May 8, 2020

Kruti Jethwa | Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has awarded four Dissertation Year Fellowships to doctoral candidates in English, History, Musicology and Politics. The award provides a twelve-month, $30,000 stipend and a full credit toward the Brandeis health insurance option for students completing dissertations in the humanities or humanistic social sciences.

"This was a very competitive year for the Dissertation Year Fellowship," says Dean Eric Chasalow. "I am very glad that we have been able to maintain the Dissertation Year Fellowship program, and I have very high expectations for our 2020 recipients. This award provides essential sixth-year funding that enables our doctoral candidates to complete their dissertations."

The 2020 Dissertation Year Fellows:


Christina Dioguardi, Musicology

Scraping Beneath the Surface: A Study of Trecento Florentine Identity in the San Lorenzo Palimpsest

The San Lorenzo Palimpsest, formally known as Manuscript 2211, serves as a catalogue of property acquisitions for the Basilica di San Lorenzo; however, barely visible ink residue on its surviving parchment leaves points to a different original purpose. For centuries palimpsests have obscured information of immeasurable importance beneath their surface texts; information that, when unearthed, has the potential to completely reframe history. My dissertation makes advances in understanding the makeup and content of the San Lorenzo Palimpsest, both in terms of its production process, and also in revealing the importance of repertories that have been little considered to date (or not considered at all) in scholarship on the trecento (1300s in Italy). Furthermore, this dissertation makes a larger impact beyond musicology in providing a critical lens for how the humanities should examine palimpsests, and also in identifying where additional technological advancements are still crucial for the development of manuscript recovery. 

Lan Ngo, Politics

After the Fact: States' Responses to Territorial Faits Accomplis

In May 1999, the world once again edged toward the brink of nuclear war when Pakistan seized the strategic mountain tops that Indian troops had vacated during the winter. By creating a fait accompli, i.e. a small land grab during peacetime, Pakistani leaders gambled that India would accept the limited territorial loss rather than risk fighting a major war. Yet India quickly mobilized its military force to contest the lost territory. Two months later, losing on the battlefield and under immense international pressure, Islamabad had no choice but to withdraw its troops. India had won the battle for Kargil. This episode raises two interesting puzzles that my dissertation will examine in detail. First, why do target states sometimes delay rather than respond immediately to faits accomplis? The second question is: why do target states sometimes fail to recover lost territory following faits accomplis when using military force?

Nataliia Laas, History

Market Research without a Market: Command Economy and Consumer Demand in the USSR, 1947-1991

My project began with the discovery that after World War II, the Soviet Union engaged in market research. Market research resulted from a new “consumerist” direction in Soviet society from the mid-1950s, when political leaders determined to raise the standard of living and increase the output in consumer goods. But this new policy required state planners to comprehend how to measure consumer demand in an economy with fixed prices. The new field of market research was to provide the answer. The dissertation examines the community of market research specialists: their professional development, methodologies of information-gathering, and research findings. A second task, considers how planners, politicians, factory managers, and retailers used market research in economic policies. All this provides the backdrop to consumer rights activism in perestroika after 1985. 

Diana Filar, English

We Need New Names: Identity and Conditions of Belonging in the Contemporary Immigrant Novel

Within the last few years, the United States has faced many immigration-related scandals, including a travel ban, planned home-raids by ICE agents, the use of violence at detention centers, and politicians calling for people of color to “go back to where they came from.” Each of these news stories contributes to a generalized narrative of an ever-looming crisis that calls into question a centuries-long American Dream story crafted in the national imagination. I study contemporary fiction by writers from Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Sub-Saharan Africa to show how immigrants, across a range of geographical contexts, can transform our understanding of the migration debate, actively shaping the parameters and conditions of their own belonging. My research shows that in many of the fictional texts written by immigrants about the immigrant experience, characters often define their relationships to the United States by questioning their names, developing new names, and ruminating on the naming traditions of their countries of origin and of their adopted cultures. Immigrant novels that feature discussions around naming and names thus reflect the ways in which immigrants negotiate the interconnectedness of identity’s multiple manifestations. Writers from a range of ethno-racial groups use names to identify, document, and test cultural practices that differentiate ethnic groups and races, thereby unsettling crude generalizations that too often inform political debates about immigration.