6 ASU professors selected as Institute for Humanities Research Fellows


Collage of 2023–24 IHR Fellows

Top, left to right: Annika Mann, Brian Goodman and Katherine Bynum.
Bottom, left to right: Tyler Peterson, Volker Benkert and Marcello Di Bello.

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The Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University has announced six faculty members as new fellows for 2023–24. The IHR Fellows program advances the scholarly writing and research of humanities faculty.

The program includes course buyouts, research funds, peer writing groups and development of a cross-humanities faculty community. Additionally, the program assists faculty in grant writing and writing for a broad public audience.

Successful proposals for the fellows program describe a well-developed scholarly writing project rooted in the humanities that has clear and feasible outcomes for the fellowship year, with the potential to be funded by outside agencies.

“The IHR is pleased to welcome the new fellows to our cohort and support their meaningful research,” said Ron Broglio, director of the Institute for Humanities Research. “Their accomplishments reflect the breadth and depth of the humanities by providing shining examples of innovative and impactful work in their field. We look forward to following their continued success!”

The program particularly benefits faculty who are working on projects that will advance their careers toward tenure and promotion. The goals of the program include fostering writing habits and public writing; nurturing the growth of interdisciplinary cohorts of ASU humanities scholars; ensuring that fellows are incorporated into the ASU humanities pipeline; and ensuring fellows have the time and resources they need to succeed in their career and professional goals while maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

The fellows are:

Marcello Di Bello, assistant professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

“Probability on Trial: Making Sense of Arguments and Stories” is the first book-length philosophical examination of legal probabilism, an interdisciplinary research program that aims to harness the powers of probability to analyze, model and improve the evaluation of evidence and the process of decision-making in trial proceedings. The book examines, from a probabilistic perspective, how arguments and stories guide the interpretation of the evidence presented at trial. This examination then serves to articulate a theory of legal standards of decision that can limit errors and ensure that errors do not disproportionately burden certain social groups. “Probability on Trial” aims to inspire reformers who seek a more transparent, accurate and fair justice system.

Volker Benkert, associate professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

“Apologia and Redemption. Representations of Ordinary Germans in Contemporary Films on World War II and the Holocaust.” A painful aspect of coming to terms with the Nazi past is the realization that ordinary Germans — for many Germans, their parents or grandparents — were complicit in war crimes and genocide. Reaching massive audiences, contemporary German TV productions tackle this uncomfortable truth by featuring protagonists who become murderers. Yet, for today’s viewers to embrace these flawed characters as their kin, these productions wrap their crimes into apologetic narratives. The protagonists also redeem themselves through unlikely acts of resistance against the regime. “Apologia and Redemption” thus epitomizes Germany’s flawed attempts to address the past.

Katherine Bynum, assistant professor, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

 “‘We’ve Got Black Power and That’s Gonna Go a Long Way:’ Ruth Jefferson and the National Welfare Rights Organization in Dallas.” This journal article will tell the story of black welfare rights activist Ruth Jefferson of the National Welfare Rights Organization in Dallas, who successfully altered welfare practices in Texas when she filed suit against the Department of Public Welfare for violating federal law when the state lowered welfare benefits for Aid to Families with Dependent Children beneficiaries. She also organized against the growing carceral state by creating a multiracial coalition supporters who would later establish a decade-long alliance against police brutality beginning in the early 1970s.

Brian Goodman, assistant professor, Department of English

From the Eastern bloc to Latin America, a wide range of dissenting artists, intellectuals and human-rights activists experimented with a new concept in the 1970s and '80s: a set of ideas and practices known as “antipolitics.” “The Antipolitical Imagination: Literature, Dissent, and Human Rights" is the first book project to provide a literary history of the cultural turn to antipolitics, from its earliest theorists and practitioners up through the end of the global Cold War.

Annika Mann, associate professor, School of Humanities, Arts and Cultural Studies

The book “Still Lives: Physical Disability and Late Style in Romantic-era Women’s Writing" will reveal how a set of female authors who experienced chronic illness and physical disability render palpable that experience as stillness, an acute awareness of debility both in time and past the time for a cure. In their last, unfinished works, Mary Robinson (1757–1800), Charlotte Smith (1749–1806), Jane Austen (1775–1817) and Mary Prince (c.1788–after 1833) represent stillness as an embodied, pained experience of temporality that corresponds neither to lyric suspension nor to individual development.

Tyler Peterson, assistant professor, Department of English

“A Grammar of 'Onk Akimel O'odham.” The ’Onk Akimel O’odham language, or simply O'odham, is one of the two languages (along with Piipaash/Maricopa) spoken by the Native American people of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC), one of several tribes neighboring ASU. O'odham is an endangered language. The community has undertaken intensive action to revitalize O'odham, with the aim of providing a rich set of learning tools for the next generation of speakers. This book project describes the grammatical structure of the O'odham language. In collaboration with SRPMIC, the aim of this project is to assist the community in their language revitalization efforts.

The Institute for Humanities Research advances the research, access and engagement mission of Arizona State University through the study and promotion of all humanities disciplines, an endeavor central to the understanding and resolution of the most challenging problems of our times.

Learn more about the institute's fellows program.

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