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Erena Nakashima 

“Looking Backward, Moving Forward”: Carroll Greene Jr. and Black Public History Movement, 1960 – 2000 
Erena Nakashima, History

My dissertation examines the life and work of Carroll Greene Jr. (1931 – 2007), a Black Museum professional, to explore the institutional formation of the Black public history movement in the late twentieth century. Throughout his four-decade career, Greene played a crucial role in bridging Black artists, intellectuals, local organizations, and museum world professionals. Examining Greene’s seven projects in public institutions to find a place for his expertise, to create and preserve spaces and institutions that presented Black-centered perspectives, and to collect Black material culture that had been largely neglected or ignored, my project illustrates Black public history as a multi-dimensional movement built upon a web of local, national, and international knowledge and resources as well as tactics to democratize American cultural landscape.

Listening to Appalachian Voices in the Writing Classroom
Chelsea Ensley, English

Drawing from relational cultural theory, my dissertation, "Listening to Appalachian Voices in the Writing Classroom," demonstrates the value of growth-fostering relationships between Appalachian students and writing teachers. By conducting interviews and surveying composition teachers at a rural university, I bring awareness to how Appalachian student-writers perceive their cultural identity and literacy practices, as well as how composition teachers understand and engage their Appalachian students. In addition, my dissertation argues how student-teacher relationships—characterized by mutuality, connection, and empathy—can potentially empower Appalachian students as academic writers and members of their own cultural community.

Crigger HaleyHaley Crigger, English

This story collection traverses 250 years of Northern Kentucky history—from 1801 to 2050—examining themes of legacy, self-determination, queerness, addiction, family, Evangelical culture and the bastardization of Christianity, and the false narrative of white supremacy. It will be supplemented with a critical essay that examines the 21st-century literary landscape of the “Christ-Haunted” South. Namesake of frontiersman Daniel Boone, birthplace of Margaret Garner, southern border of the Ohio River, Boone County, Kentucky has often set the stage for our nation’s greatest moral crises. As a whole, the collection is a meditation on geographical and metaphysical crossroads, located in the historical call and response between evil and the Bluegrass. 



The Performance of Motherhood
Barbara Besendorfer, Asian, East European, and German Studies

The first German women’s movement at the end of the 19th century used spiritual motherhood as a concept to move women, primarily childless and unmarried women, from the margins of society and place them at the center as spiritual mothers. This conceptualization contributed to and institutionalized a maternal discourse prevalent in the German Empire, other European countries, and North America since specific female ethics and motherliness were assumed in every female human being. Focused primarily on the writings of Henriette Schrader-Breymann, Helene Lange, and Helene Stöcker, this dissertation will first explore spiritual motherhood as a valuable tool for women to open up the private sphere of the household. Second, it will elucidate spiritual motherhood as a form of feminist mothering as it was described in the writings of Second Wave feminism, and third, it strives to investigate ideas of spiritual motherhood in the newly gained German colonies. This dissertation argues that spiritual motherhood was not only a way to move women from the margins of society to the center but also a modern form of mothering that allowed women at the end of the 19th century to escape the patriarchal system of its time.


Problems from Geometric Analysis
Josh Kline, Mathematical Sciences

If one takes a wire loop and dips it into a dish of liquid soap, the film that remains will have the smallest possible surface area compared with all possible films stretching across the wire. Such a film is an example of a minimal surface, and the surface area measurement is an example of a local perimeter measure. In the setting of a metric space (where we can talk about distance, but not direction), we study a related notion, known as nonlocal perimeter, and objects called nonlocal minimal surfaces, which minimize this measurement. In particular, we investigate when nonlocal minimal surfaces exist, the smoothness of their boundaries when they do, and how they relate to their local counterparts.

Generalized Hastings McLeod Functions
Kurt Schmid, Mathematical Sciences

A wide range of phenomena from traffic patterns in urban centers to the behavior of neutrons in heavy metals can be modeled by a family of highly nontrivial differential equations known as the Painlevé equations. One such class of these solutions that has gained increasing attention in recent years is the generalized Hastings McLeod functions. In my dissertation, I will provide novel, rigorous estimations of these solutions. While other mathematicians have rigorously approximated other Painlevé equations, the generalized Hastings McLeod functions is still an open problem. As such, my work will provide a new, effective way for physicists and civil engineers to explain a variety of phenomena.

Veiled Schools: A Comparative Historical Analysis of Placemaking in Black High Schools in the U.S. South
Kierra Toney, Sociology

This study offers insights into how majority Black high schools contribute to Black placemaking – or how urban Black people create sites of endurance, belonging, and resistance through social interaction. This study explores the historic and ongoing Black placemaking in two majority Black high schools in a midsize city, Chattanooga, Tennessee. The two schools chosen as the focus of this analysis represent two pathways which (re)produced racial homogeneity in schools following the legal desegregation of the education system. To do this I use a comparative historical case study methodology by combining archival document analysis, in-depth interviews, and ethnographic observations. In this study I apply the Black placemaking framework to Black high schools to better understand the multifaceted relationship between schools and the communities which sustain them.

Marijuana Politics: Elite racial discourse, socio-economic (in) justice, and attitudes towards Marijuana legislation
Yorkow Oppon-Acquah, School for Public and International Affairs

Although Marijuana legalization is sometimes presented as a solution to racial inequity in the criminal justice system, little is known about how elite racial discourse affects public attitudes about marijuana legislation. I analyze secondary data from two nationally representative polls and implement a unique survey-embedded experiment to analyze how elite racial appeals shape voters' attitudes toward marijuana legalization policies. I examine how communities perceive the economic impact of marijuana legalization on their racial in-groups and if the American people are willing to adjust their views in the face of countervailing information that challenges preconceptions. I argue that cultural information given to individuals through intermediate institutions like mass media and religious groups largely conditions the influence of elite racial messaging regarding marijuana.

Original Screenplay
Daniela Granja, Romance and Arabic Languages and Literatures

Foto Ju 2Cantando al Amanecer (A Drum is a Woman) + The contemporary verse novel written by Latinx female author
Julia Piastro Garcia, Romance and Arabic Languages and Literatures

Novels in verse are not a recent phenomenon. This genre was born between the 18th and 19th centuries, at the same time as the prose novel. The Anglophone sphere witnessed a notable resurgence of novels in verse at the end of the 20th century, many of them aimed at adolescents and young adults. In the United States, Latinx literature has been part of a shift towards a plurality of perspectives within this genre. However, there are few examples of contemporary verse novels written in Spanish. In this project, I propose to write the verse novel in Spanish "Cantando al Amanecer" (A Drum is a Woman), a book exploring themes of identity, sexuality, and machismo within the Mexican culture. This creative project will be complemented by an academic research of three verse novels written by contemporary Latinx female authors: Elizabeth Acevedo, Melissa Lozada-Oliva, and Alessandra Narváez-Varela.

Engineering Progress in Science
Collin Lucken, Philosophy

Long-Term Effect of Early Exposure to Substance Use
Sachin Sisodiya, Economics

Title TBD
Sarah Imran, School for Public and International Affairs

Title TDB
Michael Parrish, Sociology

Dissertation Fellows
2022 - 2023
2020 - 2021
2021 - 2022
2019 - 2020
2018 - 2019
2017 - 2018
2016 - 2017
2015 - 2016
2014 - 2015
2013 - 2014
2012 - 2013
2011 - 2012