Five Humanities Center Faculty Fellows Chosen for 2023-24

April 13, 2023
Submitted By: Nicholas Ealy

The Humanities Center is happy to announce five Humanities Faculty Fellows for 2023-24. All will receive a stipend of $1500 to support their research and will present in the Spring 2024 lecture series “Fiction, Fabulation, Futurity,” based on the topic proposed by Rashmi Viswanathan, Assistant Professor of Art History.

1. Amanda Carlson (Associate Professor of Art History, HAS) will present “Writing into the Future with African Scripts,” which forms part of her current book project. Her lecture will examine films (such as Black Panther), artworks (such as Wilfred Upkong’s installations), and novels (such as those by Nnewi Okorafor) that incorporate nsibidi, an indigenous African writing system rooted in the Cross River region of West Africa, within broader intellectual movements from Afro-futurism to African Futurism. Here, she will explore how these bodies of work become part of a dialogue about blackness, gender, and the space of Africa and the diaspora. Furthermore, she will speak to why nsibidi offers such a powerful iconography for imagining a future where African knowledge is critically important.

2. Kristin Comeforo (Associate Professor of Communication, A&S) will work on the project “Quarantine Constellations: Queer Resilience, A Covid Love Story, and Critical Nostalgia as a Path towards Futurism and Queer Worldmaking.” This will be a reworking of a critical autoethnography they did during the Covid lockdown that explored this period, juxtaposed with the height of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s and early 1990s, as an experience of “déjà vu all over again” for many marginalized queer, trans-, Black and brown individuals. For the Humanities Center, Professor Comeforo will reimagine this work by leaning more heavily into speculative literary fiction (in the vein of Octavia Butler and Jewel Gomez) as a method that will more tightly tie these past traumas to present realities and point to futures of queer worldmaking that inform, and activate, the present. 

3. Marco Cupolo (Associate Professor of Hispanic Studies, A&S) will present “Autocratic Rises and Falls through the Dictator Novels of Carpentier, García Márquez and Roa Bastos.” Focusing on Alejo Carpentier’s Reasons of State (1974), Gabriel García Márquez’s The Autumn of the Patriarch (1976), and Augusto Roa Bastos’s I, the Supreme (1974), each of which, by focusing on real or imagined dictators, serves as a critical reference within the Latin American genre of dictator novels and contributes to a critical analysis of dictatorial power. Through these narratives on the rise and fall of Latin American autocrats and political leaders, Professor Cupolo will examine how they point to a persistence – and even strengthening – of autocratic tendencies in the present and potential futures of late capitalism. 

4. Benjamin Grossberg (Professor of English, A&S) will present “Ars Octopoetica: New Poems of Fabulation,” consisting of a “poetic manifesto” that articulates methods based in fabulation, sexual otherness, alienation, and the challenges of intimacy that have long shaped his work, as well as poems from his book Space Traveler and new poems to be completed during the upcoming year. Professor Grossberg’s new poems, which explore romantic engagement with an octopus, are the latest in his expansive oeuvre that speak to the joys of fabulation, speculation, and imagination, all the while juxtaposed with a raw meditation on the queer experience.

5. James McDonald (Associate Professor of Physics, A&S) will work on the project “Marriage and Family on the Final Frontier,” exploring potentially new forms that marriage and family units may take in the future as humankind colonizes nearby bodies such as Mars and the Moon. Based on teaching Robert Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress in a class on science fiction, as well as his class “The Martian Way” (UIST 155) which examines the colonization of Mars from scientific, political and social viewpoints, Professor McDonald will assess various family arrangements present in popular science fiction and consider them for their effectiveness in a “real life” colonial situation where resources are scarce and the risk of mortality is high.

The Humanities Center at the University of Hartford supports interdisciplinary scholarship focusing on the humanities through arts, sciences, technology, media, music, psychology, history, film, philosophy, and literature. For more information, contact Nicholas Ealy, Director, at, visit our web page, or follow us on Facebook.