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Franke Fellows 2023-2024

Franke Graduate Fellows

Franke Graduate Fellowships, supported by generous funding from Richard and Barbara Franke and The Graduate School (TGS), bring together four outstanding doctoral students in the humanities to cultivate their research and teaching in the interdisciplinary setting of the Kaplan Institute. Franke Graduate Fellows devote two quarters, full time, to shaping their projects during fall and winter. They also receive pedagogical mentoring in developing an undergraduate course that they teach in their home departments in the spring, and present their research at the Future Directions Forum in spring 2024.

chen-jinxue-168x210.jpgJinxue Chen
Department of Political Science; Classics Cluster; Critical Theory Cluster

Project: Journey Between East and West: Chinese Intellectuals in the World,1880-1940

"My research project examines modern Chinese thinkers who were active in the United States, Japan, and Europe from the 1880s to the 1940s to understand two things: First, what constituted their “Western Learning” and how did they introduce their newly acquired knowledge into China? Second, what were the opportunities and challenges that they faced as Asian migrants living abroad decades ago? Answering these can help us reflect on notions of membership, identity, and tradition in an age of unprecedented levels of global migration and communication."


le-cesne-madeleine-168x210.jpgMadeleine Le Cesne
Department of Performance Studies

Project: This Mess We’re In: Minor Matter and the Intimacies of Black Ecologies in Lower Louisiana

My dissertation explores the intersections of art and ecology in lower Louisiana, exploring how art and performance emerging from Louisiana’s specific ecological context invite us to reimagine the kinds of futures thought possible in and for lower Louisiana. Honing in on flooding as a phenomenon that has been held largely responsible for the impossibility of sustainable futurity in lower Louisiana, this dissertation interrogates affective attachments that render flooding eclipsingly as disaster, instead asking what might be gleaned by taking seriously the land’s need to flood."


manuel-greg-168x210.jpgGreg Manuel
Department of Performance Studies

Project: Scenes of Disturbance: Eventfulness and Reckoning in a Flammable Place

"My dissertation dwells with the impact of the 2018 Carr Fire on the rhythms of life in Shasta County, California. As local wildlands grow increasingly flammable under the pressures of climate change and settler neglect, I track how survivors manage to live, cope, and think amid the quick and disorienting durations of crisis that have been punctuating the region’s volatile dry seasons."


ray-arianna-168x210.jpgArianna Ray
Department of Art History

Project: Paper Skin: Printing Blackness and Materializing Race in the Early Modern Dutch Atlantic

"My dissertation examines how prints of African diasporic people made in the Dutch Atlantic from 1600-1750 contributed to the construction of Blackness as a racial phenomenon. By overlapping the materialities of paper and skin, I argue printmaking epidermalized race alongside colonial medicine. Throughout, I integrate the histories of real African diasporic individuals to demonstrate how prints collapse ethnicity in favor of race and to recuperate lives otherwise lost to the violence of the colonial archive."


Franke Undergraduate Fellows develop their independent research projects within the Kaplan Institute; receive mentorship in fall and winter through the Senior Humanities Seminar, taught by Michelle Huang (Assistant Professor of English and Asian American Studies); and present their work at the Future Directions Forum in spring 2024. 

li-april-168x210.jpgApril Li
Departments of English and Journalism; Asian American Studies Program

Project: Protested Memories: Tiananmen Square in Asian Diasporic Literature

"Public memory of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests has been dominated by official narratives and suppressed by Chinese state censorship—and, subsequently, selfcensorship. A counterintuitive literary phenomenon thus emerges: it is spatiotemporal distance from the site of the event, rather than proximity, which enables narrative representations of previously suppressed cultural memories to proliferate. My project will investigate how such distances structure memory and silence in representations of the Tiananmen Square protests in Asian diasporic historical fiction."


vazquez-elizabeth-168x210.jpgElizabeth Vazquez
Departments of History and Anthropology

Project: Up Against the White Background: Stories of Non-White Museum Professionals

"In most scholarship, the museum as an institution is considered an elite white space. My project seeks to complicate this understanding by honoring the often sidelined stories of early non-white museum professionals across the United States. Using case studies from places like The Field Museum and the Smithsonian Institution, this collection of public facing essays aims to uplift these marginalized narratives and understand the ways they disrupted notions of white supremacy in their institutions."


yalam-bobby-168x210.jpgBobby Yalam
Comparative Literary Studies Program and Department of Economics

Project: On Uneven Ground: Literary Encounters in Tangier since 1956

"In the early 20th century, Tangier's status as an International Zone attracted writers from abroad—so-called expats—who remained in the city following Moroccan independence in 1956. I look to study the output of collaborations between these 'expats' and Moroccan storytellers, alongside the autobiographies of the Moroccans involved and fictional representations of such encounters. My guiding question is thus: In the case of Tangier, how has decolonization shaped and been shaped by transcultural encounters, as archived in literary texts since the city’s reintegration with Morocco?"