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December 2, 2014

An article by Sarah Piazza (Comparative Literature) was published recently in the Latin American Theatre Review. In “Musicalized Metatheatre: the Bolero as Intertext in Quíntuples by Luis Rafael Sánchez,” she analyzes how one of Puerto Rico’s best-known authors uses the bolero, a popular Latin American musical genre, in his play Quíntuples (1984). Her essay traces the parallels between characteristics of the music and the text as a fusion of dramatic and narrative elements. 

Sarah’s dissertation, tentatively titled “Performing the Novel and Reading the Romantic Song: Music and Metafiction,” focuses on how popular Caribbean music manifests itself in contemporary novels. She explores five novels from Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Martinique that use musical genres to reflect on the creative process: Tres tristes tigres, by Guillermo Cabrera Infante; Sirena Selena vestida de pena, by Mayra Santos Febres; La importancia de llamarse Daniel Santos, by Luis Rafael Sánchez; Cien botellas en una pared, by Ena Lucía Portela; and Le cahier de romances, by Raphaël Confiant.

Sarah is spending six weeks in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this fall, where she was able to speak with Sánchez and Santos Febres, two of the authors she studies.

In Puerto Rico, literary studies are coming to life!” she says. “Professors at the Universidad de Puerto Rico (UP) have graciously welcomed me and shared their expertise on Caribbean literature. Additionally, the UP boasts an entire reading room dedicated to Caribbean, and especially Puerto Rican, authors,” where she was able to examine newspaper clippings, book reviews, and academic articles.

The experience in San Juan would not have been possible without support from both of my thesis advisers, Aníbal González and David Quint. Professor González generously put me in contact with his colleagues and friends who teach at the Universidad de Puerto Rico; his logistical support made my idea of researching in Puerto Rico a reality.”

Sarah earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Oregon’s Clark Honors College, with majors in French and English. Before joining the Department of Comparative Literature, she earned a Master of Philosophy degree in Spanish from Yale. In addition to her studies, she loves to run with the New Haven Road Runners, go indoor rock climbing at City Climb, and organize activities for undergraduates as a Graduate Affiliate in Davenport College.

Daniel Kim (MD/PhD) has been awarded a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship for New Americans to support his graduate studies at Yale. He is one of 30 graduate and professional students in the US to receive this highly competitive honor, which recognizes and provides funding to immigrants and the children of immigrants who show extraordinary potential.

Daniel was born in California to Korean parents. He earned his undergraduate degree from Harvard, where he was co-president of Harvard Red Cross and conducted research on skin cancer. A first-year graduate student, he plans to study targeted therapies for cancer as his dissertation project.

I believe that my clinical work will help ensure that my research is meeting unmet clinical needs,” he says. “I also believe that my translational research will allow my patients the best chance at surviving cancer.”

At Yale, Daniel serves as one of the leaders of the Asian Pacific American Medical Student Association and volunteers at the regular health screenings held at the Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen (DESK). He is also involved with the Course Review and Education Policy committees at the Medical School.

The fellowship comes as a huge blessing and encouragement,” he says.  “I feel very humbled to have been included in the Soros community. I am constantly in awe of the amazing contributions my colleagues are making in their fields, and my only hope is that I can make a similar impact in my career as a physician-scientist.”

Isaiah Lorado Wilner (History) has won the Canadian Historical Association’s 2014 Canadian Aboriginal History Article Prize for his essay, “A Global Potlatch: Identifying the Indigenous Influence on Western Thought.” The prize, sponsored by the Aboriginal History Study Group, is awarded annually to the best journal article or chapter in an edited collection dealing with the history of indigenous people in Canada.

He is spending this year as a Fellow at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Freie Universität Berlin. 

In “A Global Potlatch,” published in a special issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Isaiah argues that indigenous people have actively altered the Western world with their “idea power.” The example that he uncovers concerns a founding figure of modern anthropology, Franz Boas, and his 1894 stay with the Kwakwaka’wakw people of Vancouver Island, in British Columbia. Reversing standard accounts that take Boas as the central actor, Isaiah argues that it was the Kwakwaka’wakw people who “civilized” Boas into a way of seeing. Guided by an indigenous intellectual, George Hunt, the Kwakwaka’wakw made use of the potlatch — a series of dances and feasts that was also a survival strategy and a system of governance — to transmit to Boas a vision of humanity as a single, varied, and constantly changing global family. The result was Boas’s dynamic concept of culture.

The Study Group commended the essay for its novel reading of global history “from the inside out,” particularly its evidence showing that native people “did more than merely react to the process of colonialism initiated and directed by outsiders.” Boas’s understanding of culture is “now recognized as a major element of Western thought,” the Study Group added, one that “deserves to be recognized as having its roots in the laws, lifeways, and philosophy of the Kwakwaka’wakw peoples.”

Isaiah’s dissertation, directed by John Mack Faragher and Glenda Gilmore, focuses on the Hunt-Boas partnership and its role in the making of modern thought. In 2011, Isaiah organized an interdisciplinary conference at Yale, “Indigenous Visions: Rediscovering the World of Franz Boas.” With Professor Ned Blackhawk, Isaiah is editing a book of essays on Boas and his circle for Yale University Press. He is an alumnus of Yale College.

Kevin Holden (Comparative Literature) is a poet as well as a scholar. He has two books of poetry scheduled for publication in 2015, along with his translation of the work of a Belgian poet. In addition, his poem “Bees” appeared in The New Yorker in September. [link to]

Birch, which won the 2014 Ahsahta Chapbook Prize, will be published in February by Ahsahta Press; Solar, which won the 2015 Fence Modern Poets Prize, will be released in September by Fence Books. The Figure Outward, his translation of L’énonciateur des Extrêmes by Jean Daive, is forthcoming from La Presse in 2015. Previous publications include two chapbooks: Alpine (White Queen Press, 2008) and Identity (Cannibal Books, 2010).

Kevin describes his poetry as “experimental,” and says he frequently writes about love, mathematics, and the natural world.

His dissertation, advised by Paul Fry and Rainer Nägele, is tentatively titled “Heliograph: On Poetry and Alterity.” In it, Kevin focuses on 19th and 20th century poetry and philosophy in French, Russian, German, Italian, and English, with an emphasis on what he calls “non-paraphrasable meaning in poetry and its relation to nonhuman alterity.” A heliograph is “among other things, a mirror that sends Morse code via flashes of sunlight,” he says. “It is also literally ‘sun writing.’ The connection to my dissertation is twofold: my first large book of poetry is called Solar, and the authors I’m writing about seem to consider the sun as a kind of asymptotic limit for what they are trying to make and do.” “Alterity” means “otherness,” and in Kevin’s study, he considers the “otherness” of animals, angels, mathematical concepts, and even crystals.

A native of Massachusetts, Kevin was raised in Rhode Island and earned degrees from Harvard (AB), Cambridge (MPhil), and Iowa (MFA), where he taught for a year before beginning his doctoral studies. At Yale, he was the McDougal Arts and Culture Fellow in 2012–2013. He serves as a student deacon of the University Church in Yale and as poetics editor at Feedback, an academic journal started by Henry Sussman, visiting professor of German and Germanic languages. Kevin is a member of the Working Group in Contemporary Poetics at the Whitney Humanities Center and was a Beinecke Fellow, reading in the Collection of American Literature. He has taught queer theory at the Free School of the People’s Art Collective in New Haven, and for fun, likes to play the board game, Go, and tennis.