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 has also recently published an award-winning biography of Edward Said, among the most influential and original intellectuals of the post-WWII era: Places of Mind: A Life of Edward Said (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2021). A New York Times "Editors' Choice, and a "Best Book of 2021" in The Times, Financial Times, and The Irish Independent, the book has been translated into eight languages.

Learn more about Professor Brennan and his research.

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."

Learn more about Professor Brown and his research.

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.

Learn more about Professor Gallope and his research.

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. 

Learn more about Professor Ganguly and her research.

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.

Learn more about Professor Hennefeld and her research.

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.

Learn more about Professor Leppert and his research.

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.

Learn more about Professor Tageldin and her research.

Christian Uwe

“I am interested in thought’s ability to constitute us as humans, or unravel us.”

Professor Uwe’s research joins together literature, semiotics, and philosophy to explore contemporary forms of cultural and political existence. Although he focuses on works from the sub-Saharan, French, and Caribbean areas, the questions he raises underscore the importance of transcending rigid spatial and temporal confines to facilitate a comparative understanding of political crises such as contemporary afterlives of the colonial project, environmental degradation, migration, and attendant geopolitical conflicts. Looking at these crises from a literary perspective, Uwe examines how they are represented, how individuals and communities experience them, and what creative responses they elicit.

Learn more about Professor Uwe and his research.