Four new scholars have joined the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts in this fall. The Society, established by a gift from charter trustee Lloyd Cotsen and the Humanities Council’s leadership in 1999, is an interdisciplinary community of postdoctoral fellows and Princeton faculty members that aims to bring innovative approaches to scholarship and teaching. It offers outstanding young scholars with a recent Ph.D. the opportunity to enhance their teaching and research over a period of three years.
“It is a real pleasure to see the Society of Fellows gathering together in person, after the pandemic pushed so many of us apart last year,” said Michael Gordin, director of the Society and the Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History. “The core of the Society is a commitment that engaged conversation across disciplines is vital to our intellectual lives at Princeton. The range of ideas and depth of expertise among the fellows always sparks delight, and then wonder.”
From its beginnings, the Society has been committed to building a scholarly community with a great diversity of experiences and perspectives, and to creating a collaborative environment for inquiry, debate, and groundbreaking scholarship and teaching. Its array of fellowships has included a fellowship in LGBT studies since 2005, generously supported by the Fund for Reunion/Princeton BTGALA, and a fellowship in race and ethnicity studies since 2006, funded by Princeton's President and Dean of the Faculty.
For all fellowships, the Society welcomes a diverse and international pool of applicants. The Society has hosted more than 100 postdoctoral fellows at Princeton who have moved on to pursue careers at a wide range of institutions both in the U.S. and abroad.
The full cohort of 12 Cotsen postdoctoral fellows is drawn from a wide range of disciplines in the humanities and humanities-related social sciences — and includes one astrophysicist. Fellows hold appointments as lecturers in their academic host departments and in the Humanities Council, teaching half-time while conducting their own research over a period of three years.
Meeting regularly for formal and informal discussions, seminars, workshops and reading groups, the fellows pursue new knowledge and understanding within and across disciplines. During their time at Princeton, they engage with the campus community in many ways: advising and mentoring undergraduate students, participating in academic programs and panels, presenting their research, developing new courses and co-teaching with faculty members.
The new Cotsen fellows of the 2021-24 cohort are:
Matthew Delvaux, lecturer in the Department of History, the Humanities Council and the Program in Humanistic Studies. At Princeton, he plans to complete his first book, “Transregional Slave Networks of the Northern Arc, 700-900 CE,” which focuses on the lives of Viking captives trafficked out of Western Europe and into the slave markets of Central Asia. His project advances textual and material approaches to reveal how marginalized people connected the medieval and Islamic worlds together during a time commonly seen as a period of divergence. Delvaux, an active-duty veteran of the U.S. Army, holds a Ph.D. in medieval history from Boston College. This fall, he is co-teaching in the yearlong, team-taught Humanities Sequence, Interdisciplinary Approaches to Western Culture I: Literature and the Arts.
Ayah Nurridin, lecturer in the Department of African American Studies and the Humanities Council. A historian of medicine, she examines how African Americans navigated questions of racial science, eugenics and hereditarianism in relation to struggles for racial justice in the 19th and 20th centuries. Her research interests include how race and scientific racism shaped African American discourses and activism around health inequality. Nuriddin is working to complete her book manuscript, “Seed and Soil: Black Eugenic Thought in the 19th and 20th Centuries.” She received her Ph.D. in the history of medicine from Johns Hopkins University. This fall, she is teaching “Beyond Tuskegee: Race and Human Subjects Research in US History,” crosslisted in African American studies and history.
Nicolás Sánchez-Rodríguez, lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese and the Humanities Council, is a scholar of 19th-century Latin American literature and culture, political economy, and money. His research lies in the intersection of literary studies and capitalism’s financial and administrative cultures, and he is writing a monograph on “The Minted-City: Money, Value, and Crises of Representation in 19th-Century Colombia, 1822-1903.” He earned a Ph.D. in Latin American studies from Duke University and most recently held a postdoctoral fellowship at Brown University’s Pembroke Center. This fall, he is teaching “Fleshing the Soul: Money and Matter in Spanish America,” crosslisted in Spanish and Portuguese and Latin American studies.
Daniel Tamayo, the NASA Hubble/Sagan and Lyman Spitzer, Jr. Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. His research focuses on how planetary systems form and evolve over time, incorporating new constraints from the ever-growing sample of exoplanets — planets discovered outside our solar system. Tamayo is especially interested in the unresolved question whether typical planetary systems' orbital configurations remain essentially fixed, or whether they evolve and rearrange over time. Evolving configurations would resemble those of the solar system, whose orbits are dynamically chaotic on long timescales, allowing for the possibility of collisions between planets over its 10-billion-year lifetime. Tamayo earned his Ph.D. in astronomy and space science from Cornell University.