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Hall Center for the Humanities announces 2014-15 research and creative work fellows

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

LAWRENCE — The Hall Center for the Humanities has announced its Humanities Research Fellows and Creative Work Fellows for the 2014-2015 academic year. Ben Chappell, Iris Smith Fischer, Jacob Dorman and Margot Versteeg were selected as Research Fellows. Michael Krueger was awarded a Creative Work Fellowship.

Hall Center Fellows are selected through a highly competitive process. Fellowships provide a semester of release from teaching, an office in the Hall Center and a small research stipend. Fellows often use this time to work on book manuscripts or a large-scale work of art.

Chappell, associate professor of American studies, will work on his book project “Mexican American Fastpitch: Softball as a Cultural Resource Against Forgetting.” Chappell will produce an historically informed ethnography of Mexican American fastpitch softball that documents and theorizes the enduring value of leisure practice in Mexican American communities.

Fischer, professor of English, will work on her book project “Theatre at the Birth of Semiotics: The Role of Aesthetic Expression in 19th-Century U.S. Philosophy.” Fischer raises the question: Why did the modern discipline of semiotics — the study of how phenomena come to have meaning — appear in U.S. philosophy at the end of the 19th century? Her project is the first to present evidence that theatre practices designed to “scientifically” describe the actor’s craft contributed crucially to early investigations in semiotic method.

Dorman, assistant professor of history and American studies, will work on his book project, “Black Orientalism: Spiritualists, Muslims, Minstrels, Masons & the Making of Black Culture.” The book will examine American popular culture across 150 years and document how blacks in the Americas, West Africa and England transformed representations of Muslims in theaters, circuses and religious tracts to create their own discourses about the Orient and to form new esoteric and Islamic religions in the early twentieth century.

Versteeg, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese, will work on her book project “After Empire: Emilia Pardo Bazán’s Theatrical Vision of a New Spain,” which explores how playwright Emilia Pardo Bazán imagines the Spanish nation in her fin-de-siècle theatrical production "Verdad." Critical reflection on the state of the Spanish nation has been a constant in the literary production of this prominent woman writer, who tried to negotiate for herself a position both as a writer and as a woman in a national culture that she conceived of as masculine.

Krueger, associate professor of visual art, will create “Flicking Wilderness, Paintings & Animations,” which will reexamine 19th century depictions of the American West in art and bring contemporary light to the subject. The artworks for the series will revisit themes of utopianism, escapism and the majesty of the American West as seen through the lenses of contemporary perspectives of the American landscape.

For more information about the Hall Center Humanities Research or Creative Work Fellowship, contact the Hall Center at hallcenter@ku.edu or call (785) 864-4798.