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Center for the Humanities Announces Faculty Fellows

By Lori Wright, Media Relations
April 22, 2009

UNH announces that five faculty members have been named 2009-2010 Center for the Humanities Faculty Fellows.

Funded by the center's general endowment and the Ben and Selma Dorson Endowment in the Humanities, Faculty Research Fellowships provide a semester-long opportunity for junior and tenured faculty to pursue humanities research with no teaching obligations. Each year the Center for the Humanities awards up to two junior and three senior fellowships. Here are the 2009-2010 awardees.

Senior Fellows

Eliga Gould, associate professor of history

“For Americans,” Eliga Gould states, “it has always been tempting to see the American Revolution as marking a break with both Britain and Europe — a moment unsullied by Old World decadence and tyran­ny and a refounding that freed the republic from the shackles of European colo­ni­al­ism. In terms of the democratic values that sustain Amer­ica’s identity to this day, there is no denying the appeal of this conceit.  It is, however, a conceit that happens to be misleading.”

His forthcoming book, “The World of the American Revolution,” will explore the ways in which Americans continued to play the part of colonial settlers, practicing slavery, appropriating Indian land, and vying for supremacy with the Western Hemisphere’s other European powers, even as they claimed to be part of a new world order.

“We cannot understand what was most transformative about the American Revolution without an appreciation of the manifold ways in which the quest for national independence forged new connections between the early American Republic and the wider world. The result, I hope, will be a timely and significant statement about how to move beyond the reflex­ive insularity that still characterizes much of the academic literature on the American Revolution,” Gould says.

“There may also be a family dimension to my interest.  Through my mother's family, I am descended from Revolutionary War veterans, but my father's family were Nova Scotians of French Acadian background who emigrated to New England during the 1880s and 1890s.  I grew up hearing stories about what my maternal ancestors did.  But what did the revolution mean to people like the Goulds, whose first tongue in 1776 was French, . . .and who probably only dimly understood what the quarrel between Britain and the colonies was about?” he says.

Jaume Marti-Olivella, associate professor of Spanish

Jaume Marti-Olivella describes his research project on Catalan cinema as “especially significant to me, and I hope to an already large academic audience, because upon publication it would be the first such volume to appear in English. Since I am originally from Catalonia, my interest in Catalan cinema may be easily linked to my lifelong commitment to study and promote the culture of my country, which has traditionally been obscured or submerged by the most dominant culture in Spain, the one expressed in Castilian, the official language of the central administration.”  

Marti-Olivella's forthcoming book will explore Catalan cinema's rich history, urban comedy and documentary genres, the importance of literary adaptations in the Catalan cinematic idiom, and the international impact of Catalonia's current, experimental, young directors. “I feel very optimistic about the outcome of my project because I am very aware that Catalan cinema has finally found its global location, that is to say, its local place in the Catalan cultural imaginary and its global outlook, characterized by the transnational performative quality of its most recent practitioners.”

Marti-Olivella's project, which he describes as work in the field of cultural studies, “would also continue my research interest in the non-Castilian cultures in Spain and, especially, in the formulations of its micro-cinemas.”  He hopes to eventually “write a larger piece placing Spain’s micro-cinemas in the European context and its critical dialogue with Hollywood.”

Stephen Trzaskoma, associate professor of languages, literatures and cultures

Stephen Trzaskoma plans to work on a book about literary imitation and influence in Chariton's Callirhoe. “Callirhoe is one of the five surviving ancient Greek novels from the early centuries of our era, and it is generally acknowledged as the earliest, dating probably to the mid-first century AD. First, my initial stages of research have shown that Chariton alludes more frequently to a broader range of classical literature than has been thought, and I am attempting to catalog as thoroughly as possible those allusions. Second, and more importantly, I want to analyze how those allusions not only shape a reader's immediate contextualization of individual moments in the narrative but also how they frame the overall aesthetic of what Chariton sets out to do,” Trzaskoma says.

“What's exciting for me about this is the opportunity to apply traditional methods of textual and literary analysis but then turn the results of that investigation to questions of wider scope. I'm interested, of course, in how Chariton carefully constructs his novel to engage in a dialogue with the themes and language of traditional genres—tragedy, history, and rhetoric—but another question is how his ancient readers would have encountered the text and had their experiences shaped by that dialogue. The resulting book will shed light on the then-new genre of novelistic prose fiction, a genre that in modern times has come to occupy a position of almost total dominance among readers, and at the same time become part of a larger, ongoing reevaluation of Greek literature from the period of the Roman Empire,” he says.

Junior Fellows

David Bachrach, assistant professor of medieval history

David Bachrach’s research project “focuses on identifying the range of economic resources available to the kings of Germany during the 10th and early 11th century, and the means by which they administered these resources.” He hopes “to pull German history back into the main channel of scholarly research that recognizes the ongoing and fundamental influence of Roman culture and institutions on all of the post-Roman polities in the Western Empire.”

“I became interested in this topic as an outgrowth of my investigation of the military organization of early medieval Germany. From my previous research on the military organization of 13th century England, I was well-acquainted with the enormous number of documents that are required to make wars work. When I discovered that this area of research was neglected for medieval Germany I became interested in the military side of the question of administration. Then I realized that it would be necessary to understand how the government as a whole operated and the basis of royal power so that it would be possible to place military organization in its proper context,” Bachrach says.

"If I am correct in my view that the German royal government maintained a vast array of economic assets under its direct control, and managed these resources using a sophisticated written administration, then I will have undermined several of the longest-standing scholarly models regarding the nature of government and power in the early Middle Ages. The standard view of early medieval Germany is that whatever remained of the Roman traditions of government and power in the West were lost east of the Rhine River. The rulers of the German kingdom are depicted as archaic leaders of warbands who ruled through their personal charisma, rather than through public institutions. This model of society developed out of German romantic-nationalist traditions in the 19th century. Among the uglier manifestations of this scholarly tradition is the development of a ‘usable’ past by national-socialist historians who sought to trace the leader principle (Führerprinzip) to the German middle ages," he says.

Meghan Howey, assistant professor of anthropology

Meghan Howey’s project, Creating Ritual, Constructing Monuments: Native American Regional Organization in the Northern Great Lakes, AD 1200-1600, “explores the choices Anishinaabek communities made within the cultural landscape of Late Prehistory (AD 1200-1600).” In her book manuscript she explores multiple lines of evidence to show how people erected monumental earthwork enclosures across the region to serve as powerful ceremonial centers for ritual and trade events between distant communities.  She will also show how amidst these regional dynamics, intra-community ceremonial monuments, in the form of burial mounds, were erected at local resource zones to provide defined places for local ritual gatherings.

“Prior to my research, these constructions had always been viewed as disconnected sites, but my work shows they were part of an integrated cultural landscape, anchoring a dynamic regional organization before European contact. My work challenges views of pre-contact indigenous cultures as static and advances ongoing debates on social organizational variability in archaeology,” Howey says. 

Howey became interested in this project for two reasons. “One, I have long been interested in understanding how human communities can live, can create order in the world, without permanent, institutionalized hierarchy, and two, I found myself frustrated by the sense that America before the arrival of Columbus is, in many ways, a land time forgot. I feel systematic investigations of the archaeological record, which holds the material evidence of rich histories stretching back centuries before Columbus ever arrived in America, offer us the opportunity to remove the pre-contact world from its ‘savage slot,’” she says.   

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