Jahan Ramazani (PhD 1988, English), the Edgar F. Shannon Professor of English at the University of Virginia, has won two major prizes. He was awarded the American Comparative Literature Association's Harry Levin Prize for his book A Transnational Poetics (University of Chicago Press, 2009) and an award for scholarship from the University of Virginia. The Levin Prize, along with the René Wellek Prize, given in alternate years, are the top awards the ACLA bestows. The citation called Ramazani's book “breathtaking in its global scope and critical incisiveness,” noting that “the spectrum of issues and poets treated in this book is nothing short of stunning.”
A Transnational Poetics explores the effects of globalization on thirty modernist and contemporary poets from the United States, the Caribbean, England, Ireland, Nigeria, Uganda, Hong Kong, and India. Cross-cultural exchange and influence are among the chief engines of poetic development in the 20th and 21st centuries, he argues. Ramazani looks at the ways in which stylistic devices cut across geographic boundaries, Western modernism’s role in exploring postcolonial hybridity, the response to technology and alienation by modernist poets, poetic reactions to decolonization on the part of both the colonizers and the colonized, and impressions of England through the lens of African and Caribbean cultures.
Ramazani was also recently accorded the University of Virginia's highest honor, the Thomas Jefferson Award, in recognition of “his boundary-crossing scholarship in poetry and service to the intellectual life of U.Va.” Ramazani is the author of three additional books: Yeats and the Poetry of Death: Elegy, Self-Elegy and the Sublime, Poetry of Mourning (a finalist for the National Book Critics Award), and The Hybrid Muse: Postcolonial Poetry in English. As editor of the 2003 edition of the Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Ramazani went beyond the traditional canon of English-language poetry to include poetry from India, Jamaica, Uganda, and more.
Ramazani's father, R.K. Ramazani, professor emeritus of government and foreign affairs, received the Thomas Jefferson Award in 1994. They are the first father and son to each have won the award.
Jerome Stein (PhD 1955, Economics), visiting professor in the Research Division of Applied Mathematics at Brown University, has published an interdisciplinary book, Stochastic Optimal Control and US Financial Crisis (Springer-Science, 2012). Stochastic Optimal Control (SOC) is a mathematical theory concerned with minimizing a cost (or maximizing a payout) pertaining to a controlled dynamic process under uncertainty. It has proven helpful to understanding and providing early warning signals of the US financial crisis and explaining the diversity of the European debt crises. Peter Clark, a peer reviewer of the book, calls it “timely” and “cogent” in that “it conveys the very important lessons that early warning signals can be used to detect the emergence of financial bubbles, and that it is incumbent on policy makers to act on this information.”
Stein was the Eastman Professor of Political Economy at Brown Univeristy has been emeritus professor of economics since his retirement in 1993. Author of nine research monographs, he has published over 100 journal articles in such leading journals as American Economic Review, Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of Banking and Finance, and Contemporary Mathematics. He has served on the editorial boards of several journals in his field.
Kirsten A. Weld (PhD 2010, History), the Florence Levy Kay Fellow in Latin American History at Brandeis University, has won the ProQuest/UMI Distinguished Dissertation Award for 2012, announced at the Council of Graduate Schools’ national conference in December. Her dissertation, “Reading the Politics of History in Guatemala’s National Police Archives,” uses the stunning 2005 discovery of Guatemala’s long-hidden police records – at 75 million pages, the largest cache of secret state documents in Latin American history – as an entry point into the country’s tense postwar politics. Her dissertation analyzes how the archives were used by state security forces as a tool of social control during Guatemala’s long civil war, in which some 200,000 civilians were killed or “disappeared.” Weld also depicts how the archives are being re-imagined by present-day activists seeking to rescue lost histories and obtain justice for war crimes. Using an interdisciplinary methodology, she explores how documents, archives, and historical knowledge can change people’s lives. Weld was awarded both the John Addison Porter Prize and the Stephen Vella Prize from Yale for her dissertation.
At Brandeis, Weld is doing research on Cold-War-era refugees and exiles from Latin America. Her interests span state terror and popular resistance movements; post-conflict reckoning, including truth commissions, human rights tribunals, and historical memory initiatives; Latin American immigration and diaspora; and ethnographic approaches to documents and archives in historical research.