Faculty Summer Research Fellows

Summer 2005

Full grants of $4,000 each were awarded to each of the following faculty members for summer research projects:

Andrew Busch (Department of Government), to complete a book-length study entitled Constitutional Democracy: Constitutional Discourse in American Elections. Professor Busch writes:

Although many Americans today assume that constitutional interpretation is solely the province of the Supreme Court, there are a number of ways in which the elected branches of the federal government either may or must participate in the process of defining the Constitution. ... The purpose of this book project is to explore several questions regarding exactly how and under what circumstances those issues and arguments arise. Specifically ... : How often do parties and candidates use constitutional discourse? How much of that discourse is explicitly constitutional in nature, and how much of it is implicit (for instance, referring to “freedom of speech” rather than the “First Amendment”)? What is the content of that discourse (for example, is it weighted toward discussion of individual rights or structural concerns like federalism)? Is there a systematic difference between the parties or between different kinds of candidates (say, presidential incumbents versus challengers)?

Gary Gilbert (Department of Philosophy/Religious Studies) for a book-length study of on God-fearers and their representation in Jewish texts, and the implications thereof in understanding Jewish identity. Professor Gilbert writes:

An analysis of identity often begins with a delineation of the boundaries constructed by members of a particular community. For an ancient community, we spend our time studying the internally produced texts and artifacts that might reveal something of what that community thought about itself and the boundaries that contributed to its identity. While certainly a valid and valuable approach, I wish to develop my analysis of identity from a somewhat different perspective. Instead of asking the communities, in this case the Jewish communities of the ancient world, what they thought about themselves, I propose to examine what these communities thought about God-fearers—non-Jews, gentiles, the Other—and in turn what and how these understanding contributed toward the construction of Jewish identity in these communities. ... I plan to engage various theories about identity formation and identity subversion as a way to examine the difficulties in forming a stable sense of identity among Jewish communities in antiquity. ... The work produced from this research will be of particular value to scholars of ancient Judaism and early Christianity, but will address issues that deal more broadly with the study of Jewish identity.

Frederick Lynch (Department of Government), for support that enabled him to move through the middle stages of a long-term project that a 1999 Gould Center Faculty Research helped launch: utilization of sociological theory and field research methods to chart the growing impact of aging “baby boomers” upon a rapidly changing, globalizing America. Professor Lynch writes

In January [2005], the consequences of aging baby boomers for the social security system were catapulted to the forefront of public policy debate when President George W. Bush proposed reforms in that program. (Debate over Medicare’s future is not far behind.) Beyond forecasts of economic strains, however, few social scientists have pondered the wider cultural, sociological, and psychological consequences of this remarkable age wave. Graying boomers will strongly impact the organization of heath care, pension, and retirement funding, and also the political and sociological cohesion of a nation state struggling with globalizing markets, terrorism, and a changing international order. The wider sociological and cultural changes—and the possible crystallization of boomers as a unified interest group and voting bloc—could be one of the most significant sociological developments of the twenty-first century.

Jay Martin (Department of Government), for a book of 75,000-80,000 words on the history of baseball in Hawaii from 1849—when the father of modern baseball, Alexander Joy Cartwright, settled in Honolulu—to the late 1950s. Professor Martin writes:

The leading United States publisher of sports history, McFarland, has already indicated a lively interest in publishing this book. So has the senior editor of the Southern Methodist University Press; I am certain it will also be of interest to the University of Hawai’I Press and the East-West Center ... A natural tendency among academic reviewers might be to see a book on a sport, especially in Hawai’i, as frivolous, but this involves serious scholarly, cultural, racial, sociological, historical, and even cultural anthropological investigations, and forms a significant part of United States history.

Alex Rajczi (Department of Philosophy/Religious Studies), for preparation of a book tentatively titled The Excuses of Capitalism. Professor Rajczi writes:

Human beings don’t reason well about morality; history shows us that when we try to figure out what we ought to do, we fail time and time again. Our frailty prompts an important but under-explored question: Are there ways to make ethical progress other than relying on our own judgment? ... In particular, I am interested in Aristotle’s thesis that there are occasions on which moral agents will not trust their own judgment, but instead act contrary to what seems to them the best course of action. The Excuses of Capitalism is an extension of that work. In it I will argue that Aristotle was right, and that when dealing with certain contentious social issues, the moral course of action is to accept that our judgment is frail and avoid the tempting arguments that have previously led to disaster.

Kristina Sessa (Department of History), for research for a book-length study entitled Imagining Christian Rome: Space, Ritual and the Establishment of Episcopal Authority (350-600 CE). Professor Sessa’s book will be a new social and religious history of one of the most important and influential phenomena in the western world—the formation of papal authority in the city of Rome during the fourth, fifth, and sixth centuries CE. Eschewing the traditional scholarly emphasis on the pronouncements and programs of individual popes, the book investigates the perspectives on papal authority of those men and women who comprised Rome’s complex and interconnected lay, clerical, and monastic communities. Professor Sessa writes:

In order to finish the research ... it is imperative that I return to Rome this summer, where I will make use of a number of different resources at the various libraries and museums in the city. Specifically, I need to complete an important manuscript check on one body of sources that I use heavily in my work—a corpus of Roman martyr narratives known collectively as the gesta martyrum. As we have very few modern, scholarly editions of these texts, I have had to rely largely on a sixteenth-century edition. It is possible to verify this edition through comparison with a number of early medieval manuscripts presently housed at the Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana and in the archives of S. Giovanni in Laterano. ... Following this summer’s trip to Rome, I will be able to focus exclusively on writing and I aim to finish the entire manuscript by the summer of 2006.

Grants of $2,000 each were awarded to:

Gastón Espinosa (Department of Philosophy/Religious Studies), for support of a book-length project entitled Chicano Religions: An Interdisciplinary Introduction. Professor Espinosa’s book will provide a non-sectarian interdisciplinary introduction to Mexican American religious studies in the United States. Professor Espinosa writes: “To date, no such book has been published. This is remarkable given the fact that 65 percent (25 million) of all U.S. Latinos are of Mexican ancestry and that they trace their roots back over 400 years to the first Spanish missions that were established in New Mexico in 1598. This book is the fruit of an intellectual dialogue on Mexican American/Chicano religions that has been going on for over a decade. It examines the role of religious symbols, values, language, beliefs, ideology, and world-views in Chicano/a writers, artists, intellectuals, healers, and religious leaders.”

James Morrison (Department of Literature/Film Studies), for a book-length study entitled Rosebud in Xanadu: Hollywood, Mass Culture and the Sublime, 1920-1960. Professor Morrison writes:

This project proposes to examine Hollywood narrative films over the four decades regarded as the “classical” era of Hollywood filmmaking, through the lens of concepts of the “sublime.” The objective of the project is to trace the shifting relation of “high” culture to “mass” culture in American film and society during this period. A key effect of mass culture, I argue, is to produce in its subjects the illusion of mastery in various forms; theories of the sublime, meanwhile, have traditionally treated the sublime as an aesthetic or natural experience entailing the loss of control, or the denial of mastery, whether pleasurable or not. ... Studying the relation of “high” culture to “mass” culture has been one of the most fruitful areas in recent cultural studies, but my definition of mass-culture, in terms of the concept of mastery and the idea of the sublime, presents a new avenue of approach to the topic.