SENIOR SABBATICAL FELLOWSHIP AWARDS

The H. Axel Schupf ’57 Fund for Intellectual Life supports the Senior Sabbatical Fellowship Program, which increases tenured faculty members’ salaries for one semester of leave from 80 to 100 percent. The fellowships are competitive, and they are awarded by the dean of the faculty and the Committee of Six once their recommendations are approved by the president and the trustees. The following are summaries of the 2018–2019 fellowship recipients’ research projects.

Daniel Barbezat, Ward H. Patton Professor of Economics
Research Project:  Well-Being in Economics

Professor Barbezat’s sabbatical project extends over the following three trajectories: a companion book for students in introductory economics, the completion of articles concerned with the impact of awareness on various biases, and the writing of a manuscript focused on awareness, self-interest, altruism and social well-being.

Ute Brandes, Georges Lurcy Professor of German
Research Project: Anna Seghers, Der Kopflohn (1933)

Professor Brandes will do the research for Anna Seghers’s novel Der Kopflohn (1933), which takes place in the fall of 1932, in a German village. The impoverished, ordinary country folk are tempted to give up a young man who is searched for by the Nazis. The book first appeared with the German exile publisher Querido in Amsterdam. Seghers was a leading voice among pre-war, exile, and post-war German intellectuals. Translated into forty languages, her novels became a key to the culture of memory and coming-to-terms with the Nazi past. Professor Brandes’s  book will be published in the Anna Seghers Werkausgabe by the noted Aufbau-Verlag in Berlin.

Kristin Bumiller, George Daniel Olds Professor in Economic and Social Institution
Research Project:  Architectures of Inclusion

Professor Bumiller’s project will examine the potential for inclusive design as a tool for re-imagining the social the physical architecture of a wide variety of public spaces, including parks, public schools, prisons, government buildings, and universities. In particular, the research focuses on how inclusive design could potentially fulfill the political goal of furthering individuals’ dignity and participation in the public sphere. This project considers the possibility of the state enlarging its role as a facilitator of social interaction, public discourse, and human potential. The plan is to examine three public spaces that have been recently constructed or renovated and for which the planning for the new architecture endeavored to fulfill a clear public mission (such as building community, modernization, improving sustainability, and opening up space for public use). The key question addressed by the research is the following: to what degree the explicit mission is served by the newly created spaces and what potential for serving democratic goals are left unrealized?

Sandra Burkett, Associate Professor of Chemistry

Ashley Carter, Assistant Professor of Physics
Research Project: Investigating proteins that can fold DNA on the fly

DNA is a well-known biomolecule with a double helix structure. Recently, DNA has been folded into a wide variety of 2D and 3D shapes beyond the double helix, producing interesting materials for engineering or pharmaceutical purposes. However, once assembled, the folded DNA shapes are fixed. It would be great if these nanoengineered DNA shapes could fold on the fly, changing the properties of the material on cue. In this study, Professor Carter and her team will look at the pathway and dynamics for DNA folding in sperm, where DNA must be folded on cue by the protein protamine. Studying the fundamental physics for this folding process should allow future engineers to create DNA materials with reconfigurable properties.

Michael Ching, Associate Professor of Mathematics
Research Project: Calculus of Functors and Applications in Homotopy Theory

Professor Ching’s project develops the theoretical foundations of Goodwillie’s calculus of functors, with a view to broader applications within homotopy theory. Professor Ching will continue his work on classifying Taylor towers and extend that work to the wider context of infinity-categories. This promises to have interesting applications in algebraic K-theory and chromatic homotopy theory.

Catherine Ciepiela, Howard M. and Martha P. Mitchell Professor of Russian
Research Project:  Tsvetaeva’s Modernism

As the unofficial capital of the modernist movement, interwar Paris hosted a number of foreign literary communities, among them the Russian émigrés who fled there after the Bolshevik revolution. The most highly regarded poet of the Russian emigration was Marina Tsvetaeva, whose career as a modernist writer merits consideration alongside those of more well-known figures like Rainer Maria Rilke and Samuel Beckett. Professor Ciepiela’s book about Tsvetaeva’s years in Paris (1926–1939) characterizes Tsvetaeva’s distinctive contributions to international modernism as a poet, a woman and an exile.

Andrew Dole, Professor of Religion
Research Project: Suspicion and the Study of Religion

Professor Dole’s new book will examine recent literature in religious studies using the apparatus developed in Reframing the Masters of Suspicion.  It will reconstruct a range of works from the 1970s through the early 2000s, as attempts at offering "suspicious explanations," where a suspicious explanation is (as a first approximation) one that postulates bad, hidden causes. The goals of this reconstructive work are, first, to locate the works in question in relationship to a paradigmatic form of social-scientific work that attempts to provide information that can be used for social improvement, and second, to get to the point where the question can profitably be asked whether these works offer explanations that are better than others on offer (or, in some cases, better than no explanation at all).

Suzanne Dougan, Stanley King ’03 Professor of Dramatic Arts (Theater and Dance) and Director of Theatrical Productions
Research Project: Designing I Capuleti e I Montecchi

With this project, Professor Dougan plans to continue her collaboration with Idan Cohen.

Thomas Dumm, William H. Hastie ’25 Professor of Political Science
Research Project: Migrations of Sovereignty

The current populist and neo-fascist movements in Western democracies such as the USA, Britain, Germany, and France have been thought of as symptoms of a recrudescence of nationalism. But that begs the question as to why now?  Professor Dumm will seek to explore how this contemporary political phenomenon may be an episode in the longer history of sovereignty in the West, paying particular attention to the USA, France, and Britain.

Amanda Folsom, Associate Professor of Mathematics

Deborah Gewertz, G. Henry Whitcomb 1874 Professor of Anthropology
Research Project:  Being Chambri

Anthropology has recently become caught up in debates about the nature of difference(s) in a contemporary world where lives are far from fixed: where people are, in turns, rooted in place, go and come through national if not transnational routes, and are increasingly routed by warfare and natural disasters. To contribute to these debates, Professor Gewertz’s study (including data collected since 1974) will document the lives of Chambri men and women as they have engaged with global processes, ones affecting definitions of personal and collective worth. The study, thus, has both a retrospective and prospective focus. It seeks to understand shifts in Chambri person, place, and identity over the past forty-five years and into the future.

Christopher Grobe, Assistant Professor of English
Research Project: Refined Mechanicals: The Realist Actor, the Robot, and Other Technologies

Professor Grobe’s book-length manuscript will provide a new intellectual and cultural history of realist acting, which has dominated theater (then film, then television) ever since the turn of the twentieth century. Specifically, the book will argue that the theories of acting (and humanity) we call "realist" emerged in tandem with a new vision of technology's own expressive power. Uniting theater history and performance studies with film, TV, and media studies—and putting both in conversation with a history of technology, especially of communication technology, the theory of artificial intelligence, and the field of social robotics—"Refined Mechanicals" argues that realist actors are exquisite machines and that, conversely, we now expect our machines to act.

David Hanneke, Assistant Professor of Physics
Research Project:  Driving Forbidden Vibrational Overtones in Trapped Molecular Ions

Knowledge of the fundamental laws of physics can be advanced through precise measurements of well-chosen quantities. Many models of new physics seek to unite quantum mechanics with gravitation or to explain phenomena such as dark matter. Some of these models predict that the fundamental "constants" of nature should drift or oscillate. Professor Hanneke searches for such changing constants by use of the quantum states of trapped molecular ions. During this sabbatical, he will investigate the energy difference between two states in the vibrational structure of the oxygen molecular ion. These states are sensitive to changes in the mass of the proton relative to the electron. He will refine his experiment to measure the energy difference and to calibrate that difference to high accuracy. 

David Hansen, Professor of Chemistry
Research Project:  Self-Assembling Nanostructures of Defined Size

The goal of the research ongoing in the Hansen lab is the preparation of self-assembling nanostructures of discrete size, a current challenge in the field of supramolecular chemistry. In particular, recent results reported by the Sanders group at the University of Cambridge are being extended to prepare both nanotubes and capsules that spontaneously assemble; naphthalene diimide (NDI) derivatives, in which the aromatic core is flanked by two amino-acid residues, serve as the building blocks. The specific approach taken by the Hansen lab is to preorganize the NDI monomers for nanotube and capsule formation through the introduction of covalent tethers. In addition, the ends of the nanotubes are being capped by selective incorporation of NDI subunits that will not permit further self-assembly.

Michael Hood, Professor of Biology
Research Project:  Migration Histories of Global Disease Distributions

The modern world is one where organisms are inadvertently transported along with human travel and trade, sometimes resulting in the emergence of new diseases in new domesticated or natural populations. Our ability to predict the consequences of such disease introductions is strengthened by studying the ecological processes that governed historic migrations of hosts and pathogens at large, continental scales. This project uses natural history museum collections of a natural plant disease, caused by a fungus, to reconstruct the history of inter-continental migration. Specimens collected over the past two hundred years will be used to extract DNA and trace the lineages that appear to have dispersed from northwestern Eurasia to North America, shedding light on the frequency of migration and prevalence of disease in newly invaded lands.

Larry Hunter, Stone Professor of Natural Sciences 
Research Project:  Optical cycling and transverse cooling in thallium-fluoride

Professor Hunter intends to continue to investigate optical cycling and transverse cooling in thallium fluoride (TlF). If successful, this work will improve the sensitivity of the new TlF nuclear electric-dipole moment (edm) experiment now being constructed at Yale by the Centrex collaboration. The TlF edm experiment will look for the missing time-reversal violation required for the creation of our matter-dominated universe.

David Jones, Assistant Professor of Geology

Carol Keller, Professor of Art
Research Project: Objects On Errand, Objects Adrift

Professor Keller will be using her sabbatical to embark on a new body of studio work, moving from the production of large-scale collage works into that of free-standing sculptures. She will be doing related travel and research to inform her work during this period.

Justin Kimball, Professor of Art
Research Project:  Expansion of the Photographic Project titled Elegy

Professor Kimball will expand his last photographic project, titled Elegy, which was made in working- class and post-industrial towns in New York, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, to include similar towns across the United States, particularly the Midwest. This new work will focus more closely on the individuals and families living in these towns and will consider both the historical and current political and socioeconomic events that have shaped their lives.

William Loinaz, Professor of Physics
Research Project:  Physics Beyond the Standard Model

During his leave, Professor Loinaz will work on projects related to theoretical high-energy physics. The goal of the field of particle physics is to discover the most fundamental constituents of matter, those degrees of freedom that are active at the shortest distance and highest energy scales, and to determine the nature of the interactions among them. It has been a tremendously exciting time for the discipline. The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN, the world's highest-energy particle accelerator, has over the past decade ushered in a new age for particle physics. The machine was built with the promise of finding the last missing piece of the Standard Model of particle physics, the Higgs boson, and it did so spectacularly. The discovery of the Higgs boson will help provide an answer a question that has dogged particle physicists for the past forty years: What is the origin of the masses of the elementary particles? However, it's probably fair to say that most particle physicists are interested not in completing the Standard Model but want instead to probe deeper, to shorter distances and higher energies, to see what lies beyond it. Over the next decade we hope the LHC will help us do just that. Physicists also grappling with other Big Questions, which are connected to the question of what is beyond the Standard Model: It appears that 96 percent of the matter of the universe is NOT described by the Standard Model, but is in fact some sort of other entirely mysterious stuff—dark matter and dark energy—what are these? The more we study gravity, the more baffling it seems—is it like the other forces, and if not, what is it? Do we live in more than three space and one-time dimension, and if not, why not? Is the universe stable, or is it one cosmic ray away from a catastrophic phase transition? What is the nature of the ghostly neutrino particles, and what is their role in the broader context of particle physics? Professor Loinaz has worked on all of these questions, and will continue this work during his leave.

Pavel Machala, Charles E. Merrill 1908 Professor of Political Science
Research Project:  Marx’s World Affair; A Marx Reader on Foreign Policy and World Affairs; Global Politics in Contemporary Marxist Perspective

An article by Sebastian Sclofsky and Kevin Funk ([“The Specter That Haunts Political Science: The Neglect and Misreading of Marx in International Relations and Comparative Politics,” International Studies Perspectives, 19 (3) 2018]) reflects Professor Machala’s own thoughts on the role of Marx in political science departments, where even in the most prestigious American institutions of higher learning this figure is not given attention he deserves. Sclofsky and Funk collected a “database of syllabi for introductory graduate courses from top-ranked U.S. departments to assess the extent to which elite international relations and comparative politics scholars engage with Marx. Analysis of those syllabi overwhelmingly demonstrates that even superficial engagement with Marx or the Marxist tradition is exceedingly rare.” They conclude that “this superficial engagement, misreading, and sometimes the outright ignoring of Marx hinders the [political science] discipline’s ability to address important real-world problems or theoretical debates, let alone make political science matter.” Hence Professor Machala's determination to address this critical problem in his three-pronged research project: Marx’s World Affairs, A Marx Reader on Foreign Policy and World Affairs, Global Politics in Contemporary Marxist Perspective.

Jill Miller, Professor of Biology and Environmental Studies
Research Project:  Reproductive ecology and evolution in Lycium

Professor Miller will travel to Australia to continue investigations of the reproductive ecology and evolution of Lycium. The plant genus Lycium contains ninety-two species, and these possess diverse sets of reproductive traits. For example, some species are hermaphroditic and self-fertilize, whereas others are hermaphroditic but possess physiological mechanisms to prevent self-fertilization. Other species have evolved separate mating types (e.g., distinct female and hermaphroditic plants in populations, or distinct females and males), as opposed to combining female and male function as hermaphrodites. Finally, chromosome number also varies among species, and differences in chromosome number can often constrain mating patterns. Such diversity makes Lycium a useful system in which to study the underlying forces that drive evolutionary transitions in reproductive strategies.

Hilary Moss, Professor of Black Studies and History
Research Project: Cambridge in Crisis: Equalizing Educational Opportunity in Economic Hard Times.

Professor Moss’s research project explores Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the late 1970s, as the city attempted to sever the relationship between schooling and residential inequality. By the early 1980s, Cambridge utilized a system of controlled choice, whereby parents could select a school and a district could consider race when making assignment decisions. In so doing, Cambridge eliminated a system which had been in place since the 1930s, and replaced it with a city-wide assignment policy which took into account parental preference and racial balance. Cambridge was the first city in the nation to experiment with this style of school assignment as a way to desegregate its public schools. This project asks how the city of Cambridge convinced homeowners, who had purchased houses in neighborhoods that fed into the best schools in the city, to sacrifice their individual privilege for the sake of collective equality. It further explores the role the city's universities and their constituencies played in the design and implementation of this policy.

Pat O’Hara, Amanda and Lisa Cross Professor of Chemistry
Research Project: Focus on Food Science

During the Fall of 2018, Professor O’Hara will devote the majority of her time to working on a textbook she is writing based upon the course she developed at Amherst College “Molecular Gastronomy and Food Science: From test tubes to taste buds.” The book will be useful as both a textbook containing background material on the science behind various classic and modernist cooking techniques and as a lab manual that details the lab experiments that highlight features of each chapter. The experiments are all completely original and have been created at Amherst College over the past two iterations of the course.  In addition, Professor O’Hara has been named a Kahn Scholar at Smith College for the 2018–2019 academic year, which will enable her to interact with other researchers and scholars around a central topic of food.

John Rager, Professor of Computer Science
Research Project: Machine Learning and Digital Textual Analysis

In this project, Professor Rager will seek to apply machine learning techniques to the analysis of literary works. In particular, he will seek to apply supervised learning techniques to a number of problems in the identification of literary genre.

Sean Redding, Zephaniah Swift Moore Professor of History
Research Project:  Violence in Rural South Africa, 1902–1965

Professor Redding will complete the book manuscript, entitled "Violence in Rural South Africa, 1902–1965" and will submit the manuscript to a scholarly press. The book will argue that political violence and violence within families and communities was often connected, as both were attempts to use violence to re-establish or reinforce a moral social and political order. What constituted a moral order, however, changed over the twentieth century, as Christianity became more pervasive and as people reacted to it and reconstructed various notions of “traditional” culture. In addition, individuals sometimes used violence as a way of carving out autonomy for themselves in a colonial and then apartheid society that tended to regard most African men as interchangeable migrant laborers and most African women either as domestic servants or as “traditional” women engaging in “subsistence agriculture” in remote, often impoverished Bantustans. Violence became more deeply woven into the fabric of ordinary life in rural South Africa over the course of the twentieth century. Whether that violence was the product of social dysfunction and antisocial behavior, or was part of an attempt to enforce social cohesion and order, is a question at the heart of the colonial and then apartheid orders where control and moral authority were often tested and contested. Often both whites and Africans deemed the use of violence to be an outgrowth of African cultural traditions, but it was more commonly an outgrowth of the radically restructuring of those traditions in the context of rural South Africa.

Monica Ringer, Professor of Asian Languages and Civilizations and History
Research Project:  God’s Intent: The Re-enchantment of the Sacred in the Age of History

Professor Ringer's project, titled “God’s Intent: The Re-enchantment of the Sacred in the Age of History,” explores ways in which historicism, universalism, and notions of evolution became the hegemonic intellectual landscape in nineteenth-century Islamic modernist thought, and in so doing, forced a remapping of Islamic history, the place of Islam in the history of human religious development, and the historical meaning of the Prophet Mohammad. The shift in the nature and meaning of Divine truth, and the implications for hermeneutics and the method of discerning Divine intentionality, forced a recalibration of religious methodology. Historicism both necessitated and permitted religious reform, by dissolving the “myth of Tradition” and thereby enabling the freeing of essence from historical context—the identification and extraction of “pure” Islam from the detritus of history. Alongside the process of dis-enchantment and the embrace of uncertainty, historicism also opened up new possibilities for re-enchantment—for freedom from Tradition that enabled fundamental religious reform and the construction of self-consciously ‘modern’ religion.

Geoffrey Sanborn, Henry S. Poler ’59 Presidential Teaching Professor of English
Research Project:  Race and Relationality

Professor Sanborn plans to begin work on a book titled “Race and Relationality” that will emerge from a seminar called Race and Relationality that he taught in 2016–2017 and 2017–2018. The book will consist of eight chapters, each of which arises from a key moment in one of those seminars. He will evoke those moments in narrative form and then press forward analytically, taking what was revelatory in those moments and expanding on its implications. Various theses will take shape as the book goes on, insofar as the discussions did of course return to certain foundational arguments, such as the argument that racism should be conceptualized as (among other things) a foreclosing of interestedness and that anti-racism should imply (among other things) a widening, an intensification, and a slowing down of the process of becoming interested in others. The point of the book, however, will not be to present and illustrate a series of claims; the point will be to involve the reader, repeatedly, in the collective, improvisational process of thinking that led to each of those claims. Only “via a concept of relation,” as the critic Paul Gilroy writes, can we fully engage in the “work of repairing the damage” that “the raciological ordering of the world” has done.

Karen Sánchez-Eppler, L. Stanton Williams 1941 Professor of American Studies and English
Research Project:  The Oxford Handbook of Emily Dickinson; and
The Unpublished Republic: Manuscript Cultures of the Mid-Nineteenth Century US

Professor Sánchez-Eppler will spend the semester working on two projects. She is co-editing with Cristianne Miller the Oxford Handbook of Emily Dickinson. She will also continue work on the book history project titled “The Unpublished Republic: Manuscript Cultures of the Mid-Nineteenth Century US,” which explores the range of nineteenth-century American literary production that did not make its way into print. She is interested in how attending to such manuscript writings changes the shape of American literary history.

David Schneider, Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Music
Research Project:  Whispers and Arabesques: The Clarinet Concerto in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries and Must it be a Waltz? Turks and Austrians in Leo Fall's Operetta Die Rose von Stambul

Professor Schneider is writing an essay on the way in which composers of clarinet concertos in the nineteenth and twentieth century incorporate the clarinet's ability to play at a near whisper and how this effect influences the structure and dramatic meaning of their works.  He is also studying the role of Orientalism in Leo Fall's 1916 operetta Die Rose von Stambul, both at the time of the operetta's premiere during World War I when Austro-Hungary was allied with the Ottoman Empire, and in present-day Austria.

Matthew Schulkind, Professor of Psychology
Research Project:  Autobiographical memory: organization and audience effects

During his leave, Professor Schulkind will explore two questions related to autobiographical memory. First, how are autobiographical memories organized? Second, how does the intended audience affect the way autobiographical narratives are retrieved and shared? Professor Schulkind also plans to develop a new lab-based course to give students more hands-on research experience, and new activities for his cognitive psychology course to enhance team-based learning.

Adam Sitze, Associate Professor of Law, Jurisprudence and Social Thought

Timothy Van Compernolle, Professor of Asian Languages and Civilizations (Japanese)
Research Project: Celluloid Metaphors: Japanese Literature in the Age of Cinema

Professor Van Compernolle's current book project, tentatively titled “Celluloid Metaphors: Japanese Literature in the Age of Cinema,” seeks to uncover the connections between literature and new technological cultural forms, especially the cinema, during the 1920s and 1930s.

Wendy Woodson, Roger C. Holden 1919 Professor of Theater and Dance
Research Project:  Sourcing the Stream: South Africa

Sourcing the Stream is a multi-media immersive environment that includes projected video, original text, and music and live performance inspired by different associations with and images of streams. The project is designed as a flexible structure that can be adapted for different locations and include vital contributions from communities where the project is developed. Based on previous exhibitions of the project in Northampton and Amherst, Professor Woodson has been invited to create a new version of Sourcing the Stream for performances at The University of the Witwatersrand (Wits) in Johannesburg, South Africa, as part of Watershed, a two-week program of international and interdisciplinary events, lectures, and symposia centered on water, that will take place in September 2018. In addition, she will be artist-in-residence at Rhodes University.