Insight Grants 2012
Marcos Ancelovici, Political Science
Gwen Bennett, East Asian Studies
Michel Biron, Langue et littérature françaises
Normand Doiron. Langue et littérature françaises
Ian Gold, Philosophy
John Hall, Sociology
Gershon Hundert, Jewish Studies
Erik Kuhonta, Political Science
Tom Mole, English
Suzanne Morton, History and Classical Studies
Ronald Niezen, Anthropology
Ara Osterweil, English
Lyudmila Parts, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (Russian Studies)
Jesús Pérez-Magallón, Languages, Literatures, and Cultures (Hispanic Studies)
Monica Popescu, English
Christine Ross, Art History and Communication Studies
Peter Sabor, English
Dietlind Stolle, Political Science
William Straw, Art History and Communication Studies
Christina Tarnopolsky, Political Science
Lisa Travis, Linguistics
Contentious Politics in Hard Times: Explaining Anti-Austerity Protests in France and Spain
Amount awarded: $149,099
Keywords: social movements, trade unions, anti-austerity protests, France, Spain
As a result of the global financial crisis, since 2008 governments in developed countries have introduced major reforms and extensive cuts in social spending. These austerity measures have been met with mass protests; however, the nature and extent of these protests have varied significantly across countries. In order to account for this variation, Professor Ancelovici will focus on anti-austerity protests in France and Spain and seek to explain why they have taken primarily a civic form in Spain and a labor form in France. Professor Ancelovici’s study investigates two hypotheses. First, that variation in anti-austerity protest across France and Spain is partly the product of different field characteristics and cultural repertoire. Of these, four mechanisms seem to play a central role in bringing about and shaping anti-austerity protests in France and Spain: mediation; new threats; reframing; and emulation. His second hypothesis holds that the magnitude and nature of these protests stem from a particular concatenation of these four mechanisms. In order to trace these mechanisms, he will rely primarily on documentary research, protest event analysis, and semi-structured interviews with key actors. This program of research will make three main contributions: (1) the documentation of mass protest and dissemination of information that will enhance the public debate about the impact of austerity, (2) focus on a pair of countries that have very seldom been compared, and (3) at the conceptual level, the refinement of the political process model by bringing fields and culture into the analysis and, thereby, analyzing the structural underpinnings of protest in a more comprehensive manner. Graduate students studying social movements will assist with coding newspapers, transcribing interviews, analyzing and organizing the findings. Research results will be disseminated to both academic and non-academic through publications, conference participation, and the organization of a workshop, a website, and teaching.
Archaeological and historical perspectives on the Kitan/Liao period (ca. 3rd-13th c. ) in Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, China
Amount awarded: $300,800
Keywords: archaeology, history, regional survey, state formation, China, Inner Mongolia, Kitan, Liao
One of the first of its kind for any region in China, Professor Gwen Bennett’s study will integrate archaeological and historical approaches and data to provide a diachronic view of social, economic, and political organization of the the Chifeng region of Inner Mongolia from 200-1200 CE. The Chifeng region was the heartland of the Kitans, who ranged north of modern China's Great Wall and across Mongolia, established the Liao Empire in 907, and controlled a continental scale realm until they were conquered in 1125. Their political and economic influence lasted for centuries across a vast territory, which means that better understandings of developments emerging in the Chifeng region are vital to the study of Asia's pre-modern period. State formation processes are one of archaeology's leading questions; however, few pre-modern societies left written records of their state formation processes. This program of research will examine the processes that resulted in a Kitan polity and the Liao Dynasty through reanalysis of historical material and full coverage regional scale survey in the Chifeng region, along with new intensive survey on selected sites, test excavations, and geophysical investigations. Models developed by this research will also contribute to better understandings of societies in similar mixed eco zones around the world, whether or not they formed polities or empires; and will be of interest to archaeologists, anthropologists, historians, political scientists, and public policy specialists. A team of researchers and students, undergraduates and graduates will conduct archaeological and historical investigations, and assist in arranging research logistics, data collection and entry and the interpretation of results. The findings will be disseminated to a wide audience ranging from the scholarly community to government regulatory offices and to the general public. This will be done through annual progress reports, scholarly articles, scholarly meetings and conferences and annual post-field season research seminars.
Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau : étude biographique et sociographique
Amount awarded: $167,149
Keywords: Saint-Denys Garneau, histoire littéraire, poésie québécoise, biographie, sociologie littéraire
Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, one of Québec’s most important poets, was also a founding figure of cultural modernity in Quebec. Professor Michel Biron will conduct a complete biographical study of Garneau (the first of its kind) and through this research, examine the 1930s in Québec. This combined approach of biography with what Professor Biron calls sociography, will result in a detailed description of social structure and change in 1930s Québec society, leading to a richer understanding of the living and working conditions of writers and artists in Québec in the beginning of the twentieth century. Prof. Biron will build upon previously published work with a wealth of newly available, previously unpublished materials including over thirty personal letters. This research will explore the subjective evolution of a poet’s consciousness and allow us to evaluate the concepts of artist’s existentialism through documentary exploration and analysis. It will also deepen our understanding of the modern writer and the complex relationships between literature, the individual and society. Graduate student research assistants will work with primary sources in archives, compile critical reviews and bibliographies, and participate in group discussions and seminars. Of significance to Québec literature and the broader field of intellectual history, the research results will culminate in a series of articles and the first, full biography of Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau.
Knowledge of the world, the ways of polite society and the customs of noble behavior or savoir-vivre are at the center of Professor Doiron’s new program of research. Under the Ancien Régime, and especially during the seventeenth century, a number of conventions, treatises and codes governing savoir-vivre of the noblesse appeared in France. Principles found in these texts reveal a well-established hierarchy of morals and manners which were deemed essential for a man of honor. As a whole, they form what was called an “esprit de cour” and can be regarded as the basis for the contemporary mind-set of society, argues Professor Doiron. These principles changed the existing perception of violence and imposed certain rules and ways of conduct on all noble members of a society at the time. Professor Doiron will investigate the evolution of these principles and their impact on personal command of emotional whims. He will argue that, contrary to what contemporary psychologists say, the human spirit is inevitably shaped by the course of history and that these honor codes contributed to the development of the contemporary core values. In addition to the literary analysis, Professor Doiron expects to (i) describe similarities between different honor codes; (ii) produce an in-depth study of the existing literature on the subject; and (iii) to publish one of the earliest examples of such literature – René Bary’s L’Esprit de cour (1662). Furthermore, this research will examine the foundations of modern ethics, psychology, education and sociology and will demonstrate that the roots of these disciplines can be found in the honor codes of the sixteenth-eighteenth centuries. Students working on this study will receive extensive training in literary research methods, critical documentary analysis and will assist in the preparation of a critical monograph.
For the last forty years, philosophers of mind have been largely in agreement about how to think about the relation between the mind and the body. According to the mainstream view, this relation is one of "non-reductive physicalism": "physicalism" because the mind is taken to belong to the category of the physical; "non-reductive" because there is no way to describe the mind in terms of the brain. In contrast, contemporary science is explicitly committed to the view that there can be an integration of psychological and brain explanations by cognitive neuroscience. As Professor Gold points out, this contrast between philosophy and cognitive neuroscience is important. If mainstream philosophy of mind is correct, then there can be no genuine science of the mind as contemporary science envisions it; if, on the other hand, the assumptions of cognitive neuroscience are true, then contemporary philosophy of mind is mistaken. The purpose of Prof. Gold’s program of research is to attempt to develop a model of cognitive neuroscience that can accommodate some important features of both perspectives. A model of this sort, if successful, would support the idea that a unified science of the mind and brain is possible but preserve the intuition that psychology retains significant conceptual autonomy with respect to neurobiology. In his study, Professor Gold will conduct a critical review of literature, develop the fractionation-implementation model, apply it to three rather different neuroscientific theories to test its coherence with real science, and finally, test the philosophical consequences i.e. to test whether the fractionation-implementation model actually constitute a bridge between the anti-reductionist position of mainstream philosophy of mind and the reductionism of cognitive neuroscience? Students will participate in the synthesis of literature review findings, the development of the model, its application to neuroscientific case studies and the study of the model’s philosophical implications. This research will not only advance knowledge in the philosophy of mind and neuroscience but will also affect the practice of neuroscience. The results of the research will be disseminated at scientific cafés, academic articles and talks, social media and other channels.
War and Nationalism: Statistical Analysis, the Study of Nationalist Movements in the British and the Tsarist Empires (1870-1945), and Comparison to Contemporary South Asia
Amount awarded: $177,079
Keywords: nationalism, states, Europe
The horrors of the twentieth century suggest that nationalism causes war, principally by encouraging secession. While this view has recently gained support amongst many scholars, Professor Hall’s research seeks to uncover the precise mechanisms linking war and nationalism, exploring underlying questions such as, does nationalism cause war, or does it benefit from war? Why do some nations seek to secede when others are content to remain within larger multinational entities? Using a comparative-historical approach, Professor Hall will integrate several methods within a single unified research design. The first, quantitative phase of the study will analyze, manipulate and improve a recent, important data set, 'The location and purpose of wars around the world, 1816-2001' (Wimmer and Min 2006). The remaining two sections involve narrative reconstruction and process tracing which will compare similar and different processes and mechanisms between cases--in order to establish the extent to which geopolitical conditions explain the rise of secessionist demands. Cases will be drawn from the British and Tsarist Empires, 1870-1945 and from South Asia, 1945-2009. Student involvement in the research will include data coding, bibliographical research, case analysis, organization of archival materials and interview data, co-authoring articles, and the participation in research seminars and conferences. The findings will be disseminated through including a series of publications, the seminars and workshops, and presentations to scholarly and to non-specialized audiences. The contribution of this research can have great social benefits. Peace and prosperity depend upon understanding nationalism, a force which, if mishandled, can lead to enormous loss of human life. The important policy implications that follow directly from the research suggest how states can best manage their nations.
The objective of Professor Hundert’s program of research is to investigate the life and times of a Jewish Galician [L'viv region, Ukraine] wine merchant Dov Ber Birkenthal [or Brezer] of Bolechów (1723-1805), through his writings, archival sources and particularly his unknown, unpublished book manuscript completed in 1800. Professor Hundert will also prepare a critical edition of that book, Divre binah ["Understanding Words"], which is chiefly a history of "false messiahs" who appeared among Jews from the period of the Temple in Jerusalem to the eighteenth century. He will carry out this research both on the micro-historical level -- the life of a single person -- and the macro-historical level -- reflecting the tumultuous changes of the 2nd half of the 18th century, many of which threatened the norms he acquired in his youth. That is, this will be a close study that will test the assumptions of scholars about the historical experience of east central European Jews. This program of research has three main dimensions: research in the manuscript collections of libraries and archives in Poland, Ukraine, the U.S. and Israel seeking references to this merchant and relevant contextual material; transcribing and annotating the manuscript of Divre binah; and gaining control of the literature on self-writing and the genres and styles of 18th-century Hebrew literature. This research will deepen and broaden curricula in Jewish history by providing an example of an individual who does not fit neatly into any of the categories constructed in the historical literature. Students will participate in archival research, secondary literature collection and review, organizing data and manuscript editing. The study results will be communicated within relevant sectors of the academic community through conferences, workshops and seminars, and through published articles and book chapters.
Erik Martinez Kuhonta
The Political Origins of Southeast Asian States
Amount awarded: $211,841
Keywords: state formation, state-society relations, political institutions, comparative-historical analysis, Southeast Asia, political development
One of the central problems in the developing world today is how to build effective states. From Somalia to Iraq to Burma, it is apparent that weak states limit the potential for economic growth, democratic progress, and the advancement of the human condition. But, as Professor Kuhonta asks, how do we get strong states that can address the basic concerns and needs of its citizens? The literature on state formation has come up with two distinct answers. The first argues that wars or crises stimulate state building, while the second claims that prior institutional legacies shape contemporary outcomes. The first explanation is premised on the idea that structural constraints will concentrate the choices of elites toward more public-oriented action, rather than rent-seeking or predatorial behavior. The second explanation assumes that early patterns or sequences of institutional formation -- often rooted in colonial regimes -- will have long-term effects on current state structures. In his program of research, Professor Kuhonta hypothesizes that state formation is best explained through a combination of these two models. Crises matter in explaining patterns of political development, but their effect does not occur in a vacuum. Without prior organizational capacity, crises will have little impact on state development. His study will develop this argument through an analysis of patterns of state formation in six countries in Southeast Asia: Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Burma/Myanmar. The comparative-historical analysis of the six cases will be achieved through a combination of concept formation, secondary sources, and archival work. Given the importance of having strong institutions in the developing world, policy implications will also be considered. Students will be involved in gathering archival material, organizing, annotating, scanning and posting archival resources onto the study website; conducting a literature review and creating a database of two key concepts – “state capacity” and “crisis”; researching contemporary cases of state failure, and co-authoring a policy article presenting findings. Professor Kuhonta plans to publish study results in academic journals, a policy journal, and a book manuscript with a university press. This research will contribute an original theoretical argument that prior institutional structures rather than structural constraints alone lead to state building.
The modern literary anthology appeared in the nineteenth century and rapidly became pervasive. Anthologies were everywhere, and still are. However, literary critics have only recently overcome their disdain for the anthology, and made it a subject of study in its own right. Several scholars have stressed the anthology's status as a relay of cultural transmission connecting readers to texts, forging canons, shaping curricula, and constructing interpretive communities. But while we now recognize that anthologies shaped writers' receptions, we still know very little about how. Lord Byron (1788-1824) and Felicia Hemans (1793-1835) were two of the poets most often featured in nineteenth-century anthologies. In this program of research, Professor Mole will examine how their works were presented in a corpus of 200 literary anthologies published in nineteenth-century Great Britain. He will identify which poems or sections of poems by Byron and Hemans were anthologized, and how those selections changed over time, and how readers responded to selections. In addition to contributing to our knowledge of Byron's and Heman's reception, the findings of this research will change our understanding of reception history by attending to anthologies as examples of the material artifacts and cultural practices that transmit literary texts to later readers. The study will model a methodology that can be applied to other authors in other places and time periods and will produce monograph, articles in scholarly journals and a publicly accessible interactive website. Students involved in the study will gain first-hand experience of planning, designing and undertaking large-scale research with a digital component, including bibliographic and archival research, and the presentation of study results.
From National Industry to Traditional Fishery: Lobster in the Atlantic Northeast, 1873 to 1968
Amount Awarded: $91,810
Keywords: Atlantic Canada, lobster, governance, regulation, social ecology
For most of the 20th century, lobster was touted as a success story, a recovered fishery as a result of government regulation with stocks recovering from a nadir around 1900. Moreover, with the collapse of the ground fishery in the late 1980s and 1990s, lobster has become Canada's most valuable seafood export. Professor Morton’s program of research combines the traditions of political economy and social ecology to explore the lobster fishery in the northeast Atlantic region from 1873 to 1968. She will investigate the history of a particular form of resource exploitation, not only in terms of what happens to the resource, but also what happens to the relationship between people and the resource, and relationships among people. The lobster communities of Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec had their own distinct ecologies; i.e. interrelationships and hierarchies that reflected the material and cultural contexts they were rooted in. When industry and government increased capitalization or introduced regulation, relationships changed. Lobsters did not just provide an economic basis for dependent communities; their exploitation also created new relationships, between people and communities, individuals and the state, and ultimately new identities. Her study examines these relationships through a focus on property rights, regulation, political will and governance at the local, national and international level. Professor Morton will collect and analyze materials from federal and provincial records, and government commissions in Canada and the US, papers of influential individuals, fishermen’s organizations, lobster canning and shipping businesses, and newspapers. Students will assist identify and analyze material on microfilm, conduct targeted newspapers research and participate in the website development and maintenance. The primary output of this research program will be a single-authored scholarly monograph and a public history exhibit with an ongoing virtual legacy. By examining the history of lobster regulation, Professor Morton expects to reveal useful insights for contemporary policy makers.
A longitudinal study of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools
Amount awarded: $111,204
Keywords: human rights, aboriginal law, anthropology of law, identity, social construction
The recent creation of Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) on residential schools for Aboriginal and Inuit people provides an opportunity to examine some of the ways that universal principles of human rights are acted upon in a national venue and interpreted by the participants ---and by those who choose to not participate. With Canada as a country that was (and continues to be) formative in the development and implementation of human rights, Professor Niezen and his research team are strongly situated to make significant contributions to the social study of human rights. This program of research involves a closely focused approach to a human rights remedy that lays bare the strategies, networks, and institutions by which truth and reconciliation are pursued. The study will apply the tools of ethnography to the events of the Commission in seeking to address two interrelated research questions, one on the consequences, particularly the possible therapeutic effect, of public testimony and the other on the social formations that are supported by ritual and cultural representation in the Commission's gatherings. More broadly, with a methodological starting point in the ethnographic study of public events and processes, this study will explore the possibility that international law is not only providing venues for the pursuit of human rights, but is at the same time reinterpreting common understandings of human life and redefining human experience. The research methodology will include: a team-based ethnography of the TRC national gatherings and community events and interviews with aboriginal participants, church personnel, and Commission officials. Students will participate in literature reviews, event ethnography, the transcription of testimony and interviews and co-authorship of research results. The study results will be published in peer-reviewed journals, integrated into teaching curricula, reported via community radio and CBC North, and shared with TRC Commissioners and officials. This study will offer a new approach to the problem of the institutional remedies of human rights, while positing an innovative understanding of the implications of legal process for collective identity.
The Pedophilic Imagination: Children, Sex, Movies
Amount awarded: $123,673
Keywords: film history and theory, cultural studies, gender and sexuality, American history, social construction of childhood
The representation of pedophilia has been one of the defining features of American cinema since its inception in the late nineteenth century. Drawing upon archival resources and critical theory, Professor Osterweil’s research program will culminate in the publication of the first book devoted to the representation of pedophilia in American cinema, "The Pedophilic Imagination: Children, Sex, Movies," which is intended as a critical intervention into ongoing debates about child sexuality and the media. This revisionary history examines the cinematic depiction of erotic children, intergenerational relationships, and pedophiles in order to understand why these tropes have been so central in the most important form of mass culture. This study is a critical exploration of the paradox of American cinema’s portrayal of child sexuality and its implications for American society. Reviewing eight specific, historically significant moments in the last hundred years of film history, this study looks at Hollywood's strategic representations of intergenerational romance in moments of vital crisis in order to understand what is at stake---racially, politically, and historically—in these contentious figurations. Documents and films analyzed for this study will be from key film archives and libraries in New York, Los Angeles, Bloomington, Washington, and Boston. Students will participate in extensive reading, literature summary, archival research, translation, web management and the creation of knowledge databases. Professor Osterweil will distribute the study results through conference papers, journal articles, DVDs and other teaching materials, databases, and a website. By theorizing these fraught representations in relation to their larger social and historical contexts, this research aims to reveal the mystified ideological concerns that have animated American cinema's obsession with pedophilia.
Nationalism and Provincial Text in Contemporary Russian Culture
Amount awarded: $90,489
Keywords: contemporary Russian literature and culture, cultural studies, nationalism and national identity, cultural myths, provincial topos, internal colonization, Occidentalism
On the first page of Nikolai Gogol's classic novel Dead Souls (1842), a troika enters a dreary provincial town and a passerby wonders whether its wheels could get it to Moscow. On the last page, this troika, having entered the realm of myth, flies over Russia's borders while other nations, apprehensively, stand aside and make way for it. The troika's symbolic journey bridges two major binaries of Russian culture: the provinces vs. the capital, and Russia vs. the West. Professor Parts’ research program explores the semantic field where these binaries intersect in post-Soviet culture, and where the opposition of the provinces vs. the capital becomes a thematic and ideological alternative to Russia's perpetually problematic relationship with the West. The Russian collective identity, until recently imperial rather than national, has always depended as much on Russia's relationship with its imperial subjects as with the West. Russian provinces have become crucial to this process. This research program examines the provincial theme in post-Soviet literature, film, and journalism as a cultural representation of Russian nationalism. It is the first attempt at a comprehensive analysis of this major cultural theme across various media and in the context of the multiple discourses, tactics, and paradoxes of Russian nationalism. Professor Parts’ research program takes the Cultural Studies approach and integrates literary with cultural and socio-political analysis, as she examines the literary texts, films, and journalism of Putin's Russia that employ the "capital vs. provinces" opposition. Graduate students will work on literary texts, films, and journalism in order to compile a bibliography of critical receptions and public sphere discussion of the subject in various media. The results of this research will be published in a monograph and several articles in scholarly and literary journals.
When we hear the name Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), we immediately associate it with his universal character and book, Don Quixote. Yet as Professor Pérez-Magallón observes, the process by which Cervantes came to be synonymous with his most famous character was long and convoluted. The first of its kind, this original program of research will explore the cultural mechanisms – ideological and political though too often disguised as aesthetic – by which the reception of this complex and contradictory work was reduced to a few simple elements. Further, it will investigate how these elements enabled the transformation of the historical figure Cervantes (hidden metonymically through his famous character, Don Quixote) into a symbol of national identity. Professor Pérez-Magallón will frame his interpretive work with theories of reception, cultural studies, historiography and national identity. Using key archives in Italy, Spain and France, he will review polemical, apologist and other literary and intellectual texts, as well as Quixote iconography, from the 18th and 19th centuries. Students working on this interdisciplinary study will receive training and assist in bibliographic research, in-depth reading and summarizing of texts, conducting archival research, interpreting and presenting research results. The study results will be disseminated to Hispanic studies and interdisciplinary audiences through academic journals and conference presentations, and to broader audiences through presentations at Quebec CEGEPs, Hispanic radio in Canada and beyond and via the research website.
Postcolonial Cultures and the Cold War
Amount awarded: 122,844
Keywords: African literature, postcolonial studies, Cold War, decolonization, imperialism, neocolonialism, contemporary novel, essays, genre, intellectual history, Eastern Europe, the West, Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Alex La Guma, Aime Cesaire, Kwame Nkrumah, Edward Said
Postcolonial studies and Cold War scholarship treat contemporaneous cultural phenomena, yet they have seldom crossed paths. Professor Monica Popescu’s program of research will rewrite their main narratives, foregrounding interconnections and mutual reinforcement. Historicizing the emergence of postcolonial studies during the Cold War, this study will reveal the watermark left by the Iron Curtain in literature, essays, journalism, and autobiography penned by anticolonial and postcolonial intellectuals. Through a literary study of these texts, Professor Popescu will attempt to show that the current shape, aims, methodologies, and blind spots in postcolonial and Cold War studies arise from and are revealed through the juxtaposition of these two cultural scenes. This research program and the monograph Postcolonial Cultures and the Cold War will be the first literary study to bring them together. It asks how we can read works by Ngugi wa Thiong'o, Ousmane Sembène, Ayi Kwei Armah, Nadine Gordimer, Alex La Guma or Mongane Wally Serote to show their significant role in the cultural clash between communists and capitalists. It addresses the themes and genres in postcolonial literature that have been shaped by the Cold War and the ways in which they differ from those observed in Western or Eastern European literatures. Students will learn how to collect and analyze archival data, work closely with primary and secondary sources to identify Cold War tropes, contribute to creating a database of resources, present conference papers, learn the process of preparing a manuscript for press, and contribute to the development and refining of the website associated with this research program. Dissemination of this research program will circulate the results within the academic community and beyond, through the monograph Postcolonial Cultures and the Cold War, peer-reviewed journal articles, invited talks, presentations at scholarly conferences and in public venues, teaching and student training, as well as the first website dedicated to the Cold War in the global South.
Perception as Something We Do: The Reconsideration of Spectatorship in Contemporary Art
Amount awarded: $244,507
Keywords: contemporary art, vision and visuality, cognitive process, spectatorship
Since the late 1980s, spatial arts - a category that has expanded to include installation art, architectural and new media environments, situational practices, immersive settings and interactive spaces - have set about a significant reconsideration of spectatorship. This mutation is one in which modern art's privileging of representation over reception and formalism's privileging of the art object over its environment have been fundamentally questioned. The spectator is solicited to engage with the image, object and space to produce the work. The assessment of this mutation presents three major challenges to the art historian: (1) the need to explore cognitive models that attend to the interactive (body/mind/space) processes of perception and cognition(e.g. the expanded mind and the enactive mind models); (2) the need to complicate these new understandings of spectatorship by bridging cognitive, cultural and social perspectives; and (3) the need to situate spatial arts in the larger debate over the politics of aesthetics. The main objective of this study is to meet these three challenges so as to provide a general theory of contemporary art spectatorship. The study asks two fundamental questions: what are the cognitive science models which can help art historians to circumscribe the spatial developments of contemporary art and how can these models be enriched by their combination with long-established art historical models? These questions will be addressed empirically in a series of intersecting case studies, engaging with pivotal art practices that investigate perceptibility in space as "something we 'complexly' do" including works by artists in Canada, the U.S. and Europe. Students participating in the study will participate in seminars, conduct bibliographic and archival research in galleries and museums, compile textual, photo, and video documentation of the artworks maintain the data bank, create and maintain the research website, and assist in the organization an international conference. The results of the research will be disseminated through publications in specialized journals, the presentation of conference papers, the creation of a digital bank of images, sound and texts, and of a website, and workshops.
New Letters of Frances Burney, 1791-1840
Amount awarded: $234,884
Keywords: late eighteenth-century and romantic period English literature, theory and practice of textual editing, journal and letter-writing, literature by women, women's history
The primary objective of Professor Sabor’s research is to complete the modern scholarly editing of Frances Burney's journals and letters: a long-term Canadian project launched in 1972, when the first volume of Journals and Letters of Fanny Burney (Madame d'Arblay), 1791-1840 was published by Oxford University Press. In his preliminary research for New Letters of Frances Burney, Professor Sabor discovered over a hundred unpublished letters. Collectively, these letters provide a wealth of new information on Burney herself, English and French society in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth century, Burney's life in Paris under Napoleonic rule and her bout with breast cancer and subsequent mastectomy. Research activities for this study will include the search for additional unpublished letters as well as the transcription, translation and commentary for the letters. Students will gain extensive experience and training in all aspects of scholarly editing, from searching for primary sources and manuscript transcription to technical bibliographical description and the research and drafting of explanatory annotation. The research findings will be disseminated to academic and non-academic audiences through the Burney Centre website, presentations at scholarly conferences and historical societies, scholarly articles and a scholarly edition to be published by Oxford University Press. New Letters of Frances Burney will be of interest to literary critics, social and political historians, and scholars engaged in feminist and gender studies, and will make an important contribution to the new wave of Canadian scholarship in the humanities.
Diversity, Social Networks and New Technologies: A Longitudinal Study of Youth Democratic Citizenship
Amount awarded: $210,616
Keywords: youth, civic engagement, democratic citizenship, diversity, inter-ethnic contact, multiculturalism, redistributive justice, political participation, online participation, social networks, bridging ties, social-networking sites, political communication
Professor Stolle’s research program, led by an international and interdisciplinary team of scholars from political science, developmental psychology and social psychology, seeks to understand the changing practices of democratic citizenship among today's youth given two major societal transformations. The first relates to the rising visibility of ethnic and racial minorities, which has triggered a growing debate about the consequences of diversity for community and social cohesion in industrialized democracies. Second, new communication technologies have changed the ways in which citizens connect with each other. The changing demographic and technological environment means that young people are growing up in a world very different from their predecessors. However, we know little about the political consequences of these changes for democratic citizenship. This study aims to address this gap in our understanding of political socialization through the collection of a second wave of the Canadian Youth Study (CANYS). Drawing on a unique longitudinal youth panel, this research program will investigate how different aspects of young peoples' social environments (both online and off) shape democratic citizenship, including discussion of politics, engagement in various political acts, and attitudes toward the political community and the conflicts that emerge within it. Understanding how the changing nature of social networks affects democratic citizenship addresses the future health of democratic politics in this country. Students participating in this study will gain experience in survey development, leadership and data analysis. The study data and results will be shared with academic and non-academic audiences through an existing website, a stakeholder meeting, academic conference presentations, publications and more. Two policy areas, youth (dis)engagement and integration policies will both benefit directly from the insights of this research program. The study's co-investigator is Allison Harell (UQAM) and the collaborators include Constance Flanagan (Wisconsin) and Miles Hewstone (Oxford).
The proposed research will examine the status of "small part" players within selected periods of film history. "Small part players" include film extras and so-called "bit" players. Under-examined within the discipline of film studies, "small part players" nevertheless constitute the vast majority of human performers appearing in films. This research program will focus on three historical moments in which "small part" players were the object of industrial organization or the focus of an aesthetically-based disdain. The first of these historical moments is the mid-1930s, when the category of the "dress extra" (the extra possessed of an opulent wardrobe and skill in wearing it) became institutionalized within labour contracts and industry hiring practices. The second period to be discussed is that of the "semi-documentary" cycle in Hollywood in the mid-to-late 1940s. Finally, the research will trace the rejection by filmmakers of the French nouvelle vague of the professional extra, condemned as one of the most visible residues of an archaic industry which young filmmakers were looking to displace. Each of these case studies will involve research at archives containing labour contracts, production histories and critical discourse. Students will assist in the review and analysis of trade and fan magazines, critical writings and other documents and collaborate in the organization of a workshop and exhibition. Research results will be presented in a number journal articles, co-written with students, in a book theorizing the place of the extra within film history, a public forum, website and gallery exhibit. The study will provide a historical overview and theoretical treatment of the film extra as the object of ongoing controversy, negotiation and redefinition.
Professor Tarnopolsky’s research program on Plato's notions of mimesis and thumos in the Republic addresses two of the most important themes in contemporary political theory and the social sciences: 1) the aesthetic character of democratic politics and 2) the role of emotions in fostering aggressive and warlike stances or more peaceful and diplomatic stances towards one's internal or external political opponents. In pursuing these themes, her research will address the following questions: What can Plato's theories about the aesthetic character of politics tell us about how contemporary democratic citizens acquire and contest their paradigms of citizen behavior? How do these paradigms of behavior shape the emotions of citizens, especially in their relations to democratic opponents inside the polity, and towards foreign allies and enemies? This original research will bring together two distinct bodies of contemporary political theory: 1) aesthetic theories, which examine how mimicking and performing certain behaviors or seeing certain behaviors represented in the media, on the internet or in artworks, dramas, and cinema work to instill these behaviors in citizens; and 2) emotions theories, and specifically those that examine how emotional paradigms or narratives are used by political leaders and news media to foster certain emotions like outrage, hubris, resentment, and loathing or (alternately) compassion, love, enthusiasm, and friendship within and between various political groups. Professor Tarnopolsky will use works of Plato and other Greek texts to 1) reassess our understanding of Platonic politics and 2) situate this within the Athenian democratic context. Using a cross-national database of news stories about political events, she will then show how this new understanding of Platonic politics sheds light on the interconnections between aesthetics and emotions in contemporary democratic theories and practices. Students will prepare bibliographies and text summaries, maintain a bibliographic database and the research website, and research on-line content. The results of this research will be presented to academic and non-academic audiences through a website, academic publications and conferences, public lectures, public radio and a gallery exhibit.
The mental representation of language variation: macro- and micro-parameters
Amount awarded: $373,373
Keywords: language variation, parameters, syntax, ergativity, language change, universal grammar
The difference between accusative languages like English and ergative languages like Inuktitut appears to be substantial -- akin to differences between Mohawk and English. For this reason, a macroparameter has been proposed to account for this 'macrodifference'. Further, other language specific characteristics have been claimed to cluster with this difference in alignment such as extraction restrictions, definiteness restrictions, and differences in control and binding. On closer examination, however, it turns out that the distinction is neither as drastic nor as clear-cut as it first appears. In fact, there appears to be an ergativity continuum, i.e. some languages seem to have more ergative characteristics than others. Further, ergative languages can look very similar to accusative languages on the surface. Using a comparative syntax method in which similar constructions in two genetically and geographically unconnected language families, Mayan and Austronesian, are compared, Professor Travis, co-applicant Jessica Coon (McGill) and collaborators Ileana Paul (Western University) and Ian Roberts (Cambridge) will pursue two sets of academic goals. One set involves extending the relevant data set and adding to the existing descriptive generalizations. The team will create an overview of the diagnostics for ergativity and add data to the microparameter literature by investigating closely related languages/dialects within the Austronesian and the Mayan language families. The other set of goals involves investigating the theoretical tools of the language faculty in order to shed light on the nature of parameters focusing specifically on: (i) the viability of macroparameters (ii) the restrictions on parameters, and (iii) the particular characteristics of the ergativity continuum. Students will participate in the study through the in-depth study of one language, conducting fieldwork and creating a database and bibliography for each. They will also present and defend work at weekly project meetings, maintain the study website, present and publish their findings. The research results will be disseminated to academic audiences and non-academic audiences through conferences, a website, and public talks on language preservation.