Shannon Connelly is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History. Her dissertation, "Curious Realism: Dada and Die neue Sachlichkeit in 1920s Karlsruhe," centers on the German artists Karl Hubbuch, Georg Scholz, and Rudolf Schlichter, aiming to uncover the continuities and understudied correspondences between their academic training in Karlsruhe, their political activism and print production in Berlin, and their eventual turn from the formal strategies of fracture and montage to those of smooth, painterly realism. This detailed case study seeks to complicate art historical understandings of "The New Objectivity" in Weimar Germany (1918-1933) as a visual language in which radical form necessarily ceded precedence to socially critical content. Her project for the CCA "Formalisms" seminar will focus on the montage aesthetic as it developed in the work of Karl Hubbuch: from the sutured, cinematic realism of his early drawings and lithographs to the large-scale, tactile recombinations of his later figurative paintings. This study posits the artist and his Karlsruhe colleagues as key innovators in a 1920s “politics of style,” one which sought to reactivate the visual language of realism through unexpected strategies of formal disjunction, surface fracture, and montage.
Her dissertation research has been supported by the DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst), the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Dedalus Foundation. In 2008, her critical essay on American comic art was published in the literary journal Post Road.
Mark DiGiacomo is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Rutgers - New Brunswick. His dissertation, "African Art in Twentieth-Century Literature: Materiality and Modernity," considers the relationship between the arts of sub-Saharan Africa and African, African-American, and British literature. Authors addressed in the dissertation include, among others, J.E. Casely Hayford, Roger Fry, D.H. Lawrence, Alain Locke, Langston Hughes, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Yvonne Vera, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Among the works of art discussed are Yoruba sculpture, Igbo material culture and San rock painting, as well as contemporary art.
This project argues that African art was, and is, an agent rather than simply an object of transnational modernism. It thus begins by opposing the conventional narrative of African culture's role in modernism--that of a passive object--and moves on through the twentieth century to reconsider major concepts such as diaspora, nationalism, and representation in ways that emphasize creativity and agency over the narratives of appropriation and belatedness that characterize much of the scholarship on this topic. The dual concern with art and literature entails analyses of such formal features as ekphrasis, the verbal representation of visual art. Meanwhile, the content and history of the works under consideration demand sustained attention to the relation of form to politics. Along the way, the project also engages with the formal differences among disciplinary discourses, examining how literary writing about African art challenges or supplements both anthropological and art historical scholarship.
Neha Gondal is a PhD candidate in Sociology. Her main research interests lie at the intersection of social networks and culture using quantitative techniques and mathematical modeling. In several of her research projects, she theorizes and explores relational meaning on the basis of patterns in social network structure. The core of her dissertation research involves what she calls less-institutionalized positions - micro-level social-structural locations that lack high levels of cultural typification. As distinct from roles, such positions have a low degree of social salience and are not associated with expected styles of behavior. She argues that despite the absence of ‘direct’ cultural prescription, individuals regularly draw on their other typified cultural roles to make sense of and act in such locations. Drawing on the work of phenomenologists and social network analysts, she outlines several mechanisms linking an individual’s multiple roles to meaning and action in less-institutionalized positions. As such positions are appropriate units of analysis to study the emergence of new roles/norms, she theorizes the conditions under which cultural institutionalization can ensue from regularities observed in less-institutionalized positions.
She uses this framework to investigate the relational implications of falling fertility using hierarchical models on a cross-national dataset. Comparing networks of relationships of individuals with 0-2 siblings with those who have more, she finds that support networks of individuals with fewer siblings are distinct from those with a greater number of siblings.
Her dissertation work has been funded by the Hewlett/IIE Dissertation Fellowship. Her research has been published in the journals Social Networks and Sociological Forum.
I am a PhD candidate in the English Department of Rutgers University. My dissertation, "Rhyme and History in Victorian Poetics," examines the relationship between Victorian poetry and nineteenth-century theories of literary history. Since New Criticism, rhyme has come to be thought of as an ahistorical and intrinsic sound effect, but for Victorians it was wedded to a number of pressing questions about tradition and modernity, national and ethnic identity, and the telos of human culture. I show how debates about the origins of rhyme helped to shape an interpretive method that saw poetic forms as marked by the age in which they emerged. A recurring trope in nineteenth-century theories of poetry is the medieval, or romantic, feeling of rhyme; the idea that rhymed poetry developed alongside medieval culture to express its unique spirit, and that it bears legible traces of a historical sensibility into the nineteenth century. The pervasive conviction among poets and poetry critics that stanza forms encoded this kind of affective content produced a body of poetry that self-consciously elicited historical-formalist reading. Drawing on aesthetic criticism, the philosophy of history, literary history, and poetic theory, my project investigates the interdisciplinary affiliations of poetic form.
My essay "Trebled Beauty: William Morris's Terza Rima" was published in Victorian Studies in 2011.
Emily Zubernis is a Ph.D. candidate in the English Department at Rutgers University. Her work focuses on twentieth century fiction, drama, and performance, and she has interests in ethics and environmental criticism. Her dissertation, “Minimal/Ethical: the Aesthetics of Renunciation in Twentieth Century Literature,” argues that experiments with scarce content and austere style have played an important and unacknowledged role in literature and criticism. The project considers the work of figures including Henry James, Virginia Woolf, and Samuel Beckett; contemporary writers Jamaica Kincaid, Zoë Wicomb, Lydia Davis, and Caryl Churchill; and artists such as John Cage, Yoko Ono, and Marina Abramovic. A range of minimalist values are represented in these artists’ work: spareness and simplicity, uniformity or repetitiveness, smallness and everydayness. Countering the critical narratives of radical experimentation as a retreat into pure linguistic play, the project suggests that these features of the minimal imagination strive to produce new ways of understanding art’s worldliness. Minimalism has often explored two related imperatives: the economical imperative to do more with less and the growing ecological imperative to do less with less. The project asks how these twin impulses have shaped and been shaped by literary confrontations with commercial culture, imperialism, and globalization.