Friday, May 4, 2007

Internal Faculty Fellows Named for 2007-2008

The Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research has named its 2007-2008 Internal Faculty Fellows. They will be resident in the Glasscock Center in Spring 2008, pursuing scholarly projects under the theme “How Do We Keep Knowing?” This broad question will allow exploration of the ways in which knowledge is defined, produced, communicated, hidden, renewed, preserved, studied and in other ways made a part of societies and cultures, present and past. We anticipate that conversation about how we keep knowing may include interrogation of any and all those terms by scholars from all the humanities disciplines and from the social sciences that adopt humanities perspectives. The recipients of these fellowships will be released from teaching during Spring 2008 and will receive a $1000 research stipend. The Center is pleased to announce the following Fellows and their projects.

Lauren Clay, Assistant Professor in the Department of History, will explore how the organization, representation, and social meaning of business changed in 18th century France. While scholars have recently approached this issue by examining debates among intellectuals, her work will delve into the cultural history of commerce in the urban context, using archival sources to reconstruct legal, social, ceremonial, and cultural interactions. Approaching the commercial revolution as a lived experience, this project will investigate the ways urban communities confronted the opportunities and the challenges that accompanied profound economic change.

Leor Halevi, Assistant Professor in the Department of History, will be focusing on commercial relations between Muslims and others. Historians of religion have not studied this topic due to the disciplinary barrier that has kept them from exploring economic matters. Economic historians have written a great deal about it, but they have focused on material exchanges while neglecting Muslim views on forbidden goods and cross-cultural trade. These views are interesting from a religious perspective, especially when they involve complex reasons based on a search for religious knowledge; they are also interesting from an economic perspective, when it can be shown that knowledge of Islamic laws prohibiting the consumption of foreign goods affects economic behavior.

Colleen Murphy
, Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy, will examine political reconciliation, the process of repairing damaged political relationships which remains one of the most important challenges for societies in transition to democracy. She will examine why and in what way the past must be known for reconciliation to be possible in order to develop a theoretical framework for assessing the effectiveness of promoting political reconciliation through alternative ways of defining, preserving, and communicating the past and also to use this theoretical framework to evaluate the effectiveness of truth commissions, criminal trials, and memorials.

Christopher Swift, Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication, will study selected German writings on the relationship between rhetoric and aesthetics. Many scholars of the humanities question the relative instrumentality or constitutivity of language: on the one hand, the extent to which language functions as a tool for communicating knowledge that pre-exists its own expression, and on the other, the extent to which language creates the knowledge that it expresses. The popularity of these questions across disciplines has, however, brought with it a great deal of confusion. By analyzing a tradition of scholarship that more rigorously separates the questions of instrumentality and constitutivity from one another, he seeks to help sort out this confusion.

Other activities around the theme “How Do We Keep Knowing?” will include a lecture series by that name. The Center anticipates naming further Internal Faculty Fellows for 2008-2009. A call for applications will be made in the spring of the 2007-2008 academic year. For further information contact James Rosenheim, Director, at, at 979-845-8328, or visit the Center’s website at