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Postdoc Program Progresses

USC Dornsife provost postdocs are being mentored to think creatively in their research while developing their teaching portfolio and interacting with undergraduates and graduates.

By Dan Carino
February 6, 2013

From left, Lauren Jennings, Bryan Roberts, Julianne Werlin, Bradford Bouley, Julia Lee, USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett, Anastasia Kayiatos, Gaoheng Zhang, Anri Yasuda and Associate Provost Mark Todd. Photo by Dietmar Quistorf.

From left, Lauren Jennings, Bryan Roberts, Julianne Werlin, Bradford Bouley, Julia Lee, USC Provost Elizabeth Garrett, Anastasia Kayiatos, Gaoheng Zhang, Anri Yasuda and Associate Provost Mark Todd. Photo by Dietmar Quistorf.

Fellows of the Provost’s Postdoctoral Scholars in the Humanities Program are thriving in USC Dornsife. The program, which brings in a new cohort of scholars each Fall, is now in its second year.

“The 2012 cohort, selected from a pool of more than 700 applicants, is quickly showing us why its scholars deserved to be appointed,” said Mark Todd, director of the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs. “Since getting here in August, they have been fully immersed in their scholarship and in the USC community.”

Having published four papers to date, Bryan Roberts, a fellow specializing in bridging traditional philosophy and modern physics in the Department of Philosophy, credits newfound connections with mentors and colleagues in stimulating his thinking in innovative ways.

“The number of connections I’ve been able to create here have been incredible,” Roberts said.

Anastasia Kayiatos, whose work in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures centers on gender, sexuality and the body, as well as feminist theory, published an article last fall with Women’s Studies Quarterly titled “Silent Plasticity: Re-Enchanting Soviet Stagnation.” She is currently teaching a USC Dornsife class called “The Cold War Gets Hot.” She is also scheduled to give a talk at the Modern Language Association Convention. Kayiatos recently accepted a faculty position at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn.

Last Fall, Julianne Werlin of English and Bradford Bouley of history were invited to present at “Model Lives: Saintly Anatomy, Moving Automata and Ideal Societies in Early Modern Europe,” an event sponsored in October by the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute. As a result, Bouley, a specialist in early modern Italian history and the history of science, is planning a springtime conference at the institute.

“All of our postdoctoral fellows have been instrumental in creating programs intended to draw scholars from across the nation,” said Peter Mancall, vice dean for the humanities in USC Dornsife and director of the Huntington Institute. “They worked closely with USC Dornsife Ph.D. students, thereby enriching their time at the university.”

Werlin was recently invited to be a visiting postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Germany this summer, continuing her work on renaissance utopias as a model for society, and Bouley has accepted a position in the Department of History at Penn State. He also is working on the book manuscript “Dissecting the Holy: Anatomy and Sanctity in Early Modern Italy.”

Gaoheng Zhang of French and Italian took advantage of a nonteaching semester by heading to Italy to do research in Milan and Rome for his manuscript on Chinese immigration to Italy between 2000 and 2010.

“One of the best parts about the provost’s program is the freedom to pursue our scholarly interests, which has a positive impact on the work that we’re doing,” Zhang said.

“I’m impressed with the ambitious scholarship and research these postdoctoral fellows are conducting at USC,” said Elizabeth Garrett, USC provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “When we created this program two years ago, I was confident that we had the right faculty to mentor excellent young scholars and they, in turn, could contribute to the vibrancy of our humanities departments.

“We wanted to create a space for these fellows to work on their scholarship and creative work, under the guidance of our best faculty, while developing their teaching portfolio and interacting with our undergraduate and graduate students.”

The first cohort of postdoctoral scholars has also fared well. Nathan Perl-Rosenthal of history has a new faculty position in USC Dornsife, and Julia Sun-Joo Lee of English will join the faculty at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, this coming Fall. Anri Yasuda of East Asian languages and cultures and Alejandro Perez Carballo of philosophy are making their rounds on the job market while working on book manuscripts.

Applications for the Fall 2013 cohort have just closed with more than 950 applications for six appointments.

“Judging by the quality of this year’s applicants,” Todd said, “we’re looking forward to admitting another stellar cohort in the Fall.”