Current Fellows at the Jackman Humanities Institute

The heart of the Jackman Humanities Institute is its Circle of Fellows, a group of scholars at every level from undergraduate to faculty, who are chosen for the excellence of their research and for its relevance to the Annual Theme.  Fellows hold private offices (or in the case of undergraduate fellows, carrels) in a quiet, shared enclave; they attend a weekly lunch to hear one of their members or an invited guest discuss their research; they organize events for the group such as tours, reading groups, and informal parties; and they talk. In the process of sharing their projects and the contours of their various disciplines, they find new ways to conceptualize their work, discover resources, and force each other to think beyond disciplinary assumptions to the wider goal of how their project addresses the Humanities as a whole.

This page provides information about current fellows. For fellowship applications, please see Calls for Funding.

The Circle of Fellows, 2019-2020 | Annual Theme: Strange Weather

Faculty Research Fellow—George Boys-Stones

George Boys-Stones (FAS Classics and Philosophy; D.Phil. 1995, University of Oxford) is Professor of Classics and Philosophy. A leading scholar of Ancient Philosophy with wide-ranging interests, George has a special interest in the philosophical movements of the post-Hellenistic period. He is the author or co-author of six books, most recently the first complete edition and translation of the Stoic L. Annaeus Cornutus (SBL Press, 2018) and a source book for ‘Middle Platonism’ (CUP, 2018). In addition, he has co-edited four collaborative volumes (2003-2013).
 

What I'm working on


Pleasure and Personal Identity in Greek and Roman Thought: Rethinking Ancient Eudaimonism

Are racial, sexual or gender identities parts of personal identity? Ideally not, according to the prevalent view of Greek and Roman ethical thought. But the prevalent view, I argue, is wrong. This becomes most apparent once we see how badly it handles the evidence we have for discussions of pleasure in relation to personal identity. Foregrounding these discussions raises new questions about ancient ethics – and opens up new possibilities for contemporary and interdisciplinary engagement with the philosophers of antiquity on a wider range of issues concerning embodied experience.

New Media Public Humanities Fellow—Joseph Cadagin


Joe Cadagin holds a PhD in Musicology from Stanford University, and has been a long-time journalist of the world of opera. He is a regular features writer and recording critic for Opera News, and a former contributor to San Francisco Classical Voice and Fanfare. His dissertation was a study of the Lewis Carroll madrigals of Hungarian composer, György Ligeti. A future monograph will extend this work into an overview of the many Alice in Wonderland compositions that emerged alongside the Ligeti settings, addressing trends and patterns in the development of contemporary opera and vocal music. His public writing centres on opera with emphasis on works written in the past 60 years, particularly those by little-known, underrated, and underrepresented composers.
 

What I'm working on


Opera Obscura

Conceived in the novelty-seeking spirit of fantastic bestiaries or cabinets of wonder, Opera Obscura is a podcast showcasing forgotten works of contemporary opera based on unusual subjects. Episodes will excavate a strange assortment of recordings recovered from bargain bins and back catalogues—misfit operatic orphans that deserve a second chance in the repertoire.

Undergraduate Fellow—Bronwen Cox

FAS Art History (Specialist); double minor in Spanish and Italian
Supervisor, Mohan Matthen, UTM Department of Philosophy
James Fleck Undergraduate Award in the Humanities
 

What I'm working on


Depictions of Female Pleasure in Modern Art

Undergraduate Fellow—Alex de Guzman

UTM Philosophy (Specialist)
Supervisor, Mohan Matthen, UTM Department of Philosophy
Jukka-Pekka Saraste Undergraduate Award in the Humanities
 

What I'm working on


Aesthetic Boredom: Heroic Higher Pleasure

Public Humanities Faculty Fellow—Irina Dumitrescu


Irina Dumitrescu (English, University of Bonn; Ph.D. English Language & Literature, Yale University, 2009) is Professor and Chair of English, American and Celtic Studies at Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn. She is a scholar of medieval English literature and her research focusses on education, celebrity, and women’s power in the Middle Ages. She also writes essays and book reviews for the public on topics such as food, dance, migration, and literature.

What I'm working on


Imperfection

This project places memoir and scholarship in conversation in a philosophical exploration that moves between medieval ideas and contemporary experiences. Motherhood, the body, language, food, play, and the making of art each provide sites for explorations of the meaning of perfection and imperfection. How do conceptions of purity and perfection (then and now) play out in the tumble of real-life experiences that leave us scarred and doubting? Can we contest the assumption that perfection is required in all things, and find pleasure in imperfection?

Undergraduate Fellow—Tif Fan

FAS East Asian Studies and Political Science (Double Major)
Supervisor, Linda Rui Feng, FAS East Asian Studies
Dr. Jan Blumenstein Undergraduate Award in the Humanities
 

What I'm working on


A Panoply of Play: The Subversions and Conversions of Monkey King in Journey to the West

Faculty Research Fellow—Linda Rui Feng

Linda Rui Feng (FAS East Asian Studies; Ph.D. 2008, Columbia University) is Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, and the author of City of Marvel and Transformation: Chang’an and Narratives of Experience in Tang Dynasty China (University of Hawai'i Press, 2015), which explores the conception of spatial knowledge and its role in the collective imagination. A cultural historian working frequently with materials ranging from maps and geographical treatises to collections of anecdotes and topical narratives, she is interested in the interconnections among cultural technologies, knowledge, writing, and the various senses. Recent forays into the history of food in East Asia has led her to focus on the sense of smell—often called the “mute sense”—as a modality of thinking about cultural history. Committed to the humanities as an interdisciplinary endeavor, she is also a fiction writer and the author of a forthcoming novel, Swimming Back to Trout River.
 

What I'm working on


Concocting the “Heavenly Scent”: A Cultural History of Aromatics in Late Medieval China

Compared to other senses, the sense of smell is particularly challenging to capture or represent linguistically, and yet is undeniably powerful in its own way. This project aims to enhance our understanding of scent and its conferring of pleasure, by considering scents that were products of design, concoction, and curation. Focusing on late medieval China (ninth to twelfth centuries), I investigate how aromatics (xiang)—historically tied to both pleasure and health—were created and deployed as part of socially rooted sensory experiences. I am especially interested in how such experiences involving aromatics may have taken into account their volatile mobility and transportive potential: scents could waft across visual and physical barriers, transect hierarchies, and enable traveling between forms of existence such as the mundane and celestial/spectral.

Chancellor Jackman Graduate Fellow—Walker Horsfall


Walker Horsfall (Centre for Medieval Studies) is a literary historian whose work focuses on the medieval German poet Frauenlob (late 13th-early 14th c.). The pen-name Frauenlob, meaning “praise of ladies” or perhaps “praise of Our Lady”, lays bare the poet's main artistic preoccupation: the praise of the feminine principle, typified as either the Virgin Mary, the biblical Sapientia, personified love (Frau Minne), personified nature (Natura), and especially combinations thereof. His poetry is infamous, both among his contemporaries and among modern scholars, for its highly learned and hermetic nature: Frauenlob interlaces his poems with frequent allusions to many intellectual traditions of his day, including Christian theology, Neoplatonic and Aristotelian philosophy, visionary mysticism, and courtly romance. Walker’s investigation seeks to demonstrate further the scope of Frauenlob’s intellectualism by investigating his integration of contemporary natural science into his predominantly religious praise poetry. Frauenlob's concern with the physical and spiritual origins of the universe, as evidenced from his use of biological, medical, and cosmological source material, is united with his signature interest in women and femininity, and results in a unique world view, and accompanying poetic language, which centralizes the importance of sexual reproduction, and specifically sexual pleasure, in universal hierarchy. Supervisor: Markus Stock, FAS German and Medieval Studies.
 

What I'm working on


Science and Natural Philosophy in the Poetry of Heinrich von Meissen (Frauenlob)

Faculty Research Fellow—Mohan Matthen

Mohan Matthen (UTM Philosophy; Ph.D. Stanford University, 1976) is Professor of Philosophy. His research interests include the philosophy of mind, especially perception, and the philosophy of biology. For the last few years, he has been writing about perception as directed activity we undertake in order to find out about the world. His recent publications include (among many others) Perception and its Modalities (co-edited with Stephen Biggs and Dustin Stokes; Oxford UP, 2014), The Oxford Handbook of the Philosophy of Perception (ed.; Oxford UP, 2015), and Seeing, Doing, and Knowing: A Philosophical Theory of Sense Perception (Oxford UP, 2005). He held a twelve-month JHI Faculty Research Fellowship in 2010-2011.
 

What I'm working on


Place, Taste, and the Pleasure of Art

How do cultures construct the value of art (including music, visual and performing art, literature, etc.)? In particular, how are we to understand cultural difference? Why are the forms and tropes of one artistic milieu incomprehensible in others? My project makes hedonism the key to answering these questions: every artistic genre seeks to create pleasure in its own distinctive way. Hedonism has largely been discredited in philosophy. Here, I seek to reconstruct its foundations in a way that allows it to be applied to art. I start with a novel and original account of aesthetic pleasure itself, and draw on theoretical resources from philosophy, psychology, and social science to understand cultural construction and the emergence of cultural difference.

Chancellor Jackman Graduate Fellow—Sadie Menicanin


Sadie Menicanin (Faculty of Music) is a historical musicologist whose dissertation traces connections between gardens as built spaces and as constructed in dramatic musical works. In early twentieth-century Vienna, gardens occupied an important place in urban life as well as in the artistic imaginations of its residents. Immersive and multisensory, gardens in this context were transporting retreats from undesirable urban realities and sites for the performative display of contemporary cultural values. Using Foucault’s concept of the heterotopia, her research examines how operatic gardens engaged with contemporary cultural discourses around green space and pleasure across musical, dramatic, and visual dimensions. Supervisor: Sherry Lee, Faculty of Music.
 

What I'm working on


Gardens as Heterotopias in Early Twentieth-Century Viennese Opera

Undergraduate Fellow—Marybel Menzies

UTSC Philosophy (Specialist) and Psychology (Major)
Supervisor, George Boys-Stones, FAS Classics and Medieval Studies
Zoltan D. Simo Undergraduate Award in the Humanities
 

What I'm working on


Subjectivity and the Aesthetic Experience

Distinguished Visiting Fellow—Michael Nylan

Michael Nylan (Sather Professor of History, University of California-Berkeley) is a truly interdisciplinary scholar. Her single goal is to know as well as possible the extant texts and artifacts that her historical subjects knew during the early empires in China.   This goal has meant delving into multiple forms of historical inquiry (including gender studies and the social practices of manuscript culture), as well as archaeology and comparative research on Rome, Greece, and early China, the assorted technical arts, rhetoric, and philosophy.  Her research interests include seven centuries of Warring States through A.D. 316, with an emphasis on sociopolitical context; aesthetic theories and material culture; cosmological beliefs; gender history; and the history of such emotions as “daring” and “salutary fear” (aka prudential caution).  She also studies the "use and abuse" of history since 1840 in the Sinosphere.
 

What I'm working on


Her current research is on the Four Fathers of History (Herodotus, Thucydides, Sima Qian, and Ban Gu), the distinctive sociopolitical and cultural institutions for classical learning in the two Han dynasties (the last two centuries B.C. and the first two centuries A.D.), and the politics of the common good from the emperor on down to the local level. She has produced many articles in multiple languages, and at least seventeen books including monographs, essay collections, translations, editions, and children’s stories. Her most recent books are The Chinese Pleasure Book (2018), Sun Tzu’s Art of War (2019) and with it The Norton Critical Edition of the Sunzi, a collection of essays plus translation 2021), and two forthcoming (2021) books, The Technical Arts in Shiji and Hanshu: the view from Early China (co-edited with Mark Csikszentmihalyi), and the Documents classic (co-translated with He Ruyue, of Shaanxi Normal University).

Amilcare Iannucci Graduate Fellow—Anna Paliy


Anna Paliy is a doctoral candidate in the Centre for Drama, Theatre, and Performance Studies at University of Toronto. She holds an Honors BA (UWO, 2014) in Comparative Literature and an MA (UofT, 2015) in Comparative Literature and Book History & Print Culture. Since 2018, Anna is a member and social media coordinator at University of Toronto's Institute for Dance Studies, as well as a 2019 alumna of the Emerging Arts Critics Programme co-organized by the National Ballet of Canada, Canadian Opera Company, and Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Her essays have been published in the student journals Kino, Semicolon, and Transverse, while her music and dance reviews appear in The Dance Current and The WholeNote magazines as well as the Blue Riband arts blog. As a former competitive rhythmic gymnast, Anna now enjoys practicing multimedia painting and circus acrobatics in her spare time.
 

What I'm working on


Moving Dance from Stage to Image: Ballet in Women’s Visual Art, 1910-1930

Anna’s dissertation analyses the action sketches of Eastern European ballet performances created by five female spectators in Paris and London during a period of intense cultural upheaval. Deeply rooted in interdisciplinary themes and methods, her research is centred on the circulation of artwork made in reaction to performance: it raises questions about audience reception and spectatorship, the female body and the female gaze, women’s intercultural responses to dance forms, and – most of all – the dynamics of pleasure involved in creating, performing, and consuming art.

Undergraduate Fellow—Mukti Patel

FAS Study of Religion (Specialist); minor in Writing and Rhetoric
Supervisor, Shafique Virani, UTM Historical Studies
Milton Harris Undergraduate Award in the Humanities
 

What I'm working on


Pleasure in (Divine) Presence

Chancellor Jackman Graduate Fellow—Michael Reid


Michael Reid’s (English) dissertation is an interdisciplinary study of the lived experience of gay men in eighteenth-century England. Using a range of contemporary historical and literary texts including criminal biographies, minor Gothic novels, trial records, broadsides, political and personal satires, versified love letters, newspaper accounts, commonplace books, wills, and more, he presents a series of case studies that untangle some of the most mysterious and least interpretable materials in the human record: a labyrinth of double entendres, redacted names, false trails. His research not only illuminates the what of the historical past, but also provides an interpretive framework of the how it may be understood in a closer and more intimate sense. Supervisor: Simon Dickie, FAS English.
 

What I'm working on


Dangerous Pleasures: Literature, Secrecy, and Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England

Community Engaged Humanities Research Fellow—Jaclyn Rohel


Jaclyn Rohel earned her Ph.D. in Food Studies at New York University in 2018. She is the Reviews Editor of the journal Gastronomica and currently holds a postdoctoral fellowship with the University of Toronto Scarborough’s Culinaria Research Centre, where she is a collaborator on three major research projects, Feeding the City: Pandemic and Beyond, City Food Resiliency, and Catering Communities. Prior to her interdisciplinary work in Food Studies, Jaclyn studied ethics and the philosophy of the body. She has written on praxis and pedagogy in the humanities, on street food, markets and public culture, and on culinary mobilities in global foodways.
 

What I'm working on


Pleasure and the Ethics of Hospitality in Urban Foodways

Jaclyn’s research program will explore pleasure as a site of hospitality in the building of diverse and equitable urban foodways. She will be working on a manuscript titled The Culinary Politics of Hospitality: Pleasure, Poison, and Publics in a Globalizing City, a critical genealogy of a single comestible – betel quid – that echoes global commodity biographies of popular stimulants such as sugar, coffee and chocolate. Betel quid has long been mired in a classificatory and corporeal politics: as a pleasurable comestible, refreshment, and tool of hospitality for many throughout the Indian Ocean region and in diasporic communities beyond; as a contaminant, of bodies and of cities; and as a street food that is not itself a foodstuff. By tracing how imperialism has shaped the value of betel quid over time, this work will tell the story of how a widely popular and pleasurable comestible has struggled to find a place within Western culinary repertoires and has often come to be excluded from notions of sustenance. In the coming year, Jaclyn’s community engagement will focus on culinary pleasure, care and conviviality in Toronto’s diverse foodways through her continued work on two other projects, Feeding the City and Catering Communities, which will feature collaboration with a local social enterprise and multiple forms of public communication. She will also be developing the format for a new “What to Read Now” segment for Gastronomica’s collaborative podcast series.

CLIR Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow—Elisa Tersigni


Elisa Tersigni (Ph.D. University of Toronto, 2018) completed her doctorate in English and the collaborative program in Book History and Print Culture. After graduation, she held the position of Digital Research Fellow for the Mellon-funded research project, Before ‘Farm to Table’: Early Modern Foodways and Cultures at the Folger Shakespeare Library and a Digital Research Fellowship at the John Rylands Library at the University of Manchester. She has extensive experience working in both digital humanities projects and with special collections, having completed an M.Sc. in Material Cultures and History of the Book at the University of Edinburgh, and has received grants to pursue research at dozens of libraries across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. Her interests in digital humanities research extend across GIS mapping, textual analysis, transcription, and cataloguing of early manuscripts, and she is currently developing a new authorship attribution method that combines text analysis with GIS.
 

What I'm working on


“& use it at your pleasure”: Converting Food and Desire in Early Modern Europe

Elisa's project studies foods as religious entities and examines recipes as cultural contact zones in which religious and racial identities confront one another. It expands on the concept of the conversion narrative to consider the strategic conversion of foodstuffs, which carried with them the paradoxes of familiarity and otherness, pleasure and pain. She intends to publish her research with Dr. Danielle Sottosanti in a co-authored monograph which will consist of five chapters, one introductory and four case studies, each of which is focused on a foodstuff. The first will argue that foodstuffs, like people, could carry religious identities: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and pagan. Four case studies will follow, on Licorice, Milk and Honey, Imperial Water, and Mushrooms. During the coming year, Elisa will complete the “Licorice” and “Milk and Honey” chapters, each of which will examine the tensions of the cultural association between food and medicine in the context of European Christian relations with Muslim and Jewish foodstuffs. The phrase 'at your pleasure' provides the opening of what will be a large-scale text analysis of manuscript recipe books at the Folger and the Thomas Fisher libraries, and of the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership (EEBO-TCP) collection, to collocate words signifying disgust and pleasure. This analysis will demonstrate how foodstuffs that were religiously and racially inflected as 'Other' became Christianized and appropriated over time.

Distinguished Indigenous Faculty Fellow—Dale Turner


Dale Turner (Ph.D. Philosophy, McGill University, 1998) is Associate Professor in the FAS Department of Political Science and Centre for Indigenous Studies at the University of Toronto.

Dale's research interests include Indigenous politics, contemporary Indigenous intellectual culture, contemporary political theory, and the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. He is the author of This is not a peace pipe: towards a critical Indigenous philosophy (University of Toronto Press, 2006). Professor Turner publishes on Aboriginal rights in Canada and contemporary Indigenous intellectual culture. Recent articles focus on the role of Indigenous spirituality in contemporary Aboriginal politics. He is a citizen of the Temagami First Nation in northern Ontario from his father’s side of the family and a citizen of the United Kingdom on his mother’s side of the family.

During his fellowship year, he will be working on the first volume of a three-novel series, titled Vision, that follows the life of an Anishinaabe boy as he grows up to participate in his community’s century-long land claim against the Canadian government.
 

What I'm working on


Vision  I - “A prolegomena to any future…”

The first volume of the three-volume series begins with Allie, an Anishinaabe boy, who is being raised by his grandparents on an island on Lake Temagami, Ontario. As Allie grows up, his grandparents realize that he has a love and a gift for learning, whether it be Anishinaabe traditions or Western European philosophy and science. He ends up going to Cambridge University where he prepares for a life in academia, though he always feels a bit out of place when totally immersed in European intellectual culture. It is only when Allie returns to his community’s homelands, where he learns more about their impending land claim against the Canadian state, that he begins to see a path opening up before him. The clan mothers want him to use his skills to defend their case; however, Allie is not sure he’s capable of bearing that responsibility (or whether he wants to). The first volume draws from my own community’s experiences, but also is an opportunity, through encountering different forms of philosophical investigation (Indigenous and European), to ultimately revisit – and re-situate – the devastating (and unjust) Supreme Court decision of Ontario v Bear Island Foundation [1991]. The story is a form of counterfactual narrative that weaves a critique of Indigenous politics in Canada within a reflection on the nature of justice, a view that necessitates listening to Indigenous peoples in and on their own terms.

Faculty Research Fellows—Shafique N. Virani


Shafique N. Virani (UTM Historical Studies; Ph.D. Harvard University, 2001) is Professor of Islamic Studies and was founding Director of the Centre for South Asian Civilizations. His scholarly interests include Sufism, Ithna-‘ashari and Ismaili Shiism, Quranic studies, Islamic history and philosophy, and Muslim literatures in Arabic, Persian and South Asian languages. His scholarly work includes books, a documentary film, multimedia productions, a registered invention, a proposal to the Unicode Consortium, entries in the Encyclopaedia of Islam and the Encyclopaedia of Religion and numerous peer reviewed articles. His most recent book, In Search of Salvation (Dar justuju-yi rastagari), was published in Persian in 2020. Translated into over 20 languages, he has received awards and recognition from the American Academy of Religion, the Middle East Studies Association, the Foundation for Iranian Studies, Farabi International, the British Society for Middle East Studies, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, and two Iranian presidents. An avid volunteer around the world, he has consulted for projects by Cirque du Soleil, the History Channel, Lord Cultural Resources, Google, and numerous governmental and other organizations. Describing him as “a visionary,” UNESCO honored him for dedicating his efforts “to the cause of extending the frontiers of knowledge and the welfare of humankind.”
 

What I'm working on


Sensual and Spiritual: Pleasure in the Thought of Nasir-i Khusraw

This project is an examination of the philosophy of pleasure and happiness in the works of Nasir i Khusraw, and those of his Fatimid peers. The famous traveller, poet and thinker, who lived a millennium ago in the Near East, led an intemperate life his first forty years until a dream vision called him to seek pleasure in the pursuit of knowledge. For the remainder of his life he wrote extensively about sensual and intellectual pleasure (lazzat-i ḥissī and lazzat-i ʿaqlī), elaborating an extensive philosophy couched in Neoplatonic vocabulary of how the Universal Soul’s quest for pleasure will eventually lead it to the eternal happiness and beatitude that transpires when it reunites with the Universal Intellect.

Undergraduate Fellow—Aqil Visram

FAS Islamic Studies and Economics (Double Major); minor in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations
Supervisor, Shafique Virani, UTM Historical Studies
Dr. Michael Lutsky Undergraduate Award in the Humanities
 

What I'm working on


The Virtuous Muslim: The Pursuit of Pleasures in Islamic Ethical Discourse