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Predoctoral Fellows 2020-21

Richard Daily

rdd25@psu.edu

I am a dual-title PhD Candidate in the History and African American Studies departments, with a minor in Womens, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. My research focuses on the race, sexuality, incarceration, and cultural production in the twentieth century. My dissertation project focuses on lived experience, incarceration, and the networks of information and care developed during the Black Gay Cultural Renaissance. I focus on the body of published and private work of Black gay men, exploring the role of information and how their work illuminated carceral ontologies. I also work with the Center for Black Digital Research on the Social Media and Communications team.

Katherine Ellis

kul41@psu.edu

In my project, “Decoding Masculinities, Traumatic Violation, and the Legacy of French Medical Literature (1914 - 1939)," I employ critical discourse analysis of key French medical journals' written and visual publications during World War I. At the heart of the modern trend of medicalizing trauma, these scientific documents have for some time been objects of academic study; however, we often foreground our fascination with French doctors' personae without asking how contemporary masculinities, as well as their own experiences of psychological upheaval, could have fundamentally shaped their conceptualization of what trauma is. In conversation with masculinities studies like the seminal works of Robert A. Nye, Cynthia Enloe, and Iris Marion Young, I therefore interrogate the nature of WWI French medical masculinities while asking if and how masculinist discourse allowed for French doctors to express their personal trauma without exacerbating the country’s perceived crisis of masculinity.

Kira Homo

kbh8@psu.edu

I'm broadly interested archives as a locus for the conscious construction of early modern institutional identities. My current research involves the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order founded in the mid-sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century, the Society had created and instituted both detailed collection plans for their institutional archives and a robust publishing network dedicated to disseminating favorable reports of Jesuit activities around the globe. My dissertation project, currently titled "Monks, Mariners, Merchants, Murderers: The Jesuits in Seventeenth-Century Goa," examines the suspicious death of a Jesuit priest and administrator named Antonio de Andrade and the tensions between the various public and private accounts of his life and his death. 

Nikki Orth

nikkiorth@psu.edu

Nikki Orth: My dissertation project investigates a series of recent and popular commemorations of the transatlantic slave trade that frame themselves as the first of their kind. These commemorations share a commonality as texts where discourses of race, inequality, and justice are written and rewritten. Alongside their commonalities, these sites are also quite different in terms of scope and function. This dissertation will pursue answers to a series of questions concerning public memory contestation. The primary question that guides my project is, how do commemorations of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacy in the United States function in this contemporary moment of heightened, even lethal, memory dissensus?

Ashley Rea

ear54@psu.edu

Computer programming literacy is increasingly understood as vital for participation in today’s global economy, but faces significant issues of access, representation, and equity. In response to information technologies that exacerbate existing disparities of gender, race, and class, the industry of coding education designed for women and underrepresented communities is growing rapidly. My dissertation, “Programming Women: Rhetorical Education, Literacy, and Coding,” analyzes contemporary programming literacy education for women and underrepresented groups through a rhetorical study deploying a mixed-methods approach. Grounded in an intersectional feminist theoretical framework, my research seeks to understand how coding literacy is understood, taught, and practiced in these contexts. In doing so, my research has the potential to enrich the already provocative theories of the rhetoricity of code through its focus on the material, social, and digital contexts where programming is taught and made. 

Aaron Witcher

abw5316@psu.edu

Though its primary sense refers to the flight of slaves from plantation spaces to forested and/or mountainous regions, marronage has grown in significance and meaning since the era of slavery and colonialism in Martinique. The term marronage, then, refers to a large gamut of resistance (political, cultural, memorial, or otherwise) whose dynamism renews its relevance and purchase even into the eras beyond slavery and indentured servitude. Drawing on the theoretical and poetical works of poet-philosopher Édouard Glissant, my dissertation, entitled “Tourner autour du Mahagony: Marooning poetics of Martinican literature,” explores how the dynamics of marronnage—notably flight, fugitivity, and re-membering—are taken up by a number of Martinican authors and translated into poetics that propose new, more marron articulations of Martinican (indeed, Caribbean) identity and history. The latter, like the acts of marronage that inform and inspire them, draw a portion of their animus from their relations to what Glissant calls entour, namely their natural and cultural “surroundings.” The work performed by these poetics points therefore to relational and ecological modes of being and re-membering.