Six faculty members receive inaugural College grant

by Nicolas Berlinski | 3/6/18 2:10am

The Office of the Associate Dean recently announced that six faculty members have received the first New Directions in Humanities Scholarship and Arts Practice grants, funded by the Office of the President. The call for grant proposals asked for applicants to adopt a “sense of risk” in their proposals and intends to encourage interdisciplinary study in the arts and humanities.

The inaugural grant recipients are religion professor Zahra Ayubi, Spanish professor Antonio Gómez López-Quiñones, studio art professor Enrico Riley, film and media studies professor Jeffrey Ruoff, English professor Nirvana Tanoukhi and music professor Spencer Topel.

Ayubi, who studies women in Islam, said she will be studying feminist philosophy of religion and Muslim biomedical ethics.

“The project is about Muslim ontological and philosophical understandings of women’s bodies and locating religious authority and medical decision-making power in the context of male-centered metaphysics and moral authority and control over women’s souls in the ethics tradition,” Ayubi said.

Gómez specializes in modern Spanish culture and literature and said he will be using the grant to travel to Italy and study Italian in order to undertake a study of the Italian Marxist philosopher Antonio Gramsci as well as the cultural and political impact he had on Spain.

“I’m trying to understand how Gramsci was received and read in Spain in two different historical periods: the 1970s when Gen. [Francisco] Franco died and Spain was transitioning to a democratic system, and in the last 10 years,” Gómez said. “Since I need to be able to read huge bibliographies in Italian that haven’t been translated into any other language really, I was asking [Dartmouth] for financial help to [go to Italy] and learn Italian.”

Gómez has already taken Italian 1, “Introductory Italian I” and Italian 2, “Introductory Italian II” at Dartmouth and said he plans on traveling to Italy to further immerse himself in the language and culture.

Riley said he will be collaborating with composer Jonathan Berger and English professor Vievee Francis to create an opera-like music presentation titled “Death by Drowning.”

“[Berger and I] started thinking about a long-form music presentation, not exactly an opera but something along those lines,” Riley said. “[Berger] will be composing the music for the project, [Francis] will be working on the libretto, so all of the words that will be sung by the eventual performers, and then I will be contributing [drawings that will be] projected throughout the presentation.”

Ruoff will use the grant to apprentice with New Hampshire Public Radio’s Virginia Prescott to learn the ropes of podcast and radio production. By exploring these fields, Ruoff said his end goal is to experiment with a new realm of digital art and media: non-fiction radio documentary.

“Even though this is a research grant, one of the things I mentioned in my proposal was eventually offering a course or courses in radio production in the department of film and media,” Ruoff said.

He added that he was attracted to the prospect of studying radio by the comparatively lower costs of radio production in comparison to television and film.

According to the College press release, Tanoukhi will use the grant to undertake a study of context and meaning, known as linguistic pragmatics. She hopes to apply that study to her current research on how readers, who lack cultural context when reading a translated work, create meaning from the literature, according to the release.

Topel said the grant will allow him to work at an architectural firm for a year, which will allow him to build on an understanding of producing large-scale sound installations by trying to merge the fields of architecture and music.

“The two kinds of parallel currents in sound art right now are one kind of emerging from artists, like studio art practices and music, and then kind of an interesting parallel track is in architecture where architecture firms are creating installations that create sound or sound interaction,” Topel said. “My proposal was to find a way to bridge these two things together.”

The professors will begin undertaking their work in the 2018-2019 school year.