The following faculty members received funding awards in spring 2015 through the College’s Faculty Research Award Program (FRAP), which supports the research activities of all regular full- and part-time tenured and tenure-track Amherst College faculty members. Since 2000, FRAP has been endowed by the H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life.
Title: Anna Seghers in the Americas
Anna Seghers (1900-1983) was a leftist thinker, a modernist writer, and a leading voice among German pre-war, exile, and post-war intellectuals. Seghers’s importance to America has been obscured by the Cold War. Professor Ute Brandes’s new book will focus on Seghers’s exile and post-war years (1933-1950), and it will trace the outstanding role that America played in the life trajectory of this writer and the important impulses it received from her. Professor Brandes will work at the archives of the Little, Brown publisher in Boston; the FBI in Washington, DC; and the Heinrich Heine Club in Mexico City (of which Seghers served as president). “Anna Seghers in the Americas"” will establish Seghers as an important international voice of memory and coming-to-terms with the Nazi past in the context of German-American history.
Title: Participation in the First International Conference on Anticipation in Trento, Italy
Professor Nusrat Chowdhury is participating in the First International Conference on Anticipation to be held in Trento, Italy, where she will present her paper, “Mines and Signs: Resource and Political Futures in Bangladesh.” As an article, it has been accepted for a special issue on resource futures and the politics of anticipation for the Journal of Royal Anthropological Institute (UK) to be published in 2016. In this paper, Chowdhury has engaged with scholars who theorize the concept of anticipation in anthropology, an emergent topic of interest in her discipline. One of her interlocutors in the paper, Arjun Appadurai, who has recently published a book called, The Future as Cultural Fact , will be one of the main speakers at the Trento conference. This conference, therefore, will be a great opportunity for the completion of her manuscript in which she explores the idea of "futures" both in terms of resource and national politics in Bangladesh. In addition to this, Professor Chowdhury is co-editing a volume on new scholarship on Bangladesh, with Lotte Hoek of University of Edinburgh. This book, Generations: Emergent Thoughts on Bangladesh, is based on the papers given at a conference that Chowdhury had organized at University of Texas at Austin in the fall of 2013. Final editing of the volume will be completed in the fall of 2015 before submitting it to potential publishers.
Title: Art and the Invention of Queenly Authority in Early Modern France
Professor Nicola Courtright will visit the Florentine archives to amplify her research for the book she is writing, “Art and the Invention of Queenly Authority in Early Modern France.” For some years she has explored how art was created to support the authority of leaders who were not officially sanctioned to rule but were nevertheless often in positions of authority: queens in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century France. In the book she contends that beginning with Henri IV, queens were intentionally integrated into the imagery and politics of rule to paint a new picture of the queen’s shared sovereignty with the king. During this period, queens’ domiciles—including queens’ wings in royal residences— and the imagery in them expanded greatly. This phenomenon was puzzling, given what seemed to be the inferior status of royal women compared to their husbands and sons. Regents needed to appear authoritative on behalf of their underage sons when their spouses died prematurely, to be sure. But Henri IV inaugurated a visual and spatial amplification that portrays a notion of partnership of king and queen during his lifetime, a political concept that was important enough to the ruling royal culture to continue, despite fissures, conflicts, and missteps, into the reign of Henri’s grandson, Louis XIV. Even when queens were divested of actual authority by the end of the seventeenth century, royal consorts and regents were portrayed ever more frequently and occupied ever more important spaces because, she hypothesizes, they gave the appearance of dynastic invincibility and stability to a fragile state in the wake of the religious wars, political disarray, and dynastic breakdown in early modern France. Professor Courtright’s book builds this argument by focusing on the decoration and use of apartments and gardens created for Marie de Médicis in the French royal domiciles of the Louvre and Fontainebleau.
Title:“Schubert’s Pastoral”: Research for a Monograph on Schubert’s C Major Cello Quintet
Professor Jenny Kallick will research and write a monograph on Schubert’s Cello Quintet. The monograph will address the composition’s close connections to Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, no. 6, and how this connection can illuminate important questions of performance practice as pertaining to the Cello Quintet. While preparing for the Schubert Live Recording Project (Sept. 2014), Professor Kallick discovered the quintet’s embedded material from Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony, previously unmentioned in the Schubert literature. The explicit quotation in the Quintet’s slow movement of the three bird’s named in Beethoven’s autograph score signals explicitly the clear connection between the symphony, and the late Quintet. The embedded Beethoven Pastoral suggests a network of Arcadian aesthetic and philosophic connections. Building on this network of connections, Professor Kallick will develop a more certain narratology for the work as a whole. It is well known that in Schubert’s final year, with his immanent death from syphilis compelling him to compose non-stop, he inscribed his deeply felt devotion to Beethoven’s music in many of these valedictory works, using a range of referential materials, including Beethoven quotations. In recognition of the composer’s obsession with linking his own legacy to that of Beethoven, scholar John Gingerich refers to the composer’s last year of composing as his “Beethoven project.”
Performing the Cello Quintet poses significant performance practice issues. Written two months before Schubert’s death in 1828, the Quintet did not received its first performance until 1850. This means that there is no real performance history during the composer’s lifetime to guide contemporary performers. Another obstacle faces contemporary performers. Not only is there no performance practice history, the composer’s autograph for the quintet has disappeared. A composer’s manuscript carries invaluable information that is known to be missing from the first published edition. Mining the information contained in composer’s autographs and sketches comprises a well-established area in musicology. No published score can ever capture the full import of the composer’s hand-written autograph, where the details of articulation and dynamics are so carefully notated and where the very layout and pen strokes carry aesthetic meaning. Professor Kallick’s investigation of how best to grasp the potency of Schubert’s embedded references to Beethoven’s Pastoral within the Cello Quintet will include: 1) close theoretical analysis of the Quintet and Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony; 2) direct examination of several Schubert manuscripts that will be particularly suggestive regarding the missing Cello Quintet autograph; 3) meetings with the performers to explore the ways in which the Beethoven quotation might serve as a signpost posited by the composer to guide our reading of the work’s narrative meaning. Her performance consultations will include members of the Brentano Quartet, resident performers at Yale University (residents of the NY area), and the St Lawrence Quartet, resident performers at Stanford University. Each quartet has worked extensively on questions of Schubert’s performance practice and have agreed to consult on this project. Two manuscript collections are of particular interest: the Morgan Library in New York and Stanford’s manuscript collection in Palo Alto. The Morgan contains numerous Schubert works. Of particular interest for this project is the Quartet in d minor, known as “Death and the Maiden.” Unlike in the case of the Cello Quintet, Schubert’s embedded quoted material is well known. How he marks off through notation style the statement of his song, “Death and the Maiden” may supply clues as to how the Beethoven quotation may have been articulated in the lost autograph. At Stanford, Professor Kallick will examine the autograph for Schubert extraordinary choral work “Gesang Der Geister Über den Wassern.” This setting of a poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s poem combines voices with a unique configuration of strings—two violas, two cellos, and double bass—offers an exciting opportunity to study the notational specifics used by Schubert when writing for strings in combination with voices. This example has special pertinence given that the Quintet often draws its textures from Schubert’s extensive stylistic accomplishments in writing for an extended choral work, dealing with metaphysical topics.
Title:Post-American Pragmatisms: Mining Octavia Butler’s Intellectual Traditions
With this project, Professor Marisa Parham will continue her work in the Octavia E. Butler manuscript archive at the Huntington Library. Her project, which is a hybrid digital book project, engages Butler as emerging from, but also disruptive to, the post-Civil war American intellectual tradition. By marking a path through the ephemera of Butler's intellectual growth, and Butler's own careful attention to her educational development, this project illuminates how a mostly self-educated, blue collar black woman could become one of the most, well-regarded writers of speculative fiction.
Title:Muss es ein Waltzer Sein? Leo Fall, Die Rose von Stambul, and the Waltz in Silver-Age Viennese Operetta
Professor David Schneider will study materials housed at the New York Public Library and the Austrian National Library relating to the composition and early reception of Leo Fall’s operetta Die Rose von Stambul, the hit production of Vienna’s 1916-17 season. Rose von Stambul serves as an important entry into understanding Viennese theatrical tastes during World War I, and is particularly notable for its hit song “Ein Waltzer muss es sein,” a waltz number, the subject of which is the waltz itself. Professor Schneider is preparing a paper on “Leo Fall,” the waltz, and Die Rose von Stambul for an international conference at UCLA in spring 2016.
Title: Under the Iron Dome; Beginning and Continuing Work on I Capuleti E I Montecchi by Bellini
Professor Suzanne Dougan is designing the set and costumes for a production of I Capuleti E I Montecchi directed by Idan Cohen, to be performed in Amherst in late April 2016. This performance will be followed by a June 2016 performance in San Francisco; a performance is also planned in Israel on a date to be determined. The set design will be designed to travel and be built to withstand the wear and tear of multiple break- downs and load- ins, and easily reconfigure when necessary. This funding will also support a technical director to consult with during the design period, produce the working drawings of the set, and help supervise its construction.
Title: Covenant and Creation in Islam: The History of an Idea
Professor Tariq Jaffer proposes to write a history of the theme of “covenant” in Islamic civilization. He is currently preparing the manuscript for publication with Oxford University Press. During the fifteen-month award period, Professor Jaffer will refine his Arabic philological skills and research on site at the New York Public Library, which holds many of the sources that are essential to his project.
Title: Brick and Mortar
Professor Justin Kimball will use the grant support and the time allotted by his upcoming sabbatical to finish the photographic work, editing and writing for his upcoming monograph: “Brick and Mortar.” The focus of this project is the small company towns of Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and West Virginia that relied on natural resources to survive: coal, steel, paper and farming. These businesses are long gone now, the local economy dried up and blown away, the final deathblow dealt by the recent economic down turn. The pictures Kimball has been making in these towns are of the people who live there now, their homes, backyards, the streets and the buildings that once supplied the town its livelihood and economy. While the pictures are about a specific region, they are also meant to point to a growing invisible, yet ubiquitous, part of the American landscape.
Title: Lead Mining and Social Outcomes in Britain in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries
Professor Jessica Reyes will investigate the relationship between lead mining and social outcomes in Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Lead is a hazardous neurotoxicant with numerous adverse effects on health and behavior. Professor Reyes’s previous work quantifies the substantial effects of leaded gasoline on crime, teen pregnancy, and antisocial behavior in the United States in the late twentieth century. In this project, Professor Reyes turns her attention to lead mining in Britain in the 18th and nineteenth centuries. During this time period, Britain’s extensive and successful lead industry created hundreds of local and regional pockets of high lead exposure. It is reasonable to expect that the lead exposures experienced by the British population during this time period were high enough to have caused early mortality, adverse health effects, and extensive antisocial behavior. In order to understand the nature, magnitude, and significance of lead’s influence in this context, Professor Reyes will gather and analyze empirical data on lead exposure and social outcomes. She will first deepen her knowledge of the history of lead mining in Britain via reading and archival work, and then engage in a sustained effort to develop a geographically detailed dataset of lead and social outcomes for each decade during this time period. Careful regression analysis of the resulting data will aim to establish a causal relationship between the intensity of lead workings and the occurrence of adverse outcomes such as infant mortality or homicide. Given the pervasiveness and intensity of lead mining in Britain during this time period, and the substantial exposures and concomitant effects, there is good reason to believe there is important environmental, economic, and social history to be uncovered.