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Robert Penn Warren Center

Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities

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2013/2014 Warren Center Graduate Student Fellows

EMILY M. AUGUST, American Studies Fellow, is a doctoral candidate in English. Located at the intersection of medical humanities and literary criticism, her dissertation, "Cadaver Poetics: The Reinvention of the Body in the Nineteenth Century," explores how surgical medicine's increasing dependence on access to cadavers rendered the corpse widely available as a critical object through which literary writers theorized the human body's shifting social and cultural definitions. Her dissertation traces the figure of the animated cadaver—and the politics of its employment—through the four newly-codifying genres in which traditional conceptions of the body were most visibly and productively imperiled: the fairy tale, the African American criminal confession, women's poetry, and the anatomical textbook.

WHITNEY N. LASTER is a doctoral candidate in sociology; she will also receive a graduate certificate in African American and Diaspora Studies. In her dissertation, "Racial Hierarchy and Liminality in South Africa," she combines primary historical data, population level survey data, and in-depth interviews to investigate the concept of racial liminality— an intermediate status derived from being situated between a dominant and a subordinate group in a racial hierarchy—by studying the history of coloureds and their social location, attitudes, and experiences in post-apartheid South Africa. Her project will contribute to understanding the ways that racial hierarchy can impact group experiences, and also demonstrate that group boundaries are permeable for liminally positioned persons.

AOIFE LAUGHLIN, a doctoral candidate in history, is the Warren Center's Visiting Graduate Student Fellow from Queen's University, Belfast. Her dissertation, "Defining America: Race, Religion, and Ethnicity in the 1848 Presidential Election," examines antebellum political rhetoric about citizenship and national identity. The dissertation deconstructs a number of the key issues dominating political discourse during the period leading up to and surrounding the 1848 election to explore how citizenship in the American nation-state was debated and ultimately conferred on or withheld from different groups. The overarching aim of the dissertation is to examine the consolidation of an "American" national identity taking place in the mid-nineteenth century in the face of significant changes to the demographic, geographic, and political landscape of the United States.

JOHN T. MADDOX, Joe and Mary Harper Fellow, is a doctoral candidate in the department of Spanish and Portuguese. He studies contemporary literature of Brazil and the Hispanic Caribbean. He was Assistant Editor of the Afro-Hispanic Review and has published journal articles in Brazil, the United States, and Canada. He is writing a dissertation entitled "Dramas of Memory: Slavery and African Oral Traditions in the Historical Novels of Manuel Zapata Olivella and Ana Maria Gonçalves." In the dissertation, he argues that today's Latin American historical novels about slavery are among the most groundbreaking of the genre, opening it to new narrative and political possibilities by recovering a shared yet understudied past that unites the Americas.

PAUL C. MORROW is a doctoral candidate in the department of philosophy, and is the George J. Graham Jr. Fellow. His dissertation, "Social Norms in the Theory of Mass Atrocity and Transitional Justice," studies emerging strategies for explaining, preventing, and pursuing legal and moral accountability for large-scale crimes, such as genocide and crimes against humanity. His work draws on current research in meta-ethics, philosophy of action, and philosophy of law, and incorporates a number of historical case studies. Paul has previously served as Raab Foundation Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington.

AUBREY K. PORTERFIELD is a doctoral candidate in English and is the Elizabeth E. Fleming Fellow. Her dissertation, "Modernism's Choreographies of Stillness: Race, Inertia, and Agency in Twentieth-Century Texts," claims that the still body is alternately an object of fascination and discipline and a subject with enhanced meditative and critical capacities in modernist fiction from 1890-1945. To study the shifting meanings of the still body as it emerges across modernist texts is to better understand the ways in which early-to-mid-twentieth century authors moved beyond traditional categories such as liberal humanism, racial identity, and nationalism to construct alternative notions of selfhood. While her work is invested in revising interpretations of modernism as an aesthetic tradition devoted to motion, she is also interested in using the trope of the still body to trace historical, political, and stylistic connections between Anglophone modernism and some of its contemporary literary movements, including Japanese New Sensation literature.

ANSLEY L. QUIROS is a doctoral candidate in history. Her dissertation, "The Devil and Jesus in Americus, Georgia: Lived Theology in the Civil Rights Movement, 1942- 1978," seeks to understand the ways in which Christian theology functioned on both sides of the race question in the South. How is it that both civil rights activists and staunch segregationists invoke the will of God and claim that the Divine is on their side? By asking this question and telling the story of the coming of civil rights in a small town in South Georgia, the civil rights movement comes into focus not only as a social and political conflict, but as a theological one as well.

JAMIE E. SHENTON is a doctoral candidate in anthropology specializing in cultural anthropology of the Kichwa in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Her dissertation, "Aspirational Horizons and Bodily Logics of Production: Intergenerational Shifts and Competing Identities among Kichwa Women in Amazonian Ecuador," explores how the dramatically expanding aspirations of Kichwa women in a small rain forest community in Ecuador are interwoven with relations among body, identity, and production. Contradictory aspirations often co-operate with (rather than negate) longstanding Kichwa principles. The dissertation aims to contextualize the changing situation of young indigenous women, as both continuities and shifts between their experience and that of their mothers and grandmothers have generated a very different set of future ambitions for these first generation students, career women, and feminists.

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