Author: Siavash Samei

UConn’s First Global Distinguished Humanities Fellowship Awarded

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI), in partnership with UConn Global Affairs, is proud to announce Professor Maoz Azaryahu as the first awardee of their joint Global Distinguished Humanities Fellowship (GDHF). Azaryahu is a professor of cultural geography at the University of Haifa in Israel, and the Director of Herzl Institute for the Study of Zionism. His research includes urban and landscape semiotics, the cultural and historical geographies of public memory and commemoration, the spatialities of memory and narrative, and the cultural history of places and landscapes. He has studied the political history of war memorials and the cultural politics of commemorative street (re)naming in different historical periods and geopolitical settings.  These themes are highlighted of his numerous authored, co-authored, and edited works including, among others, Positioning Memory (2018), The Political Life of Urban Streetscapes (2018), Narrating Space / Spatializing Narrative: Where Narrative Theory and Geography Meet (2016); Namesakes: History and Politics of Street Naming in Israel (2012, Hebrew); Tel Aviv: The First Century. Vision, Myth and Reality (2012); Tel Aviv: Mythology of a City (2006); State Cults. Celebrating Independence and Commemorating the Fallen in Israel 1948-1956 (1995, Hebrew), and Von Wilhelmplatz zu Thälmannplatz. Politische Symbole im Oeffentlichen Leben der DDR 1945-1985 (1991). 

 

Maoz Azaryahu

 

Dr. Azarhayu has built his career on a remarkable ability to speak across disciplinary boundaries to build productive collaborations with scholars across a wide range of fields. This is one reason Dr. Azaryahu has been welcomed previously as a Visiting Professor of Anthropology at Brandeis University, in Jewish Studies at Penn State University, and in Geography at the University of Colorado at Boulder. We see his visit as a way to spur a similar range of fruitful publishing collaborations with our colleagues here at UConn. 

Azaryahu’s fellowship at UConn, which takes place in Spring 2021, is sponsored by Ken Foote, the Director of Urban and Community Studies Program & Professor of Geography; Nathaniel Trumbull, Associate Professor of Geography & Maritime Studies; Sebastian Wogenstein and Avinoam Patt of The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life; and Chris Vials, Director of the American Studies Program.

GDHF was a new opportunity created by UCHI and Global Affairs last year in an effort to foster international collaboration and highlight the importance of the humanities in creating a future that speaks globally to social justice, equity, and the environment. This initiative is designed to strengthen ties with UConn’s international partners by inviting faculty scholars from universities that have ongoing Memoranda of Understanding with UConn.

Three UConn Faculty Awarded NEHC Seed Grants

Three UConn faculty members are among 30 scholars from across 11 New England institutions who were awarded seed grants by the New England Humanities Consortium. These competitive seed grants are awarded for research initiatives in the humanities that seek to capitalize on the collaborative network of the consortium.

Jason Oliver Chang (Department of History and Asian & Asian American Studies Institute) and Fiona Vernal (Department of History and Africana Studies Institute) serve as co-Principle Investigators on a project entitled Shade: Labor Diasporas, Tobacco, Mobility, and the Urban Nexus. This project, which will be conducted in collaboration with former UCHI fellow Jorell Meléndez-Badillo (Dartmouth College) and Sony Coranez Bolton (Amherst College), will investigate. the ways that U.S. imperialism, colonization, corporate industry, and white settler normativity have evolved and matured in the Connecticut River Valley.

The other UConn awardee is Kevin McBride of the UConn Department of Anthropology. He is a co-Principle Investigator on a project entitled Public Memory, Place, and Belonging: Unearthing the Hidden History of the Native and African American Presence on Block Island. Other co-investigators and collaborators on this project include Amelia Moore, Jessica M. Frazier, and Kendall Moore (University of Rhode Island). This project will support fieldwork and planning that will lead to the development of a temporary, traveling exhibition, opening in July 2022. After its initial display at a number of regional museums, the exhibit will eventually find a permanent residence at the Gobern family homestead on Block Island, the future site of a Manissean community center.

Announcing the 2020–21 Visiting Humanities Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is thrilled to announce the incoming class of visiting humanities fellows: Erica Holdberg from Utah State University, David Samuels from New York University, and Amy Meyers from the Yale Center for British Art. Amy Meyers. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date

Erica Holberg's headshot

Erica Holberg

 

Philosophy - Department of Languages, Philosophy, and Communication Studies, Utah State University

Project Title: The Pleasures of Anger: Insights from Aristotle and Kant on Getting Mad, Staying Mad, and Doing This With Others

David Samuel's Photo

David Samuels

 

Anthropology - Department of Music, New York University

Project Title: Early Folk World: Music, Industrial Modernity, and the Anguish of Community in the 20th Century

Amy Meyers - Future of Truth Fellow

 

Art History - former director of the Yale Center for British Art, Yale University

Project Title: William Bartram and the Origins of American Environmental Thought

You Should..Watch: “Dark” the TV Mini Series (Siavash Samei, UCHI)

In this brave new world of self-isolation, I have come to lose track of time. Time, or rather our concepts of the passage of time, are constructs that we animate and breathe life into, out of the necessities of our mortal lives. But to quote a Tralfamadorian from Slaughterhouse-Five: “ All time is all time. It does not change. It does not lend itself to warnings or explanations. It simply is.” Making sense of time and distorting our limited understandings of it have been at the heart of many great works of literature and art. For me, the latest iteration of this feat of human imagination is the German sci-fi noir series, Dark, created by Baran bo Odar and Jantje Friese. You should watch it, not because it is a binge worthy thriller (it most certainly is), or because it might bring a sense of reassurance in these times of uncertainty (it will not); but because it is a must-experience masterpiece.

 Dark is the, well…dark…story of the residents of a small German town; each dealing with their own personal traumas, double lives, and troubling pasts. We begin in the “present,” in 2019. But the story eventually spreads into subplots and story lines in 1921, 1953, 1986, and 2053; as various characters engage in time travel through a wormhole in a near-by cave. They travel in order to make sense of their lives, and to find answers to and perhaps prevent tragedies that befall them—murders, suicides, disappearances, and infidelities. As the “pasts” of the residents travel into the “present” and the “future,” and as the “presents” of the same characters travel into the “past” and the “future,” we come to appreciate the long-term ripple effects of human decisions and random encounters in each period across time and space.

But, more importantly for me, as the various story lines interweave through interpersonal interactions across the different time periods, we begin to lose any sense of which temporal iteration of which character is “real.” Thus, we come to lose track of a linear and directional concept of time and even question the very idea of the “self.”

Dark elegantly blends various genres into a complex narrative through which the viewer is confronted with the totality of the human experience, and grapples with issues of determinism and free will.

The series builds up in pace and complexity as it progresses. In a way, Dark “isn’t a show you watch. It’s a show you solve.”

The first two seasons of Dark are available on Netflix.

So, solve away!

 

Siavash Samei
Postdoctoral Fellow, Humanities Institute
University of Connecticut

Who is Siavash Samei? Siavash was born and raised in Tehran, Iran, but moved to the US in his teenage years. He earned his PhD from the UConn Anthropology Department in 2019, after which he joined the UCHI team as a postdoctoral fellow. Siavash is an archaeologist who has conducted field work throughout the Middle East, specifically in Iran and Armenia. His research examines human-animal interactions and the evolution of animal husbandry as a subsistence strategy throughout the Middle Eastern highlands at the time of the Urban Revolution in Mesopotamia (ca. 40002200 BCE). Next year Siavash will join the faculty at The College of Wooster as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Archaeology.

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).

 

 

Winner


Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.

 

Finalists

 

Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialecticand the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom,and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journeys fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

The Sharon Harris Award Winner and Finalists Announced

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce the winner and the two finalists of this year’s Sharon Harris Book Award. The Sharon Harris Annual Book Award is given for a monograph published by UConn Tenure, Tenure-Track, Emeritus, or In-Residence faculty that best demonstrates scholarly depth and intellectual acuity and highlights the importance of humanities scholarship.

This year’s winner is Kathryn Blair Moore, an Assistant Professor of Art History, for her book The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

The finalists are Hassanaly Ladha, Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, for The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)and Anna Mae Duane, Associate Professor of English, for Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020).

 

 

Winner


Kathryn Blair Moore, The Architecture of the Christian Holy Land: Reception from Late Antiquity through the Renaissance (Cambridge University Press, 2017)

Professor Kathryn Moore’s book is a wonder of scope, methodology, and scholarly creativity that examines buildings enclosing spaces associated with the bodily presence of important religious figures as foci for real and imagined pilgrimages.  Moore employs the destruction and re-creation of architecture as a lens for viewing interchanges of cultures and religions, providing a compelling historical account that challenges current dominant narratives of age-old, intractable faith-based conflicts. Noteworthy for drawing upon both visual and material culture as well as textual sources from four continents, this monumental work advances the fields of history of art, architecture, and religion, and contributes broadly to the humanities by demonstrating the mediated nature of the experience of the architecture of the Holy Land.

 

Finalists

 

Hassanaly Ladha, The Architecture of Freedom: Hegel, Subjectivity, and the Postcolonial State (Bloomsbury, 2020)

Professor Hassanaly Ladha’s groundbreaking work brings new and important insights to Hegelian philosophy. It sheds light on misunderstood areas in Hegel’s works, particularly relating to his view and presentation of Africa within the prism of his ideas on the master-slave dialectic and the political state; it is the first work to clarify the place occupied by Africa in Hegel’s understanding of the aesthetic origin of freedom, and underlines Hegel’s relevance as a modern philosopher in modern discussions on slavery and post-colonialism. Professor Ladha’s work is a remarkable reassessment of both Hegel’s major works and also neglected and misunderstood writings.

Anna Mae Duane, Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation (NYU Press, 2020)

Professor Duane’s exquisite book tells the entwined stories of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two classmates at the Mulberry Street New York African Free School in the 1820s, as they become renowned public figures and leaders in the struggle for black freedom. With an innovative narrative approach and creative archival work, Duane draws from their individual journey’s fresh insights to big historical questions and concerns, shedding new light on American racial formation, childhood, and the very meanings of freedom, belonging, and realized human potential. Duane’s eminently readable work demonstrates the expansive capacities of the humanities with beautiful craft and style.

Announcing the 2020–21 Graduate Dissertation Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of Graduate Dissertation Fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of two PhD candidates from the history department (including the Draper Dissertation Fellow), and two PhD candidates from the English Department. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

Nicole Breault

 

History Department - Draper Dissertation Fellow

Project Title: The Night Watch of Boston: Law and Governance in Eighteenth-Century British America

Kerry Carnahan

 

English Department

Project Title: Song of Songs: a New Translation with Commentary

Ashley Gangi

 

English Department

Project Title: May I Present Myself? Masks, Masquerades, and the Drama of Identity in Nineteenth Century American Literature

Shaine Scarminach

 

History Department

Project Title: Lost at Sea: The United States and the Struggle to Govern the World’s Oceans

 

Announcing the 2020–21 UConn Faculty Fellows

The University of Connecticut Humanities Institute (UCHI) is proud to announce its incoming class of UConn faculty fellows. The Class of 2020–21 will consist of seven faculty who embody the creative drive and energy of the arts and humanities scholarship at the University of Connecticut. More information about each fellow, including their biographical information, will be provided at a later date:

 

 

Elizabeth Athens sitting against a background of flowers

Elizabeth Athens

 

Department of Art & Art History

Project Title: Figuring a World: William Bartram’s Natural History

Amanda Crawford headshot

Amanda Crawford

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Sky is Crying: the Sandy Hook Shooting and the Battle for Truth

Melanie Newport headshot

Melanie Newport

 

Department of History

Project Title: This is My Jail:  Reform and Mass Incarceration in Chicago and Cook County

Helen Rozwadowski headshot

Helen Rozwadowski

 

Department of History - Avery Point

Project Title: Science as Frontier: History Hidden in Plain Sight

Sara Silverstein headshot

Sara Silverstein

 

Department of History & Human Rights Institute

Project Title: Toward Global Health: A History of International Collaboration

Scott Wallace headshot

Scott Wallace

 

Department of Journalism

Project Title: The Bleeding Frontier: Indigenous Warriors in the Battle for the Amazon and Planet Earth

Sarah Winter headshot

Sarah Winter

 

Department of English

Project Title: The Right to a Remedy: Habeas Corpus, Empire, and Human Rights Narratives

You Should..Listen to: The “Feel Free” Audiobook (Fiona Vernal, UConn-History)

There is only so much Netflix and Hulu one can watch and replaying Contagion and Outbreak are not the best antidote for COVID-19’s many anxieties. I suggest you find refuge in an audio-version of Feel Free, Zadie Smith’s 2018 eclectic and wide-ranging collection of essays. Banish all thought of the staid five-paragraph essays of undergraduate habitude; this collection will whisk you back to what the essay form was meant to do originally—reflect and be relevant. Even if you have not discovered White Teeth or On Beauty, you’ll get a crash course in Smith’s literary evolution from an awe-struck young writer to a mature, reflective artist. Feel Free will surprise and delight, offering ruminations on freedom, multiculturalism, aesthetics, art, dance, fiction, domesticity, middle class dreams of the British sort, optimism, family, individuality, social media, race, and narcissism. In a curious juxtaposition of characters, you’ll discover low-brow and high-brow culture, ways of seeing, ways of being, and the gulf between husbands and wives and parents and children. Where else will you find Martha Graham and John Berger; Philip Roth and Balthasar Denney; Keegan-Michael Key, Jordan Peele, Vladimir Nabokov and Jay-Z; and the single-monikered Prince, Madonna, and Beyoncé?  In one of the most brilliant pieces, a bathroom becomes a lucid symbol of a father’s thwarted dream, a mother’s exile, and the sacrifices that permit their children to cross social, racial, geographic, and economic boundaries. Since you can’t have this conversation with Zadie Smith in person, listening to Feel Free is the next best option!

Fiona Vernal
Associate Professor of History
University of Connecticut

Fiona Vernal Behind a PodiumWho is Fiona Vernal? Fiona Vernal is a native of Trelawny, Jamaica and grew up in Trenton, New Jersey. She earned her MA and PhD from Yale. Since 2005 she has taught at the University of Connecticut’s Department of History. Her book, The Farmerfield Mission (Oxford, 2012) explores the relationship between African Christian converts, European missionaries, and the politics of land access, land alienation and the “civilizing” mission of African social and economic improvement in nineteenth century South Africa. She consults with the Connecticut Historical Society on oral history projects including an exhibit documenting and recording the impact of 9/11 on Connecticut victims, families, and first responders.