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2021-2022 Fellows

Charli Brissey
Assistant Professor of Dance

"New Suns, Midwest Futures"

New Suns, Midwest Futures is a bi-weekly podcast series and interactive website focusing onqueer and BIPOC Midwestern performing artists (born or relocated) working loosely aroundthemes of land, place, identity, and social justice. Derived from Octavia Butler’s quote “There is nothing new under the sun, but there are new suns” this project is positioned within a criticalfeminist science fiction framework, aligning with speculative fiction’s goal of collectivelyimagining new systems and spaces outside of cis-patriarchal white supremacist models. NewSuns: Midwest Futures specifically asks how dance and performance might employ sciencefiction strategies to build just futures beyond the “end of the world,” and how strategies ofworld-making and embodied resistance create networks and infrastructures for performingartists with marginalized identities in the Midwest to thrive. While not directly focused onCOVID-19, the timely launch of this project will undoubtedly integrate the issues, concerns, andpossibilities of moving out of the pandemic and collectively dreaming up what happens next ina considerably different social-political-ecological landscape as we come back together in person.

Aliyah Khan
Associate Professor of English, and Afroamerican and African Studies

“The Caribbean Qasida: Muslim Devotional Songs in Trinidad and Guyana”

The qasida is a single-subject, often monorhymed or monometeredpanegyric or elegiac Islamic devotional song or lyric poem, akin to the better-known qawwaliand ghazal in its Sufi Muslim development, and incorporating the lesser-known forms of naatsung to the Prophet Muhammad and hamd sung to Allah. Khan traces the late 19th century and 20thcentury migration and adaptation of qasidas from India and Pakistan to the Caribbean, specifically to Trinidad and Guyana, half of the populations of which are people of Indiandescent. There is no single existing academic essay on this diasporic religious musical form, the Indo-Caribbean iteration of the qasida; and certainly no book. She proposes to write the first such research essay, with the eventual aim of writing a book on the Muslim music of the Caribbean.

Melanie Manos
Lecturer, Art & Design

"Visualizing Women's Work"

Research on the work of indigenous and African American women’s labor in the era of the Thaddeus Kosciusko Monument, Detroit, including site-specific performance-based explorations for conveying women’s societal contributions to combat their erasure and devaluation in public historical commemoration as part of the Visualizing Women's Work project.

Visualizing Women’s Work (VWW) is a research and community centered project examining gender bias in historic public monuments through site-specific performances that spotlight the historically erased, devalued contributions of women across identities. Performances are designed era-responsively, using multi-media formats and referencing materials, tools and physical movement of women’s paid and unpaid labor, intuitively and collaboratively choreographed. 

Susan Najita
Associate Professor of American Culture and English Language and Literature

"Hula Consciousness"

This year, 2021, marks a significant moment in options for remote learning of the unique, often esoteric performance traditions of the Hawaiian hula kuahu (altar hula), a sacred and ancient form whose most vigorous and influential lineage is the Kanaka'ole family on the island of Hawai'i (also known as the Big Island). In March, one of the Kanaka'ole's foremost kumu (master teachers), KekuhiKeali'ikanaka'oleohaililani, will teach an inaugural class called "Ulu Ka ‘Ōhi‘a Hula Consciousness Seminar, Level 1." In this course Kumu Kekuhi will be teaching hula‘aiha‘a, a specific form of the hula associated with the Pele clan of the volcano, from aholistic perspective that includes all of the dimensions of this form, including mindset, process, ritual, kinship with the hula family, and kinship with the first hula people, nature. She will be teaching these aspects of the hula in the manner that her owncherished grandparents taught her. This is different from the typical form ofinstruction one finds in most contemporary hālau hula (school of hula). "Ulu Ka‘Ōhi‘a" is a unique and unprecedented opportunity to learn from the most respectedcultural practitioner alive today.