2008-2009 Graduate Fellows
JEFF EDMONDS is a doctoral candidate in philosophy, writing his dissertation on the relationship between views of reality and educational practice. His dissertation, “Power and Pure Experience: the Metaphysics of Education,” explores the implications of the theories of experience of William James and Friedrich Nietzsche for democratic education. His project combines the instrumentalism of James and Dewey with the analytic techniques of Foucault and Deleuze to produce a genealogical and instrumental approach to metaphysical practice. By highlighting the educational effects of metaphysical views, he hopes to draw a closer connection between speculative metaphysics and ordinary life.
DONALD JELLERSON came to Vanderbilt from the University of Washington in Seattle, where he earned a B.A. in English summa cum laude. He joined the graduate program in Vanderbilt’s English department in 2004. An Arts and Science Graduate Select Scholar, Donald has won the John M. Aden Award for excellence in graduate seminar writing, the Rose Alley Press Achievement Award, and two Arts and Science Summer Research Awards. Donald returns to Vanderbilt from a summer of research in England, where he attended a Mellon-funded residential workshop at the University of Warwick and a conference at the University of Newcastle. Donald’s dissertation focuses on ghosts, historiography, and gender in the English Renaissance.
SONALINI SAPRA is a doctoral candidate in political science and is a member of the Global Feminisms Collaborative. Her dissertation looks at the critical analyses and strategies that women’s environmental groups in India have used to examine neo-liberal globalization and its impact on the environment, and how these analyses contribute to strengthening the broader theoretical frameworks of feminist environmentalisms. Prior to returning to graduate school, she worked in a non-governmental labor rights organization in India doing research and advocacy on the impact that domestic and international trade policies were having on India’s informal work force. She is the George J. Graham, Jr. Fellow.
DERRICK R. SPIRES is a doctoral candidate in English. He comes to Vanderbilt from Tougaloo College, where he graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in English. His research interests include nineteenth-century U.S print culture, African American literary explorations of democracy, citizenship, and nation, science and speculative fiction, and Richard Wright. His dissertation, “Reimagining a ‘Beautiful but Baneful Object’: Black Activists’ Theories of Citizenship and Nation in the Antebellum U.S.,” examines how African American writers used the periodical press and pamphlets to fashion a print counter-public sphere in which they could debate and revise contemporary readings of nation and citizenship. He is a former Ford Predoctoral Fellow and is the current American Studies Fellow at the Robert Penn Warren Center.
LAURA TAYLOR is a doctoral candidate in religion. Her dissertation entitled “The Wisdom of La Frontera: A Christology from and for the Interstices” proposes that the Borderlands between the United States and Mexico—the crossroads of La Frontera—provide an important point of departure, both literally and metaphorically, for contemporary theological investigations. Drawing on the fields of cultural studies, philosophy, history, postcolonial and feminist theories, her work explores the construction of meaning, identity and difference in theological thought.
JONATHAN WADE is a doctoral candidate in Spanish and Portuguese. His dissertation, titled “Portuguese Nationalism in a Spanish Costume: Language, Literature, and Identity in Early Modern Iberia,” examines the strategies Portuguese writers used to manifest their national identity during Spain’s sixty-year occupation of Portugal. Overall, his dissertation seeks to uncover the textuality of early modern Portuguese national consciousness, highlight the cultural cross-pollination sweeping across the peninsula at the time, and contextualize the fundamental relationships among language, identity, literature, and the nation. He has presented and published work on several early modern authors from both Spain and Portugal, including Angela de Azevedo, Miguel de Cervantes, Manuel de Faria e Sousa, Jacinto Cordeiro, and Sor Juana Ines de la Cruz.
DAVID WHEAT is a doctoral candidate in history. His dissertation, “Keys to the Indies: African Settlers in Cartagena and Havana, 1570-1640,” examines the rise of the Spanish Caribbean’s most important port cities during an era which saw the first major waves of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Arguing that the lifelines of Spain’s “Golden Age” empire were built and maintained by tens of thousands of forced migrants from Upper Guinea, Lower Guinea, and West Central Africa, his work links early colonial Caribbean seaports to a broader Afro- Portuguese maritime world.
For more information, contact the Center's executive director, Mona C. Frederick.
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