Resident Fellows Speaker Series

The Hall Center hosts several faculty and graduate student fellows in residence each semester. During their residencies, our Fellows give talks about their works-in-progress. These events are public and open to all.


Yi Zhao, Sias Graduate Fellow, Art History

As Path to Paradise: Images of Buddhist Heavens and Pure Lands in Early Medieval China

WED SEP 22, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

This dissertation investigates how three types of enigmatic artwork, hunping (“soul jars”), “pensive bodhisattva” images, and illustrations of Sukhāvāti (the Pure Land in the West) -- embody Chinese believers’ ideas about afterworld journeys to the three main paradises (Trāyastriṃśa Heaven, Tuśita Heaven, and Sukhāvāti) popular during the early medieval period (220-589 CE). The idea that images could be efficacious in the transition of the soul from this world to the next gained new complexity in the early medieval period with the introduction of Buddhism. Through analysis of these three types of imagery, Yi Zhao examines how they were used by artisans, patrons, and early Buddhist thinkers during this historical period when Buddhism gained acceptance in China to effect the passage of the soul to paradise.


Jane Barnette, Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance

Spellcasting: The Witch on Contemporary American Stages

MON NOV 8, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Within popular culture, witches have always been intriguing, but the last decade has seen a significant uptick in witchy podcasts, products, books, and performance. As last year’s New York Times put it, “witches are having their hour.” Jane Barnette is working on the first book to consider the proliferation of the witch as a theatrical type in twenty-first-century U.S. productions. What kinds of spell do theatre-makers cast when we create plays and musicals that feature witch characters? What messages do these events communicate to the audiences about who (or what) witches represent, and why do we rely on the figure of the witch to do this work? Based on findings culled from visual research (photos and videos as well as live productions), dramaturgical analysis, and practitioner interviews, the book will address three related but distinct elements of performance: texts (what we think we know about witches), signs (trends in aesthetic representations of witches), and bodies (the abject humanity and queerness of actual witches). Threaded throughout this book is an argument about wrighting the witch, which pushes beyond the more common critical reading of the stage witch as an unsubtle metaphor for a subversive or undesirable woman. As theatre scholar Jon D. Rossini suggests, to wright is “a simultaneous process of correction, revision, and cultural repositioning in the act of creating a new conceptual framework.” In wrighting witches, Barnette means to conjure the witch as a spectator and/or reader who does indeed exist. Spellcasting contributes to ongoing conversations here and abroad about what is valued and what is considered excessive within representations of gender.


Jessica Gerschultz,Associate Professor, African and African American Studies

Fiber Art Constellations: The Weaving Atelier as a Critical Feminine Space

MON NOV 22, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Jessica Gerschultz’ second book, focused on Africa and the Arab world in the 20th century, will be the first transregional analysis of tapestry and textiles to examine feminist histories and artistic exchanges across unexpected geographies, notably sites in rural and religious areas often excluded from studies of aesthetic modernism. Formerly treated in art history as peripheral “craft”-producing regions, ex-colonial localities offer dynamic, interconnected histories. Women artists active in Casablanca, Cairo, Beirut, and other modernist hubs engaged in important yet unstudied artistic exchanges, while others based in agricultural and mountainous regions upended notions of modern art as an urban phenomenon. Drawing from letters between artists, artworks, and other primary sources, this project will re-map an artistic movement in which African and Arab fiber artists, particularly those in rural and religious communities, were feminized and excluded. It retraces communication between art schools and studios in Africa, the Arab world, and Eastern Europe, notably Poland, where fiber art was critical for experimentations with abstraction.


Araceli Masterson-Algar,Associate Professor, African and African American Studies

Grounding Migration: The Right to Housing

THU DEC 9, 12:00 - 1:30 PM

Defining migrants as metaphors of ‘inbetweenness,’ constantly moving through ‘non-places’, works as a colonial erasure of their strive to make space locally. Not surprisingly, there is a near absolute absence of the ‘immigrant’ from the literature of social movements demanding housing rights. Furthermore, the narrow focus of ‘immigrant rights’ as the exclusive realm of the ‘immigrant subject’ underpin the disconnect between immigrants’ political action and larger social movements in the society of destination. This presentation works through this aporia, and is part of my larger book project on the ties between migrant rights and social movements at large. Specifically, I address the key role of immigrants in the 15-M Movement in Spain, and how Ecuadorian residents in Madrid are leading initiatives for housing rights, revealing the continuities between transnational processes, and access to housing in specific locations. Under this light, the human category of the ‘migrant’ is not a transient subject, but rather a resident and historical actor in our cities.