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Past Visiting Scholars (2014–2015)

Alex AcsAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Ph.D., Princeton University; M.P.A., Columbia University; B.A., Georgetown University. Implementing Health and Safety Regulation in a Polarized Political Environment. An examination of the implementation of health, safety and environmental regulation over the past thirty years, investigating how the implementation of the regulatory regime developed in the mid-1960s fared in recent decades, particularly given the subsequent mobilization of the business lobby and the increasingly polarized political environment.

Michael BrownsteinAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Assistant Professor of Philosophy, CUNY/John Jay College. Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University; B.A., Columbia University. On the Virtues and Vices of Spontaneity. This book integrates empirical research in social and cognitive psychology with philosophical questions about the mind, action, and ethics in order to consider the positive and negative roles spontaneity plays in our lives. Particular attention is given to research on skill, expertise, and “flow,” on the one hand, and impulsivity, heuristics, and implicit biases, on the other.

Brent CebulAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Ph.D., University of Virginia; M.A., University of Virginia; B.A., Hamilton College. Developmental State: The Politics of Business, Poverty, and Economic Empowerment from the New Deal to the New Democrats. Developmental State is a comparative history of the determinative role local businesspeople played in pioneering, shaping, and administering federal economic development and antipoverty programs since the New Deal. By illuminating Sunbelt and Rustbelt businesspeoples’ kindred creation of public-private, local-national partnerships, the manuscript critically revises the dominant narratives of twentieth century U.S. political economy: the fall of liberal Keynesianism and the rise of market conservatism or neoliberalism. Mapping the proliferation of public private growth partnerships reveals instead the persistence of localism, the significance of shifting models of fiscal federalism, and the profound impact of racial and regional competition in determining the winners and losers of public development and antipoverty policies. By illuminating local private sector capture of federal development and antipoverty programs, the book offers a higher degree of empirical and historical specificity than the current literature in revealing when, for whom, and under what conditions truly “free market” policies have been pursued.

Maggie GramAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Ph.D., Harvard University; M.A., Harvard University; B.A., Columbia University. Matters of State: American Literature in the Civil Rights Era. “Matters of State” is the first broad literary history of the American civil rights revolution. Its central claim is that midcentury American writers engaged with that revolution by turning their attention to matters of juridical citizenship: how the state ought to relate to its subjects and what binds together those subjects as members of a political community. Beyond this project, I have interests in media studies and in human-centered design.

Emily RemusAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Ph.D., University of Chicago. M.A., University of Chicago; B.A., Swarthmore College. Consumers' Metropolis: How Monied Women Purchased Pleasure and Power in the New Downtown examines the incorporation of monied women into commercial public life. The site is Chicago at the turn of the twentieth century—when the city, rising like a phoenix after the great fire, became a center of debate over capitalist urbanism. The project explores the new practices of public consumption that ladies pursued on the streets of the city's expanding retail district and in the restaurants, hotels, department stores, and theaters built by entrepreneurs who invited their patronage. It also brings to light the conflict evoked by ladies’ public presence, as reformers, city officials, and men of business responded to ladies’ conspicuous new habits of consuming in an urban public sphere that had once been the preserve of men. At stake, the project demonstrates, were competing visions of urban commerce, the place of women, and the cultural legitimacy of new forms of consumption. In probing these conflicts, Consumers’ Metropolis illuminates how gender shaped the creation of a moral ethos and built environment that sustained the rise of American consumer capitalism.

Robin SchefflerAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Ph.D., Yale University. M.Phil., Cambridge University; B.A., University of Chicago. Cancer Viruses and the Construction of Biomedicine in the United States. The path of cancer viruses through the twentieth century connects public health and vaccination to molecular biology and biotechnology. Cancer viruses are thus useful objects to follow in order to understand many questions associated with the evolution of biomedicine and American society. Why do particular diseases become public problems while others do not? Who has authority to direct disease research? What relationships have been drawn between biological research and therapies for human disease? How has biomedical research helped shape our understanding of the relative roles of philanthropy, government, and private enterprise in advancing human welfare?

Claire SeilerAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Assistant Professor of English, Dickinson College. Ph.D., Stanford University; M.Phil., Trinity College Dublin; B.A., Middlebury College. Midcentury Suspension. The project fuses formal analyses of a range of texts, original research in mid-twentieth-century print and public culture, and the “keywords” tradition of Raymond Williams to create a new account of imaginative literature of the decade after World War II. While literary scholars still tend to describe the middle of the twentieth century as notable primarily for witnessing the dusk of modernism or the dawn of postmodernism, many postwar writers understood their moment as bearing what Wallace Stevens called “the weight of primary noon” (1947). “Midcentury Suspension” credits such literary gestures to the experience of the middle of a century already defined by two global wars and newly threatened by a nuclear future. The project offers new readings of works by W.H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, Elizabeth Bishop, Elizabeth Bowen, Ralph Ellison, and Frank O’Hara. Claire is an assistant professor of English at Dickinson College. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Contemporary Literature, Modernism/modernity, and Twentieth-Century Literature; edited collections on Auden, Shirley Hazzard, and rights and citizenship; and elsewhere.

Sunny YangAffiliation during Fellowship Year: Assistant Professor of English, Louisiana State University. Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania. B.A., Swarthmore College. Fictions of Territoriality: Legal & Literary Narratives of US Contestation Zones. From 1803 to 1914, the U.S. secured all of the land now associated with the contiguous 48 states, held overseas possessions in the Caribbean, Central America, and the Asia-Pacific, as well as imposed its jurisdiction over sovereign nations such as China and Japan. This unprecedented extension of American authority, particularly over spaces primarily inhabited by peoples deemed to be non-white, raised key questions about the legal status of territories, as well as the relationship between race, rights, and U.S. citizenship. My project investigates these debates through the legal and cultural clashes that emerged when U.S. sovereignty was imposed over territories with at least one other preexisting legal and/or cultural system. I focus on five such “contestation zones”—Louisiana Territory, extraterritorial port cities in China, the Mexican Cession, Indian Territory, and the Panama Canal Zone—where U.S. understandings of race, rights, and just governance collided with at least one other competing system. Drawing on legal and cultural texts ranging from Supreme Court opinions to Boy Scout adventure novels, this project uncovers the narratives (what I term “fictions of territoriality”) deployed to rationalize, as well as resist, U.S. governance during this period.

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