Work-in-Progress Talks give Tanner Humanities Center fellows and University of Utah faculty an opportunity
to present the latest work on their current research and receive feedback in a casual setting from students, faculty, staff, and community.



Paul Strand: Photography, Modernism and the World
by MARTIN PADGET - Obert C. & Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center Visiting Research Fellow
Department of English Aberystwyth University, Wales, U.K.

A critical biography that provides a complete assessment of Strand’s work, from his pioneering social documentary images in Manhattan and his experiments with formal abstraction around World War One to his last great body of work, a portrait of Ghana undertaken in 1963-64, and his final intimate studies of the garden at his home in Orgeval, France.

lipmanEnvironmental Ethics in The Book of Mormon
by JOSHUA LIPMAN - Honors Undergraduate Research Fellow
Religious Studies Program, Honors College, University of Utah

This research begins to fill a hole in Mormon environmental theology by evaluating The Book of Mormon’s potential to contribute to growing LDS environmental stewardship. The methodology applies established ethical binaries to environmental features and actions in the text, then generalizes those actions to the current environmental circumstances. This functions to both clarify religious stewardship and catalyze future environmental rereading of the central scripture in the LDS faith.

thayneThe Blood of Father Lehi: Indigenous Americans and The Book of Mormon
by STANLEY THAYNE - Tanner Humanities Center Graduate Research Fellow in MORMON STUDIES
Department of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

My dissertation project situates and examines articulations of Book of Mormon identity by American Indian Latter-day Saints as an emergent Indigenous subjectivity. Since The Book of Mormon purports to be a history of the ancient Americas and narrates a racialized origin story, it has a profound influence on the way many American Indian Latter-day Saints view their past and present identity.

kieranSignature Wounds: The Cultural Politics of Mental Health During the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
by DAVID KIERAN - Obert C. & Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center Visiting Research Fellow
Department of History, Washington Jefferson College

This research explores how the military sought to create a resilient force and address the mental health needs of returning service members, how veterans and their families advocated for more and better resources, how legislators folded their concerns about veterans’ mental health into their broader anxieties about the Iraq War, and how human rights activists have struggled to make Americans aware of the wars’ impact on Iraqi and Afghan civilians.

hinderaker"Motley Rabble" or Martyrs for Liberty? The Boston Massacre and the Search for a Usable Past
by ERIC HINDERAKER - Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow
Department of History, University of Utah

On March 5, 1770, a detachment of soldiers fired into a Boston crowd, killing five people: an event known ever since as the Boston Massacre.  Town leaders used the occasion to rally sentiment against heavy-handed imperial governance, but the shootings were controversial from the start, even in Boston.  The soldiers were acquitted of murder, and John Adams referred to the mob that provoked them as a “motley rabble” whose actions could not be defended.  Later writers considered the victims to be the first martyrs for American liberty.  This talk explores this disagreement and asks what it can tell us about class, race, and the boundaries of political community, from the era of the American Revolution to the age of Black Lives Matter.

alexanderHouse of Glee
by JESSICA ALEXANDER - Graduate Student Research Fellow
Department of English, University of Utah

House of Glee is a grotesque novel that combines the fatalistic simplicity of fairy tales with the hysterical excess of gothic fictions. Set within the bleeding walls of a crumbling mansion, the novel tells the tale of a hysterical young girl, her murderous brother, a possessed governess, and many of the mansion’s former inhabitants. Borrowing the structure of a forensic reference book, the novel performs the hypnotic repetition of old myths, the return of the repressed in new guises, and ultimately, the pathology of a genre.

colesShow Uncertainty: Collaboration, Anxiety, and the Pleasures of Unknowing
by KATHARINE COLES - Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow
Department of English, University of Utah

In 2013, poet/scholars Katharine Coles and Julie Gonnering Lein teamed with computer scientists Miriah Meyer and Nina McCurdy to create a new close reading tool, Poemage.  This collaboration across widely different disciplines--a collaboration in which the team members have insisted that all parties do work that moves their own disciplines forward--has stretched everyone involved, requiring each researcher to learn and adapt to new vocabularies, disciplinary practices and assumptions, and habits of thought, often while questioning their own.  This talk addresses (but doesn't lay to rest) such questions as "What is the value of collaboration within a traditional Humanities context?" and "What does it mean to 'use' a digital tool to read and think about poetry?"


Assembling the Tropics: Illness, Exploration, and Global Geography
by HUGH CAGLE - Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow
Department of History, University of Utah

From the Victorian botany of William Hooker to the structural anthropology of Claude Lévi-Strauss, the tropics have been defined for over two centuries and across a wide range of disciplines by two essential characteristics: prodigious nature and debilitating illness. By most accounts, the origins of this vision lie in the imaginative penmanship of the Prussian naturalist Alexander von Humboldt. But there is another way to tell the story. The invention of the tropics can be found as well in the internecine quarrels of misfit physicians in Europe’s earliest global empire. This is a story of the contingent nature of geographical imaginings that reconsiders how and why ‘the tropics’ were invented at all.


maeeraHoly Envy: Writing in the Judeo-Christian Borderzone
by MAEERA SHREIBER - Virgil C. Aldrich Faculty Fellow
Department of English, University of Utah

The relationship between Judaism and Christianity was long viewed as a radical “parting of the ways.” Judaism was cast in the role of the “parent” of Christianity, the “child” who left home without looking back. But for the last decade or so this model has been under revision; recent scholarship suggests that this cross-religious dynamic is much more complex and fluid, characterized by a highly charged emotional landscape. This new model offers a way of teasing out what has been recognized as an overdue need to address a fundamentally Christian narrative underwriting twentieth-century American verse. But instead of concentrating on Christianity solely as an aesthetically coercive force, this talk suggests a different approach by exploring how writing flourishes in the fissures marking the Judeo-Christian border zone.

auerbach-bwAgent Orange: And the Treadmill of Destruction
by DANIEL AUERBACH - Graduate Student Research Fellow
Department of Sociology, University of Utah

War has a long history of ecological devastation. Scorched earth policies, the burning of oil wells, the diversion of waterways, and the use of chemical and biological weapons represent just a few examples in a long litany of environmentally destructive activities. However, the military's environmental impact is not limited to war. Militarization, and its large-scale built and social infrastructures help facilitate and locate environmental disruption throughout the world. This talk focuses on how the military’s peactime activities can contribute to environmental harm. By concentrating on the disposal of Agent Orange, after its use was banned by the United States in warfare, this talk highlights how military bases help generate environmental problems, adding to the discussion about the legacy of the Vietnam War.


Chair, Writing & Rhetoric Studies
Department of English, College of Humanities

This talk will provide an overview of a new longitudinal research project that will follow students at the new University of Utah Asia Campus as they write their way through their majors over the next three academic years. The field of Writing Across the Curriculum has been heavily invested in research-informed writing teaching over at least the last thirty years. And our research and teaching has become complicated not only by evolving fields/disciplines across campus but also by evolving student population demographics. 

My project reports on a specific instance of those changes--the start of the U's Asia Campus in South Korea. As the title suggests, the physical infrastructure of the university, the campus, and the surrounding city was literally being built around my colleagues, students, and me as we worked and studied there last academic year. However, the instructional and administrative infrastructures are also being built in ways that reflect the complexities of being a branch campus of a large, well established university that is also, simultaneously, a small international experiment. In terms of writing, specifically, the longitudinal project is part of a larger effort to encourage cross-curricular collaboration at the Asia Campus, which is often much more difficult at our university’s larger US campus. And in turn, our pedagogical efforts are inseparable from the rapid, intense, sometimes conflicting and confusing development of the city of Songdo and the nation of South Korea.


TH, 17 SEPT, 2:30 - 3:30 PM
Department of Modern Dance, College of Fine Arts

Professor Claudio will give a presentation highlighting his work with Bryant Middle School students. Claudio's project was titled, Bridging Cultures to Form a Nation: Dancing Through Differences in a Community of Democratic Thinking. Patnering with Bryant Middle School of the Salt Lake City School District, Claudio used dance as a medium to enhance personal and social responsibility while expanding students' knowledge of peoples of different cultures. By exploring dance as a means of empowerment, discovery, and community building, he worked to reduce the school's truancy rate and to cultivate personal ownership by students of their academic success. 

TH, 10 SEPT, 2:00-3:30 PM
Professor of Law, SJ Quinney College of Law, University of Utah

Transitioning from traditional warfare to cyber-terrorism and cyber-warfare reflects significant change in the nature of conflict and modes and manners of defense. If traditional warfare between nation states involved tanks, planes, and ships then cyber-attacks, whether conducted by nation states or non-state actors, require a laptop, computer sophistication, and savvy. Preventing and reacting to a cyber-attack poses significant challenges to the nation state. Cyber (incorporating cyber-security, cyber-terrorism, and cyber-attacks) reflects the cutting edge of technology. Ten, much less twenty, years ago this conversation would have been viewed largely as futuristic. The morph from traditional warfare to conventional terrorism to cyber reflects a significant change in how conflict is conducted. From the perspective of decision makers this transition is dramatic; from the perspective of the public, cyber-attacks are a source of enormous concern and discomfort.