In 2008-09 the Center inaugurated its Undergraduate Fellowship program, offering advanced honors undergraduates the opportunity to participate in the life of the center and benefit from the critique of their work by other Cogut Fellows. As a key player in Brown’s initiative of academic enrichment, the Cogut Center provides multiple programs to bring Brown faculty and students into regular and innovative contact with each other, with national and international scholars and scholarship, and with the coming generations of scholars whose training for academic life and for the world at large is the foremost task of the university.
The 2012-13 cohort of Undergraduate Fellows: Berit Goetz, Peter Johnson, Zack Mezera and Catharine Savage.
Berit Goetz ’13 is concentrating in music and comparative literature. She is interested in how intertextuality complicates the cultural history and reception of text-based musical works. As a songwriter and performer involved in the religious community at Brown, she is particularly interested in the ways that musical and literary texts aestheticize, communicate, and encode socio-religious ideologies.
Her thesis will examine Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem, Op. 66 (1962), which sets selections from Wilfred Owen's World War I poetry within the Latin textual framework of requiem form. She will explore how text and musical gesture combine to imply a theological reading of the First World War, and how “sacred” works catalyze the tension between the way religion and faith are presented publicly, expressed aesthetically, and experienced privately. She hopes to question more broadly how the subject—as listener, reader, or performer—encounters text-based musical works both as aesthetic objects to be enjoyed and as ideologically inflected art-works that demand an intellectual or political response.
Peter Johnson ’13 is concentrating in Egyptology & Ancient Western Asian Studies, focusing primarily on Egyptian archaeology, history, language, and art. Peter is also excited by the idea of Egyptian identity and much of his scholarship at Brown University has been framed by the changing identity of modern Egypt precipitated by the revolution. His academic pursuits have supported work in museums across the country where he has examined and participated in the display of ancient artifacts. His museum work has dovetailed with a dedication to public humanities – pursuits aimed at engaging the general public in conversations that examine and highlight the relevance of humanities in every day life. Peter’s thesis research is inspired by the question of how the ancient Egyptians identified themselves through art as a reflection of state control. Researching the acquisition of an artifact at the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design has encouraged him to also consider the regularity of Egyptian art as demonstrated by a canon of proportions during the civilization’s 3,000-year-old history. In his thesis, Peter hopes to highlight non-canonical representations in Egyptian art, placing them into historical context and in doing so exposing questions of utility, identity, and state control of pictorial representation.
Peter’s previous research includes topics of Egyptian Middle Kingdom Funerary Architecture, Egyptian Scarab seals in New Kingdom/Late Bronze Age Levant, and historiographic tensions between Egyptology and Afrocentrism.
Zack Mezera ’13 considers such research questions as: When we use logic trees to discuss the brain, what are we saying about free will? When we use flow charts to represent democratic decision-making, what are we saying about human agency? But most especially, when confronted by potentially dehumanizing models of strict information flow, what role do we still afford for belief or faith, if any? His research tracks the development and popularization of the informational-cognitive understanding’s assertion of the human into fields, through the work of Warren McCulloch, Karl Deutsch and others, and identifies and applies readings of religious defenders like Kierkegaard that particularly anticipate the possible challenged of faith and agency in the information-age human.
Catharine Savage ’13 is concentrating in United States History and Gender & Sexuality Studies with a focus on women and representation. While at Brown, she has explored the history of the gay identity, women in popular culture, and women’s roles in the academy. Her senior thesis in the History Department will explore the effect of identity politics’ introduction to American universities on the borders of scholarship, using Brown as a specific example. She will examine historical records of feminism in the university, student activism, and creation of women’s studies, ethnic studies, as well as organizations such as the Third World Center and the Sarah Doyle Center as resources for students that combine the academic with the personal. She will also use canonical texts on discourse, identity, specialization, and essentialization as both a framework for her study as well as evidence she will analyze within the context of identity politics in the academy.