MIT School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences - Great Ideas Change the World

New Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows join the MIT community


Research across disciplines and boundaries 
With the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, the School awards up to three fellowships each year to promising young scholars working at the intersection of humanities disciplines, or between humanities and other disciplines. This Fellowship is intended especially for scholars who work in more than one specialty within the humanities, or whose work bridges from the humanities to science, technology, or architecture. We are delighted to welcome our three new Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows for 2012-2014 — Rebecca Dirksen, Julia Panko, and Marcella Szablewicz — and to welcome back the Mellon Fellows for 2011-2013 and 2010-2012. 


                                                      Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows | 2012-2014

Rebecca Dirksen | Music and Theater Arts

Rebecca received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Los Angeles in Ethnomusicology. She studies contemporary and classical music in Haiti, focusing upon a wide range of musical groups who have used cultural action for community development. Her dissertation is titled "Power and Potential in Contemporary Haitian Music: Mizik Angaje, Cultural Action, and Community- Led Development in Port-au-Prince." •

Julia Lehua Panko | Literature

Julia received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Santa Barbara in Literature. She is a literature scholar who studies how changes in the technology of media storage generated innovations in literary imagination, forcing a reconceptualization of what books mean. Her dissertation is titled "Dead-tree  Data: Print Novels, Information Storage, and Media Transition, 1910/2010." •

Marcella Szablewicz | Comparative Media Studies

Marcella received her Ph.D. from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Communication and Rhetoric. Marcella studies internet gaming in China from an ethnographic perspective, looking at the politics of video games, concerns about "addiction," and the aim of many games to "produce ideal citizens." She situates this study in the internet cafes, dorm rooms, and small apartments where gaming takes place. Her dissertation is titled "The Politics of Internet Gaming in China." •

                                                      Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows | 2011-2013



Hye Jean Chung | Comparative Media Studies

Hye Jean Chung received her PhD in Film and Media Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she concentrated on transnational cinema, cross-border mobility, production studies, digital visual effects and animation, documentary film, East Asian cinema, and Asian-American cinema.  

As a fellow at MIT, Chung is working on a book project that analyzes the globally dispersed and digitally networked workforce of film production pipelines, and its relation to the fictional spaces, computer-generated imagery and digital aesthetics of contemporary cinema. She is also pursuing another project that explores how media texts, cultural practices, and digital technologies manifest and actualize aspirations for global mobility.

Her work has been published in journals such as Spectator and Contemporaneity, and in the anthology Documentary Testimonies: Global Archives of Suffering, edited by Bhaskar Sarkar and Janet Walker. Other essays, “Media Heterotopia and Transnational Filmmaking: Mapping Real and Virtual Worlds” and “Kung Fu Panda: Animated Animal Bodies as Layered Sites of (Trans)National Identities,” will appear in forthcoming issues of Cinema Journal and The Velvet Light Trap, respectively. She has recently co-edited and contributed to a themed issue of Media Fields Journal on the intersection of media, labor, and mobility. In addition to her scholarly endeavors, Chung has worked as a journalist, and published translations of literary works from Korean into English and vice versa. •


Gretchen E. Henderson | Writing and Humanistic Studies

Gretchen E. Henderson writes across genres and the arts to invigorate her critical and creative practices. Working at the intersection of literature, art history, museum studies, disability studies, and music, her research explores aesthetics of deformity, museology as narrative strategy, poetics of (dis)embodiment / (in)accessibility / author(ity), and literary appropriations of music. She holds degrees from Princeton University, Columbia University, and the University of Missouri, as well as a Preparatory Certificate in Voice from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Gretchen’s forthcoming novels include Galerie de Difformité (&NOW Books, winner of the Madeleine P. Plonsker Emerging Writer’s Prize) and The House Enters the Street (Starcherone Books), as well as a critical volume about literary appropriations of music and silence, On Marvellous Things Heard (Green Lantern Press), and a poetry chapbook engaging cartographic history, Wreckage: By Land & By Sea (Dancing Girl Press). Her fiction, poetry, scholarship, and hybrid writings have been published in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, Denver Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, Notre Dame Review, Witness, disClosure: a Journal of Social Theory, The &NOW Awards: The Best Innovative Writing, and elsewhere. Her work has been heavily influenced by residencies at artist colonies, by collaborative practice, by cross-disciplinary inquiries, and by teaching at a number of colleges.

Among other projects while at MIT, Gretchen will be working on a book tentative titled Ugliness: A Cultural History, while continuing the material, collaborative deformation of her Galerie de Difformité, which invites participation at: •



Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows | 2010-12


Chuong-Dai Vo | Foreign Languages and Literatures 

Chuong-Dai Vo's research focuses on how war and global migrations affect the gendered production and genres of literature, cinema and visual culture, in particular in the circuits between Southeast Asia and the U.S. Her current book project, An Assemblage of Fragments: Transnational Vietnamese Culture and Post-War Returns, examines post-1975 representations of the Vietnamese civil war and its specter in post 9/11 productions. The project theorizes diaspora as foundational to the make-up of the nation, and therefore disruptive of nationalist historiographies used in discourses of war and national sovereignty. The project also challenges academic models of national literatures and cultures by reframing the “national” as always already archaeological sites of diasporic, transnational representational practices.

Her publications can be found in Journal of Vietnamese Studies; Political Regimes and the Media in Asia, edited by Krishna Sen and Terence Lee; and Film in Contemporary Southeast Asia: Cultural Interpretation and Social Intervention, edited by David Lim and Hiroyuki Yamamoto. She is co-editing an anthology on transnational and diasporic Southeast Asian culture, to be published by University of Hawai’i in association with UCLA Center for Asian American Studies. • 


Amaranth Borsuk |
Comparative Media Studies + Writing and Humanistic Studies  

Amaranth Borsuk is a poet and scholar. Her PhD. is in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California, where her work focused on the use of writing technologies by modern and contemporary poets to change their relationship to the page and their constructions of authorship.

As a fellow, she will undertake a book of essays on the state of digital poetics and work on her second manuscript of poems. Her essays have appeared in Writing Technologies and the H.D. issue of the Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory. Poems have recently appeared in Colorado ReviewColumbia Poetry Review, AND FIELD, among other journals. Her long poem, Tonal Saw, was published as a chapbook by The Song Cave. Collaboration is central to her practice; she has translated and transverted the work of Oulipo poet Paul Braffort, working with Gabriela Jauregui; undertaken a mutationally conjoined poem project with Kate Durbin; and crafted an augmented-reality chapbook with Brad Bouse.

In addition to writing and studying poetry, Amaranth is a letterpress printer and book artist whose fascination with printed matter informs her work on digital media.  • 







                                                      Mellon Postdoctoral Fellows | 2009-11



Joel Burges | Literature, and Comparative Media Studies


Joel Burges received his B.A. from Yale in American Studies, and his PhD from Stanford in English and American Literature. His current research and teaching interests include twentieth and twenty-first century literature, television, and film, the relationship between technology and time in contemporary culture, critical theory, and media studies.

While at MIT, Burges is working on a book provisionally entitled Turning back the Clock: Technological Obsolescence and Historical Time in Contemporary Culture. An essay on filmmaker Douglas Sirk related to this book has been published in the collection Trash Culture: Objects and Obsolescence in Cultural Perspective, edited by Gillian Pye; another essay, "Adorno's Mimeograph: The Uses of Obsolescence in Minima Moralia," is forthcoming in New German Critique.

A blogger at Stanford's Arcade, Burges is also working on other projects related to the status of history in contemporary culture, including: a forthcoming essay on 9/11, Hannah Arendt, and the contemporary novel; research and writing about how televisual fiction alters the shape of literary fiction after 1945, and about how TV shows such as Deadwood build "worlds"; and collaborating on an essay that proposes a sonic vocabulary for the study of film.  • 



Wayne Marshall | Foreign Languages and Literatures | Music


Wayne Marshall is an ethnomusicologist focusing on the musical and cultural production of the Caribbean and the Americas, and their circulation in the wider world, with particular attention to digital technologies.

While a Mellon Fellow at MIT, he's writing a book on music, networked media, and transnational youth culture. He recently co-edited and contributed to Reggaeton (Duke University Press 2009), and has published in journals such as Popular Music and Callaloo, while writing for popular outlets like The FaderThe Wire, and the Boston Phoenix.

He holds a PhD. in ethnomusicology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he completed his dissertation on migration, media, and nation, "Routes, Rap, Reggae:Hearing the Histories of Hip-Hop and Reggae Together." Dr. Marshall has taught courses and lectured on music, media, and culture at Brandeis University, University of Chicago, Harvard College, and Brown University. He is also an active DJ and maintains and runs the blog and website called Wayne and Wax. •  



                                                      For more information
                                                      Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships