africa. She has published three books, Wombs and Alien Spirits: Women, Men and the Zar Cult in Northern Sudan (U. Wisconsin Press, 1989), Aman: The Story of a Somali Girl (Knopf, Bloomsbury, and Random House 1993), and Civilizing Women: British Crusades in Colonial Sudan (Princeton U. P., 2007). She recently co-edited A Companion to the Anthropology of Religion (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013) with Michael Lambek. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and past Chair of the Department of Anthropology, University of Toronto.
Does bodily matter still matter? Gender dynamics, relatedness, and socio-economic change in Muslim Sudan
From 2006 to 2010 Sudan underwent rapid economic change, with GDP growth at 10% p.a. The window of increased affluence set the stage for changes to gender dynamics and family formation among people with whom I have worked since 1976. Prosperity and an influx of media (satellite TV, cell phones, social networking) is strengthening a trend toward companionate marriage, weakening kin endogamy and the intensification of moral obligation through shared bodily substance, and elders’ control of social reproduction. The already high cost of getting married has risen dramatically, exacerbating labour emigration while pushing age at marriage for men into late adulthood, and for women, particularly if university educated, into their late twenties or early thirties. More universities have opened: women attend in droves under parental surveillance by mobile phone; female enrollment now greatly exceeds that of males. Delayed marriage is linked to a perceived rise in fertility troubles, yet having a child is the sine qua non of adulthood for both women and men. Partly in response, female genital cutting (FGM/C) is on the decline (despite government sanction of the Sunna form), religiously approved IVF clinics have opened, and Islamic practices abjuring the adoption of foundlings (whose numbers have increased) have been reformed by fatwa with government support. Qualified single women can now legally adopt, and temporary marriage, previously anathema in Sunni Islam, is now legally possible. My ethnographic research will follow these leads with the goal of enhancing knowledge of gender and social transformation in 21st century Muslim societies.
Thomas Keymer (Ph.D. Cambridge, 1988, English Literature) is Chancellor Jackman Professor of English and Director of the graduate collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture. His research is focused on the literature of the long eighteenth century in England, in the following areas: Samuel Richardson and the epistolary novel; Lawrence Sterne and experimental narrative; the history of the novel as literary genre; and eighteenth-century poetry. He is the author of Richardson’s Clarissa and the Eighteenth-Century Reader (Oxford UP, 1992), Sterne, the Moderns, and the Novel (Oxford UP, 2002), and co-author (with Peter Sabor) of Pamela in the Marketplace: Literary Controversy and Print Culture in Eighteenth-Century Britain and Ireland (Cambridge UP, 2009). He has produced ten scholarly editions of primary texts of the eighteenth century, and has contributed to the Times Literary Supplement and the London Review of Books.
Poetics of the Pillory: English Literature and Seditious Libel, 1660-1820
The project will be a study of the interplay between official press control and politically inflected literature that will complement and bridge existing work in early modern and Romantic-era writing. Beyond this historical goal, I will produce a fresh critical account of distinctive features of 18th-century writing – ellipsis, indirection, innuendo, irony – by relating their development to the persistence of censorship, and to the ingenuity and self-consciousness with which authors negotiated constraints on expression. The project will address a deficiency in our current understanding of literature and censorship, emphasizing the law of seditious libel and the sanction of the pillory as much for their imaginative impact as for their practical effect. I am currently drafting case studies of key individual writers (Dryden, Defoe, Johnson, Southey); I plan to contextualize these drafts more extensively in the literature of each sub-period (Restoration; 1700-1740; 1740-1780; Romantic period) and to add two freestanding overview chapters, one historical, one theoretical. The resulting work will blend critical close reading with broad-based analysis of the literature-censorship relationship between the reintroduction of licensing and the abolition of the pillory, so fulfilling the project's potential for literary studies and the related disciplines of political and legal history. The resulting book will be published in OUP's Clarendon Lectures in English series.
Marga Vicedo (Ph.D. Harvard 2005, History of Science and Ph.D. University of Valencia 1987, Philosophy) is Associate Professor of the history of science in the Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Technology. She teaches courses on the history of evolution, the science of human nature, and the social implications of new genetic technologies. Her research focuses on the history of genetics, evolution, and animal research in the twentieth century. She also explores how ideas from those fields are used in psychology and in the social sciences and how different societies and authors appeal to biology in order to justify specific moral values and social orders. In the philosophy of science, she has worked on scientific realism, the question of whether our best scientific theories offer us a reliable account of the world. In the history of science, she has published on the early history of genetics in the United States, the history of animal behaviour after WWII, and the history of instincts. Currently, she is examining the influence of biology on theories of child development. Her book, The Nature and Nurture of Mother Love: From Imprinting to Attachment in Cold War America (University of Chicago Press, 2013) situates biological, psychoanalytic, and psychological views about maternal care and love in their historical context and presents a critical analysis of the ethological theory of attachment behavior.
A Mother's Siege: Autism, Emotions, and Gender
My book project examines changing views about autism in the United States and, in doing so, historicizes the science of the affects from WWII to the present. When psychiatrist Leo Kanner identified autism in 1943 it was practically unknown. Now many consider it an epidemic. Major research programs investigate this condition as social concern continues to grow. Dealing with autism has led to policy changes in early education and has also shaped our views on disability, neurodiversity, and emotional selfhood. How did this happen? What are the consequences? My book explores those questions by weaving the analysis of scientific debates with the experiences of Clara Park (1923-2010), the mother of an autistic daughter who played an important role in galvanizing research into the organic origins of autism and mobilizing parental advocacy. Through her story, I examine how views on autism shaped and were shaped by larger debates about the nature of emotions, science, and human nature. My study illuminates the impact of autism on families and the influence of parents on scientific and social views of autism. It also shows how autism became a platform for debating fundamental issues such as the nature of emotions, science, and biological determinism. During the fellowship, I will spend half a year at Harvard University to consult materials from the Schlesinger library, conduct interviews, and finish writing the full manuscript.
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