Sofya Aptekar’s dissertation, “Immigrant Naturalization and Nation-Building in North America,” is an empirical examination of tensions in the social construction of nationhood at the critical juncture of citizenship acquisition by foreigners. Sofya’s study of nation-building in the United States and Canada uses a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches that overlap with other disciplinary traditions. Sofya’s work explores both the perspectives of the state actors and the immigrants themselves and the meanings they attached to becoming members of the polity.
J. Michelle Coghlan
Michelle Coghlan’s dissertation, “Revolution’s Afterlife: the Paris Commune in American Cultural Memory,” traces the Commune’s uncanny persistence in the U.S. literary and cultural imaginary into the Modernist period, unearthing the ways Americans represented and consumed the spectacle — and the specter — of the Commune and its fiery aftermath across a variety of literary forms and mass-cultural mediums. With the support of a Summer Research Prize, she conducted research on her fourth chapter in the S. Guy Endore papers and the Socialist and Labor Movement Pamphlets collection at UCLA’s Special Collections.
Jamie Sherman’s dissertation, “The Color of Muscle: Play, Performance, and Everyday Realities in a Brooklyn Body Building Gym,” looks at the way everyday practices of self-improvement and self-transformation articulate, address, and engage dominant ideological tensions in contemporary American society. Looking narrowly at social relations and bodily practices at a Brooklyn bodybuilding gym, this project asks what kinds of moral worlds are constructed through the disciplining of self and body and how these serve to address the particular challenges of social inequality in America's urban centers