Out of nearly 600 applicants for Newcombe Doctoral Dissertation Fellowships from the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, only 22 students were selected. Two of them are at Yale.
Lang Chen (Religious Studies) is working on a dissertation tentatively titled “Elixir or Poison? Buddhist Narratives of Justified Evil and Their Chinese Interpretations.” It is a historical and critical study of the most well-known Buddhist narratives that justify violence and other evil deeds by claiming the sins of the perpetrators to be illusory. She explores how such justifications may have originated in ancient India and how pre-modern Chinese Buddhists struggled to come to terms with them. Lang’s advisers are Koichi Shinohara and Phyllis Granoff. A native of China, she earned her undergraduate degree from Peking University with a major in Chinese literature.
Meredith Gamer (History of Art) is analyzing the historical relationships among art, religion, and capital punishment rituals in her dissertation, “Criminal and Martyr: Art and Religion in Britain’s Early Modern 18th Century,” advised by Timothy Barringer. She looks at a variety of visual sources, including illustrated broadsides, histories, and criminal anthologies; anatomical models cast from the corpses of executed felons; and works by William Hogarth, Johann Zoffany, and Benjamin West. Meredith’s goal is to map the connections between public execution rituals and the making, viewing, and theorization of art in 18th century Britain. Her research has taken her to London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Greenville, South Carolina, where she visited the War Memorial Chapel at Bob Jones University, which houses seven large paintings by Benjamin West from his unfinished series, “The Progress of Revealed Religion.” Originally from Milton, Massachusetts, Meredith earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania, with a double major in history and art history.
Michael Amico (American Studies), with professors Michael Bronski of Harvard and Ann Pellegrini of NYU, has written “You Can Tell Just By Looking”: And 20 Other Myths about LGBT Life and People (available for purchase online). The book analyzes enduring myths about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people, culture, and life in America. These include both anti-LGBT and pro-LGBT myths. Some myths vilify LGBT people and attempt to justify discrimination. Others have been adopted by LGBT communities and their allies. But are they ultimately helpful? By discussing and dispelling myths from both sides, Michael and his co-authors challenge readers to question their own beliefs. The book grapples with the complexities of what it means to be queer in the broadest social, political, and cultural sense, as well as in the most personal. The three authors bring together their combined interest in history, psychology, religion, law, and culture. “Public debates around such a provocative and controversial topic as sexuality usually adhere to political orthodoxy. In contrast, a critical, interdisciplinary approach like the one taken in this book can advance the discussion,” Michael says.
On November 15, all three authors will host a discussion and public forum about LGBT myths. Details TBA.
Michael is writing a dissertation, advised by David Blight, Edward Cooke, Laura Wexler, and Alexander Nemerov (now at Stanford). In it, he tells the story of the love between Henry Clay Trumbull and Henry Ward Camp of the Tenth Connecticut Regiment in the American Civil War. Camp (Yale Class of 1860) was shot and killed in October 1864 outside Richmond. Using personal correspondence, diaries, datebooks, objects, places, illustrations, and photographs, Michael reconstructs their narrative to nuance understandings of 19th-century “romantic friendship.”
A native of Orchard Park, New York, Michael graduated from Dartmouth College.
A graduate of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, and of Harvard’s Graduate School of Design, Kyle Dugdale joined Yale’s new doctoral program in Architecture in 2009. He studies the persistence of the Tower of Babel as a paradigm within the narratives of both philosophy and architecture, devoting particular attention to its resurgence in the 20th century as a figure that is closely tied to the anxieties of modernity. His research is centered on an enigmatic book recently added to the collections of the Beinecke: Uriel Birnbaum’s Der Kaiser und der Architekt: Ein Märchen in funfzig Bildern, published in Vienna in 1924.
In his dissertation, Kyle argues that “Babel serves both as metaphor for modernity’s highest aspirations and as monument to its failures: a warning against human pride that seems newly pertinent in the wake of modernity’s assertion of the death of God,” and notes that “the implications of Birnbaum’s book – and the troubled histories of its conception and reception – tie into modernity’s unresolved dilemmas in curious and often unexpected ways.” His principal adviser is Karsten Harries, and his committee includes Eeva-Liisa Pelkonen and Stanislaus von Moos, both at the School of Architecture.
Logan Mardhani-Bayne has won a three-year Trudeau Scholarship, the most prestigious doctoral award of its kind in Canada, to study the evolution of relationships between municipal governments and indigenous peoples in Canada in the 20th century. Canada’s aboriginal population is disproportionately urban, and urban indigenous communities across Canada have increasingly called for distinct governance relationships with city governments. Logan’s research explores how contests over indigenous political recognition have challenged existing models of urban governance and have “shifted the terms in which Canada’s political discourse considers the political status and the inherent rights of indigenous communities.”
Trudeau Scholarships support social sciences and humanities doctoral students who are researching innovative solutions to issues of critical importance to Canadians. The Trudeau Foundation also pairs students with mentors from outside academia and invites students to participate in conferences and retreats with senior scholars working at the interface of academia and the political sphere.
Logan earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees from the University of Alberta. Before coming to Yale, he was the managing director of Health Technology Assessment International, a not-for-profit scientific society that works with health system leaders around the world to promote evidence-based policymaking. Prior to that, he worked for an Edmonton city councillor, coordinating community outreach activities and initiatives in community safety, multiculturalism, and diversity. He also served as a program development researcher for the Alberta Disabilities Forum, which represents disability service agencies, and worked in communications for Public Interest Alberta, a political advocacy organization.
Christy Thomas (Music) is spending this year in Italy on a Fulbright fellowship, where she is researching the relationship between the operas of Giacomo Puccini (1858-1924) and concurrent developments in Italian cinema within the contexts of late 19th- and early 20th-century visual culture and performance traditions. Based in Milan, she will consult a variety of sources unavailable outside of Italy, such as reception documents for Puccini’s operas and early Italian films, as well as materials relating to the genesis of the operas. Her inquiries aim to provide new insights into the relationship between opera and cinema in the first decades of the 20th century and to challenge the ways in which these genres are considered today. Her adviser is Gundula Kreuzer.
Christy’s research interests include the history and theory of opera, reception studies, cultural history, and the theoretical and conceptual issues of performance and mediation. In addition to lecturing on Puccini in both English and Italian, she has given talks on Debussy, Wagner, opera staging, and the intersection of opera and multimedia. She is also interested in the history of jazz, with a particular focus on vocal jazz, and has written a forthcoming encyclopedia article on women in jazz. Christy holds a BA in music, art history, and history from McDaniel College, and as a classically trained singer, she has been in performances of Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, Verdi’s Aida, and Bellini’s Norma.