Wellesley College Newhouse Center for the Humanities Welcomes Scholars for Academic Year

August 14, 2007
Molly Tarantino,

WELLESLEY, Mass.— Twelve scholars – working on topics as varied as obsolescence in American architecture, girlhood in Japan, migration in a global age and the societal impact of pensions – will be in residence at the Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Wellesley College for the 2007-2008 academic year.

“We are delighted to welcome these scholars to the Wellesley College community,” said Tim Peltason, director of the center and professor of English. “Each brings a new perspective and intellectual excitement to the campus, and we look forward to the variety of ways in which they will enliven each other and the Wellesley College community by their presence here.”

The incoming scholars include two visiting scholars and 10 Newhouse Fellows, four of whom are Wellesley College faculty on sabbatical.


  • Anita Hill, professor of social policy, law and women’s studies, Brandeis University. While at Wellesley, Hill will begin to analyze the nearly 25,000 pieces of correspondence she received in the wake of her testimony at the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for a project titled “Lessons in the Letters: Learning About Race and Gender From the Private Responses to the Clarence Thomas Confirmation Hearing.” Hill also will be a senior scholar at the Wellesley Centers for Women for the year.

  • Mehrangiz Kar, attorney, writer and activist working toward the promotion of democracy, the rule of law and human rights within the framework of Islamic law in the Islamic Republic of Iran. Banned from making public appearances within her country, Kar comes to Wellesley via the “Scholars at Risk” network. In 2000, Kar was arrested and imprisoned on charges of acting against the national security of Iran. Charges against her are still pending, for which she may again be arrested upon her return.  While at Wellesley, Kar will continue with her own writing and political work, lecture in a variety of classes and convene small discussion groups of Wellesley faculty and students.


Newhouse Fellows pursue their own scholarship while engaging in the intellectual life of the college. While they devote themselves primarily to their own research, fellows also participate actively in the intellectual life of the institution, regularly meeting with one another,sharing their works in progress and sometimes serving as mentors to student research assistants. The fellowships are open to Wellesley College faculty on sabbatical, to junior and senior faculty members at other colleges and universities and to unaffiliated scholars and writers.

  • Daniel Abramson, associate professor of art and art history, Tufts University. Abramson is writing a book provisionally entitled Architecture in the Age of Obsolescence, exploring the relations between the concept of obsolescence and the rise of modernist architecture.

  • Elizabeth Ferry, assistant professor of anthropology, Brandeis University. Ferry will work on Matters of Value: Minerals and the Making of U.S.- Mexico, 1851-2007, a study that examines the variety of ways in which Mexican minerals have been used as objects of cultural exchange and definition.

  • Elisabeth Ford, assistant professor of English, Wellesley College. Ford will continue work on “X: Urban Bodies and African American Geographies in 20th-century Narrative,” looking at the importance of local geography for literary texts and arguing that geographical spaces are always marked by social intersections.

  • David Kaiser, associate professor of program in science, technology and society, MIT. Kaiser’s current book project is a cultural history of life and thought in American Cold War universities titled American Physics and the Cold War Bubble.

  • Leslie Kurke, professor of classics and comparative literature, University of California, Berkeley. Kurke’s research in progress considers the figure of Aesop and the traditions that surround him as a way to think about Greek popular culture and what it might have looked like in antiquity. In addition to serving as a Newhouse Faculty Fellow at Wellesley, Kurke will serve as the Mary J. Cornille Distinguished Visiting Professor in the Humanities, delivering public lectures on Greek literature and culture and teaching both a comparative literature course on “Detective Fiction and Psychoanalysis” and a faculty seminar on “Elvis Presley and Myths of America.”

  • Catherine Manegold, journalist and author. Manegold, who has served as both a professor of journalism at Emory University and a national correspondent for The New York Times, will continue work on Ten Hills Farm, a work of narrative nonfiction tracing the history of a 600-acre farm in Massachusetts from its purchase through 150 years of slavery and through two centuries of “historical amnesia.”  

  • Susan Meyer, professor of English, Wellesley College. Meyer is writing Cather in History: Public Health, Race and the Body, a book that argues for an intimate relationship between Willa Cather’s fiction and the important social and political currents of the early 20th century.

  • Geeta Patel, associate professor of women’s studies, Wellesley College. Patel will study colonial pensions in South Asia  for her book, Financing Selves: Pensionary Promises, Pensionary Failures, which argues that these pensions were not just financial contracts, but the forms through which trust, service, charity, well-being, ideas of self and the responsibilities associated with forms of governance took shape.

  • Abdourahman Waberi, poet, novelist and essayist from the Republic of Djibouti. Waberi will continue his work on a novel dealing with the theme of migration in the global age.

  • Eve Zimmerman, associate professor of East Asian languages and literature, Wellesley College. Zimmerman will continue work on her book, From the Outside In: Visions of Girlhood in Modern Japanese Women’s Literature, which focuses on shifting representations of the Japanese girl through the modern period.

The Newhouse Center promotes innovative, imaginative and influential research and teaching in the humanities. Bringing the best current research to bear upon new and enduring issues in the humanities, the center aims to create a dynamic and cosmopolitan intellectual community that extends from Wellesley College to the Boston-area community and beyond. The center was established in 2004 by a generous gift from former Wellesley trustee Susan Marley Newhouse ’55 and her husband, Donald.

Wellesley College has been a leader in the education of women for more than 130 years. The College's 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,300 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 65 countries.