Graduate Student, Nathan Magnusson, Wins Prestigious Fellowship and Participates in Interdisciplinary Seminar

Submitted by Ellwood Wiggins on

I am representing the department this year as a Joff Hanauer fellow.
The fellowship is awarded every year to six graduate students who view
coursework in Western Civilization as essential to the curriculum of
an American liberal arts institution. To this end, it seeks to foster
scholarship in the Western cultural tradition by helping to prepare
graduate students from different disciplines articulate their
similarities and differences.

With five other graduate students from a variety of departments, I
attend a bi-monthly seminar led by Dr. John Toews from the Comparative
History of Ideas Program. Each quarter focuses on one thematic. In
fall quarter, for instance, we discussed intersections of narration,
time, and history. Our readings revolved around David Mitchell’s novel
Cloud Altas and its film adaptation. As a theoretical background, we
read essays by Freud, Nietzsche, and Foucault.

Winter quarter began with presentations of our dissertation projects.
Melanie Hernandez (English) presented her work on racial passing in
American literature of the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries,
Adriana Vasquez (Classics) on Ovid’s international reception, Artur
Rossman (Comparative Literature) on the role of theology in the Milos
Czeslaw’s poetry, Jon Olivera (History) on the American colonization
of the Philippines, and Rachel Sanders (Political Science) on the
politics of race and obesity. For the rest of the quarter, we will
concentrate on issues of imperialism and modernism in anticipation of
a lecture given by Dr. Paul Stasi.

The seminar has benefitted my own work as a Germanist in two primary
ways. First, the issues of narrative, time, and history emerge in my
own project, and our discussions have given me new impulses for the
dissertation. Second, it has been a valuable experience working with
graduate students from other disciplines. Thinking through how to
present a Germanics-centered project to a wider audience has helped me
clarify my ideas and has prepared me to articulate my dissertation’s
broader significance.