J. Brandon Pelcher
Ph.D. student in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures
J. Brandon Pelcher is a doctoral student in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University (M.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, Comparative Literature; B.A., University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Mathematics). His research and teaching interests have included theories of forgetting, phenomenology, political aesthetics, feminism, questions of systematicity, and the re-reading of ancient texts. He has mainly focused on writers from the Frankfurt School, surrealism, Debord, Heidegger, Irigaray, and Proust. His current project is an investigation into the use of strategic essentialism and mimesis in the historical avant-garde, concentrated around the international chapters of Dada. This examination will question the prevailing theory of Dadaist work as an immunological reaction to the horrors of the First World War. During his fellowship, he will focus on Dada’s interaction with the echoes of that war in the form of revolutionized mass manufacturing, vertical integration and international distribution, and more specifically, the attendant revolutions in advertising, propaganda, mass marketing and media thereby engendered. From the utilization of mass manufactured items of consumerist capitalism to the use of advertisement clippings in photomontage, from numerous playful interactions with contemporary newspapers to advertising their own soirées, Dada seemed to be consistently critiquing the culture of modern media from purposefully within modern media.
Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Anthropology
Chitra Venkataramani is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at Johns Hopkins University with a background in architecture and graphic design. Her dissertation, “Drawn into Life: Mapping and Ecological Vision in Urban India” examines the ways in which the proliferation of mapping technology and cartographic imagery shapes urban planning and ecological vision while reconfiguring our attachment to place and environment. It is based on fieldwork conducted in fishing villages in Mumbai at a time when many different groups such as the state, private planning organizations, NGOs, and the fishing community are drawing new maps and plans in order to make specific claims on the urban environment. During her fellowship year, she plans to explore ways of presenting ethnographic material through visual media. She will work on two chapters, the first of which examines the circulation of satellite images, conceptual plans, and alternate visions for the development of particular neighborhoods in the city of Mumbai. In the second, she will examine the development of built form in fishing villages through a visual narrative.
Graduate Student in the Humanities Center
Daniel Schwartz is a third-year graduate student in the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University. His research focuses on the interaction between literature, cinema, and philosophy with regard to questions of authenticity and repetition. His CAMS project re-examines Benjamin’s conception of the work of art from the perspective Russian avant-garde cinema and poetry. Aside from his graduate work, Daniel is also an associate director of the Baltimore poetry and chorus troupe Parallel Octave. His work with Parallel Octave strives to be a practical reflection of his research on the relationship between cinema and poetry. Towards this end, he has co-taught a film production class that applies the poetic methods of Russian futurists and constructivists to the production of student cine-poems. These films were shown at Parallel Octaves annual film screening – Anthology.