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Pauline Strong, Director HRC 3.360, Mailcode F1900, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-2654

Fall 2003 Faculty Fellows


Kamran Ali, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, has researched and published on the relationship between family planning and the construction of the modern individual in non-Western societies.  In his book, Planning the Family in Egypt: New Bodies, New Selves, Kamran argues that "international development programs" such as family planning "are precisely meant to advance the construction of modern subjectivities linked to the process of creating more socially controlling institutions similar to those that are present in industrialized democracies."   More recently, his research has turned to Pakistani Labor history and an evaluation of the category of the proletariat, where he challenges assumptions that link the formation of a Pakistani working class to a history of capitalist progress.  Kamran will bring to the HI seminar a non-Western historical perspective and a "focus on how modernizing processes effect and transform social, cultural and political life in post-colonial societies of S. Asia and the Middle East." 

Larry Browning, a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, specializes in organizational communication, including such dimensions and issues as technology and communication, narratives in organizations, organizational learning and control, organizational theory, and political processes in organizations. He is the co-author of Sematech: Saving the U. S. Semiconductor Industry and Stories of information/communication technology use in Norway and the United States. Larry’s point of entry to the “Modernity” seminar is the bifurcation he has observed in modern cultures and organizations between “the list, which is designed to assure comprehensiveness and expertness that achieves rationality beyond time,” and “the story, which assures context, drama, and an unfolding of events across historical time.” Drawing on data collected in the mid-1990s on the impact of Total Quality Management methods in selected U. S. firms, Larry is interested in engaging the seminar in questions about “what people gain and forfeit from using lists, how they adapt to them, and especially how they maintain individual identity in the face of lists of directions for doing even the smallest of tasks.”

James Buhler is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory in the School of Music. He specializes in music and cinema, the topic of an essay collection that he edited and of his book in progress, and in the work of Theodor Adorno and other members of the Frankfurt School as that work addresses itself to music or can be used “to sharpen the critical edge of music theory.” James will bring to the “Modernity” seminar current research on how technological innovations of the cinematic apparatus transform the place and function of music in the sound space of the cinema, a project “intimately bound up with modernism inasmuch as the modern subject itself reflects the development of representational technologies capable of distribution through mechanical reproduction and/or electronic transmission.”

Charlotte Canning is Associate Professor of Theatre and Dance, where her many courses include “Space, Place, and Performance,” “Theater and Criticism,” and “Feminist Theory and Representation.” The author of Feminist Theaters in the U. S. A.: Staging Women’s Experience and the forthcoming The Most American Thing in America: Performance and Circuit Chautauqua. Charlotte’s work on the latter project—an interpretive history of the multi-day, multi-genre programs of live performance that, from 1904 to the early 1930s, offered “uplift and entertainment” to tens of millions of rural Americans across boundaries of denomination, income, and education—provides her particular point of entry to the “Modernity” seminar. A “contradictory intersection of the modern and antimodern,” the Circuit Chautauquas constitute a revealing performative locus of “national anxieties over the changing fabric of American life” and “a vital site to think through issues of modernity and modernism.” Their trajectory also may serve as a point of departure for exploring Latour’s ‘vanquished’—“what gets left behind, erased, or silenced through the processes of modernity, modernism, and history.”

Alan Friedman, who holds the Arthur J. Thaman and Wilhelmina Doré Endowed Professorship of English and Comparative Literature, teaches and publishes widely on the topic of "Modernity."  Alan is the author and editor of several books on modernism, including Fictional Death and the Modernist Enterprise, "which explores the attitudes toward death in the modernist period as radically different—socially, psychologically, and representationally—from what they were in Western culture both before and subsequently."  He has enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship with the Harry Ransom Center, and has researched extensively its modernist holdings.  As co-editor of the letters of Graham Greene, Alan has been invited to speak on Greene's work at the exhibition the HRC will mount for his centenary in 2006. Alan will also bring to the seminar his research on a new book in progress, Party Pieces: Joyce, Beckett and Performance, which "links high modernism with the literature and culture that follow it," but "addresses social, cultural, and historical issues relating to modernism from a very different perspective" than his previous work. 

Roger Hart, an Assistant Professor of History and Asian Studies, approaches modernity--  “as an axis of reflection and source of perplexity”—at the intersection of his three areas of research: Chinese history, history of science, and critical theory. His scholarship in these areas includes essays in English and Chinese and two in-progress studies,  ‘Western Learning’ in Seventeenth-Century China: A Microhistorical Approach to World History and The Disunity of Language, Science, and Culture. In these works--and in courses and conferences organized around the problematic “imagined unities” of ‘the West,’ ‘China,’ and ‘Islam,’ and the deployment of these putative unities in “the rhetorics, ideologies, and academic disciplines that authorized the genre of world history”—Roger has charted the inquiry that he looks forward to pursuing further in dialog with colleagues in the seminar: “the critical, historical contextualization of the ideologies of modernity.”

Gretchen Ritter, Associate Professor of Government, studies the nature of liberalism—a political philosophy of modernism, she points out—and the challenges of democratic movements and ideas in political development. Gretchen is the author of Goldbugs and Greenbacks: The Antimonopoly Tradition and the Politics of Finance in America, 1865-1896, along with a number of articles on matters of gender and citizenship, the subject of a new book in progress. She will also bring to the seminar an emerging interest in the theoretical and comparative aspects of “legal dualism within constitutional polities”—a system in which “one set of legal principles that are individualistic and universalistic are primarily responsible for governing the civic rights and duties of some members of the polity (typically men of the dominant ethnic and religious group), while a second set of legal principles is used to govern other, more marginal or subordinate members of the polity.” Gretchen looks forward to exploring in the seminar the extent to which legal dualism and the struggles to which it gives rise “speak to the failure of ‘modern’ political philosophies and institutions to deal with matters of social ordering that arise under conditions of human interdependency.”

Sharmila Rudrappa is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and an Asian Americanist whose research explores the intertwining of modernity and race.  Sharmila teaches such courses as "Special Topics in Race: Nation and Citizen," "South Asian Americans: Work, Family, Community, Nation," and "Asian American Families and Family Politics."  Her published work includes a forthcoming book, Ethnic Routes to Becoming American: Indian Immigrants and the Cultures of Citizenship in Late Twentieth Century United States, and her most recent project is entitled, "Culture in the Courtrooms: The Use of Cultural Expert Testimonials in Criminal Cases."  Throughout the HI seminar Sharmila will explore further the racialized contexts, forms and futures of late modernity and, in particular, the "cultural turn" in American politics, which maintains an "overtly cultural focus, often at the expense of deep redistribution"—the contradictory co-existence of "celebratory flexible difference" and multiculturalism alongside the devastation of communities of color and welfare reform.

Sahotra Sarkar is a Professor of Philosophy and of Integrative Biology, whose interdisciplinary research and teaching interests include philosophy and history of science, developmental biology, ecology, and aesthetics. Sahotra is the editor of Science and Philosophy in the Twentieth Century: Basic Works of Logical Empiricism (6 vols), and the author of a recent book on Genetics and Reductionism in addition to numerous articles in his various fields of expertise. A current project, which he will bring to the “Modernity” seminar, concerns the interactions between three aspects of German cultural life in the 1920s—physics, philosophy, and architecture. These interrelations, Sahotra suggests, describe a modernity that revolves not so much around “functionalism and the machine aesthetic” or “a foundationalist search for certainty” (traditional touchstones in discussions of architectural and philosophical modernism) but around “the idea of structure and construction” and the quest for “clarity,” whether expressed in the “the exact materials by which a building is constructed, the measurement procedures by which a physical parameter is estimated, or the structure of a philosophical argument.”

Zipporah Wisemanholds the Thomas H. Law Centennial Professorship in the School of Law, where her courses include “Feminist Legal Theory,” “Legal Biography,” and “Current Developments in the Impact of Law on Women’s Lives.” Among Zipporah’s recent publications are the edited collection, Representing Women in Law and Literature, and legal historical and biographical essays on Karl Llewellyn and Soia Mentschikoff. Zipporah’s particular point of entry to the HI’s “Modernity” seminar is the “frontal attack on the prevailing view of Anglo American law” conducted by the early 20th century scholars who came to be known as Legal Realists and whose modernist legal revolution, she contends, was “the logical and necessary precursor of what we now call feminist legal theory.”

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