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UF Synergies: Current Scholarship in the Humanities

Funded by the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere

UF Synergies

General Objectives of the Series

The UF Synergies series features informal talks by the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere’s Rothman Faculty Summer Fellows, Tedder Doctoral Fellows, and Rothman Doctoral Fellows. Awardees of the Residencies at the National Humanities Center will also share what they learned in their respective workshops. In fall 2020, the series will take place virtually. Presenters will speak for 10-15 minutes in length about their funded work, leaving ample time for questions and discussion. Talks are paired across disciplinary boundaries to stimulate discussions about threads and connections across research areas and allow for synergies of ideas to emerge in interdisciplinary conversations.

  • All events are free and open to the public. Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.
  • For more information on becoming a Rothman Faculty Summer Fellow, a Tedder Family Doctoral Fellow, or a Rothman Doctoral Fellow, see the Call for Proposals page.
  • For questions about the events or help accessing them via Zoom, please contact Alexandra Cenatus, Assistant Director for Programming and Public Engagement at


Fall 2020

 Monday, September 14 @ 5 pm

 How to Engage with the Humanities in the Virtual Environment

Reports from Ph.D. Student Residencies in Virtual Summer 2020 Workshops: Passionate Teaching in the Research Environment: How to Create Meaningful Online Learning Experiences and Podcasting the Humanities: Creating Digital Stories for the Public

(Held at the National Humanities Center and the Digital Humanities Center at San Diego State University, funded by Barbara Mennel’s Waldo W. Neikirk Professorship)

Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.


 Samantha Baugus (Ph.D. Candidate, English): “Caring Virtually: Creating a Valuable and Interactive Online Learning Experience”

This presentation will demonstrate how creating a caring classroom is essential to building a strong learning environment in the humanities, particularly in a virtual classroom during the pandemic.

Victoria Machado (Ph.D. Candidate, Religion): “Creatively De-Constructing the Virtual Classroom”

This talk will explore the opportunities that exist when we re-imagine online education by encouraging, supporting, and cultivating confident and creative learners of a wide range of abilities in order to promote a more inclusive and equitable learning environment.

Kimberly Williams (Ph.D. Student, English): “Abolishing is not a Metaphor:  Re-Examining the Course during the Black Lives Matter Movement”

 This presentation will examine the parallel between policing in academia and the Black Lives Matter Movement with an emphasis on adopting student-centered practices in this new, virtual space.

Lauren Cox (Ph.D. Candidate, English): “The Pleasures and Displeasures of Zoom: How has Zoom blurred the line between public and private spaces?”

 This talk will discuss how Zoom aesthetics have changed our ideas of public and private spaces through the lens of film studies.


The Politics of Place and Identity

Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.

 Mary Elizabeth Ibarrola (Anthropology), Rothman Doctoral Fellow: “Placemaking in the Borderland: An Archaeology of African-Descendent People in Colonial Florida”

During the colonial era, Florida was a region of constant geopolitical turmoil. Mary Elizabeth Ibarrola examines how people of African descent responded to and transformed this turbulent landscape. She considers the various tactics and strategies employed by people of African descent to adapt within the changing political landscape of colonial and territorial Florida through the everyday creation of place. Her research examines six archaeological sites which range from the Second Spanish Period through the Territorial Period and were occupied by individuals of varying legal and social status but overlapping ethnic and racial categorization. She highlights particular insights gained from examining site distribution and site arrangement. Through this close spatial analysis, she creates a picture of spatial relationships among sites and their positioning within a physical landscape and demonstrates how that physical landscape might be manipulated to limit or encourage certain kinds of interaction.  Ultimately, her research promises insight into how internal and external pressures influence the structure of diasporic places.

Alexandria Wilson (Political Science), Rothman Doctoral Fellow: “Framing Violence: The Women’s Movement and Gender-based Violence in Central Eastern Europe”

In recent years, throughout Central Eastern Europe conservatives have pushed back against the gains made by women’s rights activists. This backlash has been felt the hardest by those activists working to fight gender-based violence, as conservatives have rallied around their rejection of the Council of Europe’s Convention on Preventing Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, otherwise known as the Istanbul Convention. To understand how a movement adapts to these pressures, Alexandria Wilson examines the cases of Slovakia, Czechia, and Poland in which she conducted in-depth interviews with activists and analyzed government documents to shed light on the question of how women’s rights activists frame the issue of gender-based violence in a hostile environment.

November 9

Transnational Migration in Networks across Borders in the Americas

Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.

Oren Okhovat (History), Rothman Doctoral Fellow: “Portuguese Jewish Curaçao and the Broader Atlantic World: Economic Pragmatism, Cultural Fluidity, and its Legacy in the Early Modern Caribbean”

The Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao served as a nexus for commercial and social interactions in a complex and interconnected early modern Atlantic world. Oren Okhovat’s research focuses on the influential Portuguese Jewish community that began settling on the island in the mid-seventeenth century and whose members served as intermediaries not only across vast geographic regions but also across political and religious borders. Their deep ties to the Spanish Atlantic world showcase the fluidity of imperial boundaries, both in terms of the movement of goods and people and the tolerance of otherness among imperial rivals for commerce. This presentation will offer a brief look into this world by exploring the scattered nature of the community’s sources. It shows how any discussion of Curaçao’s Jewish history and use of its repositories necessitates contextualization within the history and collective memory of a broader Atlantic web.

Professor Victor Del Hierro (English), Rothman Faculty Fellow: “Decolonizing Cartography: Creating a Participatory Mapping Interface of the Mexico/US Border”

Borderland regions, like the area encompassing Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico and El Paso, Texas, USA, undergo continual geo-political transformation due to initial colonial and contemporary settler-colonial violence. Existing maps of border spaces created by colonial powers over-emphasize these regions through their borders, even as border inhabitants move through sanctioned borders in their own ways. Through an analysis of the cartographic construction of existing maps representing the Juarez/El Paso borderland, this presentation will examine how power is embedded in the political border and how that power imposes a problematic spatial meaning on the Indigenous and migrating bodies of this borderland.

Spring 2021

January 20

Histories of Security and Solidarity

Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.

Daniel Fernandez (History), Rothman Doctoral Fellow: “Circumventing Conservative Nativism: Transnational and National Efforts to Resettle Spanish Republican Refugees in Cuba, 1939-1945”

In 1939, more than 500,000 Spanish Republicans crossed into France after the destruction of Spain’s Second Republic. Subsequently, Spanish refugees attempted a second exodus from Europe to places like Cuba, where a rising tide of anti-immigration decrees prevented their resettlement. However, Daniel Fernandez argues that a burgeoning transnational community of Spanish refugees, international aid organizations, and pro-Republican forces in Cuba helped many “red” refugees circumvent these legal barriers. By exploring these networks and the contributions of state and non-state actors, Fernandez exposes the role of transnational actors on the fluidity of borders in Cuba.

Professor Lauren Pearlman (History), Rothman Faculty Fellow: “The Security State: The Rise of Private Security Industries in Post-World War II America”

This talk will focus on Dr. Pearlman’s work on the rise of private security industries in the post-World War II era, including private security firms, prisons, immigration detention centers, military contracts, and security training companies. In the talk, she will provide a case study of the Wackenhut Corporation, which provided highly trained armed security forces for nuclear power plants, airports, and embassies before establishing a strong presence in the private prison industry and immigration detention services. Ultimately her research seeks to complicate the lines between foreign and domestic, peace and war, and civilian and military in the United States.​

February 8

 Language, Policing, and Schools

Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.

Professor Fiona McLaughlin (Languages, Literatures, and Cultures), Rothman Faculty Fellow: “In Pursuit of Trans-Saharan Literacies”

Dominant regimes of literacy in the Sahara, the Sahel, and the Maghreb are in Arabic and French, yet parallel vernacular literacies in African languages are used by many communities in this vast area. Two such writing systems whose use spans the geographic area of the Trans-Sahara, are ajami, or the writing of African languages in the Arabic script, and tifinagh, an ancient Libyco-Berber script used to write Tamazight or Berber languages. Tracing the transmission and spread of these writing traditions through pathways of Islamization, Islamic education in Qur’anic schools, and pastoralist traditions, sheds doubt on the construction of the Sahara as a barrier between north and sub-Saharan Africa, and supports the framing of a trans-Saharan region of shared historical, religious, and linguistic influences.

David Meltsner (History), Tedder  Family Doctoral Fellow: “The United Federation of Teachers and the Making of the School-To-Prison Pipeline”

In the 1970s, the United Federation of Teachers advocated for policies that established a foundation for the school-to-prison pipeline, a development that disproportionately pushes Black and Latino students out of school and into a punitive criminal justice system. By highlighting and politicizing disorder in the city’s public schools, the UFT convinced lawmakers, city Board of Education officials, media, and the public to support policies and protocols that increasingly criminalized students. These measures entailed the heightened surveillance of students by both security personnel and new technologies, such as closed circuit television, walkie talkies, and alarm systems, the suspension and expulsion of “disruptive” or “violent” students, and the utilization of police services to address delinquency and truancy.

March 1

Female Friends and Saints in the Arts

Please pre-register for the event through the Zoom link.

Allison Raper (Art History), Rothman Doctoral Fellow: “The Lady in Red: Francesco di Vannuccio’s Croce Dipinta and the Iconography of Mary Magdalene in Late-Trecento Siena

As one of the most beloved female saints during the fourteenth century, Mary Magdalene occupied a unique role in medieval art as both a reformed sinner and the “apostle to the apostles.” In her presentation, Allison Raper examines the significance of Mary Magdalene’s presence in the base of a large 1370 painted cross by Sienese artist Francesco di Vannuccio. Created in the years following the onset of the Black Death in Italy, this cross stands as a singular example of how mendicant orders used the imagery of Mary Magdalene in fourteenth-century churches to inspire devotion and penitence.

Lauren Walter (Art History), Rothman Doctoral Fellow:Entre Nous: The Art of Female Friendship in Late Eighteenth-Century France”

During the eighteenth century, discourse by both men and women suggested that female friendship did not exist. In 1761, in her discourse de l’Amitié, d’Arconville wrote that women were “not capable of friendship unless they remove themselves from their essence, and they henceforth approach male virtues that characterize superior men.” Despite these polemics, Lauren Walter argues that female friendships not only existed, but were critical to women’s lives, providing them with a community through which they could freely exercise their agency. By examining works of art, Walter will demonstrate that depictions of female friendship abound in art history, and that they illustrate the ways in which women spent time together and carried out their friendships.