Five faculty members win Mandel Center grants

Five members of the Brandeis faculty have been awarded Mandel Faculty Grants in the Humanities to support projects focused in the humanities or humanistic social sciences.

Recipients of the grants, which range from $5,000 to $10,000, will use the funds during the spring and summer, and then present a talk about their projects at the Mandel Center’s faculty lunch symposium during the 2018-19 academic year.

The following faculty members were awarded grants:

Carina Ray (AAAS) — “Talk of Freedom: An Oral History of Cuban Participation in African Liberation Struggles” 

Over the course of 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, Fidel Castro sent upwards of four hundred thousand Cubans to Africa in an attempt to bolster liberation struggles and the fledgling countries these struggles birthed. First in Algeria, then in Congo, Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique and numerous other African countries, Cubans played a crucial role in the ideological, tactical, and pragmatic struggle against late colonial rule, Cold War imperialism, neocolonialism and apartheid ­— all of which blighted the continent at a crucial time in its history and in Cuba’s. This oral history project makes its contribution to the histories of Africa, Cuba, and the Cold War by documenting the sprawling Cuban presence in Africa and its ideological complexity and contradictions, through the experiences and voices of the Cuban people who served there.

Laura Jokusch (NEJS) — The Trials of Stella Goldschlag: Nazi Victim, Holocaust Survivor, and War Criminal

This project explores the tragic story of Stella Goldschlag, a young German Jewish woman who survived the Second World War because she became a Gestapo informer, allegedly betraying dozens of Jews who had gone "underground" in Berlin from 1943 through 1945. It analyzes the case through three postwar trials against Goldschlag: a Soviet military trial in 1946 and two criminal trials at German courts in 1957 and 1972. Found guilty of “crimes against humanity” and “accessory to murder,” but seeing herself as a victim who had tried to save her family from deportation, Goldschlag committed suicide in 1994. For the survivors of the Berlin Jewish community, bringing Goldschlag to justice had a cathartic effect. Yet the controversial case of a Jew who turned against other Jews at times of genocide also played into the hands of those who sought to minimize German responsibilities in the Holocaust. Indeed, the zeal with which prosecutors in East and West Germany sought to bring Goldschlag to trial seems disproportionate given that most of the Gestapo agents to whom Goldschlag had betrayed other Jews escaped justice altogether. This project ties in with Holocaust and genocide studies, women and gender studies, German history and the history of transitional justice while seeking to make original contributions to all of these fields. 

Clémentine Faure-Bellaiche (Romance Studies) — A “Protestant Air” – André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, Roland Barthes, & The Religion of Literary Modernism

This project is about three intellectual giants of the twentieth century, André Gide, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Roland Barthes – three major voices of French literary modernity and three thinkers of international stature and prodigious influence. My project is centered upon a heretofore unexamined aspect of their trajectory – their Protestant difference, in a country culturally marked by Catholicism, or rather, by a certain Catholic character, by what Barthes once called catholicity. The book will show that Gide, Sartre and Barthes delineate a Protestant filiation within French intellectual and literary history: their self-fashioning as writers was closely intertwined with their religious difference. Going against the grain of France's catholicity, they invented the posture, the ethos of the French intellectual – that is, a certain positioning vis-à-vis authority, the individual and the institution. Through those emblematic figures of the modern secular intellectual, I also explore the paradoxical continuum between the religious and the secular and their mutual intrication within the fabric of modernity.

Hannah Weiss Muller (History) — Alien Invasions and Revolutionary Contagion: The Aliens Acts, the 1790s, and the Changing Contours of Citizenship

The 1790s witnessed repeated attempts to protect the Anglo-Atlantic world from the threat of foreigners – Britain passed an Aliens Act in 1793, regulating and restricting the movement of foreigners. Canada followed suit in 1794. The early American republic enacted the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts in 1798. This project will result in a monograph placing these three diverse acts in context and conversation and will inform contemporary debates regarding radicalization, asylum criteria, refugee rights, and the economic impacts of migration.

Joel Christensen (Classical Studies) —  The Many-Minded Man: The Odyssey, Psychology and the Therapy of Epic. 

The project applies concepts from psychology and cognitive science to readings of the structure and reception of "The Odyssey" to re-examine the way the epic treats issues of agency, a sense of self, and the redemptive power of narrative. Within this primary argument, I present case studies to show how narrative and thematic patterns in "The Odyssey" reveal understandings of human psychological maladaptations and their treatments that are analogous to modern psychological theories. The MCH grant in particular will facilitate the completion of the final chapter “Marginalized Voices” which explores the effect of epic discourse on marginalized communities within the poem, specifically women and slaves, from a perspective informed by feminist literary theory and critiques of cultural discourse and mental health from disability studies.

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences, Research

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