You are here: Home / Funding Opportunities / Graduate Student Residencies

Graduate Student Residencies

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities sponsors three graduate student residency programs:

Graduate Student Semester Residencies

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities is pleased to sponsor a program of semester-long graduate student residencies for academic year 2017-2018. This program will provide up to eight students in the humanities with a $4,000 stipend and possible use of office space which may or may not be shared, enabling them to devote an entire semester to work on their theses/ dissertations. Students are required to be in residence at University Park for the duration of the grant period.

Application deadline (2017-2018): Monday, March 27, 2017

Current Graduate Student Semester Residencies

Fall 2016

Theresa Kutasz Christensen

Art History
“Christina, Queen of Sweden and the Politics of Antiquities Collecting in Early Modern Rome”

Queen Christina of Sweden was the daughter of the great Gustavus Adolphus, champion of Protestantism in the Thirty Years War and her conversion to Catholicism in 1654 was a major coup for the Counter-Reformation church.  My dissertation, Christina, Queen of Sweden and the Politics of Antiquities Collecting in Early Modern Rome, explores her self-fashioning as a woman and a ruler through her activities as a lover of antiquities and sponsor of antiquarian learning. I seek to clarify and challenge current conceptions of the Queen via the calculated self-image she projected to the public through the pictures and objects she purchased and the way in which they were displayed, in the process, expanding our knowledge of Christina’s pre-abdication involvement in the international antiquities market. After completing the majority of the archival research needed to finish my dissertation while living in Stockholm, Sweden on a Fulbright grant during the 2015-2016 academic year, I plan to use my residency at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, to finish writing the first and second chapters of my dissertation. These focus on Christina’s early collections in Sweden, the objects she brought with her to Italy from the Swedish Royal Collection and her instillations in the Palzzzo Riario, her primary residence in Rome.  By broadening our knowledge of antiquarian and collecting culture during the 17th century, my research contributes to our understanding of the significance of collecting art as a signal of power and position in society as well as the active role taken by early modern women in shaping their own public images.

Lindsey Landfried

"Skyline Drive"

Skyline Drive is an artist book and compilation of photographs, drawings, and paintings considering the skyline as a border state delineating day from night, light from dark, and earth from atmosphere.  An optical elegy to writing when all paper and digital memory are ephemeral pulp, it is also a document of an event and a reimagining of the singular, original, art work writ as an easily distributable multiple.  Taking the form of a Lipporello and paying homage to artists such as Ed Ruscha and Hiroshi Sugimoto, the images in the books lean against paper walls made by simple folds of the pages with works each protruding, folding, collapsing, and glowing in line, establishing a horizon throughout the book where artificial light charges UV sensitive paint, the fulgor of stars spinning in space simultaneously set and rise circling in their orbits and neon glows in the distance. 

Sohrab Rahimi

"The Taxonomy of Urban Cultural Boundaries"

This research aims to study the spatial characteristics of the urban cultural boundaries. This research is founded on Bordieu's theory which asserts that the "taste" or "cultural choice" is closely related to the social position.  According to Bordieu , there are two types of tastes:  the legitimate taste, that is related to art and is what we usually call "high culture". The personal taste, on the other hand, has more of a functional nature and is closely related to the domestic life such as food and clothing. The primary idea is to incorporate new datasets that are reflective of both the legitimate tastes and personal tastes of urban residents. By using these datasets new urban boundaries will be identified that are different from traditional administrative boundaries (e.g. zip codes) and are reflective of the actual neighborhood boundaries where residents practice certain lifestyles and have specific cultural preferences.

To this end, different datasets are being used for this research. All these datasets provide information about both legitimate and personal tastes at different locations in the following cities in the US: Las Vegas, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Charlotte, Madison and Urbana Champaign. These datasets include the Yelp dataset, which covers the location of businesses as well as the customers' reviews, ratings and some users' information,  the chocolate consumption and candy taste, provided by the Hershey chocolate company at the store-level scale as well as the Airbnb dataset which includes the customer reviews as well as images of the interior spaces. to find the similarities between taste in different locations, unsupervised machine learning techniques will be incorporated. the identified clusters (i.e. the new neighborhoods) will then be analyzed in terms of the urban form measures including the streets structure as well as the land use allocation.

Spring 2017

Lacey Goldberg

Landscape Architecture
"Landscape Change Through the Lens of Visual Resource Conservation at the Landscape Scale"

My dissertation research investigates landscape change through the lens of visual resource conservation at the landscape scale. I will develop a process to assess visual impacts that can apply to large-scale landscape changes; e.g. energy industries, climate change, or population expansion. I plan to investigate these changes both qualitatively and quantitatively by modelling possible land use scenarios utilizing geospatial technologies. Crowdsourced photography and data will aid in understanding what landscape types are being valued. Moreover, the outcomes of these scenarios will be evaluated for cumulative direct and indirect impacts at a regional or landscape scale. The state of Pennsylvania will be the initial study area and landscape change due to wind and natural gas development will be the case studies, but the methods to be developed will be applicable elsewhere, and with other types of change, at the regional scale.

Brynne McBryde

Art History
“Public Bodies: The Nude and Public Health in Nineteenth-Century France”

My dissertation explores the way that changing notions about health and medicine affected understandings and representations of the nude human body in nineteenth-century France. Through a series of case studies on specific objects and policies I examine the intersections between medical knowledge, race, class, and gender identities. I aim to reveal the way that the nineteenth-century concept of health as a personal and population-based concern continues to affect the relationships we have with our own bodies and those of the people around us today.


Bin Chen

“Power and Print: The Formation of the Religious Public in Modern China, 1840s-1950”

View Past Semester Residents

Graduate Student Summer Residencies

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities is pleased to announce its Graduate Student Summer Residency program for summer 2015. This program will provide up to four students in the arts and humanities with a $4,000 stipend and possible use of office space which may or may not be shared, enabling them to devote the entire summer to work on their theses, dissertations, or degree-required final creative projects.

Students are required to be in residence at University Park for the duration of the grant period.

The deadline for Graduate Student Summer 2017 Residency applications is Monday, February 13, 2017.

Students are eligible to apply at any point in their studies, though strong preference will be given to students nearing the completion of their terminal degree.

In a departure from past practice, the IAH will not require that applications come through the offices of graduate directors. All students may apply directly to the IAH, though their applications must include a letter from their project advisor or director, and graduate program officers will be consulted for confidential evaluations of candidates.

Proposals that are interdisciplinary in outlook, methodology, media, or scope are especially welcome. Students with projects in the social sciences are eligible to apply if their projects have important implications for the arts and/or humanities. Students on Federal aid should be advised that their Federal package might be affected by the stipend award.

Current Graduate Student Summer Residencies

Summer 2016

Shanti Nachtergaele

"Improv in the orchestra: Reconstructing a lost practice in historical double bass playing"

Shanti NachtergaeleClassical musicians today receive little to no training in the art of improvisation; instead, performers are trained to consistently and precisely execute the written score. Historically, however, music was notated in less detail, and early orchestral playing involved a great deal of improvisation. Double bassists improvised in a different manner than most other instrumentalists; while melodic instruments were generally encouraged to add embellishments to their parts, double bassists often played fewer notes than were notated. Yet the exact manner in which players modified bass lines remains obscure. I am interested in tracing the practice of modifying double bass parts from the Baroque era to current orchestral conventions. This will involve looking at the general evolution of orchestral performance and compositional practices, as well as specific developments in double bass playing and pedagogy. I also hope to carry out practice-based research by applying my findings in my own playing.

Andres Amerikaner

Comparative Literature
"Market Realism: Latin American Literary Movements after the Boom”

Andres AmerikanerFor the past three decades, Latin American literary publishers, critics and authors have scrambled to build a viable market presence in the shadow of the unprecedented popular success of the Boom, represented by the likes of Gabriel García Márquez, Mario Vargas Llosa and Carlos Fuentes. While tales of trauma at the hands of cruel dictators in exotic jungle locales still attract a healthy readership, a number of Latin American writers have actively pushed back against the tropes of magic realism in search of an alternate voice. My research focuses on three such moments in recent inter-American fiction, attempting to answer the question: How do you construct a literary generation in the age of neoliberalism? Drawing from Human Rights, Diaspora and Border Studies, I argue that in each of these moments we observe a new version of an old double bind: In attacking outdated structures of meaning, authors and critics often edify new structures that perpetuate the very problems they sought to solve. And, more pragmatically, the double bind translates itself to the market, as publication possibilities are often contingent upon the continued performance of an easily classifiable identity along with a controversy-free political project.

Michelle Huang

English and Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
"Molecular Aesthetics: Race, Form, and Matter in Contemporary Asian American Literature”

Michelle Huang“Molecular Aesthetics: Race, Form, and Matter in Contemporary Asian American Literature” examines posthumanist aesthetics in post-1965 Asian American literature to trace racial formation at the molecular scale. Works by authors such as Ruth Ozeki, Larissa Lai, and Bhanu Kapil are read through scientific discourses such as quantum physics, evolutionary biology, and disability to demonstrate how Asian American writers use both scientific and formal experimentation to contest the boundaries of the human undergirding generic expectations of ethnic American literature. This project revises the emphasis on the individual subject within Asian American literary studies, unearths racial critique in works not typically read as concerned with identity, and demonstrates literature’s importance in studying racial form in an era of postracial discourse.

Laura Vrana

"Writing Transgressions: Publication Contexts and the Politics of Recognition in Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry”

Laura Vrana"Writing Transgressions" examines African American female poets since the Black Arts Movement and the politics of publication, recognition, and academic institutions, bringing together poetry studies, ethnic American literary studies, and textual scholarship. Discussing such "traditional" poets as Rita Dove and Natasha Trethewey alongside "experimental" writers like Evie Shockley and Claudia Rankine, I argue that the much-touted impact of winning major literary awards and of being "integrated" into academic institutions has had both positive and negative effects for black female poets, effects that include the ongoing marginalization of most black women in American poetry studies. By discussing texts and contexts equally, "Writing Transgressions" aims to dismantle approaches to African American poetry that divide it into the "traditional" and the "experimental" and to expose how such binaries unintentionally perpetuate institutional behaviors that still treat black women writers--from Wheatley to Rankine--as tokens, despite the complexity and diversity of projects these poets engage in to write their own literary genealogies and histories.

View Past Summer Residents

The Humanities Initiative Dissertation Support Program

This program is open to graduate students in the College of the Liberal Arts who are eligible for the Humanities Initiative Dissertation Support Semester Release. Graduate students whose dissertations are directly related to the humanities and/or the arts can choose to be affiliated with the IAH for a Fall or Spring semester-long fellowship. IAH Dissertation Fellows are an integral part of the Institute’s intellectual community and receive a $1000 research grant. In addition, office space at Ihlseng Cottage may be available to Fellows.

See the above link for dates and procedures. For more information please contact .

2016-2017 Humanities Initiative Dissertation Awardee

Derek Lee
"Parascience and Revolution: The Paranormal Mind in Twentieth-Century Literature and Science"

The paranormal mind has long been an object of epistemological inquiry, with scientists, artists, and philosophers alike seeking to understand its powers and nature ever since the emergence of the psychological sciences in the nineteenth century. While the standard history of extra-sensory perception (telepathy, precognition, telekinesis, etc.) tends to assert that paranormal discourse rose to prominence in the early decades of the twentieth century only to collapse in the second half due to intensified scientific scrutiny, I reject this narrative. My dissertation reinterprets the parascientific and literary discourse of the post-45 era to argue that the paranormal mind has survived—and thrived—in contemporary culture by perpetually evolving into new epistemic forms, and moreover that science and literature are the very engines powering these transformations. This project consequently takes literature and science as complementary modes of epistemological inquiry fundamental to the ongoing theorization and renewal of heterodox knowledge-forms.