Spring 2022 Graduate Research Fellows
B.A. in Classics, Bard College
Biography: Ryan Warwick is a PhD candidate in Classics at Johns Hopkins University. He holds a B.A. in Classics from Bard College, where his final project explored 15th-century humanism’s ideological investment in the image of Rome as the place where, just under the surface, the ancient world continued to live. His current research turns back to the Rome of the classical past and focuses on Cicero’s letters. He hopes to explore how Cicero’s correspondence and the way it portrays his daily life and scholarly practice can act as a site for questioning authorship, tradition, and what it means to be part of a canon.
Dissertation: There is arguably no more important figure to the legacy of ancient Rome than Marcus Tullius Cicero. His output was so varied, its scope so universal, that one of the first printed dictionaries of the Latin language, Mario Nizzoli’s Thesaurus Ciceronianus, was a dictionary exclusively of Cicero’s usage. Of any Roman author whose work survives, Cicero comes the closest to being a canon unto himself. In this canon, however, some texts have escaped Cicero’s authorial control: 917 letters were collected by an anonymous editor and published after his death. My dissertation, “Mapping Cicero’s Letters,” aims to use these fugitive texts to rethink what it means to be a classical author. Cicero’s letters contain a host of objects and influences caught up in the activity of scholarship, from the imagined voice of Cicero’s recipients and literary sources to the lively objects that surrounded him, to the enslaved workers that produced and circulated the letters themselves. The Cicero that emerges at the nexus of these forces looks very different from the man known for his influence over Latin language and history. Instead, we find a figure who is himself open to a variety of influences. From the perspective of the letters, Cicero is not the origin point of a hierarchized “chain of receptions,” but can be read as a node in a participatory network that stretched across time and space. Such a reading reimagines the study of the past in ways that are both hopeful and critical.
MA in History, The Johns Hopkins University
MBA, Simon Business School, University of Rochester
BA in History and International Relations, University of Rochester
Biography: Sean Delehanty is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History. Prior to attending Johns Hopkins, he received an MBA with concentrations in Finance, International Management, and Business Environment and Public Policy from the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester and a BA from the University of Rochester. His research interests include the history of the American political economy in the twentieth century, business history, the history of economics, international development, and American foreign policy.
Dissertation: My dissertation blends intellectual and business history to explain why American businesses chose to endorse the idea that corporations existed primarily to maximize the value of their shareholders’ investments during the final decades of the twentieth century. Shareholder value maximization was not just a financial strategy that corporate leaders adopted, it was an entirely different way of understanding what a corporation was and what its place in society should be. This new way of understanding the corporation was the product of decades of research in financial economics, an academic discipline that broke off from mainstream economics in the 1950s as researchers located within business schools sought to develop scientific models of financial markets and eventually the business firm itself. Financial economists argued that corporations owed nothing to society beyond the maximization of shareholder value and that managers should focus on boosting their firms’ stock price above all else. In the 1980s and 1990s, activist investors, management consultants, legal theorists, and financial economists themselves used these ideas to justify hostile takeovers of businesses with low stock prices and to pressure managers to restructure their businesses around the promotion of shareholder value. As corporate raiders and activist investors pushed managers to focus more on their shareholders, shareholder value theorists became the dominant intellectual forces in the nation’s leading business and law schools where they placed shareholder value maximization at the heart of business and legal education. By the 1990s, business managers themselves began to champion shareholder value maximization thanks to reformers’ insistence that managers be paid in stock options. Thanks to managers’ decisions to adopt shareholder value maximization, business firms began to financial economists’ models as companies shed their responsibilities to employees and customers and full-time workers were replaced by contractors. This restructuring of American business did create tremendous amounts of wealth, but it came at a great social and economic cost for millions of Americans who were exposed to punishing amounts of economic risk that only furthered popular discontent with both business and government.
BA in the History of Art and Architecture, University of Pittsburgh
MA in Art History and Museum Studies, Case Western Reserve University
Biography: Lauren Maceross is a PhD candidate in the Department of the History of Art. From 2019-2021 she was the Samuel H. Kress Foundation Pre-Doctoral Institutional Fellow at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art in Paris, where she stayed in residence as a chercheuse accueillie for the fall 2021 semester to finish fieldwork with the support of additional research fellowships from Johns Hopkins’ Charles Singleton Center for the Study of Premodern Europe and Department of the History of Art. Lauren previously served as the 2018-2019 Carlson/Cowart Fellow in the Prints, Drawings, and Photographs Department at the Baltimore Museum of Art. She holds a BA in the History of Art and Architecture from the University of Pittsburgh, and an MA in Art History and Museum Studies from Case Western Reserve University.
Dissertation: By the fourteenth century, the human heart was regarded as the seat of the soul and all operations of conscious life, the result of the maturation of a Christianized cardiocentrism as Aristotle’s anthropological corpus was widely integrated into late medieval culture. Open to the outside world through the senses, in the popular imagination the organ became a busy, intricate, and above all vulnerable container-like space requiring increased, habitual maintenance to guard against contamination and corruption – a serious matter because the heart’s content included traces of every facet of one’s existence to be surveyed by God as the determining factor in personal redemption at the Last Judgment. My dissertation reconsiders the compositional strategies of a constellation of small, wood boxes made between 1325 and 1525 in Western Europe with interior images that have never been collectively analyzed as inventive engagements with these developments. Challenging lingering views of the containers as less sophisticated merchandise of the courtship market for superficial use, the project addresses the gap in critical attention to their programs as carefully designed, holistic constructs predicated on movement and bodily awareness where form drives meaning. In taking these structural elements as a starting point for recontextualization, my account will show the group employs features of the heart as their organizing principles to enhance their efficacy as a kind of preventative medical technology, an affective tactic which I define as a “physiological poetics.” In so doing, this interdisciplinary study aims to expand the notion of what is included in the visual culture of health in this period, bringing into focus the experiential ways the boxes shape bodily knowledge in the everyday lives of lay audiences and further destabilize value hierarchies in the history of art that traditionally relegate the containers as furniture and diminish their conceptual complexity. In arguing the poetics is a coherent compositional device and therapeutic trend across sizable geographic and temporal expanses to reattune the hearts of the boxes’ owners to the praxis of salvation, the dissertation proposes a new hermeneutic for future work on late medieval domestic art.
BA in History with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality, Princeton University
Biography: Brooke Lansing is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Johns Hopkins University. Prior to joining the 2021-22 cohort of AGHI Fellows, Brooke was a 2020-21 Fellow with the Center for Medical Humanities and Social Medicine at Johns Hopkins. She received the 2019-20 Fellowship in the History of American Obstetrics and Gynecology from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and a Larry J. Hackman Research Residency at the New York State Archives in 2020. She taught the undergraduate course “History of American Reproductive Politics” at JHU with the support of a Dean’s Teaching Fellowship in Spring 2021. Brooke’s departmental service has included tenures as Co-President of the History Graduate Students Association and Co-Coordinator of the Gender History Seminar. She has published op-eds and blog posts on women and media with The Huffington Post, About-Face, and fbomb.
Dissertation: Brooke’s dissertation, entitled “With the Strictest Confidence: Abortion and Contraception in Nineteenth-Century New York City,” explores women’s perspectives on reproductive control, and the gender politics behind its increasing restriction, from 1839-1878. Drawn from largely never-before-studied court records generated from legal investigations of abortion within those years, the dissertation argues that gender politics were crucial to creating antiabortion activism in the United States.
Morgan E. Moroney
BA in Near Eastern Studies, University of Chicago
MA in Near Eastern Studies, Johns Hopkins
Biography: Morgan E. Moroney is a PhD candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies focusing on Egyptian Art and Archaeology. She was the 2019-2020 Robert and Nancy Hall Fellow in the Department of Ancient Mediterranean Art at the Walters Art Museum and works as a graduate student researcher at the JHU Archaeological Museum. She has excavated in Egypt, Ethiopia, and the United States.
Dissertation: My dissertation examines the iconographic, ritualistic, and social value of wine in ancient Egyptian society, applying a material culture-focused and gendered approach. I investigate the agency of Egyptian women and female divinities, and their relationships with wine, through the lens of material evidence and iconography dating from the Egyptian late Predynastic period through the end of the New Kingdom (ca. 3200-1069 BCE). I focus mainly on physical objects and artistic depictions of wine—its production, consumption, and ritual use—in a variety of contexts. Through a gendered analysis of wine imagery and objects across time, I deconstruct the continuity and change of overall drinking practices, gender relations, and power in ancient Egypt.
MA in Comparative Literature, New York University
BA in Comparative Literature, University of California, Davis
Biography: Evan Loker is a PhD Candidate in the English Department. He holds a MA in Comparative Literature from NYU and a BA with Highest Honors from UC Davis. Evan’s teaching and research focus on narrative theory, antislavery literature, and hemispheric American studies.
Dissertation: My dissertation, “If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress”: Antislavery Novels of the Late-Abolition Americas, examines how antislavery writers across the Late-Abolition Americas adapted their tactics, rhetoric, and political imagination to confront slavery’s resurgent power in the mid-nineteenth century. After West Indian Emancipation in 1834 and the global shocks of 1848 resulted in abolition everywhere else, the US, Cuba, and Brazil comprised slavery’s last bastion. In the face of its zombie-like persistence and alarming modernity, antislavery partisans adapted by discarding inherited ideas of historical progress and imagining new ways to bring slavery to a crisis point. No Struggle, No Progress expands the scholarly conversation on antislavery cultures by recovering the patterns of style, affect, and discourse specific to the turbulent final era of slavery in the Anglophone, Hispanophone, and Lusophone world.
Across the Late-Abolition Americas, writers not only experienced comparable political crises, such as disorienting failures and civil wars; they also utilized similar literary materials and techniques to craft oppositional worlds. In doing so, these novels balance competing tasks. On the one hand, they build complex literary worlds that historicize slavery’s paradoxical modernity and ironize their movement’s outdated tactics and rhetoric. On the other hand, as speculation fictions, these worlds assay the prospects of people of African descent as agents of a post-slavery future. However, these political imaginaries are not univocal but vary according to the author and national circumstance. Some texts build worlds to imagine radical forms of racial emancipation, while are others absolutely regressive. No Struggle, No Progress uses this diverse archive to shed new light on the contingent pathways that led to a post-slavery American hemisphere.
BA in Politics and Religious Studies, Pomona College
Biography: Quinn Lester is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science, based in the fields of Political Theory and American Politics. His research on policing and democratic theory lie at the intersections of Political Theory, Critical Ethnic Studies, American Studies, and Criminology. His work has appeared so far in Qui Parle: Critical Humanities and Social Sciences, Catalyst: Feminism, Theory, Technoscience, and Social Science Quarterly.
Dissertation: My dissertation develops the concept of policing democracy to describe America as a white democracy wherein the prerogative to police non-white peoples expresses citizens’ democratic rights. The activism of mass movements in recent years placed the violence of policing at the center of debates about the health and stability of American democracy. Scholars and politicians have often been blindsided by the demands of these movements because they continue to view police violence as a bureaucratic or technical problem to be solved rather than as an indictment of currently existing democratic states. My dissertation helps elucidate these demands by investigating police relations with the communities they police as fundamental to how we, as scholars and citizens, define democracy. I engage a long history of critiques about American policing from the 1890’s to today in Black Political Thought to show how genealogies of patriarchy, slavery, and colonialism continue to impact contemporary policing under American democracy. In so doing, I argue that in a policing democracy, policing as material practice creates the relationship between racial privilege, and in America particularly whiteness, and political power. Police power also then creates a substantive democracy for some that enmeshes an only formal democracy for the policed. Through the lens of policing democracy, I show how proposed reforms to policing are inadequate for addressing this essential relationship that ties policing to white supremacy and racial status. Instead, police reforms retrench, rather than abolish, discriminatory and oppressive police practices. To redress the limitations of reform, I turn to abolition democracy as a framework for theorizing both the abolition of police violence and new forms of democratic power for the currently policed.
Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies (IHS) Students
BA, Trinity University
Political Science, Social Theory, and Black Studies
Biography: Pyar Seth is a PhD student in the Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies Program working at the nexus of Medical Anthropology and Political Science. Broadly, he does research on Black Thought, Hip Hop, Medical Humanities, Policing, Racial Violence, Social Suffering, and Youth Politics. Pyar is also a Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Research Scholar and current research associate to both the Black Beyond Data Project and the Paul Robeson Research Center.
Project: As described by Calvin Warren (2018), there is an urgency and exhaustion in the dissemination of the phrase Black Lives Matter — a restlessness with the continued experience of anti-Black dismemberment, torture, and fatality. Within a society in which Blackness is often reduced to production (racial capitalism), there is a need to prioritize rest, namely because Black people never seem able to. From adolescence through modern adult life, Black communities exist in the purview of the state as a target of repression. And so, one portion of my research focuses on the relationship between political infrastructure and health, namely how the health and well-being of Black communities is reconfigured via institutional intervention and state violence. Another is devoted to understanding how we can humanize the medical practice for Black communities through Black Studies and a recollection of the history of Black thought.
BA, Nanjing University
Chinese Language and Literature
Biography: Shengshuang holds a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Literature from Nanjing University, and she received her master’s degree in Comparative Literature from Renmin University of China. In 2019 she was accepted into the German section at the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Johns Hopkins University. Currently, she is studying in the Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies Program to combine her interests in German studies and Sinology.
Project: Her research focuses on the influences of German literature and philosophy on Chinese modernity, especially on Chinese intellectual and political movements in the 20th century. Shengshuang also continues her investigations on the contemporary German writer W. G. Sebald, especially the theme of repetition in his works.
BA, Occidental College
Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture
Biography: Marshall Meyer is a PhD candidate in Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies at Johns Hopkins University, working between the departments of Comparative Thought and Literature and Modern Languages and Literatures. He received his bachelor’s degree in Comparative Studies in Literature and Culture at Occidental College, where he wrote a thesis on the reception of Greek tragedy by key German idealist philosophers. His research interests include psychoanalysis, particularly the Ljubljana Lacanian School and transcendental materialism; German idealism, particularly Hegel; Marxist theory; twentieth-century European philosophy and theory; contemporary literature, film/television, and popular music; and current topics in aesthetic theory, such as autonomy, form, and critique.
Project; Marshall situates his work as part of an ongoing effort, inaugurated more than thirty years ago by Slavoj Žižek and members of his circle, to read the German idealist canon through the lens of Lacanian psychoanalysis (and vice versa). At the same time, he remains keenly interested in the many new practices of reading that have proliferated in the humanities in the twenty-first century, and it is the aim of his research to bring these two concerns into dialogue. How would Lacan or Hegel, with their shared emphasis on the subject’s mediation, respond to a trending practice like postcritique, with its belief in an immediate relationship between reader and text? And are the thinkers just mentioned only good for critiquing existing practices of reading, or is there sufficient material in their work to advance a positive theory of aesthetics? These are among the questions that occupy him.
BA Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore Milan, Italy
MA New York University
Biography: Tatiana’s research has mostly focused on Italian Renaissance Literature. Specifically, before coming to Johns Hopkins, their work explored the relationship between political structures and language. Specifically, it analyzed the ways in which politics shaped the development of the Italian language in the debates taking place in Italy in the 15th and 19th centuries.
Project: Through the Interdisciplinary Humanistic Studies Program Tatiana is bridging Italian Studies with Classics. Their projects aims at exploring the Italian Renaissance via Neo-Latin literature by posing questions of gender and identity through the lens of language. They hope that by working with Transgender Studies theory they will be able to shed new light and reading of cultural production in the Italian Early Modern period.