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2009-2010 Kluge Fellows Selected

New at the John W. Kluge Center

by Robert Saladini

Thanks to the efforts of Library of Congress subject specialists and curators and, based on the recommendations of National Endowment of the Humanities panel members, the Librarian of Congress was able to choose from a distinguished group of applicants in selecting the 2009-2010, and most recent, class of Kluge Fellows.  These scholars, who begin their residency at the Library in September, join an ever-growing cadre of the world’s top scholars, researchers, and academics who have spent time at the Kluge Center using the Library’s unparalleled collections in their study of the human condition and sciences with the support and assistance of the Library’s stellar staff, while enjoying the comradeship and intellectual stimulation of their colleagues and others in the Washington, D.C. area.  Following is a list of the 2009-2010 Kluge Fellows along with a description of their intended research projects.

“How,” one might ask, “could the Ottomans be considered anti-imperialist while they themselves ruled a large swath of the Middle East and the Balkans from the early 16th century to the first decades of the 20th century?”  Mustafa Aksakal, Assistant Professor History, American University, Washington, hopes to answer this and other questions in his research project titled “Imperialism on the Periphery: The Ottomans in the Age of European Empire, 1856-1914.”  Using the Library’s collections of Ottoman books and newspapers, especially the Süssheim Collection, Aksakal will show how the Ottoman Empire reacted to oppressive European imperialism while maintaining and supporting its own imperialist agenda.  Aksakal returns to the Library for this research following a 2004 Mellon Fellowship in which he explored Ottoman public opinion on the eve of World War I.

Renzo Baldasso, Mellon Fellow, Newberry Library, will examine graphic materials that define the visual dimension of the earliest printed books as represented in the Library’s collections, specifically those in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.  Some early printers devised and embraced a bold, ink-rich mechanical style to create a visual language that circumvented the aesthetic standards of the manuscript page.  Baldasso will examine the work of these printers and that of influential early printers such as Erhard Ratdolt (1447-1527 or 28) whose graphic vocabulary, aesthetic identity, and information layout of the printed page transformed the interaction of authors and readers with the page and its contents.  He calls his project “Erhard Ratdolt and the Visual Dimension of Early Printed Books.”

Americans’ earliest perceptions of 19th century Russian terrorists, especially those who were responsible for assassinating Tsar Alexander II in 1881, were not particularly positive.  Journalist and explorer, George Kennan (1845-1924), shared this viewpoint until he journeyed to Siberia where he had an opportunity to meet with some of them.  Instead of being bomb-throwing fanatics, Kennan now came to see these political exiles as freedom-loving aesthetes; human beings who desired the same rights enjoyed by Americans.  Working directly with the Manuscript Division’s Papers of George Kennan, Andrew Gentes, Lecturer in Russian and European History, University of Queensland (AU), intends to shed new light on the pre-Soviet Siberian exile system and how Kennan’s observations may have shaped the view of his distant relative, George F. Kennan, architect of America’s Cold War policy of containment

Using the Library of Congress’ vast holdings of Americana —  manuscript collections, rare books, prints and broadsides, newspapers, and secondary materials, — Holger Hoock, Associate Professor, School of History, University of Liverpool (UK), will investigate the practices, representations, and legacies of violence and terror in the American Revolution.  He believes that an in-depth study of the physical and psychological violence on all protagonists, and its selective remembering in national mythologies, will further our understanding of the contested nature of state building and the accomplishment of the founders in consolidating their new policy.  Furthermore, Hoock contends that an understanding of how violence was used in a conflagration that was both a revolution and a civil war, how that violence relates to state and nation building, and how it is represented and remembered, remains a critical issue today.

Scott Fitzgerald Johnson, Assistant Professor, Washington and Lee University, intends to write a book that surveys and analyzes various literary forms in which geographical thought appears in the Mediterranean during the period of Late Antiquity (300-700 CE).  From accounts of Holy Land pilgrimages, like that of Egeria (4th century), to the systematization of Ptolemy’s scientific works, Johnson believes that these different productions share a literary aesthetic of “the archive.”  The archive of world knowledge dramatically expands in the early seventh century  —  not least through the arrival of Islam — and permanently affects the literature and cartography of subsequent ages.  Johnson calls his research project “All the World’s Knowledge: Geography and Literature in Late Antiquity.”

Without money or a mentor, Walt Whitman is believed to have achieved a level of personal creativity and success that few have surpassed even to the present day.  Karen Karbiener, Master Teacher, New York University, contends that it was Whitman’s environment and experience that transformed him, a carpenter’s son and grammar school dropout, into America’s greatest poet.  Specifically, she credits his day-to-day life in New York as his main inspiration.  Unlike so many others, Whitman moved “with” the city; it didn’t move around him as Edgar Allan Poe claims it did, nor did it move against him, as Herman Melville believed.  Perhaps this study of the life of Whitman will bring a new understanding of our perceptions of outliers.   With her research title, “Walt Whitman and New York: The Urban Roots of ‘Leaves of Grass,’” Karbiener hopes to trace Whitman’s literary journey “from city streets to the open road of his poetry.”

Nestled at the foot of Egypt’s Mt. Sinai is St. Catherine’s Monastery, recognized by UNESCO as the oldest Christian monastery in existence.  Included among its many treasures are 3,500 manuscripts and 2,000 scrolls; a rare and important collection claimed to be on a par with that of the Vatican Library.  Around 1950, representatives of the Library of Congress microfilmed the entire archive for the Library’s collections.  However, a significant number of the music manuscripts were misidentified.  Using the LC microfilm, Svetlana Kujumdzieva, Professor, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, will complete and publish the first study and catalogue of the 150 musical manuscripts in Greek, thereby making these materials available to the international musicological community and, perhaps, providing new insight into early Christian liturgical music.

When the earliest Europeans landed in Florida in the 1500s, the Timucua occupied more land area and were more numerous than any other aboriginal group.   In her project titled “Castilian -Timucuan Language Contact in Spanish Colonial Florida,” Lisa Marie Noetzel, Assistant Professor, Department of Modern Languages, Washington College, Chestertown, MD, will consult the Francisco Pareja’s “Catecismo en lengua timuquana y castellana” (Mexico, 1612) from the Kislak Collection, and other relevant works, in an attempt to show how Pareja and other Castilian speakers imposed mental and grammatical features from their own language onto the Timucuan language.  She also hopes to oversee the digitization of Pareja’s “Catecismo” and to create a database that could help other linguists make sense of Native American languages.

According to Touré F. Reed, Associate Professor of History, Illinois State University, African American activists of the 1930s and 1940s viewed their struggle for equal rights as part of a much larger political struggle influenced by New Deal labor policy, the shrinking importance of scientific racism, and the growth of left-leaning political movements.  By exploring the archives of organizations such as the National Urban League and The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, located at the Library of Congress, he hopes to assess the impact of labor militancy on black politics in the period between the New Deal and Truman’s 1948 presidential campaign, in a project he calls “New Deal Civil Rights:  Class Consciousness and the Quest for Racial Equality, 1933-1948.”

Marlis Schweitzer, Assistant Professor, Department of Theatre, York University (CA), hopes to undertake an examination of how Broadway entrepreneurs competed for theatrical talent in Europe at the turn of the 20th century.  Were they simply profit-driven impresarios concerned only with business, as is the common perception, or was there any real feeling for the aesthetic quality of the works, the performers and actors, that they intended to promote?  Upon examination of the Library’s vast theater-related materials, Schweitzer will explore the little known transnational connections that developed between the Americans and the Europeans, revisit so-called animosities that existed between theater managers and members of the European avant garde, and examine the role of the thousands of cultural intermediaries who made it possible for the impresarios to import foreign goods and make them palatable to North American theater-goers.

With the Library of Congress’ archive of 20th century psychoanalysts at her disposal, Michal Shapira, Visiting Assistant Professor, European History, Amherst College, hopes to continue her research on ways in which war and social upheaval have had an impact on the development of psychoanalysis and the development of welfare policies and perceptions about childhood in Great Britain during World War I.   She believes that the work of Sigmund and Anna Freud, Heinz and Dora Hartmann, and others have had a crucial role in linking the real “war outside” with the emotional “war inside” which may have increased the state’s responsibility for citizens’ mental health.  She calls her research project, “The War Inside: Child Psychoanalysis and Remaking the Self in Britain.”

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