Graduate Fellows 2016-2017

Ben Davidson
Department of History, GSAS


Project: Freedom’s Generation: Coming of Age in the Era of Emancipation

Ben Davidson is a PhD candidate in United States History at NYU. His dissertation traces the lives of the generation of black and white children, in the North, South, and West, who grew up during the Civil War era and were the first generation to come of age after the end of slavery. The project explores how young people learned persistent lessons carried into adulthood about complexities inherent in ideas and experiences of emancipation, and it assesses how these lessons were transformed in memory by the turn of the twentieth century. Davidson’s research has been supported by a Jacob Javits fellowship, as well as by short-term awards from the Huntington Library, the Massachusetts Historical Society, the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and the Virginia Historical Society, among others. He has taught high school English, worked as a researcher for a children’s book publisher, and taught History 101 at NYU.

Yaelle Frohlich
Department of History/Hebrew & Judaic Studies, GSAS


Project: Holy Land in the Mind’s Eye: Diaspora Jewish Perceptions of Palestine, 1830-1882

Yaelle Frohlich is a doctoral candidate in New York University’s joint program in History and Hebrew & Judaic Studies. She received her BA in English Communications (Journalism) and MA in Modern Jewish History from Yeshiva University. Her work focuses on the circulation of information about Palestine in the nineteenth-century Jewish press, engaging with questions of mass migration, ideological movements, identity formation, and the emergence of a transnational Jewish public sphere. She is also interested in Hebrew and Yiddish literary translation, such as Yehoash’s Yiddish Bible translation (1922-5) and Chaim Nachman Bialik’s epic poem, “In the City of Slaughter” (1903). Additionally, she has an extensive background in stage performance, editing, and creative writing.

Zoe Graham
Department of Cinema Studies, GSAS


Project: Reclaiming Rouch: the Transnational Legacy of the Ateliers Varan documentary film school

Zoe Graham is a PhD candidate in the Department of Cinema Studies and a documentary filmmaker in the Culture and Media Program at NYU. Her dissertation, entitled ‘Reclaiming Rouch: the transnational legacy of the Ateliers Varan documentary film school’, explores anthropologist and filmmaker Jean Rouch’s pedagogical legacy, through the Ateliers Varan global documentary film school, with a particular focus on its work in Mozambique and Brazil. In addition to the Center for the Humanities doctoral fellowship, her research has been generously funded by the Social Science Research Council, NYU’s Corrigan Fellowship and the Provost’s Global Research Initiative. Zoe holds a BA in Modern Languages from Oxford University and an MA in International Journalism from Falmouth University, UK. Her documentary films have screened at international film festivals and been used for advocacy by human rights organizations.

Xiaochang Li
Department of MCC, Steinhardt


Project: Divination Engines: A Media History of Text Prediction

Xiaochang Li is a doctoral candidate in the department of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University. Her dissertation, “Divination Engines: A Media History of Text Prediction,” traces the history of statistical modeling techniques in natural language processing and their role in the rise of “big data” analytics and machine learning as pervasive forms of knowledge work. More broadly, she is interested in the material, discursive, and epistemic arrangements that shape how we imagine, define, and coordinate cultural and computational practices. She holds an S.M. in Comparative Media Studies from MIT and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from NYU.

Alaina M. Morgan
Department of History, GSAS


Project: Atlantic Crescent: Afro-Muslim Internationalism, Anti-Colonialism and Transnational Community Formation, 1955-2005

Alaina M. Morgan is a PhD candidate in the Department of History at New York University, specializing in the history of the African Diaspora. She is currently writing her dissertation, entitled Atlantic Crescent: Black Muslim Internationalism, Anti-Colonialism and Transnational Community Formation, 1955-2005, which is a social and political history of the role of decolonization in the formation of political communities among Black Muslims in the Atlantic basin. Alaina holds B.A. in Religion from Rutgers University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School.

Emma Otheguy
Department of History, GSAS


Project: Appealing Peru: Basque Identity and the Potosí Mines

Emma Otheguy is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at New York University. Her dissertation, Appealing Peru: Basque Identity and the Potosí Mines, explores ethnogenesis among Basque-speakers in Spain and colonial Latin America. In 2014, Emma was awarded the Mellon Fellowship for Dissertation Research in Original Sources from the Council of Library and Information Resources. Emma is also a children’s author with a strong Latino focus. Her debut picture book, a biography of Cuban poet and national hero José Martí, is forthcoming from Lee & Low Books in 2017.

Blevin Shelnutt
Department of English, GSAS


Project: Print Capital: Broadway and the Making of Mass Culture, 1836-1860

Blevin Shelnutt is a PhD Candidate in English and American Literature at New York University. She received a BA with high honors in English from Davidson College and an MA in English from NYU. Her dissertation investigates how people conceived of and inhabited New York City’s Broadway during the period it emerged as the nation’s modern publishing capital. In doing so, she traces a distinct tradition of mid-nineteenth-century writing that connects key features of Broadway’s material life—mirrors, gaslights, child-peddlers, and theaters—to the possibilities and challenges of mass print, in particular the role of the printed text as a medium of human connection. She is a founding member of the research collaborative, NewYorkScapes, and has received awards supporting her research from the American Antiquarian Society, the Rare Book School, and the Library Company of Philadelphia. Blevin is a 2016-2017 Mellon Dissertation Fellow in English and joins the Center as an honorary fellow.