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Faculty & Staff Updates

Mary Dzon (English)

In May 2018 Professor Dzon participated in a doctoral “disputas” at the University of Oslo and later that month gave a paper titled “Joseph as Mary’s Secretarius in a Medieval Latin Life of the Virgin” at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo. In the summer, she presented on her ongoing research projects at two other conferences: Julian of Norwich and Medieval English Traditions of the Vernicle in Rome (International Anchoritic Society at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, June 2018) and Mary as Perfectissima Roboratrix in the Latter Years of Her Life? (International Medieval Congress in Leeds, July 2018).


Kevin Hales (Africana Studies)          

Professor Hales was awarded a Newberry Consortium travel grant by the Marco Institute to support research in the archives at the Newberry Library in Chicago. Hales is finishing up his book on the ancient West African Nsibidi script and a book chapter on this subject for a group in the United Kingdom. Both are scheduled for publication in 2019. He also travelled to three African American cemeteries to document the story of Igbo, Efik, and Qua escaped slaves who lived in West Virginia and Virginia during the 18th century. As a communication scholar and Africanist, Hales’ research involves investigating the intercultural, interpersonal, and organizational aspects of Nsibidi in Nigeria and Cameroon, as well as repositioning organizations such as Ekpe and Mgbe as a unique form of an African communication society. Additionally, Hales is attempting to further push the theories of Nsibidi Studies scholars such as Ivor Miller and Robert Ferris Thompson. Drawing from his Marco-supported research, Hales is exploring the possibility that the Transatlantic Slave Trade may have brought Ekpe/Mgbe and Nsibidi to the American plantations of Virginia and South Carolina.


Heather Hirschfeld (English)

Heather Hirschfeld was pleased to see her essay, “Playing with Hell: The Revenger’s Tragedy and the Infernal,” published in the collection: The Revenger’s Tragedy: The State of Play (Bloomsbury, 2017). She attended the annual conference of the Shakespeare Association of America in 2018 as a member of the programming committee, and she served as president of the Southeastern Renaissance Conference, organizing its 75th anniversary meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina.


Katie Hodges-Kluck (Marco)

Katie Hodges-Kluck attended the International Medieval Congress in Leeds, England, in July 2018, where she gave a paper on “The Defense of Jerusalem and the Critique of Royal Power in Angevin England” and chaired a Marco-sponsored panel, “Memory and Identity in High Medieval Canterbury,” which she co-organized with Alexandra Reider (Yale) as an outgrowth of discussions from the 2017 Marco Manuscript Workshop. Hodges-Kluck’s essay “Canterbury and Jerusalem, England and the Holy Land, c. 1150-1220″ is forthcoming in Viator 49.1.


Gregor Kalas (Architecture)

Gregor Kalas continues to enjoy working as the associate director of the Marco Institute. During the past year, Kalas’s essay, “Acquiring the Antique in Byzantine Rome: The Economics of Architectural Reuse at Santa Maria Antiqua,” appeared in the volume, Reuse and Renovation in Roman Material Culture, edited by Molly Swetnam-Burland and Diana Ng (Cambridge University Press, 2018). An article, “The Divisive Politics of Phocas (602-610) and the Last Imperial Monument of Rome,” was published in the journal, Antiquité Tardive, vol. 25 (2017). Kalas presented his research at the New College conference of Medieval and Renaissance Studies in Sarasota, Florida, with a paper titled, “Reusing Ancient Buildings as Charity Centers in Eighth-Century Rome.” Finally, Kalas also presented on “Literary Nostalgia in the Fifth-Century Forum of Trajan” at the annual meeting of the Society of Architectural Historians in St. Paul, Minnesota.


Jacob Latham (History)

During the academic year, Jacob A. Latham shepherded “Adventus, Occursus, and the Christianization of Rome in Late Antiquity” to publication in Studia Patristica 18.92 (2017) and gave papers at the Society of Biblical Literature and Archaeological Institute of America annual meetings. Over the summer, he spent an intense six weeks in Rome as UT’s affiliated fellow at the American Academy in Rome.


Harrison Meadows (MFLL-Spanish)

During 2017-2018, Harrison Meadows was a fellow at the UT Humanities Center, where he worked towards the completion of his book project titled, Wild Theater: Staging the Margins of Baroque Ideology in the Spanish Comedia. Over the course of the year, he also presented his research at four conferences, including the 2018 Modern Language Association Convention, along with the annual conferences for the American Society for Theater Research, the Association for Hispanic Classical Theater, and the Mountain Interstate Foreign Language Conference. His article, “On Tyrants and Succession: Rethinking Political Authority in Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s En la vida todo es verdad y todo mentira (In Life, All is True and All is Falsehood) (1659)” was submitted and published in Johns Hopkins’ journal MLN (vol. 133, no. 2, March 2018). Another article, “Disruptive Marginality: The Representation of Wildness in Lope de Vega’s Baroque Art,” was accepted for publication in the upcoming issue of Romance Quarterly (vol. 65, no. 4, October 2018).


Samantha Murphy (English)

Samantha Murphy received a promotion to distinguished lecturer in August 2018. Earlier in the year, she presented a paper titled “The Devil’s Service: Witchcraft and Masculine Anxiety in Sixteenth Century Scotland” at the South Central Renaissance Conference in Atlanta, Goergia (April 2018). She also presented her research into early modern witchcraft for the UT Chancellor’s Honors Faculty Lecture Series. Her talk, “Gendered Witchcraft in Sixteenth Century Scotland,” was appropriately scheduled in October 2017.


Christine Shepardson (Religious Studies)

Tina Shepardson had a daunting start to the academic year, as the new head of the Department of Religious Studies. She loves her undergraduate teaching more than ever this year since it provides a break from the meetings and paperwork of her new administrative role. In the meantime, she remains active in her research on the sixth-century Christian communities of Syria and Roman Palestine. Last year she gave invited research presentations in Sweden, Boston, and at Duke, presented her research in Chicago, and was invited to participate in seminars at Harvard and Stanford. She has upcoming presentations this fall in Denver and at Princeton. Shepardson had two essays published in 2018: “Bodies on Display: Deploying the Saints in Religious Competitions of Late Antique Antioch,” in Antioch II: The Many Faces of Antioch, Intellectual Exchange and Religious Diversity, CE 350-450, ed. Silke-Petra Bergjan and Susanna Elm, 235-53 (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2018); and “Give it Up for God: Wealth, Suffering, and the Rhetoric of Religious Persecution in John of Ephesus’ Church History,” in Reconceiving Religious Conflict: New Views from the Formative Centuries of Christianity, ed. Chris De Wet and Wendy Mayer, 86-109 (London: Routledge, 2018). Shepardson was thrilled to learn this summer that the University of California Press will release her second book, Controlling Contested Places: Late Antique Antioch and the Spatial Politics of Religious Controversy (2014), in paperback this spring.


Phillip Stokes (MFLL-Semitic Languages)

In the past year, Phillip Stokes has published a peer-reviewed journal article and a chapter in a peer-reviewed edited volume: “Case in the Qurʾānic Consonantal Text” in Wiener Zeitschrift für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 108 (2018), and “The Plural Demonstratives and Relatives based on *ʾVl in Arabic and the Origin of Dialectal illī” in Re-engaging Comparative Semitic and Arabic Studies (Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 115), edited by Daniel Birnstiel and Na’ama Pat-El. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag (2018). Phillip presented (along with Na’ama Pat-El, The University of Texas at Austin) on “The Influence of Aramaic on the Modern Arabic Dialects: A Critical Re-evaluation” at the International Conference on Historical Linguistics 23 (August 2017). He also presented an invited talk titled “Fresh Perspectives on the Linguistic Diversity of Arabic in the Early Islamic Period” at the annual Marco Symposium “Navigating Language in the Early Islamic World,” held at UT on April 6-7, 2018. Finally, in April 2018, Phillip joined scholars from Oxford and Leiden (the Netherlands) Universities for a survey of pre-Islamic Arabic inscriptions in a remote part of northeastern Jordan. During the period of his participation, more than 1,000 new inscriptions were discovered, adding to the growing body of data for Arabic before the rise of Islam.


Alison Vacca (History)

Alison Vacca’s book, Non-Muslim Provinces under Early Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2017), won the 2018 book prize in History and the Humanities from the Central Eurasian Studies Society. She also published an article, “Conflict and Community in the Medieval Caucasus” (Al-ʿUṣūr al-Wusṭā 25 [2017]), which is the basis of her second book project, as well as a book chapter, “Past the Mediterranean and Iran: a Comparative Study of Armenia as an Islamic Frontier, 1st/7th – 5th/11th centuries” in The Armenian Mediterranean: Words and Worlds in Motion (ed. K. Babayan & M. Pifer, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018). Over the past year, Vacca has presented her work in Tbilisi, Georgia; Fresno, California; Seville, Spain; Ann Arbor, Michigan; and San Antonio, Texas.


Lydia Walker (History)

Lydia Walker successfully defended her dissertation, “Lay Spirituality, Crusading, and Reform in the Sermons of Jacques de Vitry,” in April 2018. She was awarded the Claude Robertson Award for the Outstanding Student in European History at University of Tennessee, and she was also presented the Sherry L. Reames Graduate Student Travel Award by the Hagiography Society to fund her travel to the International Congress on Medieval Studies where she presented her work, “The Formulation of Female Holiness and Clerical Integrity in the Shadow of Violence against Women.” Lydia was also elected to serve as the Hagiography Society’s communications chair (2018-2020). In July 2018, she presented her work at the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds as part of a series of sessions on transcultural interpretations of the Bible. In the fall of 2018, Walker began a postdoctoral lectureship for the history department.


Lauren Whitnah (Marco)      

Lauren Whitnah published “Aelred of Rievaulx and the Saints of Hexham: Tradition, Innovation, and Devotion in Twelfth-Century Northern England” (Church History 87.1, March 2018). She presented “The City and the Saint: Urban Devotion in Twelfth-Century Durham” at the annual meeting of the Southeastern Medieval Association (SEMA) in Charleston, South Carolina (November 2017) and “The Saints of Northumbria and the Legacy of Bede” at the International Medieval Congress at the University of Leeds (July 2018).  Whitnah also participated in an interdisciplinary conference titled “Walking with Saints: Protection, Devotion, and Civic Identity” in Ronse, Belgium (May 2018). She presented “The Holy Landscape in Twelfth-Century Northumbria” and then participated in the annual pilgrimage procession (est. 1090) of a 32-km circuit around the city of Ronse. She also undertook research for her current book project, Patrons of That Place: Saints’ Cults and Sacred Space in Twelfth-Century Northumbria, in the UK during the summer of 2018.

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