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Research Initiatives

Hemispheric South/s Research Initiative

The Hemispheric South/s Research Initiative supports an interdisciplinary intellectual community of scholars and students invested in thinking critically about race, ethnicity, nation, culture, and power. Hemispheric methodologies and research demonstrate a particular interest in comparison, interaction, overlap and movement between people, locales, and ideas.


Faculty & Lecturer Research Projects


As a professor of English, Carl Gutiérrez-Jones’s current research examines race, paranoia and legal rhetoric. Although the research focuses primarily on the ways in which race and legal battles are represented and critically explored in literature, Gutiérrez-Jones is particularly interested in the interdisciplinary quality of these issues. His latest book, Critical Race Narratives: A Study of Race, Rhetoric and Injury, engages several fields (including sociology, history, socio-biology, legal studies and cultural studies) in order to compare a common rethinking of race and disciplinary tools that draws heavily on narrative experimentation. He is currently pursuing a book-length project devoted to race and paranoia in contemporary culture. In addition, he is preparing a book-length study that examines encyclopedic logic as engaged and critiqued in contemporary culture. Gutiérrez-Jones is also co-author of two web projects: the Affirmative Action and Diversity Project, and the Race and Pedagogy Project.
Stephanie LeMenager, an associate professor of English and the current director of the American Cultures and Global Contexts Center, is currently at work on her second book project entitled Loving Oil, Hating the Weather: A Literary History of Environmentalism 2.0. Her first book, Manifest and Other Destinies: Territorial Fictions of the Nineteenth Century United States won the 2005 Thomas J. Lyon Award for Best Book in Western American Literary studies.
A professor of Black Studies and Sociology, George Lipsitz studies how the rapid movement of of products, people, ideas, images, commodities,and culture across national borders influences struggles for social justice. His recent and forthcoming publications analyze the relationships linking the tradition of abolition democracy in the United States to struggles for global justice. Lipsitz's publications include American Studies in a Moment of Danger, The Possessive Investment in Whiteness, and Dangerous Crossroads.
An associate professor of English, Mark Maslan's current book-in-progress is False Lives: Biographical Fraud and Contemporary Fiction, a study of biographical fraud in contemporary personal narrative and fiction. It reads controversies concerning the reliability of certain personal narratives, together with novels about the falsification of the past, as symptoms of a cultural imperative to reconsider group identity in the wake of the demise of race as a valid concept. It distinguishes between two models of group identity: one that grounds it in a continuous shared history, and another that locates it in shared experiences of historical disruption. It shows that personal narrative generally relies on the first model, whereas novels of impersonation and cultural theory employ the second. Revelations of false reporting become enactments of the historical discontinuities that constitute group identity when absorbed into fictional or theoretical frameworks. False Lives examines three such frameworks: diaspora, passing and trauma.
Christopher Newfield is professor of American culture at UCSB. His research focuses on the processes of creativity and innovation, with a double focus on cultural and technological factors. He publishes on a range of topics that include the effects of higher education on society, corporate culture, culture and economics, the role of identity in socio-economic development, civil rights history, and the future of the middle class, He has conducted extensive fieldwork in a range of technology-dependent industries and has wide experience with the university side of copyright, patenting, and technology transfer. Professor Newfield has recently published Ivy and Industry: Business and the Making of the American University, 1880-1980, and is working on its sequel, entitled The Innovation Crisis: Business and the American University, 1975-2005.
Associate Professor of History Ann Plane is currently working on a project entitled "When I Awaked": Dreaming and Dream Narratives in the Cultures of Seventeenth-century New England. This is a book-length study of the indigenous theories of dreams and their practical uses both for European colonists and American Indians in southern New England. Both societies found dreams to offer meaningful encounters with supernatural forces, and thus members of each culture were curious about the meaning and status of dreams in local cosmologies. However, over the course of the century, European ideas about dreams and dreaming shifted and changed in the move from early modern to modern culture, and earlier English and Native ideas were relegated to the level of "folk belief." This aspect of colonization was perhaps at least as difficult for natives as the economic, political, and religious shifts accompanying it.
Professor of Art History Bruce Robertson has three large research interests which are the impetuous for a number of projects. The first is the nature of the performance of race in ante-bellum visual culture, an issue that grows out of the work of the genre painter William Sydney Mount (1807-1868). He has a book-length study of one painting, The Power of Music, in progress, and is co-organizing a major survey of genre painting with the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The second interest is the history of museums and the relationship of museums and university material collections: his case studies are London University and the South Kensington Museums, and the University of California and its museums. Also, because of his work in museums, he is interested in current issues of governance, curating, financing and public outreach. Finally, Professor Robertson has a long term interest in early twentieth-century modernism and the intertwining of nativist and primitivist ideas.
Lecturer Rob Wallace's research interests include popular music, globalization, poetics, and the intersections between literature and music. His forthcoming book exploring the complex relationship between various American writers and improvisation as a theory and practice is entitled Improvisation and the Making of American Literary Modernism (Continuum, 2010). He is currently working on a narrative history of the drumset. Rob has also published poetry, reviews, and music criticism.  As a percussionist he has performed throughout the United States and Canada in a variety of genres, from free improvisation to Hindustani classical music.  His recordings can be found on the pfMentum record label.