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Resident fellows

Since 1977, the Institute has offered annual Resident Fellowships to faculty members at the University of Calgary. Awards are given to support specific research projects and provide the recipient with release from a portion of their teaching obligations. Without such leave time, the scholarly output that is crucial to a university’s mandate would be substantially reduced.

We are grateful to our donors and to the Faculty of Arts for providing this support to our scholars.

Graphic rendering of the UCalgary Biological Sciences Building in 1968

Graphic rendering of the UCalgary Biological Sciences Building in 1968

2023-24 Resident Fellows

Portrait of Mushegh Asatryan

Mushegh Asatryan

Resident Fellow
Associate Professor
School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Culture

Sages, Skeptics, and Pietists: The Culture of Debate in the Abbasid Empire (750-1258)

I propose to study the culture of debate in the Abbasid empire as a cultural, social and literary phenomenon, and to produce either two articles or an article and a monograph. Thematically, I will study the culture of debate from two perspectives. First, I will explore it as a cultural and social phenomenon and I will try to answer the following questions: What were the historical possibilities for the rise of the culture of debate? What was its place within the broader social fabric? How were debates conducted? What does all of this teach us about class, cultural expression, patronage, and approaches to knowledge in the Abbasid empire? Secondly, I will study the descriptions of debates found in primary sources as literary artefacts, in order to study the formal characteristics of these descriptions and the values which they articulated. These two approaches will complement and illuminate each other.

Photo of Chris Framarin

Chris Framarin

Resident Fellow
Department of Philosophy
Department of Classics and Religion

The Joyful Sage: Renunciation and the Good Life in the Mahābhārata

This book project investigates the apparent tension between renunciation and the good life  in the Sanskrit epic the Mahābhārata. The good life, in this sense, is a life that is intrinsically good for the person whose life it is. It is a life high in welfare value. In abandoning worldly pleasures, desire satisfactions, and the pursuit of worldly goals more generally, the renunciates of the Mahābhārata seem to forsake their own welfare. The Mahābhārata allows that a renunciate might live the good life after all, however, so long as they enjoy the world without wanting it and act in the world without desire. This project is aligned with some of the earliest discussions of the status of the renunciate in South Asian literature. It invokes the distinction between the good life and the moral life to clarify and advance current debates about the contemporary relevance of renunciation.  

Courtnay Konshuh portrait

Courtnay Konshuh

Wayne O. McCready Emerging Fellow
Assistant Professor
Department of History

Norman Consolidation and Communication in Kent

Normanization of the English landscape after the Conquest of 1066 included a widespread building program, destroying Anglo-Saxon cathedrals and replacing them with dominating Norman structures. This development has been studied as a vehicle of colonisation and legitimation on a grand scale; however, the same rebuilding can be seen on a more thorough level across the countryside with the rebuilding of parish churches at all nodes in the transportation and communication network. This made Norman rulership omnipresent at the local level. This development can still be seen in the rural churches in the bishopric of Rochester, many of which were rebuilt during the episcopacy of Gundulf, the first Norman bishop there. This study aims to recover the range of local landscape control in the bishopric of Rochester, thereby piloting a local history study with national implications for England and possibly for other areas of Norman dominance such as the medieval Mediterranean.

Portrait of Anges Tam

Agnes Tam

Resident Fellow in Applied Ethics
Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy

Telling a Better Story of Who We Are: A New Ontology and Ethic of We-Agency

The collective agent “we” are who make or break the world. We are a force of unity and solidarity, mobilizing progressive movements and inspiring sacrifices in times of crisis. Yet, we can be a force of exclusion and division, animating xenophobia and tribalism. Even though we are central to political life, the individualistic orientation of Western philosophy has impoverished our understanding of who we are, and how we can improve. To correct this anomaly, this project will bridge the cross-disciplinary scholarship on narratology, social ontology, and political philosophy, and develop a novel narrative theory of we-agency. Ontologically, it will show that stories and storytelling practices are what make and shape us. Ethically, it will articulate a new theory of joint narration, called we-reasoning, to guide we-agents to tell and enact better stories of who we are. We-reasoning will reframe political problems of populism, reconciliation, and migration and narrate new solutions.

Photo of Martin Wagner

Martin Wagner

Naomi Lacey Resident Fellow
School of Languages, Literatures, Linguistics and Culture

The Emergence of the Modern Writer and the Shifting Semantics of Obedience, 1750-1850

The decades around 1800 mark a crucial period in the emergence of the modern literary writer in German culture. A market for literature developed that allowed writers to live independent of traditional patronage. This independence began to include also women writers, who gained a significant foothold in this period. Additionally, through the prominent debates on artistic genius, an image of the writer as independent from traditional precepts took hold. Yet this simple narrative fails to consider both the longevity of some of the old forms of authority under which writers operated (such as poetic rules), as well as the new forms of authority that came to replace the old (such as market pressures and audience expectations). This project, therefore, focuses on the shifting pressures of authority under which writers worked. Moreover, by investigating how writers defined their own practice through their relative submission to—or transgression of—the existing demands, this project explores the pressures of authority not only as a burden to the artist, but also as a formative force.

photograph of Anastasiia Gushchina

Anastasiia Gushchina

Graduate Student Fellow
PhD Candidate in Communication and Media
Department of Communication, Media and Film

“The Stuff of Reality”: Towards a Materialist Theory of Animated Documentary

My research focuses on artisanal animation techniques used in independent animated documentaries (anidocs) of the 2000s. I explore how material-based animation practices, such as stop-motion animation, along with the processes of painting on glass and tracing over live-action footage affect the representation of ‘invisible’ aspects of human reality. In the last two decades, cinema scholars have noted the proliferation of documentary animation—a film genre that presents factual content in a fictional form. Animated documentaries are most often produced by independent filmmakers and work with narratives absent from conventional non-fiction cinema (e.g. representation of mental health conditions, traumatic experiences, and stories of vulnerable populations). Yet while the themes and contents of animated documentaries are widely discussed by the experts of the field, tendencies in animated documentary production stay overlooked. Thus my dissertation aims to fill this gap in film studies literature. I intend to examine Canadian and international production practices of contemporary documentary animation by asking the question: how do material-based animation techniques affect the interpretation of the topics that the films address?

2022-23 CIH Resident Fellows

The Calgary Institute for the Humanities is proud to announce the recipients of our 2022-23 Resident Fellowships and Graduate Student Fellowship. These awards recognize the excellence of the recipients' research projects and their scholarly accomplishments. We are grateful to our community of donors and to the Faculty of Arts for making these awards possible and allowing our scholars the time to focus on their research.

Anthony Camara, Associate Professor, Department of English

Anthony Camara

CIH Resident Fellow
Associate Professor
Department of English

Neural Netfics: Science Fiction Stories for You and Other Machine Learners

Today, machine learning (ML) is everywhere. Take for instance facial recognition algorithms; self-driving cars; virtual assistants such as Alexa and Siri; and Aibo the robot dog. Given this technology’s ubiquity, it is unsurprising that machine learners are also found in contemporary science fiction (SF). In this project, I theorize what I am calling “Neural Netfics”: SF narratives that explore the possibilities of neural computing ML, written by authors such as Ted Chiang, Catherynne Valente, Annalee Newitz, and Peter Watts. Informed by Alan Turing’s pioneering work in neural computing, this study argues that neural networks furnish SF with speculative sites for the imagining of diverse modes of machinic cognition and sensation which traverse a wide spectrum of virtual posthuman possibilities. Neural Netfics speculate on the advent of software objects that are bona-fide lifeforms in themselves that entail ethical consideration and that inaugurate new possibilities for living intimately and ecologically with humans.

Matthew Croombs, Assistant Professor Department of Communication, Media and Film

Matthew Croombs

CIH Resident Fellow
Assistant Professor
Department of Communication, Media and Film

The Colonizer Who Refuses: René Vautier and the Horizons of Solidarity

In the 1950s and 1960s, René Vautier was the only French filmmaker known to have documented the social and economic vicissitudes of revolutionary Algerian society. Over the course of the Algerian War, he established the Front de Libération National’s film unit, trained key Algerian filmmakers, recorded the first-ever combat documentary, L’Algérie en flammes (1957), and collaborated with Frantz Fanon on a film about the war’s traumatic impact on Algerian children, J’ai huit ans (1962). Following independence, Vautier aided in founding Algeria’s film industry, and administered two ciné-vans across hundreds of locations to project pedagogical films for the nation’s peasantry. Yet despite his crucial importance as a film artist and educator, Vautier’s work has almost vanished from orthodox Anglophone film scholarship. This research project will examine Vautier’s filmography in its broader institutional and biographical contexts.
I will explore how Vautier’s alliance with the FLN remained a precarious one, marked by collisions of ideological orientation and communicative double binds. Caught between the application of a set of values borrowed from the resistance and a colonial situation that required new ways of knowing, Vautier confronted the horizons of solidarity.

Rachel Friedman, Instructor, Arabic Language and Muslim Cultures

Rachel Friedman

McCready Emerging Fellow
Instructor, Arabic Language and Muslim Cultures
School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures

The Clear Arabic Qur’ān:Al-Bāqillānī’s Islamic Theory of Language

Abū Bakr al-Bāqillānī (d. 1013 CE) was one of classical Islam’s leading scholars; his thought played a key role in the formation of Islamic thought. While scholarship has addressed his contributions to individual disciplines, the overarching themes that characterize his work have gone unexplored. As this project demonstrates, the most prominent idea that runs through al-Bāqillānī’s oeuvre is a concern with establishing the status of the Qurʾān as clear and comprehensible to its human audience. This concern stems from the recognition that establishing the stable accessibility of Qurʾānic meaning was of great importance for a tradition in which the Qurʾān is a central source of authority. By establishing that the Qurʾān’s meanings are accessible to its human audience in methodologically rigorous ways, al-Bāqillānī places the institution of Islamic thought on a firmer theoretical foundation. This project contributes to interdisciplinary understandings of Arabo-Islamic thought and its approaches to language and communication.

Carolyn Muessig, Professor and Chair of Christian Thought, Department of Classics and Religion

Carolyn Muessig

Naomi Lacey Resident Fellow
Professor and Chair of Christian Thought
Department of Classics and Religion

Breaking the Glass Pulpit: Women Preachers in an Age of Silence

Medieval scholasticism defined preaching as a sacerdotal/male office. But did this mean medieval and early modern women in western Europe never preached nor gave sermons? My research establishes that women did preach in various ways. It shows that nuns and laywomen (e.g., Umiltà of Faenza (d. 1310); Chiara of Rimini (d. 1324); Juana de La Cruz d. 1534; Stefana Quinzani (d. 1530) gave sermons in convents and publicly in churches and secular courts. My study argues that medieval sermons were more nuanced than contemporary scholarship recognizes; in so doing, this project illuminates the misunderstood context of female preaching. It re-evaluates pre-modern attitudes toward learning, gender and authority, demonstrating that women as preachers played a pivotal role in medieval education and the devotional life of men and women in premodern Europe.