University of Virginia, College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences

Events

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Michael Puri, “Mimetic Musical Modernism: The Case of Maurice Ravel”

February 19, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Michael Puri, “Mimetic Musical Modernism: The Case of Maurice Ravel”

February 19, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Michael Puri

Associate Professor

Department of Music, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  February 19, 2021: “Mimetic Musical Modernism: The Case of Maurice Ravel”

 

Project Summary

“If human beings suddenly ceased imitating, all forms of culture would vanish.” This striking statement by René Girard not only ascribes to mimesis the ability to generate culture, but also implicitly challenges scholars to determine how mimesis operates within the cultural field they study. Many have risen to this challenge, but the question still remains: How does mimesis operate within western music, especially during the modern era?

 

The music of the French composer Maurice Ravel (1875–1937) can help us to answer this question. Mimesis manifests itself variously in this music, but most pointedly in two contrasting modernist forms that I refer to as “genealogical” and “commercial.” Genealogical mimesis involves modeling new works on old, and conceives of composition as craft. Commercial mimesis involves the replication, circulation, and transformation of mass-market artistic idioms, such as exoticism. In commercial mimesis, music is a commodity.

 

The first step in my project is to examine the interaction of these categories within Ravel’s music. I then widen the investigation to include a broader swath of modernist music. Finally I situate this body of musical practice within the emergent cultural-intellectual discourse on mimesis at the turn of the twentieth century. Guided by figures such as Tarde, Nietzsche, Frazer, Mauss, and Freud, this discourse gradually pivoted from conceiving mimesis as a threat to western civilization to advancing it as a foundational principle.

 

Biography

Michael J. Puri is Associate Professor of Music at the University of Virginia. He is the author of Ravel the Decadent: Memory, Sublimation, and Desire, published by Oxford University Press, and is currently completing another monograph that explores some fascinating but hitherto unrecognized relationships between Ravel and German music. His research into French and German music of the long nineteenth century has been published widely and has received support from a variety of institutions, including a year-long residential fellowship at the National Humanities Center and the Alfred Einstein Award from the American Musicological Society.

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Neeti Nair, “The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India”

March 5, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Neeti Nair, “The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India”

March 5, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Neeti Nair

Associate Professor

Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

Global Fellow, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington, DC.

** Seminar:  January 22, 2021:  The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India

 

Project Summary

How did the partition of the Indian subcontinent resolve the problem of belonging for minority religious communities – in India, Pakistan, and later, Bangladesh? If Pakistan was designed to create a ‘homeland’ for the Muslims of the subcontinent, was India meant to serve as a homeland for the Hindus? How, then, did the Hindus of Pakistan and the Muslims of India learn to live and build community in these newly majoritarian countries? Did the state ideologies of secularism and Islam enable both minorities and majorities to flourish on terms of equality? In ‘The Problem of Belonging after the Partition of India’, I examine debates on political representation alongside literary representations of religious minorities as a way to understand how the contradictions wrought by the partition were sought to be resolved in subsequent decades. This is part of a longer book length project on India’s Partition: Politics, Culture, Memory.

 

Biography

Neeti Nair is an associate professor of history at the University of Virginia and Global Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC. She is the author of Changing Homelands: Hindu Politics and the Partition of India, Harvard University Press and Permanent Black, 2011. Her articles have appeared in scholarly journals such as Modern Asian StudiesIndian Economic and Social History Review, and the Economic and Political Weekly, as well as in media outlets such as The Print, the Indian Express and India Today. Nair has held fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies, American Institute of Indian Studies, Andrew Mellon Foundation, Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Joshua White, “An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

March 19, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Joshua White, “An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

March 19, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Joshua White

Associate Professor

Corcoran Department of History, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  March 19, 2021: “An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy: Slavery, Migration, and the Mediterranean Journeys of an Ottoman Manuscript”

 

Project Summary

What meaning did a fictional Ottoman tale and the manuscript containing it have to those who copied, read, heard, and owned it? An Epic Tale of Sorrow and Joy is an interdisciplinary microhistory that explores the many meanings, uses, and journeys of an otherwise unremarkable manuscript—the only extant copy of an eponymous Ottoman Turkish story of forced migration, fortune, and loss set in the seventeenth-century Mediterranean—held at the British Library. Tracing the parallel lives of the story’s characters and the manuscript’s early nineteenth-century Ottoman and European owners, this study considers the contexts in which such manuscripts were produced, consumed, collected, and sold, and the lives of the migrants, travelers, and slaves that inspired them. By following this unique manuscript from Izmir to Istanbul and Corfu to London, I aim to bring to light a lost history of cultural exchange and appropriation, travel and migration. 

 

Biography

Joshua M. White is Associate Professor of History at the University of Virginia. A specialist in the social, legal, and diplomatic history of the early modern Ottoman Empire and Mediterranean world, he is the author of Piracy and Law in the Ottoman Mediterranean (Stanford University Press, 2017).

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Sarah Betzer, “The Long Eighteenth Century?”

March 26, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Sarah Betzer, “The Long Eighteenth Century?”

March 26, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Sarah Betzer

Associate Professor of Art History

McIntire Department of Art, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  March 26, 2021: “The "Long" Eighteenth Century?”

 

Project Summary

“The "Long" Eighteenth Century?” – The focus of my research while a Mellon Humanities Fellow takes off from the ubiquity of the phrase: "the long eighteenth century." Proliferating in calls for participation and panel descriptions throughout art history and visual culture studies, if the mark of an elongated eighteenth century is inescapable, this terminology merits further scrutiny. During my period as a Mellon Fellow, I will consider the rise of a "long" eighteenth century alongside the significant transformation of art historical inquiry into expanded geographical and cultural terrains. What is meant by the "long" eighteenth century? From which vantage points, and for whom, is it long? And to what ends has this elongation been directed? And what impact, if any, has a "worlding" of art history had upon humanistic thinking about the relative length or shortness, the narrowness or breadth, of the eighteenth century? My consideration of these questions will take the form of a historiographic analysis–rooted in art history but with a vantage onto scholarship in allied humanistic disciplines–that will appear in a special issue of Journal 18 that I am co-editing with Prof. Dipti Khera (New York University/Institute of Fine Arts), and that will appear in late 2021.

 

Biography

Sarah Betzer is Associate Professor of Art History at the University of Virginia. A specialist of modern European art and art historical theory and methods, her research, teaching, and graduate supervision is orientated to the intersections of art theoretical debates and artistic process; the enduring power of the classical past; and the dynamics of gendered and sexed bodies in representation. She is the author of Ingres and the Studio: Women, Painting, History (Penn State University Press, 2010), and Animating the Antique: Sculptural Encounter in the Age of Aesthetic Theory (forthcoming, Penn State University Press). Her essays have appeared in The Art Bulletin, Oxford Art Journal, Art History, and Sculpture Journal.

Citizenship, Belonging, and the Partition of India

April 9, 2021

Webinar | TBD

Citizenship, Belonging, and the Partition of India

April 9, 2021

Webinar | TBD

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Tessa Farmer, “Cairo’s Sabils: Gifting Water”

April 16, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Mellon Fellows Seminar - Tessa Farmer, “Cairo’s Sabils: Gifting Water”

April 16, 2021

Webinar | 10:00 am - 12:00 pm

Tessa Farmer

Assistant Professor

Department of Middle Eastern & South Asian Languages & Cultures; and, the Global Studies Program, University of Virginia

** Seminar:  April 16, 2021: “Cairo’s Sabils: Gifting Water”

 

Project Summary

My research focuses on sabils, or charitable water fountains, as a key location for exploring vernacular water architecture and investigating the underlying conceptual frameworks that give them life. Sabils are important parts of the built environment of Cairo, drawing on religious precedence and enacting everyday ethical notions of reciprocity. They are particularly important in the changing environmental conditions of Cairo and point to the ways in which vernacular and small-scale water infrastructure can add to the picture of urban water resilience in the context of Climate Change. As vernacular memorials, sabils operate as the conduit and material co-producers of hasanat (merits accrued with God) for the souls of departed loved ones. As nodes in neighborly relations, sabils engage neighbors in practices of asynchronous exchanges of the embodied kindness of a cold drink of water and the ephemeral gift of participating in the accrual of divine favor. Sabils are an important manifestation of local process of creative resilience, everyday practices of tinkering and collective action that probe the limits of the possible, work to remake the built environment and stich together fluid social networks, and stake claims to the city. Additionally, the project will investigate the diversity of material forms, practices of care and repair for clay and metal water infrastructure, embodied notions of smell, taste and temperature, a shifting history of social responses to a material context of hardship, and practices of neighborliness that draw on religious traditions to shape the livability and transversability of Cairo’s urban landscapes.

 

Biography

Tessa Farmer is Assistant Professor in the Middle Eastern and South Asian Languages and Cultures Department and the Global Studies Program at the University of Virginia, where she serves as the Track Director for the Global Studies-Middle East South Asia (GSMS) major. Tessa received her MA (2007) and PhD (2014) in Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin. She conducted fieldwork in Cairo, Egypt between 2009 and 2019. Based on this work, her current book project, “Well-Connected: Everyday Water Practices in Cairo,” investigates the ways in which lower income residents of Cairo, Egypt work to obtain sources of potable water and deal with the ramifications of sewage in their urban ecology. A second project on charitable water fountains, sabils, is underway. Her research has been awarded funding by Fulbright Hayes, Social Science Research Council, PEO, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Virginia. Tessa’s work appeared in the Middle East Law and Governance Journal, the Journal of Sustainability Education, MERIP, and she co-guest edited a special issue on the Environment in the Middle East in the International Journal of Middle East Studies with Jessica Barnes.