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2013-14 Graduate Fellows

The Cogut Center for the Humanities sponsors academic-year-long Graduate Fellowships each year for Brown graduate students in the humanities. Doctoral students who have advanced to candidacy are eligible and encouraged to apply. Fellowships are not exclusively for students who are completing their dissertations; those who are at earlier stages of research are also eligible.

The 2013-14 Graduate Fellows: Nicolas Bommarito, Meghan Kallman, Sean Keck, and Coleman Nye.

Nicolas Bommarito is a PhD candidate in the Philosophy Department. His interests are primarily in ethics and Buddhist philosophy. His dissertation, "Inner Virtue", provides an account of how various inner states can be morally virtuous independently of any behavior they produce. He argues that mental phenomena like pleasures, emotions, attention, and imagination are central to being a good person because of their intimate relationship with our deepest cares and concerns. In doing so, he draws on a variety of sources including contemporary Anglo-American work, Tibetan and Indian Buddhist texts, and classics from ancient Greece and China. The result is a culturally-informed account of how inner life is central to moral virtue. 

Meghan Kallman is a doctoral candidate in the sociology department. Her research looks at the effects of formal organizations on idealism and altruism, blending insights from social movement theory, organizational theory, and international political economy to discover what happens to activists when they become parts of large bureaucratic organizations. Her dissertation, "Bureaucratized morality, institutional durability: organizationally mediated idealism and international relationships in the Peace Corps" uses the Peace Corps to study these questions of public altruism. It investigates the way that volunteers' biographies, identities, and politics are shaped by participation, a well as the ways in which individuals diffuse Peace Corps ideas throughout their lives and professions.

Sean Keck, a PhD candidate in the Department of English, studies the relationship between the temporality of mediated sound, subjectification, and literature. His dissertation, "Reverb: American Literature, Sound, & Body Politics," tracks how American authors working in the period between the invention of the phonograph and the development of digital audio utilize a variety of sonic media forms to reimagine the making of the modern subject. Foundational Marxist theories of subjectification have tended to emphasize the alienation of the subject from the process of his or her own social production. According to Louis Althusser, for example, the modern subject is “always-already” interpellated. Yet ideological apparatuses are themselves always-already mediated. Literary invocations of sonic media forms and practices promise to reimagine the subject as in-process (or re-produced) rather than “always-already”-produced. Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, Gertrude Stein, and Ralph Ellison write sound as a movement or force rather than an object.  Using sonic media as models for experimentation, they create networked literary structures that operate across (or under) traditional narrative and representational strategies. In emphasizing sound, they amplify literature as a dynamic network that problematizes static categorizations of race, class, and gender.

Coleman Nye is a PhD candidate in the Department of Theatre Arts and Performance Studies. Her research explores the gendered, political, and aesthetic dimensions of biomedical knowledge production in the U.S., with a particular focus on breast cancer genetics. Coleman’s dissertation, “Enacting Facts: Theatrical Economies of Genetic Knowledge,” locates the BRCA genes, commonly referred to as the “breast cancer genes,” as a site from which to theorize speculative modes of knowing and intervening in women’s bodies. Since mutations in these genes were linked to significant breast and ovarian cancer risk in the mid-1990’s, women who have a genetic risk for cancer have begun “previving” - surviving the disease in advance by removing healthy breasts and ovaries. In short, they are surgically enacting treatment for a disease that is not and may never be empirically present. Rather than a biomedical anomaly, Coleman suggests that this anticipatory practice is indicative of broader transformations in knowledge and action in the historical present, which increasingly render it feasible and necessary to materialize and preempt possibility before the empirical conditions for intervention are present. Following the BRCA genes as they gain texture and meaning across diverse political, legal, social, biomedical, aesthetic, and economic domains of construction and contestation, Coleman develops a theory of theatricality that captures the imaginative, affective, and relational techniques at work within the increasingly speculative machinations of contemporary technoscience.