MA, San Francisco State University
Research interests: Digital history and research methodologies, including text encoding, social network analysis, and geospatial mapping
Nathan Daniels is a graduate student in the History Department, studying with Gabrielle M. Spiegel. Prior to his time at Hopkins, he earned a BA in Medieval studies and musicology from Oberlin College and an MA in history at San Francisco State University. Nathan is broadly interested the urban history of the Middle Ages, with a particular focus on the construction and uses of urban space in fourteenth century Paris. His research has been funded by the Medieval Academy of America and the Charles Singleton Center at Hopkins, and he has also received both the Dean’s Teaching Fellowship and the Dean’s Prize Fellowship from the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences. In addition to his dissertation research, Nathan is also interested in digital history and research methodologies, including text encoding, social network analysis, and geospatial mapping.
Nathan’s dissertation, titled, “Minstrels, Guild Organization, and Medieval Urban Life: A Case Study of the Confraternity of Jongleurs in Paris, 1292-1350,” examines daily life in the Parisian Saint-Martin neighborhood during the early fourteenth century. It addresses how the inhabitants of this neighborhood interacted with each other and how those interactions were shaped by the city’s major institutions, bureaucracies, and topography, taking as a major case study a guild of minstrels located within the neighborhood. While this guild, often called the Confraternity of Saint Julien, has been an occasional source of interest to scholars—and particularly musicologists—for centuries, little actual archival research has been done on it, and it has never been fully considered within its local context. More broadly, the project examines how urban space is conceived and constructed, by the neighborhood residents themselves and by the various overlapping institutions that competed for jurisdictional control over the city. In this way, it contributes to the literature about urbanization during the Middle Ages and the role of cities in shaping conceptions of identity and culture.
Patrick T. Giamario is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science. His research focuses on contemporary democratic theory, critical theory, the history of political thought, and aesthetics. He is currently completing his dissertation, The Politics of Laughter, which investigates how experiences of laughter shape our shared political life. Patrick is the author of “The Laughing Body Politic: The Counter-sovereign Politics of Hobbes’s Theory of Laughter,” published in Political Research Quarterly in 2016 as well as “‘Making Reason Think More’: Laughter in Kant’s Aesthetic Philosophy,” forthcoming in Angelaki in Autumn 2017.
The Politics of Laughter investigates how experiences of laughter shape our shared political life. Beginning with Aristotle’s famous claim that “man is by nature a political animal” due to its capacity for reasoned speech, I explore the political significance of his less famous argument that “mankind…is the only one of the animals that laughs.” I show that by calling into question the distinction between reasoned speech and irrational noise, laughter constitutes a privileged site wherein the contemporary social order constructs, preserves, and transforms itself politically. Critical engagements with the accounts of laughter offered by Theodor Adorno, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, and Ralph Ellison reveal how laughter entrenches and subverts social power (Adorno); enacts and resists sovereignty (Hobbes); expresses and recomposes common sense (Kant); and constructs and democratizes racial hierarchies (Ellison). In a period where laughter constitutes both a key medium through which subjects engage political issues (e.g., The Daily Show) and a central stake in violent political struggles (e.g., the Charlie Hebdo attacks), this study illuminates a crucial way in which politics is practiced today.
MA, Florida State University
Kat Haklin is a PhD candidate in the Department of German and Romance Languages and Literatures. Before arriving at Hopkins, she completed a BA in French and Art History at DePauw University and an MA in French Literature at Florida State University. Her research focuses on enclosure – the perception and sensation of surroundings that close inwards – as it materializes in the literary, visual, and social cultures of nineteenth-century France. Her work therefore concerns a range of cultural production from poetry and prose, to painting and caricature, to finally fashion and the history of dress. Aside from her academic interests in nineteenth-century France, Kat spent two years teaching English in French primary schools as part of the French Ministry of Education’s Assistant de langue program, and completed an internship with the non-profit association France terre d’asile, where she worked with refugees and asylum seekers in Paris.
My dissertation examines the proliferation of enclosed space in French poetry and prose from 1857 until 1890, a roughly thirty-year period that spans most of the Second Empire and the beginning of the Third Republic. It is during this era in 1879 that the first medical definition of ‘claustrophobia’ materializes – and not incidentally, I contend – in Paris. As such, I analyze literary texts published directly preceding and following this definition by four major authors of the century: poems from Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire, excerpts from Les Misérables and Les Travailleurs de la mer by Victor Hugo, and a selection of episodes from works included in Jules Verne’s Voyages extraordinaires and Émile Zola’s Rougon-Macquart series. Out of the multiplicity of forms that enclosure assumes in this panoply of texts, I argue that a discourse on the perception and sensation of enclosed space emerges in French literature during and immediately following Haussmann’s renovations in Paris. The shifting urban landscape, the aesthetic experience of which imbues Baudelaire’s verse, sets in motion an ambivalent position vis-à-vis enclosure during the latter half of the nineteenth century. The propagation of this discourse extends outside the urban environment, subsequently entering natural landscapes in which enclosure provokes phantasmatic episodes verging on hallucination. Thus, the psychological and philosophical dimensions of confinement, initially articulated by Baudelaire, intensify in dramatizations by Hugo, Verne, and Zola as these authors deploy enclosure to underscore the stifling conditions presented by modern industry, paradoxically seeming to praise and abhor at once the technological as well as social progress of the era.
Fouad Halbouni is currently a PhD Candidate in the Department of Anthropology. His research interests are centered around Coptic studies, anthropology of Islam and cultural memory. He has received his master’s degree in anthropology from the American University in Cairo in 2008. His recent publications can be found on his personal website.
Amid a highly-charged sectarian atmosphere, this ethnographic project focuses on how the clergy of the Coptic Orthodox church, the largest Christian community in the Middle East, engage with their laity over the concerns and grievances that envelope everyday interactions between Muslims and Copts in Cairo, Egypt. More specifically, my research explores forms of ethical criticism that circulate within the vicinities of three Coptic churches in the districts of Al-Azbakiya and Al-Faggalah, which constitute historical venues for the Coptic community in Cairo. Towards this end, I devote my attention to forms of ethical criticism found in Coptic Orthodox traditions such as religious apologetics, martyrological and hagiographical (vitae of the saints) traditions, which play definitive roles in the religious life of the community. Those traditions serve as a medium through which the orthodox believer strives to become a living ‘epistle of faith’ to the outside world and in the eyes of Muslim others. Lastly, my research attends to the internal debates found within the local churches concerning the limits and possibilities of moral perfectibility as ethical criticism of fellow Muslims, and more importantly, the political initiatives that such forms of ethical criticism might inspire (or hinder).