Faculty Research

Current Research

Timothy A. Brennan

"My writing has always been about the imperial imagination—the legacies of colonialism, but also its contemporaneity."

Professor Brennan is writing the second volume of a two-volume project concerning the history and legacies of anti-colonial movements in Europe titled Borrowed Light: Imperial Form. The first volume, Borrowed Light: Vico, Hegel, and the Colonies, appeared in 2014, published with Stanford University Press. He also devotes his time to creating an intellectual biography of Edward Said, who is widely considered to be among the most influential and original American intellectuals of the post-world war era.

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Tony C. Brown

"So the problem I began with was this: what does it mean to be stateless in a world ordered into states?"

Professor Brown's research centers on European attempts to represent, think, and control the extra-European world, most specifically those parts and peoples called savage. "Right now I am writing a book on statelessness, primarily as a problem of thinking existence outside of the state in Enlightenment philosophy--though the project began with thinking on the future. At some point, quite soon, as sea-levels continue to rise, certain nation-states (Tuvalu and the Maldives, among others) will be underwater. Citizens of these states face the prospect of belonging to a state that will, one day, no longer exist. In a world ordered into states, they will have nowhere to stand."

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Michael Gallope

"I am interested in philosophical approaches to the perplexing and intense impact of music—but from a modern, transnational perspective."

Professor Gallope is currently at work on his second book, Strange Inscriptions: The Ineffable Avant-Garde, 1958-78. Through the prism of six case histories—David Tudor, Ornette Coleman, The Velvet Underground, Alice Coltrane, Patti Smith, and Richard Hell—this book argues that music's ineffability is not a conceit based in music's autonomy or abstraction, but instead emerges as a sense of perplexity that surrounds musical practices that are both forceful and unstable in their exact meaning. These avant-garde musicians challenged the rules by which music is written and practiced.

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Keya Ganguly

"I am particularly interested in Aurobindo's elaboration of a political metaphysics—an orientation to the world in which freedom, understood as a collective proposition, is the goal of both spiritual enlightenment and political emancipation."

Professor Ganguly splits her time between writing two books, Political Metaphysics, and Nostalgia for the Future. The former concerns early 20th century Indian anti-colonial nationalism, focusing on Aurobindo Ghose: poet, mystic, and revolutionary. The book seeks to contribute to our understanding of revolution as a cultural and political ideal in contemporary struggles for freedom. The latter, Nostalgia for the Future, explores the articulation of utopian imagination in Hindi films made in the decade immediately following India's independence from British rule. 

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Maggie Hennefeld

"I take great joy in my research. I'm always mining the archive for something fun, or weird, or that doesn't quite fit with our image of the past."

Professor Hennefeld's current book project, Death from Laughter, Female Hysteria, and Early Cinema, focuses on the critical intersection between theories of female hysteria, histories of early cinema, and news reports about women who allegedly died from laughing too hard in the late 19th and 20th centuries. She is also currently co-editing two book volumes. The Abject Objection explores the social politics of laughter and abjection while Unwatchable Media examines media that we literally cannot watch because it's too aggravating, painful, or difficult.

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Richard Leppert

"My current research continues to focus on the history of phonography, film music, and the uses of music in warfare over the past 150 years."

Professor Leppert's research is concentrated on Western European and American cultural history from the 17th century to the present as can be evidenced in his most recent book, Aesthetic Technologies of Modernity, Subjectivity, and Nature (Opera -Orchestra - Phonograph - Film), published by the University of California in 2015.

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Shaden M. Tageldin

"I am working on a book titled Toward a Transcontinental Theory of Modern Comparative Literature, that crosses European and Ottoman imperial frames, and literary and theoretical discourses in Arabic, English, and French."

Professor Tageldin's book debunks Eurocentric histories of comparative literature, arguing that the long 19th century, transcontinental struggle to make language and 'life' mutually translatable informed ideologies of comparability that underpin the modern discipline. Tageldin has continued to work on this project at the John W. Kluge Center of the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., with the support of a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars from the American Council of Learned Societies.

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Christian Uwe

"I read form of existence as evidenced through choices of poetics, aesthetics and their political ramifications."

Professor Uwe's research focuses primarily on Sub-Saharan and Caribbean Literature. His current book project studies aspects of poetics and narrative forms in contemporary Sub-Saharan fiction. The book's main focus is on ways in which contemporary African works reflect shifts in artistic and political awareness through aesthetic, semiotic, and discursive choices.

Learn more about Professor Uwe and his research.