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Center for Arts and Humanities Past Faculty Fellows

Past Faculty Fellows

2019-2020 Research and Creative Projects

Chris Dickey (School of Music)

Seeking to address the alarming lack of diversity in today’s music programming, Chris Dickey will perform and discuss music written by women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people of color to audiences at music schools in the Midwest. As he explains, performing music from underrepresented populations helps people understand how rich the music profession truly is. By discussing inclusive, thoughtful programming with aspiring educators, composers, conductors, and performers, Dickey is pursuing a particularly effective way to change the conversation in classical music.

Joe Hedges (Department of Fine Arts)

Joe Hedges is working on a body of artworks that combine oil painting and new media and will be exhibited in upcoming solo exhibitions called Hypercombines. By juxtaposing painting on canvas and panel with contemporary devices such as flat screen monitors, tablets and smart phones, Hedges’ works engage issues related to the history of art and the digital, image-saturated world of today.

Claudia Leeb (School of Politics, Philosophy, & Public Affairs)

In her book project Analyzing the Far Right: A Psychoanalytic and Feminist Critical Theory Perspective, Claudia Leeb draws on psychoanalytic theory, early Frankfurt school critical theory, and feminist theory to analyze the interaction of economic and psychological factors that have contributed to the rise of the far right, as well as extremist right (such as the Alt-Right) in the United States and Europe. Leeb argues that the far right has exploited people’s feelings of failure and anxieties around their subjectivities, which are the result of not being able to live up to the neoliberal capitalist standard of “economic success,” as well as hetero-normative masculinity. She examines in particular these movements’ branding of women and minorities as inferior, the lifting of an inhibition of aggression against them, and a narcissistic love bond between the leader and the followers, all of which allow people to get rid of feelings of failure, and instead feel themselves as whole subjects and satisfied with themselves again.

Melissa Parkhurst (School of Music)

“Field Recordings of Nez Perce Native Singers, 2019-2020″ facilitates recordings of the eldest and most capable Nez Perce singers living today. In keeping with WSU’s mission as a land-grant university, Melissa Parkhurst hopes to place WSU’s resources and expertise in service to the people whose ceded lands now host the Pullman campus. Tribal members choose the songs, teachings, and oral histories they wish to preserve. Audio and video files will be archived with the Nez Perce Tribe and some will be included in WSU’s Plateau Peoples’ Web Portal and in the anthology, Nimiipuum We’nipt: Songs of the People (WSU Press).

Ayad Rahmani (School of Design and Construction)

Ayad Rahmani’s Frank Lloyd Wright and Ralph Waldo Emerson: Truth Against the World involves a book-length examination of the link between two icons of architecture and literature who sought to restore the American creative and intellectual powers lost to a time of social and political struggles. As Rahmani explores, the late nineteenth century may have been the wealthiest time in the country’s history but it was also fraught with severe inequality and industrial alienation. Could buildings be part of a corrective? Wright believed so and through Emerson, among other notable American thinkers of the time, would go on to fashion an architecture that beyond aesthetics served as an instrument of mental change. As Rahmani uncovers, more than anything, the American people needed a transformation of consciousness.

Clif Stratton (Department of History)

Clif Stratton’s Race and the Atlanta Braves from Summerhill to Cobb County is a historical analysis of the consequences of the arrival and departure of the Braves baseball franchise to and from its downtown Atlanta site. Beginning in the late Civil Rights era and extending into the present, Stratton details how the arrival of big-time professional sports in “the city too busy to hate” proved far more than a benign entertainment spectacle meant to strengthen community bonds, elevate civic pride, and court business and tourism. Rather, professional baseball’s descent on this New South city also exposed and exacerbated the deep-seated racial, economic, and spatial divisions that defined the city in the second half of the 20th century and continues to do so the 21st.

Greg Yasinitsky (School of Music)

Greg Yasinitsky’s project YAZZ Band: Fun Sized Edition is the production of a compact disc to feature his original compositions and saxophone performances which will be distributed internationally for download and streaming on numerous online sites including iTunes, Apple Music, Spotify, YouTube, Amazon and more. The music will be scored for little big band instrumentation: four saxophones, two trumpets, one trombone, piano, bass and drums. Sheet music for all the compositions will be published by Walrus Music, a leading publisher of big band music.

Ashley Wright (Department of History)

Ashley Wright’s project analyzes a series of legal conflicts in colonial India and Burma between the beginning of direct British rule in India in 1858 and the First World War. Each conflict involved the imperial regime and women who were, in different ways, displaced by the forces of empire: ‘orphans’ from an Irish Catholic military family in North India, a Bengali indentured laborer in Assam, ‘European’ barmaids working in Rangoon and Calcutta at the turn of the century, a Malay Muslim mother and daughter in Burma, and a Burmese woman married to a Chinese man in colonial Rangoon. Wright’s project analyses these legal conflicts to show what each one reveals about the social world of the woman at its center and about the nature of imperial governance in India and Burma.

2018-2019 Research and Creative Projects

Troy Bennefield (School of Music)

In an effort to produce a piece important to the neglected repertoire of works for band and woodwind quintet, and to encourage the commissioning of more composers of color, I have used my Center for Arts and Humanities Fellowship to work with—and commission a new piece from—nationally-recognized composer Daniel Bernard Roumain. The fellowship funded not only our remote work but also his presence on the Pullman campus.

The result is a 20-minute concerto titled “Feeling Black Into the Sky.” This work received its premiere on April 18, 2019, with WSU’s Symphonic Wind Ensemble and featuring WSU’s faculty woodwind quintet, Solstice. Roumain is an important voice in the current “classical” music scene as his music defies any type of specific label.  He has collaborated with diverse artists and entities such as Bill T. Jones, DJ Spooky, Lady Gaga, Opera Philadelphia, ESPN, and the University of Houston marching band, just to name a few.

Julia Cassaniti (Department of Anthropology)

Paying Attention: Cognition, Culture, and the Frequency Illusion in Thai Buddhist meditation

My research is about the co-construction of cognition and culture, with a focus on Buddhist practices in Southeast Asia. With the help of a Center for Arts and Humanities Fellowship I am working on a pilot project that examines attention and perception as trained in Buddhist cultures of meditation.

In this project I am investigating the degree to which cultural differences of attention training affect a cognitive (and supposedly universal) cognitive heuristic called the “frequency illusion”: the often uncanny feeling that once you’ve noticed a phenomenon you think it happens a whole lot, even “all the time.” So far I have interviewed 20 students and Buddhist monks in Chiang Mai, Thailand, about their experiences with attention, meditation, and the frequency illusion, and have uncovered some intriguing connections that I plan to explore further in future comparative work.

Michael Goldsby & Samantha Noll
(School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs)

Climate change, food-energy-water security, and economic and environmental sustainability are just some of society’s challenges. Due to their complexity, solutions to these problems often involve marshaling STEM expertise and actually applying it to the problem. However, unlike the laboratory, where conditions are controlled, these solutions often need to be employed in ethically, socially, and culturally messy environments. Despite their expertise, STEM researchers may be reticent to promote their solutions in the public sphere in a way that is consistent with standards and values associated with scientific research.

The resulting failure for these researchers is two-fold: (1) failing to meet societal challenges head-on, and (2) not realizing the full potential of their broader impacts goals. Thus, there is a critical need to equip STEM researchers with the tools to better interface with the public and to pursue their broader impacts goals effectively and ethically. Supported in part by an Center for Arts and Humanities Fellowship, the Broader Impacts Guidance System (BIGS) is aimed at developing tools drawn from the humanities to help STEM researchers better meet their broader impacts goals without compromising the integrity and credibility of their research.

The first stage of this project has been to develop the Broader Impacts Ethical Compass (BIEC), which is designed to help STEM researchers promote their broader impact goals ethically and effectively. Drawing on the disciplines of philosophy of science, philosophy of technology, and scientific ethics, this project has the potential to transform broader impacts practices to be more effective, more responsible, and in keeping with core scientific and societal values. We have recently submitted a $400,000 proposal to the NSF to pursue this project further.

Hallie Meredith (Department of Fine Arts)

I was awarded a Center for Arts and Humanities Fellowship in order to pursue three related objectives. This project connects research integral to developing a graduate seminar on process in visual art with two international venues for dissemination. Each of my three goals revolves around an art historical approach to the concept of erasure in visual art from antiquity to the present day.

The first goal was to research and synthesize current scholarship for a new graduate seminar on process for first- and second-year students pursuing a master of fine arts degree. The second goal is to complete an article for submission to a peer-reviewed journal, and the third goal is to conduct further research for a monograph on this topic.

Whilst work on my article and monograph continues, I taught a graduate seminar entitled “Cross-Temporal Approaches to Process in Visual Art” in Autumn 2018. I am currently in discussion with WSU’s Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art concerning the possibility of an exhibition in 2020 on the subject of my seminar. In this exhibition, graduate students who took this seminar would serve as guest curators and artists responding to and making work on processual themes such as erasure, palimpsests, and decay.

Sue Peabody (Department of History)

In a globalized world, heir to two centuries of unprecedented economic, social, political, environmental, and cultural transformation, few changes are as radical as anti-colonial and feminist challenges to patriarchal gender and sexuality conventions. WSU faculty are internationally recognized for their work in analyzing these subjects. My fellowship project is an interdisciplinary symposium, “Gender and Colonialism” on April 28, 2019, designed to highlight the synergistic research and graduate mentoring capacity of faculty in the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program and departments of history and English at Washington State University to colleges and universities in the U.S. West.

Our committee of 10 WSU history, literary, and gender and sexuality faculty has met monthly since Fall 2018 to select the program’s papers, plan the logistics, and organize the anticipated edited publication. The invited speakers all hail from universities with M.A. programs in the participating fields, with the aim of increasing the visibility and interdisciplinarity of WSU’s Ph.D. programs in humanities disciplines, as well as WSU faculty capacity’s for mentoring.

Carol Siegel (Department of English)

My project is a single author monograph, “Raced, Sexed, and Erased, Jews in Contemporary Visual Entertainment.” The book promotes the idea that Jewish identity is not a choice but a culturally imposed identification that brings with it a responsibility to combat antisemitism (very much including bias against Arabs), along with other forms of racism.

Although some international films are discussed for contextualization, the book concentrates on late twentieth and early twenty-first century films and television series in which Jewishness is constructed as a racial identity in relation to American sex and gender systems. I contend that any understanding of how visual entertainment media depict Jews is incomplete unless it brings together depictions of Jews as both racialized and sexualized subjects. The book begins with a fact-based rebuttal to the claim that Jews are now racially unmarked white people and provides an overview of the history of racialization of Jews and of ways film depictions of Jews have contributed to the construction of Jewish sexualities. No other book exists that has as its focus intersectional constructions of Jewish gender identification and sexualities.

Thanks to the funding from this fellowship, I had the second half of the summer off (after teaching first session) and so was able to complete a prospectus for this book over summer 2018. This prospectus was subsequently approved by Indiana University Press, which expects the complete manuscript no later than December 2019. With the help of the fellowship I also attended the Association for Jewish Scholars conference in December 2018, where I received useful feedback to my work and met with my editor to finalize the book’s contents and additions desired by the Press.

I also was able to attend the screening  of a not yet publicly released film on Jews in Indian cinema, which promises to radically change understandings of Bollywood and is directly relevant to my book’s final chapter. I also attended the Society for Cinema Studies conference and conferred with several scholars working on related projects. In addition, I had a very helpful meeting with a reviewer of the book prospectus and a recent Ph.D. under her direction who is working in Jewish Queer studies, who brought some important new scholarship to my attention, including sharing his own essay in revision for a top journal in Jewish media studies. My research for the book is now almost completed, and I expect to be able to meet the deadline for manuscript submission.