by Heather Rodriguez ’04
Seven Texas A&M University faculty members were named the 2017 Arts & Humanities Fellows, all of them from the College of Liberal Arts.
All of them will receive a three-year grant of $5,000 each year to support their scholarly project. They were chosen by a peer-review panel based on originality, benefit to the public, and overall presentation, among other criteria.
Ira Dworkin, an assistant professor in the Department of English who specializes in African American and African diaspora literature, American literature and culture, race and ethnicity studies and translational literatures. Her project is “Imperfectly Known”: Nicholas Said and the Routes of the African American Narrative.
“This recognition makes me feel encouraged and supported,” Dworkin, who came to the university in 2014, said. “I am pleased to see Texas A&M willing to fund work in the humanities.”
The fellowship will support research on Nicholas Said, a Muslim from present-day Nigeria, who was captured and enslaved in Africa, Europe, and Asia. He arrived to the United States in 1860, where he volunteered as a Union soldier to fight in the Civil War. He later wrote two autobiographies.
“This project considers the influence of African educational and cultural practices, including Arabic literacy and Islamic traditions, on American literature in the nineteenth century,” she said.
Dworkin will travel to various libraries and historical societies around the U.S. She will also travel to Nigeria to research possible inspirations of Said’s historical narrative.
“This research is important because it expands our conceptions of American literature, and by extension, what it means to be American in important ways that include African history and Islamic culture,” she said.
Angela P. Hudson, an associate professor in the Department of History, focuses her research on American Indian history; race, ethnicity and migration; Afro-native history; history of American Indians in the U.S. South; Mormon history; the history of medicine; comparative border studies; American Indians and U.S. popular culture; historiography; and 19th century U.S. history.
Hudson plans to use the funds for her research project on female Indian doctors in the 19th-century, investigating why Native Americans and non-Native Americans were drawn to the medical profession, and why clients sought their services.
“The project explores a unique occupational niche…that emerged in the colonial era but accelerated during the 1800s,” she said. “I want to explore why it accelerated.”
Hudson, who came to Texas A&M in 2007, said that her research lies at the intersection of race and gender in the realm of health care.
“It addresses essential questions about why we trust certain medical practices and practitioners over others and what motivates that trust,” she said. “And it considers how health and healing became a viable occupational niche for American women from a variety of backgrounds.”
Hudson said she is honored to win this fellowship, which will fund her travel to libraries and archives around the country.
Jun Lei, an assistant professor in the department of international studies, conducts research on the history of sexuality and gender issues represented in 20th century Chinese literature, film and visual media.
She is currently developing a monograph, Cosmopolitan Masculinity in China, 1880s-1930s, that she hopes to turn into a book that will address the paradigm shift of masculinity when China was “besieged” by more advanced powers and transitioned from a dynastic system to a modern nation one.
Lei joined the faculty at Texas A&M in 2015 and received a faculty research fellowship from the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for Humanities Research in 2016.
Jeffrey M. Morris, an associate professor in the Department of Performance Studies, composes for traditional instruments, fixed electronic media and interactive electronics. His project is a CD collection entitled Bridging Jazz with Electronic Classical Music: Two Debut Albums Distributed through Naxos.
“This two-CD debut presents my unique performances merging electroacoustic classical music with jazz,” he said in his fellowship proposal. “I uniquely use technology to turn the practice of ‘sampling’ (quoting other recordings) upon itself, capturing material live during improvised performances, dramatically transforming it, and using it as my voice within the same performance.”
Morris received his D.M.A. in composition from the University of North Texas with a specialization in electroacoustic composition in 2007. He is also one of the principal investigators of the Fresh Minds Festival, a presentation of professional audiovisual art pieces.
Martin P. Regan, an associate professor and associate head of the Department of Performance Studies, will use the fellowship to fund his project, Marty Regan’s Selected Works for Western Orchestral Instruments and Voice.
“I will use the fellowship to support the recording of a series of CDs featuing my music for Western orchestral instruments and voice over the three-year grant period,” Regan said. “The project is intended to create a “snapshot” of my development as a composer at this point in my career.”
He has composed more than 70 works for traditional Japanese instruments and since 2002 has been affiliated with AURA J–one of Japan’s premier performance ensembles of contemporary-traditional Japanese music.
Regan joined the university faculty in 2007. He teaches music theory classes, as well as Japanese performing arts and contemporary music classes.
“I believe that music composition is a poetic way to critically engage with the world, and that it can both reflect and construct social consciousness,” he said. “By supporting the creative work of a composer, one creates the opportunity for the composition of a piece of music that has visceral power to teach us something about the world, to inspire us, to trigger consciousness, and to remember.”
Adam R. Seipp, a professor in the department of history, concentrates his research on war and social change in modern Germany, particularly since 1945. His project is Base Politics, Local Politics, and the Cold War Transformation of Germany, 1945-1995.
“During the Cold War, about 15 million Americans lived in West Germany, either as military personnel, their families, or civilian workers,” he said. “I am particularly interested in the connections between these Americans and German society, which was rebuilding after the moral, political, and military disasters of Nazism. How did the presence of large numbers of foreign soldiers and civilians help to shape German society during the postwar period?”
While researching this project, Seipp will travel to Germany, where he will view state, national, and local archives.
“Today, Americans are again debating what role this country should play in world affairs…my research asks fundamental questions about democratization, modernization, and civil-military relations that speak to these questions,” Seipp said.
Seipp joined A&M’s faculty in 2005.
“I am deeply honored to receive this important award, both because it will allow me to carry out my research project and because it shows A&M’s commitment to fostering scholarship in the humanities,” he said.
Diego von Vacano, an associate professor in the department of political science, concentrates his research interests on political theory, political philosophy, the history of political thought, comparative political theory and Hispanic/Latin-American thought. His project is Transcultural Democracy: Popular Sovereignty Beyond the Crisis of the West.
“The book argues that democracy is in a difficult state in most of the world, including the United States,” von Vacano said. “One way that it can improve is by learning some lessons from the history and present of successful Latin American democratic theories and practices.”
He will travel to Latin America, London, and Budapest for his project.
“I believe democracy is entering difficult times across the world. If we are committed to it, we must find new ways to refurbish it and make it stronger,” von Vacano said.
von Vacano came to Texas A&M in 2005. He said he feels humbled by this recognition.
“This is a tremendous honor, given the caliber of Texas A&M and the commitment that it has to the humanities…it shows A&M’s endorsement of the multifaceted study of complex issues.”