2012-13 Graduate Fellows
Maiya Murphy, Theatre & Dance
In Corporation: Lecoq-Based Pedagogy’s Body-Bound Theory and Cognitive Science
This dissertation applies recent cognitive neuroscience to the pedagogy of Jacques Lecoq and other related physically based actor-training systems. By coupling cognitive science and Lecoq-based pedagogy, I explore how this training offers not only skills for theatrical performance and interpretation of pre-existing roles, but develops overall cognitive states and abilities specific to theatre-making. Because this training centers on the body, it illustrates how active physical engagement actually creates cognition. This work then considers other physically based performer training such as the SITI company’s Viewpoints and Jerzy Grotowski’s pedagogy to outline a larger group of artists that advocate the specific creative advantages of body-focused training.
By gathering up this diverse group of training systems, this project demonstrates how this group, as members of a larger force that advocates the value in embodied creative practices, is actually making a larger claim on the value of knowledge gained through doing. This kind of knowledge, or body-bound theory, is both generated through the body’s interaction with the world (bound to), and determines its own value by reapplying itself to a material body in action (bound for). By elucidating how this body-bound theory functions, this project highlights that valuing the body in active processes offers a new paradigm for philosophical conceptions of knowledge.
Charles Nick Saenz, History
National Reform and Municipal Revolt in a Revolutionary Spain: Seville and Western Andalusia, 1766-1823
During the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in Spain, the Bourbon monarchy lost the ability to function as an absolutist regime and was forced into uneasy accommodation with the emerging ideology of liberal democracy. My dissertation examines the role of political culture in facilitating this shift. Seville and surrounding towns serve as a case study uncovering how political culture framed practical discussions on the nature of government in this period as a dialogue between local and national elites. Central to these debates were the importance of longstanding traditions and local autonomy, which became challenges to the consolidation of a heavily centralized liberal democratic state.
I argue that widespread support for traditional practices and alternative forms of local governance should not be seen to have signaled a wholesale rejection of state-building efforts or the positive reception of liberal democracy at the local level, but rather were representative of a desire on the part of local actors to intervene in events taking place at the national level. These interactions constituted an effort by participants to negotiate the terms of political change in a manner that historians often overlook, but which is key to understanding the practice of politics in Spain throughout much of the modern period.
2011-12 Graduate Fellows
Tarun Menon, Philosophy
An Anthropic Approach to the Second Law Asymmetry
Milk poured into a cup of coffee gradually spreads throughout the coffee, but the reverse never occurs. We never see milk mixed with coffee spontaneously un-mix into a single blob. This is just one simple example of how time has an direction. All kinds of processes only occur in one temporal direction, and never in reverse.
Surprisingly, this is only true of macroscopic processes. If we look at the smallest constituents in nature, they exhibit no such asymmetry. Any process that an electron or a quark undergoes can occur in reverse. So if the laws of microscopic physics do not distinguish between past and future, how do we account for the arrow of time that we experience? What is the source of the sharp distinction between past and future in the macroscopic world?
The right question is not “Why do all macroscopic processes exhibit an arrow of time?” It is “Why do we carve up the world into macroscopic properties in such a way that macroscopic processes exhibit an arrow of time?” Asking the question this way makes it clear that it is really a question about the relationship between the observer and the environment.
There is a presumed gulf between the humanities and the physical sciences on the grounds that the humanities explore the particularities of what it means to be human while physics is concerned with far more fundamental questions about the basic structure of the world. I argue that exploring the nature and capabilities of human beings can in fact be crucial to answering those fundamental question, and the presumed gulf is spurious.
Daniel Quirós, Literature
Culture, Politics, and Neoliberalism: New Subjectivities and Representation in
Argentina and Central America, 1990s-2000s
My dissertation is an interdisciplinary and comparative project that lies at the intersection of political economy and cultural production. Specifically, it seeks to explore the relationship between film and literature and the consolidation of neoliberalism as the dominant socio-economic system in Argentina and three countries of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua) during the 1990s-2000s. By this time, the promises of development and democratization under a neoliberal agenda characterized by free markets and free trade are seriously challenged by a dramatic increase in criminality, violence, poverty and inequality in all four countries. The dissertation argues that these specific political and economic events also involve certain shifts in subjectivity, representation, and the relationship between politics and aesthetics.
The dissertation explores how the cultural production of this period registers and indeed helps to construct new modes of subjectivity relating to the experience of neoliberalism from the periphery of the world economy, one that involves a complex relation between the individual and the new global economic order, as well as a reformulation of the critical possibilities of cultural texts in a historical moment characterized by a crisis of leftist political projects. As commodities within the global market themselves, cultural texts are able to unveil the contradictions, inequalities and tensions within neoliberalism, resisting its dominant logic, but at the same time appropriating and reformulating it in a variety of ways.