Reassigned Time Awards

Fall 2011

Applicant Name: Gabriel Brahm

Department: English

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: Re-Orientalism: Edward Said, Postcolonial Theory, and the “New Anti-Semitism”; and, Festschrift for Paul Hollander.

Project Abstract: I propose to expand my article on Edward Said—which I wrote with the help of a previous grant, and which has been accepted for publication—into a book, Re-Orientalism: Edward Said, Postcolonial Theory, and the “New Anti-Semitism.” Like the article—which I first presented at a workshop at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in summer of 2010, where my research was well-received and I was encouraged to expand the essay into a monograph—the book will investigate the strengths and weaknesses of Said’s highly influential, politically engaged scholarship. Given the topicality of this project (discussions of the “new,” anti-Zionist, anti-Semitism are proliferating; Said is a major literary theorist and public figure), I expect the book to find an audience. Simultaneously, I wish to edit a festschrift in honor of the eminent sociologist and premier scholar of anti-Americanism, Paul Hollander. The historian, Peter Kenez (an associate of Hollander’s of many years, also from Hungary, where the two grew-up and survived under Nazism and Communism), has agreed to co-edit; and a number of contributors have agreed to participate, including this year’s MLA president, Russell Berman of Stanford. To quote Dean Broadway’s assessment of my use of previous grants in an email, “you obviously made good use of the reassigned time!” (as also attested in the attached Progress Reports). My intention, therefore, is simply to continue to productively pursue my research with the aid of another grant, building off of my previous success with related research.


Applicant Name: Zac Cogley

Department: Philosophy

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: The Three-Fold Significance of the Blaming Emotions

Project Abstract: Much of the philosophical work on moral responsibility assumes that we should understand people’s moral responsibility for the actions they take in terms of the appropriateness of the blaming emotions—resentment, anger, and indignation. However, current theorizing about the blaming emotions is often psychologically ununiformed. Drawing on work in empirical psychology, I have recently argued that anger serves three functions in human psychology: appraisal, motivation, and communication. In this project, I propose to extend that analysis to the entire class of blaming emotions. I will show that theorizing about moral responsibility is myopic if it focuses on one of the functions of the blaming emotions while ignoring the others. I plan to extend this more psychologically realistic account of the blaming emotions to come philosophically puzzling phenomena. Specifically, I have in mind the moral responsibility of psychopaths and people who are morally insane. I also plan to use the analysis to shed light on the moral responsibility of drug users, as well as the appropriateness of holding responsible wrongdoers who have been subject to unjust formative circumstances.


Applicant Name: Matthew Gavin Frank

Department: English

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: Moses Harvey and The Giant Squid

Project Abstract: I plan to compile and annotate the wealth of research necessary to produce a book-length lyric essay on Newfoundland Reverend Moses Harvey, and his 19th century obsession with the then-mythological giant squid. Harvey, in 1874, took the first-ever photograph of the giant squid, rescuing the beat from mythology and proving its existence. No one has yet traced the logistics of his undertaking and connected them to the peculiarities of Harvey’s personal life. To flesh out the story behind the photograph, I plan to research the various aspects of 19th century Newfoundland that influenced Harvey and his journey from bay to bathtub and beyond. Such aspects will include, but are not limited to, the period fishing equipment, politics, religious practices, and Harvey family history that informed and contextualized Moses Harvey’s obsessions. I will couple such research with lyrical meditations on the nature(s) of mythology, hoping to uncover, through both inquisition and analysis, a larger statement about our human need to mythologize. I will conduct my research in conjunction with Joan Ritcey, head archivist at the Memorial University Libraries and Centre for Newfoundland Studies (Mecca for those seeking information about Moses Harvey and the giant squid), and Moses Harvey’s great-granddaughter, who will help me find the obscure documents necessary to write the book. Sarabande Books has already expressed interest in seeing the work when finished, for publication consideration.


Applicant Name: Linda Lawton

Department: Mathematics and Computer Science

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: Micro Finance Institution Lending Impact on Female Entrepreneurship

Project Abstract: This is a continuation of an existing work in which we examine whether the microfinance institutions’ lending patterns to women are solely a function of institution choice or whether those decisions are influenced by the economic and social environment in which the institution operates. This study offered a first look at the MFI as a provider of funds for female entrepreneurs. For supporters and investors of MFIs who have a social agenda of supporting female development, these results provide indications that the governmental policies and educational opportunities have to be favorable for promoting female entrepreneurship in developing countries before economic development can occur.

I want to pursue future research in the following directions;

1. Extension of our current results using time series and panel regression of the existing data to analyze trends in the lending rates to female entrepreneurs

2. An examination of female entrepreneurship rates in developing countries relative to the factors in the initial study.

3. Analysis of whether female entrepreneurs in more educated countries actually obtain funding from other sources or are they being edged out of the market when there is less of a social agenda to promote female owned businesses in more developed capital markets.


Applicant Name: Jonathan M. Hanes

Department: Earth, Environmental, and Geographical Sciences

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: Biophysical Applications of Satellite Remote Sensing

Project Abstract: Research conducted during recent decades has led to improvements in our ability to monitor our natural environment. In particular, satellite sensors launched into space allow scientists to monitor (or sense) the earth system “remotely” through measurements of reflected and emitted electromagnetic radiation. Scientists use these satellite-derived measurements to study biological and physical phenomena residing on the earth’s surface. While research focused on the use of satellite remote sensing of the earth to study biophysical phenomena has yielded important insight and knowledge, there are no textbooks that provide scientists and educators with an overview of these advances. The purpose of the proposed orject is to create an edited textbook to meet this need. This edited book will be completed under existing contract with Springer publishing and will serve three important objectives. First, this textbook will provide the scientific community with a resource that conveys how satellite remote sensing of the earth has been used to study biophysical phenomena. Second, this book will provide instructors with a resource to use in undergraduate and graduate courses focused on the concept of sensing/observing the earth remotely from space. Third, the completion of this textbook will place my department and the university in a position to shape future discussions regarding the use of satellite remote sensing to study earth’s biophysical phenomena. As the editor of this textbook, having reassigned time during the winter 2012 semester would allow me to ensure that this book makes the largest possible impact on the scientific community.


Applicant Name: Shravan Rajagopal

Department: Art and Design

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: Yantra: A Grammar of Archetypal Space

Project Abstract: The project “Yantra: A Grammar of Archetypal Space” proposes to use the mutable attributes of time motion and sound to communicate the meaning behind the cosmological yantra diagram. Vedic scholars at Sri Sringeri Sharada Peetham in Southern India will be providing support and guidance throughout this project. A yantra is a geometrical composition consisting of primordial shapes such as the triangle, circle and square in numerous combinations and permutations that have symbolic significant in meditation and ritual worship. The yantra is in equal parts visual and aural because the sacred syllables or mantras nested within the angles of various interpenetrating shapes help to activate the visual space of the yantra. I intend to create a user-friendly interactive digital environment where people can actively learn about the symbolism behind the visual components and aural qualities of yantra imagery. I plan to capture on film how a yantra is used in ritual activities that involve the sacrificial fire. Animated sequences using text/type, image and sound will be used in the film and interactive digital space to enliven the experience and elaborate on certain concepts. The amaranthine forms found in the yantra are closely linked to the subconscious and are truly universal symbols. Mandala-like forms can also be found in Navajo sand paintings, patterns in Islamic art and circular Sufi dance-forms. This project explores how multiple affordances of digital media can be used in developing a pan-sensory approach to learning the meaning and symbolism behind the age-old yantra diagrams.


Applicant Name: Alex K. Ruuska

Department: Sociology and Social Work

Rank: Assistant Professor

Project Title: Tracing the Trail: Indigenous Postal Carriers Underwriting a Nation-making Experiment.

Project Abstract: This project is directed towards the writing of an article to be submitted to Ethnohistory based on the progressive systemization of data gathered during a two-year grant funded by the National Park Service. The following synopsis discusses how I intend to analyze the emergence of the first postal carriers of the Upper Peninsula, who carried the U.S. mail via snowshoes and dogsleds, along some of the oldest footpaths of the Upper Peninsula.


Nation-making narratives have often positioned the nineteenth century indigenous peoples of North America is the unwitting victims of diverse capitalist ventures, an ironic ‘rage for order,’ that underscoring the reconfiguration of the territorial holdings that progressively became constructed as the United States (Cheyfitz 2009: 139-140). An alternative grand narrative positions indigenous peoples as savage aggressors who sought to bar the juggernaut of progress fueled by the twin flames of innovation and Manifest Destiny. Within both renditions, indigenous peoples’ relationships to and with western technologies and place-making narratives are sometimes obscured or misrepresented. This article examines the critical task played by indigenous individuals and communities of Michigan in co-constructing two of the lynch pins of westward expansionism: postal communication and the development of transportation routes. Utilizing a case study that traces the emergence of the postal service in Michigan through the employment of indigenous postal carriers, this study provides a diachronic analysis of the trail systems and traditional ecological knowledge systems that helped to catalyze the diffusion of information, material culture, and people that characterized the flowering of westward expansionism.

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