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2011 - 2012 dissertation fellows


Michael Davis

Project Title: Threshold of Rebellion: A History of the Anti-Masonic Party
The American Anti-Masonic Party has long been dismissed by historians as a collection of evangelical cranks with no importance to the politics of the nineteenth century and the birth of the Jacksonian Second Party System. This dissertation will argue that the Anti-Masons were crucial to the development of American politics. The political arm of the Second Great Awakening, the Anti-Masons mobilized religious and populist sentiment as no party had before, paving the way for the development of American radicalism in subsequent decades and the triumph of evangelical politics in the North in the 1850s and beyond.

Biographical Note
A native of Pennsylvania's Slate Belt, Michael Davis earned his BA from Northern Michigan University and his MA from the University of Chicago. His research looks at the intersection of politics and culture in Jacksonian America, focusing on the relationship between elite secret societies and popular political culture.

Rebecca Morgan Frank

Project Title: The Last Time I Saw Manila
The Last Time I Saw Manila is a collection of poems that explore the occupation of the Philippine Islands from the Spanish American War through World War II. While one family's narrative serves as a unifying thread in this collection, the impact of war and occupation are depicted from shifting points of view through various personae. This manuscript is both deconstructed family narrative and a contemporary reflection on the ongoing legacy of American imperialism and the multicultural families born of it.

Biographical Note
Rebecca Morgan Frank's first book, Little Murders Everywhere, is forthcoming in January 2012, and her poems have appeared in Guernica, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She is a recipient of the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for a manuscript-in-progress. She is founding editor of the online magazine Memorious.org.

Manuel Iris

Project Title: "Channel of Channels": A Comparative Study of the Poetic Works of Gonzalo Rojas, Alí Chumacero, Fernando Charry Lara, and Juan Sánchez Pelaez, and Their Interactions with the Literary Field
The canonization of a poet depends on three factors: 1) the aesthetic-ideological direction of the work, 2) the negotiation between this direction and the concept of taste developed in the poet's particular (national) and general tradition, and 3) how this poetic work inserts itself in then-current and later literary fields (the case when poets gain late visibility). Iris proposes that these factors are inseparable and operate simultaneously. He analyzes the work of poets from four Latin-American national traditions to better understand the ways in which their literary fields work as a means to classify and compare them. From this, he hopes to identify a series of transnational constants in the construction and evolution of modern Latin-American poetry.

Biographical Note
Manuel Iris (México, 1983) holds a BA in Latin American Literature from the Autonomous University of the Yucatan and an MA in Spanish from New Mexico State University. He is the author of Versos robados y otros juegos [Stolen verses and another games] (2003, 2nd ed. 2005), and Cuaderno de los sueños [Notebook of dreams] (2009). Iris won second place in the 2003 Rosario Castellanos National Poetry Award and the 2009 Mérida National Poetry Award.

Wes Jackson

Project Title: History as Cartography: Mapping the Narrative of Time in Alfred Döblin's Amazonas Triologie
This project maps Alfred Döblin's (1878–1957) poetic recasting of history, particularly as his poetics reveals itself in his historical novel, Amazonas (1937–38). While Döblin's international literary reputation was well-established through his "big city novel," Berlin Alexanderplatz (1929), critics have largely ignored Döblin's later historical epics such as Amazonas. This trend has started to change within the last decade, thanks to a new generation of scholars willing to engage Döblin's texts from non-traditional standpoints. Thanks to Döblin's training as a psychiatrist and interest in psychoanalysis, he incorporated the theories of Freud and Jung into a kind of psycho-spiritual, archetypal model of history.
Döblin's archetypal vision of time lends itself to the interpretive lens of spatial as well as psychological theory: history as map; the charting of the myths, stories, cultural narratives, and physical spaces that allow history to "take place." This project explores how Döblin combines objective historical research with the strong awareness that subjective, mythical, and poetic interpretations of human experiences are necessary for capturing the many-sided truths of reality.

Biographical Note
Wes Jackson is a native of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where he studied German and English literature at Middle Tennessee State University. He earned an MA in German Studies at UC, where he continues to pursue interests in historical and narratological theory and German literature and film.

Poranee Julian

Project Title: Geometric Properties of the Ferrand Distance
We live in Euclidean space and are familiar with Euclidean geometry. Yet in many situations, Euclidean distance is not a correct measure. An alternative is length distance, the length of the shortest route. However, the shortest path is not necessarily the least expensive path, as one may have to expend more effort to travel. To study this, one introduces a density that provides the cost of passing through an area of interest. A path with the lowest travel cost is called a geodesic, and the weighted length of such a path yields the distance. Hyperbolic geometry is an especially important example of a non-Euclidean geometry. In every disk, hyperbolic and Ferrand distance are the same. Ferrand distance is a Möbius invariant and comparable to quasihyperbolic distance, a simpler, calculated distance and a substitute for hyperbolic distance. This project is an investigation of Ferrand geometry, which lies "midway" between hyperbolic geometry—the best model of non-Euclidean geometry—and quasihyperbolic geometry. This work examines quasihyperbolic geometric properties and determines analogs for Ferrand geometry. In particular, this research focuses on curvature, smoothness of geodesics, and the properties of uniqueness, prolongation, and convexity in Ferrand geometry.

Biographical Note
A native of Kanchanaburi, Thailand, Poranee Julian earned her BS in mathematics with first-class honors and ranked first in the College of Science at Silpakorn University in Thailand. She earned an MA mathematics at UC in 2009. She received a full scholarship from the Royal Thai government from the age of fifteen until her second year at UC. Her passion for mathematics stems from an early age, when her mathematics-teacher father helped her discover her innate ability.

Christian Moody

Project Title: Revolutionville
The short stories and novellas of Revolutionville, hybridized narratives that both refute and draw from postmodern literature by merging literary fiction and popular "genre" forms like sci-fi, fantasy, and detective fiction, take voyeurism as their principal subject matter. Revolutionville addresses an aspect of US culture that creates a genuine conundrum for literary realism: Any serious attempt to depict how Americans actually live can't skip over the fact that, aside from sleeping, what most Americans actually do is stare at the screens of televisions, computers, and mobile devices. This poses a problem for storytellers who want to write about contemporary America while also offering the satisfaction of conflict, action, event, and drama. How can watching stuff be the stuff of fiction? Moody addresses this question through stories and novellas that explore voyeurism, espial, surveillance, and all the ways people spend their time watching. One goal is to imagine a way back to looking at unguarded, vulnerable depictions of genuine emotion and human connection, while acknowledging and critiquing the difficulty of doing this without irony when we spend so much time engaged with images that are highly self-conscious and orchestrated—TV, movies, ads, Facebook, Twitter.

Biographical Note
Christian Moody's creative writing has been published by Esquire, Best New American Voices, Best American Fantasy, Indiana Review, The Collagist, and other literary journals. He has an MFA from Syracuse University and received the support of an artist grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation. Prior to becoming a Taft Fellow, he served as associate editor of The Cincinnati Review.

Sasmita Patnaik

Project Title: An Analysis of Subideals of Operators
At the intersection of two major fields of mathematics, analysis and algebra, lies the field of functional analysis. The historical roots of functional analysis lie in the study of operator functions. Patnaik's primary focus is the study of bounded linear operators, one of the main branches of functional analysis called operator theory. This project concerns ideals in the ring of bounded linear operators with a focus on the structure of their subideals. The goal is to determine when a subideal of a given ideal is itself an ideal, then to use this criterion to completely characterize all subideals in the spirit of the celebrated Calkin-Schatten characterization of ideals. This would extend Fong and Radjavi's result to arbitrary ideals and would lead to their characterization.

Biographical Note
Originally from India, Patnaik received a BA in science and education with distinction from the Regional Institute of Education, India, and an MA in mathematics from Utkal University, India. Along with her passion for teaching, she is interested in painting and was awarded the diploma degree in painting by Pracheen Kala Kendra, India.

Dmitriy Poznyak

Project Title: The American Attitude: Context Effects and the Change in Public Trust in Government (1964–2008)
Perhaps no other public opinion topic has received more attention from academics, politicians, and the media than the decline of trust in American national government. Public trust in the Leviathan on the Potomac has declined from about seventy-five percent in 1958 to a mere twenty percent before the 2010 mid-term elections. While this decline has certainly been dramatic, it is the rapid change in trust levels over short periods—the Vietnam War, after 9/11, Hurricane Katrina—that has puzzled researchers the most. It remains an open question in public opinion research whether we should be more concerned with the overall decline in trust or the up-and-down swings in attitudes over time.
Using national cross-sectional and time-series survey data, this dissertation applies a new framework to the study of change in political trust over time. It tests the attitude priming and accessibility hypothesis by modeling the effect of media content on people's perceptions of important national problems, which, in turn, affect political trust. The findings counter the established idea that the decline in trust represents vanishing systemic support of the American political system. Building on the ideas of contemporary cognitive psychology, Poznyak argues instead that response to trust-in-government questions largely depends on the content cues at the time of attitude construction. Therefore, the level of trust should not be treated as a barometer of American democracy. Instead, it is largely a syndrome of citizen's "response to everything."

Biographical Note
A native of Ukraine, Dmitriy Poznyak earned degrees in social psychology from the Institute for Social and Political Psychology, Kiev, Ukraine, and social statistics from the University College of Brussels-University of Leuven, Belgium. He has been a recipient of a Fulbright award, a Warren E. Miller ICPSR award, and a European Science Foundation summer school grant.

Rike Rothenstein

Project Title: Out of Sync - Why Did America's Environmental Movement Lose its Political Power?
This dissertation will examine the paradox of decreasing popular support for environmental protection that is accompanied by heightened demand for everything green. The paradox yields the question of why an increasing environmental awareness especially in the marketplace in not mirrored in national electoral politics in which the issue of the environment still proves to be insignificant. I will argue that America's environmental movement and its inability to gather political and popular support for comprehensive environmental protection playa key role in answering this question. Four hypotheses considering the image, the issues, the strategies, and the membership of the environmental movement will guide this study. The study will apply quantitative analysis using national survey data combined with content analysis examining annual reports of national environmental organizations.

Biographical Note
Rike is a native of Germany. She graduated with a Diploma in Social Sciences and with a Master of Arts in Euroculture form the University of Goettingen, Germany. During her studies in Germany she had the chance to spend 2 semesters in France. At UC she taught an introductory class in Comparative Politics. Based on her international background she likes to approach American politics with a comparative perspective.

Travis D. Speice

Project Title: Flame On, Flame Off: Altering Masculine Performances among Gay Men
Contemporary gender theories recognize that different groups of men perform masculinity differently, for masculinity is fluid, changing, and historically informed. While different demographic variables influence men's masculine performance (race, social class, religion, etc.), sexual orientation is so deeply intertwined with gender, one cannot discuss one without the other. For gay men, managing gender and sexual identities so as to appear more or less masculine is consciously accomplished in order to perform consistently with social expectations in a number of different social settings. Speice will develop a greater qualitative understanding of the ways in which gender and sexuality are intertwined and performed simultaneously. He asks, "How do gay men understand masculinity, and how do they perform masculinity along with their sexual identities? How is masculinity communicated and interpreted among gay men in different social contexts?" This understanding will help inform related areas such as changing family composition, same-sex marriage, and GLBT service in the military.

Biographical Note
Travis Speice earned his BA in sociology and psychology at the State University of New York College-Brockport, and his MA in sociology at UC. His research focuses on sexuality, gender, identity, and family.

Matthew E. Stanley

Project Title: "No More Shall the Winding Rivers Be Red": War, Reunion, and Identity in Nineteenth-Century Middle America
What Americans now consider the North became the North as part of a historical process centered on the Civil War, commemoration, and reunion between former Union and Confederate soldiers. Wartime and postwar social, political, and cultural processes led to the construction and reconfiguration of regional and sectional identity during the antebellum period, the secession crisis, war, and its aftermath. In exploring how that process occurred in the southernmost portion of the free states—the Lower Middle West of southern Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois—this dissertation addresses four principal motifs: the experiences of northern families and individuals who were born in the slaveholding South or identified as southerners or westerners pre-1861 and how they reconstructed regional and national identities during and after the war; the Ohio River as a physical and metaphorical border to define the war's meaning both during and after the conflict; the continuity of white supremacy and aversive race relations in the region from the antebellum period through the era of sectional reconciliation and how such attitudes were linked to sectional and regional identity; and the dialectic relationship between sectionalism (a form of self-identification linked to the institution of slavery and the Civil War) and regionalism (a form of self-identification linked to kinship, geography, white supremacy, ethnocultural attitudes and practices, and political conservativism) in the Lower Middle West and how reunions between former soldiers represented intersections of sectional and regional thought.

Biographical Note
Matthew E. Stanley earned a BA in history at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2005 and an MA in history at the University of Louisville in 2007. He has taught history and American government at the college level and has published in several academic journals.

Yuanshu Zou

Project Title: Robustifying a Non-Linear Model Using Wavelets: A Bayesian Approach with an Application to Pharmokinetics Modeling
Parametric models are easy to fit and easy to interpret; however, they may not be sufficient for modeling data that arises from complex phenomenon. Nonparametric models allow flexible modeling but have difficulties in interpreting and dealing with very few observations. In this project Zou takes a middle approach that incorporates the advantages of both methods, keeping information from the parametric model while allowing deviation, thus capturing unusual or unexpected features of the data. In other words, Zou wants to robustify a parametric model by considering models that are non-parametric, yet lie in the neighborhood of the parametric model. She uses the well-known wavelet approach to model deviations from a parametric model. Pharmacokinetics modeling serves as her primary motivation, and she will also apply her method to other scenarios.

Biographical Note
Yuanshu Zou earned her MA in Statistics at UC. She is now a fifth-year PhD student working on robustifying nonlinear models. For the past two years, she has worked as a graduate research assistant at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

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