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Graduate Research Assistantships Help Students Receive PhDs

Thursday, February 17, 2011

In the Fall of 2010, the Office of Research and Graduate Studies worked with the American Studies Department to launch a project aimed at improving graduate student's time-to-degree. The fellowship offered Graduate Research (GRA) positions to allow graduate students who were ABD and making timely progress toward the PhD one semester free of other working responsibilities to focus on completing the dissertation. In fall 2010, the fellowship was awarded to Ruben Afagla, Rebecca Barett-Fox and Elizabeth Yeager.

Ruben Afagla

The completion of this dissertation would not have been possible without the support and contributions of many people and Institutions. Especially important has been the help from the KU American Studies Program for offering me a Graduate Research Assistantship in the fall 2010 semester. This work is an intellectual history and cultural study of Cook-Lynn's scholarship and other writings. Cook-Lynn deploys a resistance discourse to the U.S. culture of imperialism to strategize Indian empowerment and advocate for the sovereignty of tribal governance. This dissertation examines her political theories on Indian sovereignty and her focus on the effects of U.S. colonialism on land dispossession, oppression, silenced voices, the devaluation of tribal cultures, and the struggle for Indian self-determination.

Rebecca Barett-Fox

Thanks to funding provided through a GRA Fellowship in Fall 2010, I completed the writing of a dissertation about Westboro Baptist Church, the Topeka, Kansas-based congregation pastored by Fred Phelps that has gained national attention because of its pickets of the funerals of gay people and fallen servicemen and -women and at sites of national disaster, such as shooting rampages and mining explosions. After intensive ethnographic research from January to October 2010, including attendance at Sunday services, pickets of other churches, and military funeral pickets, plus a trip to hear the church argue for its right to free speech near military funerals at the Supreme Court in Snyder v. Phelps, I completed a dissertation that examines the history, organization, theology, rhetoric, and in-your-face tactics of the church. I placed the church within the context of historic American Calvinist thought and within the anti-gay teachings and activism of the contemporary Religious Right, applying radical flank theory to illustrate the benefits and challenges that Westboro Baptist Church delivers to other anti-gay religious groups and to prove that, while the church is certainly unpopular, its teachings are not without precedent or peers. Finally, the dissertation considered the creation of American heroes through military service, comparing public and political responses to Westboro Baptist Church's military funeral pickets to the public and political responses to the church's pickets of the funerals of gay and lesbian people, concluding that, for many Americans, "heroism" assumes heterosexuality and belief in a Christian God. "'Pray Not for this People for Their Good': Westboro Baptist Church, the Religious Right, and American Nationalism" received unanimous honors at its November 2010 defense. Since then, I have been busily preparing article submissions, a book proposal, and a conference proposal for the 2011 ASA on Snyder v. Phelps, which will be decided sometime in 2011.

Elizabeth Yeager

With almost all five chapters of my dissertation complete I received a GRA Fellowship for the Fall 2010 semester. Under the direction of my advisor, Sherrie Tucker, I completed and defended my dissertation, "Understanding 'It': Affective Authenticity, Space, and the Phish Scene" last December. I spent the summer months of last year, thanks in large part to a Summer Research Fellowship from KU's Office of Research & Graduate Studies, working full-time on my dissertation and ethnographic study of "scene identity" around the contemporary jam-band Phish. After more than three years of fieldwork across the U.S. and countless hours transcribing formal interviews and informal conversations I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to write all day, every day about what the band members and fans refer to as "it" and I call the spatial articulation of affective authenticity.



Announcements
  • Please join us for Dr. Paul Ortiz's lecture An African American and Latinx History of the United States on September 19th at 7:00PM in the Hall Center Conference Room. For more information, click here.
  • Dr. Gamze Kati Gumus defended her dissertation with honors on May 10, 2018. Congratulations, Dr. Kati Gumus!
  • KU-AUMI InterArts was recently featured by the Commons in a video on improving inclusive communities at KU. You can watch the video, which features our own Sherrie Tucker amongst other founders of the movement at KU, and learn more about AUMI here!
  • Congratulations to Professor Robert Warrior on being elected to a member of the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • This articlewritten by Ph.D. candidate Hannah Bailey, was published in the latest edition of Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal. Congratulations, Hannah!
  • We would like to recognize Patrick Sumner, 2005 alumni, for his work in this article about the defacement of the John Brown memorial in the Quindaro area of Kansas City, Kansas.
  • Congratulations to Dr. Jonathan Burrow-Branine for successfully defending his dissertation with honors January 25, 2018.
  • Please read this article about Professor Robert Warrior titled: Native scholar uncomfortably at home in American studies field.
  • Congratulations to Daniel Carey-Whalen, an alumni that was recently promoted as UTEP's Centennial Museum director.
  • Congratulations to Josh Parshall, an alumni who was recently featured in this article.
  • How a motion-tracking musical software is breaking down barriers for people with disabilities: click here to read more about the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), a one-of-a-kind piece of inclusive technology that promotes musical improvisation. The article recognizes Professor Sherrie Tucker, who started AUMI jam sessions and helped to bring the grant and symposium for it to Lawrence. Written by Omar Sanchez
  • KU Special Education Department: With Ray Pence
  • Tribute Or Tribulation? How do we commemorate history? What is the best way to remember a conflicted and painful past? And who gets to decide? Listen here »
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