Talle Faculty Research Awards
The Talle Faculty Research Fund represents a critical investment in the future of CLA. With this fund, the College recognizes and invests in the next generation of faculty who are poised to lead CLA as it pursues greater heights of excellence and who are engaging in new lines of research and creative activity that will shape their fields and the intersection of fields.
Funded by a generous gift from Ken and Janet Talle, this award provides $300,000 of research support each year over five years to recently promoted associate professors.
Department of Cultural Studies & Comparative Literature
Strange Inscriptions: Race, Gender, and Mysticism in the Postwar Avant-Garde, 1958–78
Strange Inscriptions explores how a number of postwar avant-garde musicians—David Tudor, Ornette Coleman, the Velvet Underground, Alice Coltrane, Patti Smith, and Richard Hell—commonly acted as philosophers and mystics when reflecting on their own work. A common interest in mysticism led these musicians to call into question a number of traditional musical techniques: the notes on the page, the tones comprising themes that are developed, the chords and keys structuring a composition, and even the skilled execution of any of the above. In the broader context of social history, these musicians not only challenged the rules by which music is written and practiced but also reconfigured gendered and racialized expectations for what critics took to be legitimate forms of musical sound.
Department of History
Constructing Religion, Defining Crime: Slavery, Power, and Belief
Religious freedom is one of the founding principles of American democracy. But what do we mean when we talk about “religion”? And how do we distinguish “religion” from “superstition” or “witchcraft”? Most importantly, who gets to decide what counts as a religion and what is a superstition—or a crime? My research project, “Constructing Religion, Defining Crime,” examines how modern ideas about religion and freedom emerged within a colonial slave society. It shows how the institution of slavery made some religious practices criminal, while others were deemed legitimate. African diasporic religions were especially targeted for persecution and defined as rebellious.
Department of Art
Smithville, TN: The Residue of Labor
The Residue of Labor magnifies the complex relationships between intensive labor, working conditions, purpose, and meaning and what happens when these things disappear. In the fall of 2018, supported by the Guggenheim Foundation, I moved my studio practice to Smithville, Tennessee where I began disassembling, archiving, preserving, and researching a 15,000-square-foot factory. Evoking questions of community, identity, and purpose in post-industrial rural America, images, essays, and artwork will be published as a book and exhibited in a comprehensive large-scale multimedia installation in Chicago in the spring of 2022.
Robert B. Nichols
Department of Political Science
Violence and Method in Colonial Contexts
This project involves a multidisciplinary investigation into two major public executions of Indigenous peoples in Canada and the United States in the late nineteenth century—the Battleford (1885) and Mankato (1862) hangings—as well as the histories of their respective reception and interpretation over time. The aim of the project is to understand how colonial violence influences research methods and produces unique challenges in a diverse range of disciplines, including political science, history, law, and aesthetics.