Society of Faculty Fellows

Society of Faculty Fellows

Fun Facts

The goals of the Society of Fellows are to support faculty research and creative practices that highlight the transformative power of the arts and humanities to address global challenges and social needs; develop shared responses; and facilitate the multi-disciplinary exchange of ideas and methods on a shared topic. 

The Global Arts + Humanities Society of Fellows brings Ohio State faculty from across the disciplines together to share research around an annual cross-disciplinary theme. These fellowships are designed to provide faculty with release time to focus on their scholarly and artistic work, as well as with opportunities to engage with other Ohio State faculty, students and local Columbus community organizations. In addition to participating in a biweekly seminar, fellows co-organize a culminating year-end event to share their work.

2021-22 Society of Fellows Faculty Cohort
Shared theme: Extinction | Imagination

The theme for our 2021-22 Society of Fellows cohort is Imagination | Extinction. Our goal is to create a space for conversations about loss and survival that can hold both mourning and world building. For the purposes of the Society of Fellows, we understand extinction as a range of existential threats to ecosystems, species, populations, cultures, languages and lifeways.




Photograph of Wendy Hesford

WENDY S. HESFORD (she/her) | Faculty Director, Global Arts + Humanities; Professor, Department of English; Ohio Eminent Scholar of Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy
Wendy S. Hesford is a professor of English and Ohio Eminent Scholar of Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy and the Faculty Director for the Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme. She has affiliate appointments in women’s, gender and sexuality studies and comparative studies. She is interested in the transformative role that critical human rights literacy plays in exposing the violence of representation, revealing hidden, repressed and silenced stories.


Faculty Fellows

Photograph of Margaret Flinn

MARGARET FLINN (she/they) | Associate Professor, Department of French and Italian
Project Title | 
Eco-French? The Local, the National and the Global in Contemporary Popular Visual Culture
Project Title | In this book project, Flinn argues that contemporary French film, TV and comics respond directly or indirectly to the threats humanity has posed to itself through climate change, via a positively-framed mobilization of historically-nationalist mythologies about French cultural exceptionalism. Thus, we see environmental politics bringing together leftist back-to-the-land progressives with nationalists invested in mythologies about ruralism, white French peasantry and cultural capital. This project brings together films and comics with mainstream French and transnational film, TV and comics that approach human extinction and climate changes.

Photograph of Hannah Kosstrin

HANNAH KOSSTRIN (she/her) | Associate Professor, Department of Dance
Project Title | 
Kinesthetic Peoplehood: Dance, Israel and the Jewish Diaspora
Project Abstract | This book project shows how transnational cultural currents affect Jewish choreographers’ work circulating between the Americas and the Middle East through migrations, dance touring and inter-cultural collaborations from the 1950s to the 2010s. In this book, Kosstrin theorizes what she calls “kinesthetic peoplehood,” which is how people feel connected to or estranged from the Jewish diaspora through dance practices. Kosstrin builds on the transnational phenomenon of Jewish peoplehood and on theoretical-political conversations engaging diasporism, which is Jewish political solidarity not reliant on a nation-state. She argues that diaspora lives in the kinesthetic-empathetic and embodied-corporeal experiences of participating in dance events.

Photograph of Ben McKean

BEN McKEAN (he/him) | Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Project Title | 
Freedom and Resentment in the Anthropocene 
Project Abstract | McKean’s research explores how to build solidarity in the face of climate catastrophe. Radical restructuring of our social and economic institutions must happen immediately to avoid greater disaster, yet this urgency is largely not reflected in politics. Motivating political action typically requires articulating both an interest in a particular outcome and some hope that it might be realized. Both can be facilitated by imaginative identification with a group working to realize a shared interest. In previous work, McKean developed an account of solidarity grounded in a shared interest in resisting the injustices of the neoliberal global economy; in this research, they sought to transform that account to make it adequate to the prospect of climate extinction.

Photograph of Kris Paulsen

KRIS PAULSEN (she/her) | Associate Professor, History of Art
Project Title | 
Flesh in the Machine 
Project Abstract | Paulsen’s book, Flesh in the Machine, will examine how our corporeal bodies are implicated in – or completely left out of – contemporary imaginings of humanity’s future. Looking to a series of speculative works in art, fiction and film, Paulsen will analyze the political, cultural and social consequences of the “technological fixes” for the increasingly-uninhabitable Earth and potential human extinction: Whole Brain Emulation and consciousness uploading, decamping to Mars, trans-humanist augmentation to adapt to new climates and new worlds, and AI and the predicted technological singularity as the evolutionary successors to contemporary humans. Artwork addressed in this manuscript trace the seams where our fleshly bodies meet the virtual world.

Photograph of Jacob Risinger

JACOB RISINGER (he/him) | Associate Professor, Department of English
Project Title | 
Improbable Powers: Re-imagining Energy in the Industrial Revolution and Beyond
Project Abstract | In this book project, Risinger borrows a phrase from Mary Wollstonecraft to highlight the unruly development of “power” as an aesthetic concept in Romantic writing. While literary scholars have long been invested in tracing the circulation of discursive power, he argues that this figurative conception of power has overshadowed a more elemental preoccupation. Romantic writers were often vociferous critics of the social and environmental toll of industrialization, but they were also prone to draw strange lines of connection between their own poiesis and the watermills and steam engines that gave rise to the Industrial Revolution. Risinger aims to chart the fact of a convergence and explore the “re-imagining” that such a convergence continues to enable.

Photograph of Elissa Washuta

ELISSA WASHUTA (she/her) | Assistant Professor, Department of English (Creative Writing: Nonfiction)
Project Title | 
Apocalypse Cosmology
Project Abstract | Apocalypse Cosmology is a personal essay collection narrating Washuta’s experience as a chronically-ill Native woman insisting on survival between apocalypses, in a world headed toward its eventual end. Through examinations of virology articles, post-apocalyptic video games, the journals of Lewis and Clark, films about the 2008 financial crisis and other sources, Washuta works to answer high-stakes questions: Why am I sick? How can I imagine a future? In what ways am I living with the legacy of colonial apocalypse? In an America that insists we forgive and forget, Washuta document her fears, her history and the inheritance of violence she has no choice but to hold forever.

Photograph of Jasper Waugh-Quasebarth

JASPER WAUGH-QUASEBARTH (he/him) | (External) Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Comparative Studies
Project Title | 
Finding the Singing Spruce
Project Abstract | Waugh-Quasebarth is building upon existing research partnerships to explore how communities in mountain forest regions are imagining new futures through cultural heritage despite ongoing ecological, economic and social extinction crises. With partners in the Little Cities of Black Diamonds micro-region of Southeast Ohio, the Allegheny Mountains of West Virginia and the Transylvania Region of the Carpathian Mountains in Romania, Waugh-Quasebarth will explore common challenges that threaten communities’ existence as well as unique solutions arising from place-based cultural heritage to “compare notes” and imagine new futures. Together, they will ask how post-extractive landscapes and places are remade and re-enchanted by new forms of creative practice.

Photograph of Carmen Winant

CARMEN WINANT | Associate Professor, Department of Art
Project Title | 
Notes on Fundamental Joy
Project Abstract | Notes on Fundamental Joy will build on an existing collaboration with the photographer and former lesbian separatist Carol Newhouse. Now 75, Newhouse has never had or shown her work in an art exhibition; the Wexner Center for the Arts will host Newhouse’s solo show in autumn 2022, which will be accompanied by educational programming. Newhouse’s oeuvre is comprised of thousands of negatives — many of them never printed — of womyn in the process of moving to the land and establishing new lives together with entirely-new, non-patriarchal value sets. Together, these images — of physical labor, intimate moments, educational workshops (and more) — form a compelling document of this little-known, utterly-courageous social experiment.


Previous Cohorts


2020-21 Society of Fellows Cohort


Portrait of Thomas Davis

Associate Professor, Department of English
Project title:
Unnatural Attachments: The Arts of Environmental Justice
Project abstract: Davis' project conceptualizes the relationship between attachment formation to place and its impact on environmental humanities research and activism. He details the conditions under which attachments are made and unmade by examining twentieth- and twenty-first-century fiction, and visual art that includes contemporary drone art by Indigenous activists contesting pipelines and mineral extraction. 

Portrait of Paloma Martinez-Cruz

Associate Professor, Department of Spanish and Portuguese
Project title:
Becoming Essential: A Neoliberal Fantasy of the Migrant Worker's Body
Project abstract: Martinez-Cruz’s research examines how the pandemic has engendered new conversations about who is an “essential” worker and argues that a mapping of south-to-north migrations should be informed by a human rights perspective.

Photograph of Tristram McPherson

Associate Professor, Department of Philosophy
Project title:
Rights and Responsibilities of the Anthropocene
Project abstract: McPherson will explore the Anthropocene through three linked ethical questions relating to non-human animals, individual responsibility and methodologies for the study of ethics. He hopes to develop novel ethical concepts to enable political actors to better address pressing global challenges.

Photograph of Ila Nagar

Associate Professor, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures
Project title:
Language and Propaganda: Being Muslim, Female or LGBTQ+ in Contemporary India
Project abstract: In India, politicians and news media weaponize language to diminish democratic principles and incite violence against non-dominant populations. Nagar studies how supporters of the Indian movement toward Hindu fundamentalism use linguistic trickery to marginalize Muslims, women, and LGBTQ communities.

Photograph of Elaine Richardson

Professor, Department of Teaching and Learning
Project title:
Underlying Conditions: Black Women, Girls and Corona — A One-Woman Show
Project abstract: Richardson will create a one-woman show that illuminates how intersecting gender, class and racial vulnerabilities shape Black women and girls’ experiences navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and the systemic inequities that structure their lives.

Photograph of Inés Valdez Tappata

Associate Professor, Department of Political Science
Project title:
Human Rights and Cultures of Empire: Labor Rights, Migrant Rights and the Origin of Contemporary Democracy
Project abstract: Valdez’s project explores the imperial genealogy of labor and immigrant rights during the late nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. During this period, the white working class in the U.S. and English settler colonies — both foreign and native — adopted imperial discourses of racial hierarchy to exclude migrants of color from jobs and land, shaping the meaning of popular sovereignty.

Photograph of Sarah Van Beurden

Associate Professor, Departments of History and African and African American Studies
Project title:
Rights and Restitution: The Past and Future of Cultural Heritage
Project abstract: Van Beurden will develop her project on the repatriation of Belgian colonial collections by addressing the distance between the theory of human rights and UNESCO regulations on cultural heritage and the persistent demands for the restitution of African colonial collections that have recently reemerged in force.

Photograph of Joel Wainwright

Professor, Department of Geography
Project title:
Race, Space and the Formation of Law in Belize
Project abstract: Does sovereignty always precede the rule of law, or does the rule of law produce sovereignty? In his study of the colonization of indigenous lands of the Americas, Wainwright hypothesizes that the rule of law arrives as a means of ordering space, bodies and justice, realizing an immanent structure of racial difference.


Photograph of Wendy S. Hesford

Faculty Director, Global Arts + Humanities
Professor, Department of English
Ohio Eminent Scholar of Rhetoric, Composition and Literacy

Hesford's research and teaching focus on the transformative role that critical human rights literacy plays in exposing the violence of representation, revealing hidden, repressed and silenced stories. She is the author of six books including Spectacular Rhetorics: Human Rights Visions, Recognitions and Feminisms. 

Amy Shuman portrait

Humanities Faculty Fellow, Global Arts + Humanities

Professor, Department of English
Shuman specializes in narrative, literacy, political asylum, disability, food customs, feminist theory and critical theory. She is a Guggenheim Fellow and the recipient of numerous awards including 2015 Distinguished Scholar Award. She is the author of six books, the most recent (with Carol Bohmer), Rejecting Refugees: Political Asylum in the 21st Century.