The School of Arts and Humanities at UT Dallas has three new tenure-track faculty members who will teach and conduct research in their respective fields — Middle Eastern history, literature and philosophy.
“The essence of the humanities is to always encourage people to put their ideas into a larger context. We have found three scholars who not only are going to be strong participants and contributors to specific fields, but also have the ability to put their thinking and their teaching in this grander context of the humanities and values,” said Dr. Dennis Kratz, dean of the School of Arts and Humanities and Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor. “We’re making an investment in people who will make a significant mark in their field, in the school and at the University.”
The school offers degree programs in visual and performing arts, art history, historical studies, history, history of ideas, humanities, Latin American studies, literature and philosophy, and is home to several centers of research and scholarly study. In addition, the school houses the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History — a center for innovative research and graduate education in art history with an extensive partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art.
New Tenure-Track Faculty
Dr. Rosemary Admiral, assistant professor of history
Previously: PhD candidate and graduate student instructor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Interests: Middle Eastern and North African history, pre-modern Moroccan history, Islamic legal studies, gender and feminism
Quote: “Women today have complex relationships with Islamic law. I wanted to see how these relationships mapped onto the past, particularly in the case of North Africa. My research found women engaging with the law in creative and strategic ways, not only through the courts but also by way of a number of less-formal community spaces that they carved out for themselves. UTD’s commitment to research in the humanities within the larger framework of science and technology provides a unique space in which to continue this research and explore the implications for modern legal contexts. I am excited and honored to be a part of this innovative and diverse community.”
Dr. Katherine Davies, assistant professor of philosophy
Previously: visiting assistant professor of philosophy, Miami University
Research Interests: continental philosophy, ethics and feminist theory
Quote: “I am drawn to philosophy because of its slow, careful and critical thinking habits. I take philosophy to be a practice of figuring out how to best align our thinking with what we think about, i.e., the world and everything that makes it up. In my teaching, I work toward practicing this with my students through reading enduring texts from across the history of philosophy that invite this kind of deliberation. These historical texts often nevertheless bear upon some of the most pressing issues in our contemporary world, which we discuss in the classroom. I’ve been so impressed with the eagerness and interest I’ve seen from my students here at UTD already. I look forward to continuing to learn to be a better thinker and philosopher with them and with my impressive colleagues on the faculty.”
Dr. Erin Greer, assistant professor of literature
Previously: PhD candidate and graduate student instructor, the University of California, Berkeley
Research Interests: 20th- and 21st-century British and Anglophone fiction, ordinary language philosophy and critical theory
Quote: “Novels, and the critical acts of reading and writing about novels, provide arenas for imagining possible ways to be: ways for people to be and ways for societies to be. My current project focuses particularly on how novels (along with aesthetic, political and language philosophy) can help us reimagine political discourse — a task that seems increasingly urgent in global politics. Because my work is a dialogue between literature and philosophy, I’m thrilled to join the inherently interdisciplinary arts and humanities school at UT Dallas.”
New research from UT Dallas indicates that values should play a bigger role in the study of science in schools.
The research, which appears in the journal Science & Education, found that students typically do not explore predetermined values or evaluate whether they are appropriate to the particular issue they are examining.
Dr. Matthew Brown, an associate professor in the School of Arts and Humanities, and director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology, said the research shows the importance of teaching science in a way that helps students engage their knowledge of science with social questions.
“You can get students to regurgitate facts, and you can get them to work problems. But getting them to connect what they know about the scientific method or particular areas of science to social issues or policy decision-making is rare,” he said.
Working with Dr. Eun Ah Lee MS’16, MA’16, the UT Dallas research associate who initiated the project, Brown built on arguments espoused by John Dewey, an American philosopher and psychologist who contended that scientific inquiry should include value judgments and that conducting inquiry can improve the ability to make good value judgments.
“What has been found is that when it comes to social issues, people make decisions based on their values,” he said. “So what we are arguing for — and this is what philosophers of science have been arguing for a while — is that there is actually an interaction between the science and the values.”
Stewart’s work examines the role of material objects and structures, including homes, in debates over slavery and freedom throughout the 19th century.
“Dr. Stewart’s research addresses issues of urgent importance — race, slavery and the ways in which we create the historical narrative that both reflects and influences our national values,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the school and Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities.
“The honors that she has already received, including prestigious fellowships, identify her as a rising young star among American historians. I look forward to her becoming a leader in our efforts to enhance the University’s commitment to public humanities — that is, outreach efforts to bring new levels of knowledge and understanding to the community,” Kratz said.
Stewart has received numerous fellowships from the nation’s leading research institutions, including the Barra Foundation Dissertation Fellowship in Early American Art and Material Culture from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and a Smithsonian Institution Predoctoral Research Fellowship.
Stewart said her interest in race and material culture in U.S. history “emerged from personal and practical considerations.”
“Growing up in the Deep South, I wanted to understand why and how this pernicious thing ‘race’ came into existence and shaped American life,” Stewart said. “Though the influence of race has been widely felt throughout American history, it has not always been widely written about. As such, I look to nonwritten sources like objects, structures and images to illuminate the ways that 19th-century Americans constructed and challenged racial structures.”
The school offers degree programs in art and performance, history and literature, and is home to the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, the Asia Center, the Confucius Institute, the Center for Translation Studies, and the Center for Values in Medicine, Science, and Technology. In 2014, the University introduced the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History, a center for innovative research and graduate education in art history with an extensive partnership with the Dallas Museum of Art.
Beginning in the fall semester, the School of Arts and Humanities will offer a bachelor’s degree in philosophy that will include new courses in logic, the history of philosophy, social and political philosophy, and philosophy of art and aesthetics.
The bachelor’s degree, approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board in February, will engage students in critical analysis of texts, rigorous argumentation, and questioning of unexamined personal and cultural assumptions, said Dr. Matthew J. Brown, philosophy professor and director of the Center for Values in Medicine, Science and Technology.
“Philosophy engages the most deep, important and persistent questions,” Brown said. “Questions concerning the nature of the good life, why we believe and how we know, the nature of the self and its connection with the world and with society, and the foundations of justice.”
Brown said the new degree will be closely connected to the interdisciplinary nature of the arts and humanities program, drawing on and contributing to the study of history, literature and the arts. It will also have a unique focus on the philosophy of science, technology and medicine.
The program will draw upon the University’s strengths in engineering, natural sciences, and the behavioral and brain sciences. Brown said the program already has a strong catalog, offering courses in philosophy of science and technology and contemporary continental philosophy, but it will expand to include the philosophy of medicine and medical ethics.
“A university focused on scientific discovery and technological innovation has a balancing responsibility to support and foster philosophic examination. The new degree is a significant addition to UT Dallas.”
The faculty includes experts in continental philosophy, American pragmatism and the history of philosophy. Brown said the program wants to add experts in feminist philosophy and naturalistic philosophy.
“A philosophy student at UT Dallas will display a broad knowledge of contemporary philosophical traditions and historical movements in philosophy,” said Dr. Charles Bambach, professor of philosophy. “More than this, the philosophy degree will also provide excellent preparation for graduate and professional school, by providing marketable skills in high demand, including critical thinking, problem solving and graceful writing.
“Beyond this, philosophy teaches one how to understand not only a text, but the way language shapes our very lives as human beings. What is at stake here is understanding life as something ethical to its core — with profound implications for how we negotiate our place in the world with others.”
Brown said the subject provides some of the best preparation for graduate and professional schools, and philosophy students consistently rank among the highest scorers of any major on the GRE and LSAT, according to data from the Law School Admission Council and the Graduate Management Admission Council.
“A university focused on scientific discovery and technological innovation has a balancing responsibility to support and foster philosophic examination,” said Dr. Dennis M. Kratz, dean of the school and the Ignacy and Celina Rockover Professor of Humanities. “The new degree is a significant addition to UT Dallas.”
The regular application deadline for the fall 2017 term is May 1.
From a translation of a sprawling, 464-page Romanian novel to a study on the automobile as conceptual art, faculty from the School of Arts and Humanities have recently produced research on a wide range of topics.
Translation of ‘Blinding’
Dr. Sean Cotter has translated Blinding, a novel written by Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu.
Dr. Sean Cotter, associate professor of translation studies and literature, has translated Blinding (Archipelago Books), a novel written by Romanian author Mircea Cartarescu. The book is part “dream-memoir, part fictive journey through a hallucinatory Bucharest.” A bestseller in its home country, Blinding takes the reader on a “mystical trip into the protagonist’s childhood, his memories of hospitalization as a teenager, the prehistory of his family, a traveling circus, secret police, zombie armies, American fighter pilots, the underground jazz scene of New Orleans, and the installation of the communist regime.”
“A trilogy spanning more than 1,300 pages, Blinding is the most significant creation of contemporary Romanian prose, as much for its wide readership as its brilliant vision,” Cotter said. “A translation of the novel offers readers the opportunity to not just read about the Romanian text, but in a literal sense, to live through it.”
Last year, Cotter won the 2013 Best Translated Book Award in poetry given by Three Percent, the international literature magazine of the University of Rochester, for his translation of Wheel With a Single Spoke and Other Poems by one of Romania’s most influential poets, Nichita Stanescu.
Automotive Prosthetic by Dr. Charissa Terranova
Automotive Prosthetic: Technological Mediation and the Car in Conceptual Art (University of Texas Press), written by Dr. Charissa Terranova, assistant professor of aesthetic studies, combines critical and new media theory to form the first philosophical analysis of the car within works of conceptual art.
The study illuminates the ways in which the automobile becomes a naturalized extension of the human body, creating new forms of “conceptual car art.”
“The automobile functions as an apparatus — a prosthetic connected to the body and systems of infrastructure — through which to see and experience the world, both in motion on the highway and as a citizen interconnected to other citizens of the world. Here the car is fathomless. It is a mode of communication roving through a system of roads and within, as we will find, the culture of conceptual art,” Terranova wrote.
‘Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice’
Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice by Dr. Charles Bambach
Philosophy professor Dr. Charles Bambachhas written a new book that examines the work of two philosophical poets who stand in conversation with the work of the German philosopher Martin Heidegger.
Thinking the Poetic Measure of Justice (SUNY Press) engages the works of two philosophical poets — Friedrich Hölderlin and Paul Celan — to rethink the question of justice in a nonlegal, nonmoral register by understanding it in terms of poetic measure.
“I try to offer close textual readings of poems from each that I see as defining and expressing some of the crucial problems of German philosophical thought in the 20th century,” Bambach wrote in the introduction of his book.
Bambach is also the author of Heidegger’s Roots: Nietzsche, National Socialism, and the Greeks and Heidegger, Dilthey, and the Crisis of Historicism.
With support from a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) summer stipend, Dr. Eric Schlereth recently completed archival research at several Texas institutions. Drawing from his research, he wrote and submitted an essay for publication that is forthcoming in the anthology Contested Empire: Rethinking the Texas Revolution (Texas A&M University Press).
Dr. Eric Schlereth
Schlereth said the most exciting part of his research happened during a stay at the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at UT Austin. The Briscoe Center owns the diaries and correspondence of many Americans who took advantage of Mexico’s colonization laws to become Mexican citizens during the 1820s and early 1830s.
“These first-hand accounts provide a window into a moment in the history of the U.S.-Mexico border when Mexico had to deal with immigrants from the United States,” said Schlereth. “Perhaps the single most fascinating document that I found at the Briscoe Center was a passport issued in 1833 to a U.S. citizen. Incidentally, this passport is a large document considering its purpose. The original is 13 inches wide and 8 inches tall, and I find this nearly as interesting as the document’s content.”
The passport captures central themes in Schlereth’s current book project, Quitting the Nation: Expatriation and the Right to Leave the United States, 1776-1868.
“This passport highlights a period when U.S. citizens crossed international borders to join foreign nations or considered doing so as an expression of their rights. This history is important because it helps us reconsider assumptions that U.S. citizens in the early 1800s were confident in their political loyalties and in the future prospects of the United States,” Schlereth said.
According to the NEH, 920 people competed for 78 awards in 2013. Schlereth was one of three NEH stipend recipients in Texas.
‘The Problem South’
The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930 by Dr. Natalie Ring
Associate professor of history Dr. Natalie Ring’s book The Problem South: Region, Empire, and the New Liberal State, 1880-1930 (University of Georgia Press), has garnered a string of recognitions. Ring was named a finalist for the Best First Book Prize by Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, and she was also named one of three finalists by the Texas Institute of Letters for the Most Significant Scholarly Book Award.
Ring’s book focuses on the “New South” and the period when Northern philanthropies, Southern liberals and the federal experts targeted the South for what they described as “readjustment” or “uplift.”
“The Problem South posits that the effort to reincorporate the New South into the nation was as much a process of rehabilitation and reform as one of political and cultural reunion,” Ring said. Her book is one of the first to examine this endeavor in a global context at the height of U.S. imperialism.
Ring is also the co-editor of The Folly of Jim Crow: Rethinking the Segregated South (Texas A&M University Press) a collection of essays based on the annual Walter Prescott Memorial Webb lectures held at the University of Texas at Arlington.