Maria Corrigan | Michael Craig | Andrea Davis | Laurence Dumortier | Fabrizio Galeazzi | Heather Dron | Jieun Lee | Heidi Morse | Katrina Oko-Odoi | Anna June Pagé | Magalí Rabasa | Pawan Rehill | Cristina Rodriguez | Jillian Rogers | Katherine Ryan | Noel E. Smyth | Naomi Weiss | Monique Wonderly
My dissertation explores the art produced by the members of the Factory of the Eccentric Actor (FEKS), a collective founded in the revolutionary exhilaration of the Soviet Union of the early 1920s. Poised as it was at a crossroads between the aesthetic traditions of theater and cinema, avant-garde experimentation and socialist realism and, most significantly, silent and sound film, the youthful and enthusiastic FEKS negotiated a rapidly changing political landscape and the demands placed on Soviet artists by the state. This dissertation synthesizes elements of the previously fragmented, untranslated history and legacy of Eccentrism in the Soviet Union, in order to shed light on a poignant and informative example of media in transition across technological, national, and ideological barriers..
Much current academic video game theory begins from the assumption that games are designed to engage players in states of constant, fluid activity. Michael Craig argues that Japanese Role-Playing Games (JRPGs) of the late 1990s, contrary to scholarly assumptions, value extended periods of inaction. Craig views the emphasis on emotion and visually evocative environments as a fundamental element of gameplay experience. He explores how this focus on creating aesthetically beautiful worlds for a player to inhabit resonates within the sociocultural context of the 1990s in Japan, a decade in which a crippling recession stifled the possibility of types of civic activity and spurred the proliferation of media genres dramatizing the withdrawal from political sociality into private affects.
In my dissertation, I examine how and why the vibrant grassroots movements forged during the final decade of the Francoist dictatorship were demobilized as democracy was consolidated in Spain. Analyzing a network of local actors as they moved between neighborhood assemblies, clandestine organizations, sociopolitical movements and institutions, my dissertation outlines the model of popular democracy advanced during Spain’s transition. It also identifies the forces -- both national and transnational -- that hindered local actors from realizing their model, which contrasted with the model of liberal democracy ultimately established. Part of a new historiographical trend that seeks to understand the social origins of democratization, my dissertation also sheds light on the largely overlooked post-transition era. By explaining the mechanisms and consequences of demobilization, a phenomenon popularly referred to as “disenchantment,” I further complicate and historicize the internationally promoted view that Spain’s transition was a model democratic transition. As such, my dissertation contributes to our general understanding of democratic promotion and the possibilities of democratic enlargement as the Neoliberal agenda emerged and the Communist alternative weakened.
My dissertation addresses the evolving history of lay and expert views of environmental exposures during pregnancy in mid-century America. I explore the relationships between scientists and practicing obstetricians seeking to create a coherent and legible field of research on birth defects, by studying and grouping a diverse range of syndromes evident at, or shortly after, birth. In particular, I'm interested in the rising concern for environmental (i.e. non-hereditary) causes of infant disability among professional groups and the way that professional activities performed under the auspices of preventing birth defects affected both the way this environment was defined (as a workplace, a womb, or a global concern) and the status of women's health citizenship. I argue that the environmentalist understandings of the etiology of congenital malformation were intimately linked to research and public concern over iatrogenic and recreational drug exposures, such as thalidomide, diethylstilbestrol, and LSD, among others. Mothers and other lay advocates were also interested in the origins of fetal disability and in avoiding birth defects. From the 1940s, there was an active dialogue about the potential harms that pregnant women faced, illuminated by modern science. Using case studies, I trace the ways in which efforts to have a 'normal' child unaffected by environmental (or genetic) factors took on more salience and the how the womb was increasingly constructed as the site of exposure and a source of potential abnormality as specialized clinicians increasingly focused on the fetus as a patient and teratologists probed the etiology of congenital malformations.
My dissertation explores how key American artists and writers in the second half of the twentieth century have responded to the death of an intimate friend, and expressed their grief, both privately and in their art. The artists and writers who figure prominently in my study are Peter Hujar and David Wojnarowicz; Nan Goldin and Cookie Mueller; Jean-Michel Basquiat and Andy Warhol; Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath; Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe; and Diane di Prima and Freddie Herko. Specifically, it is about how these figures have responded to bereavement in the context of their queer friendships. My project will examine how, in each case, the artist who was left behind responded to that loss—and how those responses reflect, complicate, and/or contest then-prevailing ideas about death and mourning in American life. At the same time my study of the particularities of each of these relationships is the basis for my argument about the emotional and political potential of friendship as distinct from either romantic/sexual couplehood or kinship. Indeed, one aim of my study is to revalorize relationships that exceed the heteronormative model of sexual couplehood/platonic friendship/familial kinship, and to argue for the political and affective possibilities of such friendships.Fabrizio Galeazzi, School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, UC Merced Redefining Digital Archaeology: New Methodologies for 3D Documentation and Preservation of Cultural Heritage
My dissertation research presents an innovative interdisciplinary approach for the documentation, preservation and communication of cultural heritage. This research aims to investigate the potential use of 3D technologies for the analysis and interpretation of archaeological and heritage sites. In the last ten years the use of new technologies for the 3D documentation and reconstruction of cultural heritage has changed the way to approach the archaeological survey. Archaeology is becoming increasingly 'digital'. The use of 3D laser scanners and photogrammetric methods is well established in the archaeological field now, since these techniques allow to digitally preserving information through time. In this way archaeology and tangible heritage can be revisited over the long-term and, thanks to the following of new discoveries, analyzed by multiple experts and subjected to new analytical techniques. This research aims to analyze this new digital phenomenon and understand if, due to the use of new technology, it is really possible to increase objectivity in the excavation process, leaving the subjective level to the final interpretation of material data. Scholars are debating on the authenticity of 3D digital reproductions in heritage and archaeology. How should we consider these digital and virtual reproductions? Are they original digital representations of our cultural heritage or just virtual 'fakes'? My research wants to investigate if it is possible to define universal predetermined categories for the definition of 'authentic' or if 3D digital reproductions of tangible heritage are influenced by the subjective interpretation of the creator of 3D contents.Jieun Lee, Anthropology, UC Davis
Jieun Lee’s dissertation is an ethnography of stem cell enterprise in South Korea (Korea) focusing on the emergence and proliferation of promises that center on the biological potential of stem cells. Conducting a fieldwork in Korea, she has observed burgeoning markets for stem cell promises and their derivatives. From the novel business of stem cell banking, often fashioned as “bio-insurance”, to presumably more risky and expensive forms of illegitimate stem cell treatment, they revolve around the biological potential of stem cells as the basis of promises. Her dissertation examines how this specific techno-scientific object called “stem cell” is made into a “promissory thing”—an object of knowledge and concern that drives desire, investment, and speculation for diverse actors with myriad anticipations for the future. Exploring various sites where stem cells are studied, discussed, and marketed from laboratories to consumer markets, she investigates the relations and practices that make stems cells into entities enfolding social-scientific-economic futures.
Lee is particularly interested in how stem cells are discursively and materially made and maintained as a specific life form, how they have gained cultural and economic significance as a promissory thing, and how they address people’s hope and anxiety through their biological specificity. Conceptualizing stem cell enterprise as a kind of “ecology of promises”, she highlights how promises are made to proliferate and become concrete elements of the social fabric of life in Korea.
My dissertation documents a literary history of the Americanization of classical rhetoric as it intersected with African American education and public speaking in the nineteenth century. Black women's strategic receptions of ancient Roman rhetorical models, I argue, altered the trajectory of American classicism by undermining its monopolization by white elites as a measure for intellectual and cultural superiority. Minding "Our Cicero" recovers an alternative history of the relationship between rhetoric and race in a series of classical reframings. Elementary pedagogical advice in Quintilian's 95 CE Institutio Oratoria acts as a blueprint for freedpeople's self-teaching. Anna Julia Cooper adapts rhetorical models from Cicero's 55 BCE de Oratore in her advocacy for women's higher education. Sojourner Truth revises her casting in the white press as the "Libyan Sibyl," and Henrietta Cordelia Ray's poems reverberate with the voices of black orators imagined as modern-day Romans. Joining the resources of classical scholarship with those of critical race theory and print culture, my investigation of classical receptions in the aftermath of trans-Atlantic slavery offers a philological and cultural analysis of the impact of ancient Roman antecedents on the fabrication of racial categories and their institutionalization in the U.S., particularly in the context of post-Emancipation educational access. My research advances scholarship in the burgeoning interdisciplinary field of "black classicism" by foregrounding African American women whose interventions in print and oratory vis-à-vis the U.S. culture of classicism constitute an archive of liberatory uses of the classics not dependent on elite education or bodily inscriptions of social authority.
My dissertation addresses the literary and cultural representation (through fictional narrative, non-fiction chronicle and autobiography, historiography, screenplays, and documentaries) of the experience of minority ethnic soldiers of Latino heritage—specifically Puerto Ricans and Chicanos—in the U.S. military during the Korean and Vietnam wars. As a minority ethnic soldier—an “outsider within,” to borrow from Patricia Hill Collins—I argue, the Puerto Rican and Chicano soldier, as well as his extended Latino/a and Chicano/a community, have the potential to view the U.S. military through a critical lens due to the minority ethnic soldier’s marginalization within the armed forces, and to draw attention to the systemic racism within the very system to which he belongs.
My work makes several unique interventions into the extant scholarship on these subjects. The experiences of Puerto Ricans in these two wars present an almost completely untapped area of research in the literature and cultural studies disciplines. My project examines the work of Puerto Rican authors José Luis González and Emilio Díaz Valcárcel (Korean War veteran), as well as a screenplay, and documentary on minority soldiers’ experience in Korea. Moreover, through an analysis of the narratives Let Their Spirits Dance by Stella Pope Duarte, Motorcycle Ride in a Sea of Tranquility by Patricia Santana and Toy Soldiers and Dolls by Gloria Velásquez, I reflect on the unique positionality of female authors to reflect on the Vietnam War’s impact on the larger Chicana/o community. Through this discussion, I aim to fill the gap in scholarship addressing the experience of Chicana women and other family members left behind during these wars.
Anna June Pagé, Indo-European Studies Program, UCLA
Birth Narrative in Indo-European Mythology
My dissertation presents a study of the narrative patterns that underlie a set of tales about the extraordinary births of heroes. These tales have been selected from a range of Indo-European mythological traditions, but I place particular emphasis on texts from Celtic, Greek, and Indic literatures. Birth narratives of this type have primarily been studied within the context of the “Heroic Biography Pattern,” which encompasses the full life-cycle of the hero. However, my own approach to these narratives goes beyond the study of this unified narrative pattern by identifying multiple types and sub-types of narrative structure, and by treating both the formal characteristics of these structures and their functional properties. I then evaluate the evidence for some of these types, or some features of these types, being specifically Indo-European, and identifiable as reflexes of Proto-Indo-European myth. I focus on a few key themes, including reincarnation, miscarriage, incest, and various types of asexual conception, in a representative selection of ancient and medieval narratives. Drawing especially from the methods of comparative linguistics and folkloristics, I establish correspondence sets of narrative features, which in turn support the examination of how motifs, narrative episodes, and even full tales interact with one another to form variants of familiar tales or entirely new tale types. My dissertation devotes considerable attention to the comparison of diverse myths, but also to the problems and methodological considerations involved in arguing for reconstructing aspects of myth, as opposed to attributing shared features to typological factors or to diffusion through cultural contacts.
Rabasa's dissertation is an ethnography of the print book, and examines its production and circulation in current social movements in Latin America. Over the past two decades, Latin American intellectuals have conceptualized the region as a "continent in movement" with waves of popular mobilization from Patagonia to Tijuana expressing repudiation of both neoliberal policies and the post-neoliberal capitalist models of current "progressive" governments. In recent years, there has been an explosion of alternative presses (publishing houses) working alongside the autonomous movements, which Rabasa asserts are defined more by their practices(cooperativism, self-organization, horizontalism) than by any specific categories or identities (class, race, etc.). It is in this context that new political concepts are emerging as grassroots political actors theorize their own experiences, creating a new body of political theory. The alternative presses, whose production and circulation practices the dissertation follows, are on the frontlines of this process. Grounded in more than two years of participatory research with presses, writers, booksellers, and movements in the capital cities of Mexico, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina, Rabasa's dissertation explores how the print book is made of—and is continually making—political, social, and economic relations. She argues that a different print book is emerging, which she calls the "organic book" drawing on Gramsci's notion of the "organic intellectual." Produced by the very actors and practices theorized in its pages, this object— the "book in movement"—is organic to the politics it describes. The organic book emerges from early twentieth century anarchist traditions, but today it appears as an "old" medium being made anew. A multi-sited ethnography, Rabasa's dissertation takes methodological inspiration from cultural studies, anthropology, book studies, and political economy, exploring how books participate in multidimensional networks that zigzag across the continent.
This dissertation uses a genealogical approach to examine the diverse appeal, meaning and effects of 'feminine wiles' representations (trīya charitra) in South Asian literary and visual sources from the late seventeenth century. Focusing on three moments in Sikh history in which triya charitra narratives were produced, I argue that triya charitra has served as a resource, explanation and argument for Sikh thinkers interrogating questions of self and other, the nature of embodiment and sexual desire, the meaning of the past, and aspirations towards the good life, during times of immense historical change. I examine the emergence of trīya charitra discourse in the literary workshop patronized by in the court of Guru Gobind Singh, which led to the creation of the largest anthology of triya charitra narratives, the Charitropakhyan Granth (1696 CE; CPG). A close reading study of this text suggests that the narratives are inextricably bound to the moral and ethical problems keenly felt during times of war, and that it creates a new aesthetic of feminine bravado and conquest that organizes affect and conveys worldly knowledge. In the mid-19th century, Punjabi poets invoked trīya charitra in their articulation of memory, linking the fall of the Sikh kingdom in Lahore and the emergence of colonial rule (1849 CE) with the fallen queen Jind Kaur's trīya charitra. In the postcolonial period, I examine how transformations in the reception and reproduction of the CPG, as encoded in online debates over the (im)morality and authenticity of this text, animate affective registers of belonging that induce new roots for political affect and solidarity. I also argue that the heroic warrior woman, originating in the CPG, discursively constructs gender specific subject positions for modern Sikh women in diasporic communities. My project therefore posits that triya charitra serves as representation, performance discourse and is therefore productive site for understanding cultural and social transformation.
Contemporary political geography has generated exciting critical accounts of space in Latino literature, yet to date these readings have been limited to urban centers or general regions. More recent Chicano/Latino literary criticism has turned toward transnationalism, the study of new global patterns of immigration, as an interpretive lens. My project combines the two approaches, bringing current transnationalist research to bear on an already existent critical discourse on space in narrative. My dissertation focuses on the intersections between the transnational and the local in contemporary Latino literature, by analyzing the narrative strategies authors employ to depict their own local immigrant communities. I argue that these authors seek experimental stylistic forms to enact their neighborhood, using literary elements such as pastiche, shifts in narrative voice, and innovative page layouts to make their text embody a place. The four novels I study, Salvador Placencia's The People of Paper (2005), Junot Díaz' This is How You Lose Her (2012), Helena María Viramontes' Their Dogs Came With Them (2007), and Francisco Goldman's The Ordinary Seaman (1997), each develop a tight relationship between their setting and narrative structure to represent what a neighborhood's distinct character tells us about its Latino community. By interpreting the cultural modes of individual immigrant neighborhood spaces as enacted through literature, "Find Yourself Here" demonstrates transnationalism's concrete effects at the most local level.
Cristina Rodriguez is a Ph.D. candidate a UC Irvine who has advanced to candidacy. Her dissertation, "Find Yourself Here: Local Logics in Chicano and Latino Literature, 1997-2012," examines the experimental narrative strategies authors including Junot Díaz, Salvador Plascencia, and Francisco Goldman employ to depict Latino immigrant neighborhoods, seeking to thus inductively determine a vision of Latino immigrant experience through its literary production. She has presented portions of her research at MELUS, ALA, and MLA.
Many scholars of French musical modernism have demonstrated music’s role in negotiating politics and national identity after World War I. In my dissertation I contribute a new thread to these conversations by showing that Ravel’s post-World War I compositions were also sites for the emotional, physical, and political negotiation of grief. Ravel was deeply affected by the losses he sustained during World War I, and he wrote much of his postwar oeuvre for friends who had lost loved ones during the war’s tenure. I use correspondence, diaries, photograph albums, and scrapbook in order to determine what mourning meant for Ravel and his peers, and how music helped them cope with grief. Through a combination of music analysis, cultural history, and interpretive approaches drawn from psychoanalytic and affect theory, I show how Ravel engaged in a burgeoning discourse on the therapeutic benefits of musical performance in the music he wrote after 1914. I argue that in Le Tombeau de Couperin (1917) and Frontispice (1918) Ravel critiqued nationalistic prescriptions for public mourning, while in La Valse, L’Enfant et les Sortilèges (1926), and Boléro (1928), he participated in fin-de-siècle discourses on memory and the ability of objects to psychically and sensually “keep alive” dead loved ones. In other compositions, like the Piano Concerto in G Major (1932), and the Sonatas for Violin and Violincello (1920) and Violin and Piano (1927), Ravel provided his performers with opportunities to cope with grief through bodily movement.
Katherine Ryan is a Ph.D. candidate in the department of English at UC Irvine. Her scholarly interests include Anglo-American Modernist fiction and poetry, theories of affect, and histories of mental illness. Her dissertation project explores the psychic effects of urban crowding in relation to fantasy and autonomy within interwar modernist literature.
On January 24, 1731, near modern-day Natchez, Mississippi, the French colonists of Louisiana defeated the Natchez after a bloody two-year war. The French army captured some Natchez while others escaped. The French enslaved over two hundred Natchez and, fearing prolonged resistance, sent them to Saint Domingue (modern-day Haiti) for sale. Those who escaped enslavement fled northwest to live with the Chickasaws; in the 1740s the escapees moved again and settled among the Creeks and Cherokees. In the 1830s, the U.S. government again displaced most of the Natchez to “Indian Territory” (Oklahoma) during the decade of the “Trail of Tears.” Today, the Natchez exist as part of the Creek Nation of Oklahoma and are working towards Federal recognition. Some Natchez remained in the South after removal and exist today as the Natchez-Kusso of South Carolina. My dissertation uncovers the history of the Natchez diaspora after 1731 and highlights the significance and interconnectedness of French, Spanish, English, and American colonialism to Native American history in the Atlantic World. Through the use of French and English written sources and Natchez oral history, the project enlarges the temporal scope of Natchez history and its significance to larger colonial processes, emphasizing the importance and impact of Natchez interactions with a number of different European and Native American powers in different geographical spaces over time.
In her dissertation, Naomi Weiss examines the dramatic function of references to mousikē (music and dance) in the plays of Euripides, particularly in his supposedly "dithyrambic" choral odes. Weiss explores the dynamics of choreia (choral song and dance) and the sociocultural meanings of different musical images in four plays to demonstrate that these odes, which have often been considered disconnected, irrelevant, or even spurious, in fact play a crucial role in both directing and complementing the movement of the plot. There has been a tendency in Euripidean scholarship to see the proliferation of references to performance in the tragedian's later work as evidence for his increasing engagement with the "New Music"—the developments in musical style, instruments, and language in Athens in the late fifth century BCE. Weiss emphasizes how Euripides combines both new and traditional mousikē in language and performance to develop a musicality integrated within the fabric of each play.
In my dissertation, I identify what I call "security-based attachment" as a philosophically neglected, yet rich and ubiquitous emotional phenomenon, and I develop an account of its nature, functions, and ethics. I argue that security-based attachment involves a peculiar sense of well-being (felt security) that distinguishes it from related phenomena such as emotion-laden desire and caring. I then suggest that, owing to this sense of well-being, security-based attachment plays integral roles in how we view the world and interact with it: roles in structuring our agency and guiding our moral deliberation and action. Finally, in exploring the dynamic interplay between certain ethical demands and the emotional ties that bind us, I discuss how attachment relationships might be constitutive of, or inimical to, values that define a flourishing moral life.