Research Awards - Spring 2007

Paola Boel, Assistant Professor of Economics
Heterogeneity and the Welfare Cost of Inflation
This research constructs a model of money with heterogeneous agents and uses it to quantify the average welfare cost of inflation in the United States in the period 1900-2000. At the aggregate level, we find that the welfare cost of inflation is positive as agents are made better off by reducing inflation. We also find, however, that inflation can have important distributional effects. Indeed, we show that moderate inflation can be welfare-increasing for some segments of the population. Specifically, inflation generates a beneficial redistribution of wealth for agents who have low money balances, because government transfers more than offset their inflation-tax burden.

O’Neill (Nelly) Blacker-Hanson , Visiting Assistant Professor of History
The Enduring Appeal of Nationalism: The Case of Mexican Radicals at Mid-20th Century
My research on Mexico’s popular movements unveils the relationship between urban and rural opposition movements through the leadership of teacher-activists. The failure of urban radicals to grasp the lingering resonance of the Revolution of 1910 suggests that, among the rural populace, nationalism remained the dominant ideology, explaining resistance to alternative international socialist paradigms more readily accepted by urban activists. My conclusion challenges the presumptions underlying both Mexican and US governmental behaviors. It carries implications for the study of popular organizing, and repositions the locus of oppositional study, encouraging a reassessment of the historic weight of events in the nation’s capital in 1968, generally depicted as a political watershed on Mexico’s fitful road to democracy.

Rachel Connelly , Professor of Economics
“Some of the Migrants Are not Going Back: Emerging Urban Settlement of Chinese Women Migrants” and “American Mothers’ Time Use”
This proposal requests support for trips to conferences to work with collaborators on two research projects. The first project, titled “Some of the Migrants Are not Going Back: Emerging Urban Settlement of Chinese Women Migrants”, explores the migration of rural Chinese women to urban areas. The second, “American Mothers’ Time Use”, examines women’s choices and distribution of time in caregiving, leisure, home production, and paid work.  

Ann Kibbie, Associate Professor of English
Medical Vampirism:  Bloodletting, Blood Transfusion and the Gothic
This work explores the ways in which two surgical techniques—the pre-modern practice of bloodletting, and the modern practice of blood transfusion—contribute to the evolution of the figure of the vampire in gothic literature over the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  My goal is to produce a work that is truly interdisciplinary in its detailed attention to the medical, cultural and literary history of these surgical practices, using the medical archive to illuminate literary works including the Marquis de Sade’s Justine, Charles Robert Maturin’s Melmoth the Wanderer, Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s “Good Lady Ducayne,” and, most importantly, Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Aaron Kitch, Assistant Professor of English
Material Sonnets:  Embroidery, Female Authorship, and Non-Textual Literacy in the English Renaissance
Numerous studies of literacy in Renaissance England (1500-1650) have increased our understanding of the historical and cultural conditions in which literature was produced and consumed, but these studies often overlook important forms of non-textual literacy, including sewing by women.  I propose to study both ornamental and functional sewing by women in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in order to gain a greater appreciation for female contributions to Renaissance culture and to expand the definition of “authorship” itself.  I propose a research trip to England in order to study a range of objects sewed by women in order to begin a new project on models of female authorship in the Renaissance.

De-nin Lee, Assistant Professor of Art History and Asian Studies
Chinese Paintings at Bowdoin College
Since summer 2006, I have been working with my colleague Ankeney Weitz at Colby College, and with Bowdoin College Museum of Art staff, to develop a project to teach a collaborative, service-learning seminar on the subject of Chinese painting. In its collection, Bowdoin has approximately 25 Chinese paintings dating to the late imperial period (about the 15th-early 20thc.). In general, these paintings have not been exhibited or studied, and they represent an overlooked resource for teaching. I am requesting support from the Course Development Fund to pay for the cost of high quality digital photographs of the Chinese paintings in the Bowdoin College Museum of Art.

Craig McEwen, Daniel B. Fayerweather Professor of Political Economy and Sociology
Variation in Mediation Development and Practice Across the United States
In the 1970’s, ‘informal justice’ generally and mediation particularly began to develop in the United States (and world-wide) through grass roots initiatives and with funding and leadership from legal professionals, courts, and government agencies.  Mediation’s development, however, has been very uneven across states and has taken widely variant institutional forms, involved lawyers and citizen volunteers in highly variable ways, and addressed different kinds of disputes.  The research proposed will document this variation and provide a foundation for examining its causes and implications for the character of justice and of the professional identities and practices of mediators.

Dan Moos, Visiting Assistant Professor of English and Africana Studies
Nicodemus, Kansas in the Fabric of the Nation
“Nicodemus, Kansas in the Fabric of the Nation” is a single part of a larger investigation (a book chapter) of the role of African American communities in the U.S. West in understanding the character of national identity for African Americans in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The central problem posed in the study is the tension between racial separatism and national inclusion posed by the establishment of racially exclusive black towns that remain deeply immersed in the political and economic spheres of the state locally (Kansas and Oklahoma Territory primarily) and the nation more broadly. This project will analyze archival materials, primarily manuscripts, letters, broadsides, and newspapers, held at the Nicodemus Historic Site (U.S. National Park Service) in Nicodemus, Kansas.

Seth Ovadia, Assistant Professor of Sociology
White Flight, Gentrification, and Stable Diversity: Race in America’s Urban Neighborhoods, 1970 to 2000
This research seeks to explore the local and city-level characteristics that have affected the changing racial demography of urban neighborhoods in the United States from 1970 to 2000.  While urban America as a whole has experienced a sharp decline in the percentage of white residents and a steady increase in the percentage of non-white residents, local patterns have been much more complex. This research project will seek to understand what structural factors have contributed to the varying trajectories that neighborhoods have followed over the past three decades.

Jill Pearlman, Lecturer in Environmental Studies
The Eventful Life of the Lawn Road Flats: A Biography of Britain’s Modernist Icon
My book explores the life of the Lawn Road Flats in London, from the time of its conception in 1932 to the present day. The radically modern flats, which promoted an intriguing form of modern collective living, also provided a center for contemporary cultural life and a home for many modernist figures--including Bauhaus masters Walter Gropius, Marcel Breuer, and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. I follow the various stages of the building’s life: its birth as exemplar of modernist architectural principles; its use as home to seven Soviet spies; its time as council housing, as the site of a murder, and as an unoccupied, dilapidated eyesore; and finally, its recent reopening as affordable housing after a much celebrated and costly renovation.

Davis Robinson, Associate Professor of Theater
Samurai 7.0: A Theatrical Re-imagining of a Cinematic Classic
This award will support the rehearsal and re-write process of Samurai 7.0, an original theater production I created during my sabbatical leave last year. Our successful presentation of the show in Boston last June led to our being invited to present Samurai 7.0 at a festival in Charleston, SC this June. I will be working with my theater company in Boston and several recent Bowdoin College graduates for eight weeks before we go to Charleston. I am requesting funding for my own travel, per diem, and housing.

Doris Santoro Gómez, Assistant Professor of Education
Before Burnout: Principled Leavers of High-Poverty Schools
Although a good deal of research addresses new-teacher attrition, my study asks: Why do successful, committed, and experienced teachers in high-poverty schools leave teaching? By collecting and analyzing case studies of successful, mid-career teachers who left the classroom, my study develops a new conceptual category, “principled leavers,” for analyzing teacher attrition. I expand on the teacher attrition literature by inquiring into the ethical and moral dimensions of teaching, and leaving teaching. My findings thus far challenge commonplace assumptions (and less-focused research on this demographic) that teachers who leave seek out higher-status work, better-salaried jobs, are unprepared, or are not committed to their students.

Vineet Shende, Assistant Professor of Music
Recording of Sonetos de amor
This Faculty Research Award would partially fund engineering, editing, artist travel, design, and producer’s fees for the premiere recording of my song-cycle Sonetos de amor. Performers for the recording are the highly acclaimed guitarist Daniel Lippel and soprano Elizabeth Weigle, and Focus Recordings will release the disc. I wrote Sonetos de amor in 2003, using four poems from Pablo Neruda’s 1959 collection Cien sonetos de amor as text. The poems depict the trajectory of a relationship from an initial passion to a mature love. In my setting, I have sought to musically portray Neruda’s evocative, sensual, and varied text.

Susan Wegner, Associate Professor of Art History
Beauty and Duty: Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage
This proposal requests support to cover photographic costs and publishing rights fees for images to be used in my publication for the exhibition “Beauty and Duty:  Art and Business of Renaissance Marriage,” at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art (March 24 through July 22, 2008). The full-color publication, “Unpacking the Renaissance Marriage Chest” will interpret the major paintings in the show, including sixteen works borrowed from other institutions. Analysis of the colors of pigments, precious metals and woods used in the works is essential to understanding their meaning, so color illustrations are crucial in conveying my assessment of the material.

Tricia Welsch, Associate Professor of Film Studies on the Marvin H. Green, Jr. Fund
Ready for Her Close-Up: The Life of Gloria Swanson
This proposal requests assistance to fund two trips to continue my long-term project of writing a full-length critical biography of the actress, Gloria Swanson, which takes into consideration her contribution to film and theater history. The two trips I propose here, one to Austin, Texas and the other to Paris, will facilitate two different portions of this project. In Texas I will look at the extensive collection of Swanson’s own papers at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin, a collection with which I am already familiar. In Paris I will continue the interview I began last summer with Swanson’s daughter, Michelle Farmer Amon, and continue using materials I have identified at the Cinémathèque Française.