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Humanities Institute names 2014-15 faculty fellows


Published July 17, 2014

The UB Humanities Institute has named eight Faculty Research Fellows for 2014-15.

The work of these faculty fellows spans the full range of the humanities disciplines, from media study and visual studies to sociology and anthropology, according to institute Director Erik Seeman, professor of history.

“This group of fellows is extraordinarily accomplished,” Seeman says. “The prizes and national fellowships they have won attest to the strength and vitality of humanities scholarship at UB.”

The Faculty Research Fellowships, which are awarded competitively, fund the fellows’ release from teaching two courses in the coming academic year, permitting them to focus on a major research project. In addition, fellows actively participate in institute programs and present their work as part of the “Scholars @ Hallwalls” lecture series.

Three of the fellows have been designated as OVPR/HI fellows because their projects “especially well represent the interdisciplinary mission of both HI and the Office of the Vice President for Research” and are funded by OVPR, Seeman says.

The 2014-15 HI fellows and their research projects:


David Alff, assistant professor, Department of English

David Alff

Alff will continue work on a book, “The Wreckage of Intentions: Projects in British Culture, 1660-1730,” that investigates the idea of projects for advancing British society during the 1600s and 1700s. The term “project” during this time period referred to both a unit of human endeavor and a genre of writing for proposing new enterprises. Alff says his goal is to “recover the lost potential of a broad spectrum of projects, from ventures that failed obscurely to ones so effective at proposing aspects of the future, even our present, that it is hard to remember these undertakings were ever projects.”

A UB faculty member since 2012, Alff specializes in 17th- and 18th-century Anglophone writing and performance, infrastructure, public works, projects and projection. He is the recipient of a Huntington Library Mayers Fellowship and the Diane Hunter Prize for Outstanding Dissertation in English from the University of Pennsylvania.


Steven Hoffman, assistant professor, Department of Sociology, OVPR/HI fellow

Steven Hoffman

Hoffman will address the idea that academic science can be an “economic engine” for society. He will show how academic researchers negotiate “the increasingly blurry lines between science, industry research and consumer markets.” His work, he says, will inform the ongoing debate about the “impact of academic capitalism on the production of scholarship, teaching and the public good mission of the 21st-century research university.”

Hoffman is a social theorist and ethnographer whose research interests include organizational studies, social psychology, interpretive social theory, and science and technology studies. He joined the UB faculty in 2008 as a visiting assistant professor.


Jonathan Katz, associate professor, Department of Art

Jonathan Katz

Katz will continue work on a book, “Art, Eros, and the Sixties,” which is the first to consider the importance of the psychoanalytic concept of Eros in the heyday of body art internationally.

Katz, who directs the doctoral program in the Department of Art, is the first tenured faculty member in queer studies in the U.S. He co-curated “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” the first queer exhibition ever mounted by a major U.S. museum — it opened at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in 2010. His next major exhibition, “ArtAIDSAmerica,” will open in May 2015 at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art and then travel to three other museums across the country.


Frederick Klaits, assistant professor, Department of Anthropology

Frederick Klaits

An OVPR/HI fellow, Klaits will conduct ethnographic research for a book project exploring how members of predominantly African-American charismatic Christian churches in Buffalo make tithes and donations to obtain material and spiritual benefits for themselves and others.

A UB faculty member since 2012, Klaits’ work examines issues of religion, healing and inequality. His past work has explored the efforts of members of healing churches in Botswana to sustain relationships of care and love in the context of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.



Martha Malamud, professor, Department of Classics

Martha Malamud

Malamud will produce a translation, with introductory essay and commentary, of the epic poem “Ed reditu suo” by Roman aristocrat Rutilius Namatianus. Namatianus was in Rome when it was sacked by the Visigoths in 416 C.E. He wrote the poem describing his journey from Rome to Gaul after the sacking of the city, providing a first-hand account of the event.

The first executive director of the Humanities Institute, Malamud also has served as associate dean for the humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences. Her research interests include Roman epic poetry, late antique literature, and classical reception. She edits the interdisciplinary classics journal Arethusa.


Adam Malka, assistant professor, Department of History

Adam Malka

Malka will examine policing and punishment in 19th-century Baltimore, arguing that slavery provided a critical context for and played a central role in the creation, development and evolution of liberal state governance.

Malka’s work centers on the ways Americans in the early U.S. Republic understood and experienced both politics and power. In particular, he is interested in state formation, race and gender ideology, and the ways rights discourse emerged in the early United States.


Miriam Paeslack, assistant professor, Department of Media Study/Arts Management Program

Miriam Paeslack

Paeslack will conclude work on a book manuscript, “Curating Berlin: Urban Photography of Unification.” The book discusses urban and architectural photography in Berlin during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a time when the city thrived as the new capital of the German empire and photography had become a mass medium.

Trained as an art historian and historian of law, Paeslack specializes in the critical analysis of visual representations of urban spaces and concepts of the urban in respect to memory and identity. She teaches courses on the history and theory of photography and visual culture, urban imagery, critical museum studies, museum management and academic research.


Stephanie Rothenberg, associate professor, Department of Art, OVPR/HI fellow

Stephanie Rothenberg

Rothenberg’s research project, “Reversal of Fortune: Garden of Virtual Kinship,” is an interactive art installation that takes the form of a telematic garden existing in both physical and virtual environments.

The physical garden is a live garden located on a series of platforms designed in the shape of a world map; its digital counterpart serves as an electronic irrigation system located beneath the platforms that pull data from the Internet. The lifeline of the physical garden depends on the performance of investment transactions received from popular microfinance social media websites such as The garden and its struggle to survive represent the complex relationships between human life and economic growth within these new alternative economic models.

Rothenberg’s work, which mixes real and virtual spaces, examines new models of global, outsourced labor and the power dynamics between contemporary visions of utopian urbanization and real-world economic, political and environmental factors. She is the recipient of numerous awards, most recently from the Harpo Foundation and Creative Capital.