Each year a specific yet broad area of research is pursued by the Center. UWM faculty, and faculty from other UW System schools and beyond, are selected to participate as Fellows. Lectures, seminars, conferences, and colloquia are coordinated around the year's research theme. The focus of our research in 2017-18 is In the Eschaton.
The Center also hosts faculty from other countries who come to us with Fulbright or ACLS Fellowships, or support from their own institutions. Typically, the Center provides these International Fellows of the Center, as they are designated, with an office in the Center along with the other Center Fellows and as much research assistance, including library privileges, as possible.
The 2017-18 Fellows
(Women’s and Gender Studies)
“Gender and Sexual Politics in the Eschaton of the One and Only”
Introduced in 1978, China’s one-child policy has been presented as a solution to a perceived imminent eschaton, that of over-population. This policy, however, has resulted in another eschaton—an aging population and a danger of extinction—so that in 2016 China allowed married couples to have two children. Xin Huang’s project looks at a cohort of one-child era young adults and considers the gendered implications of this so-called solution to a perceived eschaton. How are gender and sexuality being reconfigured within this cohort? How do those growing up haunted by the eschaton engage in new gender and sexual politics?
“When the ‘End of History’ Meets the ‘End of the World Age’”
With Burma/Myanmar’s recent transition to democracy, the Western press has commonly framed this change as Western triumphalism, as a victory over tyranny, and as further proof of the “end of history.” At the same time, Burma/Myanmar has seen the rise of ultranationalist Buddhist monks seeking to enflame racial and religious tensions with minority Rohingya Muslims, all of which fits into Theravada Buddhist ideas of “the end of the World Age.” Ingrid Jordt’s project will examine this overlap of Western “end of history” discourses and liberal democratic political traditions with Buddhist “end of the World Age” narratives, since both are currently shaping politics in Burma/Myanmar.
“Mapping the End: Beckett’s Urban Geographies”
For Andrew Kincaid, Samuel Beckett’s work is a product and a symptom of geographies of rupture—a post-famine Ireland; 1930s Hamburg, on the cusp of war; and postwar Paris—and it is out of these ruptures, these end times, that Beckett emerges. Kincaid’s book project examines the concept of the eschaton through three overlapping discourses: first, Beckett’s oeuvre, which revolves almost entirely around images of a waning world; second, cultural geography, including a reading of Beckett’s Irish landscapes, the museums of pre-war Germany, and the Americanization of postwar France; and, third, critical theory from Descartes to Lefebvre as means to think about the end of European philosophy.
(Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres)
“When It Rains, It Pours”
During her fellowship year, Jesse McLean will produce an experimental nonfiction video essay, “When It Rains, It Pours.” Inspired partly by Michelangelo Antonioni’s feature film Red Desert, McLean’s project considers how the arrival of digital technology, which blurs the boundaries between the private and the public, is both depleting geographic space and altering human interiority. Her project will also explore how the growing reliance and interest in automation and related technologies might signal the end of the Anthropocene, as computers, robots, chatbots, drones, self-driving cars, and more portend a future populated not with humans, but with their replacements.
(Democracy and Justice Studies, UW-Green Bay)
UW System Fellow
“In Boxcars and Without Banisters: Hannah Arendt and Flannery O’Connor on the Possibility of Politics”
The pairing of Hannah Arendt and Flannery O’Connor may seem odd, but their work shares many themes, and O’Connor may have even been drawing on Arendt’s theories of totalitarianism. In her book project, “In Boxcars and Without Banisters: Hannah Arendt and Flannery O’Connor on the Possibility of Politics,” Alison Staudinger explores Arendt’s understanding of totalitarianism in the framework of mid-century literary and political thought, particularly via O’Connor’s fiction. Her project addresses the contemporary problem of totalitarianism and its historical roots as the posited “end of liberal democracy,” and examines the political technologies both Arendt and O’Connor proposed to counter this apocalypse.
“Historical Revival in the Eschaton”
Kay Wells’ book project, “Uncanny Revivals: Designing Early America during the Rise of Fascism,” will examine colonial revival projects of the 1920s and 1930s that created immersive and voyeuristic experiences for viewers. In the aftermath of the apocalyptic Great War, and with a new war looming, American designers turned to the past as an escape from the current failures of industrialized capitalism, but also as an opportunity to articulate national distinction. “Uncanny Revivals” will therefore examine how these American projects related to contemporaneous European efforts that revived historical and rural art practices in order to marshal them for both fascist and popular front politics.