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2012-13 Graduate Fellows

Andrea Allgood is a PhD student in Department of Religious Studies. Her research investigates the utility of postcolonial theory in understanding ancient texts, especially texts of the Hebrew Bible.  It has been demonstrated by scholars such as Nathaniel Levtow that Israelite authors were engaged in a broader ancient Near Eastern discourse.  Ideas and tropes that had currency all over the ancient Mediterranean, such as issues of purity (which certain biblical sources took pains to describe and delineate), worship and space, and national identity, were utilized by biblical authors in particular ways to articulate specific ideas and concerns.  Also central to her research is the idea that not all biblical authors agreed on these issues.  Her work draws on historical-critical as well as literary-critical ideas and methods in order to better articulate the multi-faceted aspect of Israelite discourse about foreign lands and foreign peoples.


Jeffrey Neilson is a PhD candidate in the Department of English. His current research focuses on post-World War II American poetry and poetics in conjunction with accounts of secularism in American literature, pragmatist philosophy, and the reconstruction of ethical discourse in postwar lyric poetry. His dissertation, "Making a Living Poetry: The Process of Vocation in Postwar American Poetics," traces the historical declension of a culturally pervasive trope of poetic expression—a poet's "vocation"—in the work of American poets from the late 1940s up to the present (William Carlos Williams, Robert Duncan, Adrienne Rich, and Yusef Komunyakaa). The project inquires how, in response to emerging and intensified ideological pressures at mid-century (e.g., liberalism, pluralism, secularism, and literary professionalism), these poets have variously developed radically processual senses of lyric form and have thus redefined alternative possibilities for poetry's persistence not as a career but a vocation. In turning to epistemological accounts of religion emerging from the work of American pragmatists (William James, John Dewey, and George Herbert Mead) and other twentieth-century philosophers of process (Henri Bergson, Alfred North Whitehead), the study aims to illuminate the dynamic interarticulation of aesthetic, ethical, and critical dispositions toward artistic becoming that have emerged in American poetics in the latter half of the twentieth century.

Jeffrey received a Cogut Center Tuition Fellowship to the Cornell School of Criticism and Theory in 2011.


Jacob Richman, a doctoral candidate in the MEME program, is a mixed-media composer whose work explorers the relationship between sight and sound in live performance. His pieces mix live-processed video, music and sound to create unique multimedia settings in which performers can interact. He is fascinated by what he sees as the interconnectedness of things: people with places, sounds with textures, humans with animals, plants and the natural world. He feels that exploring the relationships between sounds and images in performance is an effective way to both investigate and convey these greater connections that surround us. His dissertation project, The (unfinished) Ballad of Adam and Elena Emery, is a multimedia opera/installation setting of a murder story that took place in Rhode Island in the 1990s.


Steven Swarbrick, a PhD candidate in the Department of English, works in the field of Renaissance literature using a variety of methodological lenses: from science and technology studies to disability studies, queer theory, affect theory, and ecology. His work shuttles between periods—the contemporary and the early modern—and in turn pays special attention to questions of time, historicity, and the “afterlife” of the early modern. While a Fellow at the Cogut Center, Swarbrick will begin work on his dissertation, “When Our Eyes Touch: Sensory Entanglements and EcoAesthetics in an Early Modern Frame,” which argues for the ongoing relevance of Renaissance representations of the senses—primarily the “lower” senses—for our contemporary ecological era. Focused on touch, this project shows how vision—the dominant metaphor in modern knowledge-making, and so the dominant sense in the West—is characterized by an entanglement of other senses: touch, taste, hearing and smell. Charting this entanglement in the work of poets and playwrights such as Richard Crashaw, Robert Herrick, John Milton, and Shakespeare, as well as contemporary artists and filmmakers, this project will be concerned to show how a redistribution of the senses enables contemporary readers to reconsider Renaissance literature in light of our own, surprisingly similar, surprisingly baroque, aesthetic sensibility.