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2018-2019 PWR Research Award Updates

conductor in front of an orchestra

In spring 2018, 7 PWR instructors received Research Awards to support their intellectual project in the 2018-2019 academic year.  Below you can read about their work and the progress they have made -- and still plan to make -- on these projects.

Note: The recipients of the 2019-2020 PWR research awards will be announced in early June.

Christine Alfano

During winter and spring 2019, I undertook a revision of Envision in Depth, the textbook born directly from my work in PWR 1 and PWR 2 and my close friendship and collaboration with my co-author, Alyssa O'Brien.  One key difference between this revision and those previous is that for the upcoming edition (5th of EID, 6th of the smaller Envision book), Pearson has decided to release it both in paper form and as an eTextbook, comprised of learning modules and activities.  Due to the support of the PWR Research Award, I was able to work closely with students during the revision process on thinking about this transition a print-based textbook to an interactive one; students provided both feedback and collaborated on drafting materials that will appear in the next edition (which was due out in January 2020, but maybe be delayed due to some organizational changes at Pearson).

Angela Becerra Vidergar

The research grant I received was for a project on “Increasing Accessibility of Archival Research to Early-Stage Undergraduates.” This research is ongoing and will continue into next year. One significant, unexpected obstacle was the reduction of access to the Hoover Library and Archives, previously my primary partner in the project, which is undergoing renovations until 2020. However, I have been able to focus on several other aspects, including deepening my relationship with Special Collections and my knowledge of digital archives, as well as trying methods such as having students listen to podcast pieces on the value of collections before class visits. I am also currently drafting two surveys - one for archivists/librarians on campus and one for PWR instructors, focusing on the challenges they face in getting students to interact with archives in their research and any successful practices they (you) have discovered in overcoming those barriers. Finally, I am in the process of designing roles for student assistants for two possible projects that involve creating an oral archive and potentially a related podcast project. This more hands-on approach can potentially help students understand the value and purpose of archiving and engage them with ideas of cultural rhetorics by increasing access to a variety of voices and perspectives.  

Tessa Brown

In Spring ’18, I received a PWR research award to found an undergraduate research journal for hiphop studies. This journal would respond to the growing interest in hiphop studies nationwide, and provide an outlet for undergraduates to publish their papers and learn about the peer review and academic publication processes. Using my grant monies, I hired three undergraduates as founding editors (2) and a business manager. Beginning in winter ’18-19, these three founding members met regularly with me and fellow PWR instructor Ashley Newby to design the journal and do institutional and academic research around best practices for creating a sustainable undergraduate research journal at Stanford. We named our journal The Word: Tha Stanford Undergraduate Research Journal of Hiphop Studies. We are currently designing our website and finalizing our solicitation processes. 

Kevin Dipirro

This project explores the interplay of internal and external identities in relation to place by infusing fresh site-specific, immersive, durational, and participatory theater practices into ancient myth and story-telling re-enactments. In this second phase of the granted project—the performance phase—we used Old Union—the fountain courtyard, the Nitery black box, and the redwood tree picnic space—for the site of a mixing of professional designers, light designers, and actors—along with Stanford faculty and student actors and tech crew--who created four shows of guided actor routes of descent into the underworld forest of “The Handless Maiden” tale on Campus to mobilize cultural protocols for community gathering. The gatherings were specifically staged in what we felt were needed ways—story-based, social, communal, felt, physical, movement-based, participatory, musical, emotional, reflective--that allowed us to ask anew who we are—more deeply than who we think we are--and to prepare us for hearing transformative stories about the places, both spiritual and physical, where we currently live.

Jennifer Johnson

The PWR research grant supports my continued commitment to advocating for multilingual students through research and practice. I am currently working on a pedagogy-based research project investigating critical ethnographic approaches to the teaching of undergraduate writing and student research. I understand this approach is opening up spaces for students' cultural and linguistic resources in classroom practice and the development of student researcher identity.  I am currently in the data collection/analysis phase and hope to share my research at the American Anthropological Association Conference in the fall. My findings will be useful for practitioners interested in designing and implementing ethnographic, reflexive, and socially engaged approaches to research and writing in ways that draw on students' varied linguistic and cultural identities.

Clara Lewis

Thanks to PWR Research awards, I am wrapping up three years of field work on a single neonaticide case that occurred in Ohio in 2015. This year, my award funded research travel to the Ohio Office of the Public Defender in Columbus, where I spent a week examining the case’s police file and conducted additional site visits and interviews. I am now in the early stages of drafting an article on the study, titled “A Sociological Theory of Neonaticide,” and continue to serve as an expert witness for the case’s ongoing post-convictions appeals.

Becky Richardson

Last summer, I used my PWR research award to fund visits to a number of archives in the UK – including the Cadbury, the British Library, and the London School of Economics Women’s Library – in search of nineteenth-century manuscripts that could serve as case studies for thinking about ambition, health, and the embodied writing life. I was particularly interested in Harriet Martineau. Martineau turned to writing to support herself, coming to fame with a series of tales meant to teach readers about the economy. She’s most well known for her translation of Comte, for her How to Observe Morals and Manners, and for her writing on illness.

I think she’s a particularly fascinating figure for how aware she was of her own health as a writer, thinking about the trade-offs between her ambitious writing schedule, her health, and her financial position. I was particularly interested in how her manuscripts show traces of her embodied writing practice – and the discrepancies between how she describes her writing practice (“I have always made sure of what I meant to say… not altering a single phrase in a whole work”) vs. the actual cross-outs and revisions on this very page of her Autobiography.

This summer I presenting a paper on Martineau’s earliest writings at the Wordsworth Summer Conference.

Selby Schwartz

Now in its second year, the Stanford chapter of Prison Renaissance has organized inspiring collaborations between incarcerated and free artists that range from the political to the artistic. In the chapter’s first year, Stanford undergraduates Netta Wang and Michelle Chang worked with incarcerated artist/organizer Mesro Coles-El to produce a zine featuring the co-created work of paired free & incarcerated artists from Stanford and San Quentin State Prison. We held public events amplifying the voices of incarcerated communities, including a zine launch event hosted by the Hume Center. The chapter also actively supported the Voting Restoration and Democracy Act of 2018, conceived by Prison Renaissance co-founder Rahsaan Thomas, which proposed to restore voting rights to people who are on parole in California. The first issue of the zine, Incarceratedly Yours, has now been acquired for the permanent Special Collection of the Stanford Library archives, and a number of Stanford syllabi include the work of Prison Renaissance writers and artists.

In summer 2018, PR@S Co-Director Emile DeWeaver walked into the free world after 20 years of incarceration. Now that Emile is free, PR@S has the opportunity to share power more equitably and to expand our work to other prisons and jails.

The second issue of the zine was launched at an event on May 30, hosted by the Black Community Center. A public zine reading will take place at Alley Cat Books in San Francisco on June 6. Thanks to a growing team of collaborators, the zine project is on Facebook and Twitter, and two of Selby’s former students have published pieces on the zine project this spring: student artist Julianna Yonis shared a conversation with Mesro Coles-El in Mint, and Brigitte Pawliw-Fry wrote an article on the zine project’s history and goals for the Stanford Arts Review. Following the leadership of the people most impacted by incarceration, we continue to reflect on ways of sustaining a just, inclusive, and quietly radical vision for “building bridges over walls.”

Kathleen Tarr

I convened Getting Played: Fifth Annual Symposium on Equity in the Entertainment Industry and Awards on March 2, 2019. It began with somber notes as panelist Jeff Adachi — filmmaker and San Francisco’s long-serving Public Defender — passed away the week before. Keynote Lili Bernard, a multimedia artist who acted on “The Cosby Show,” shared her moving journey as a sexual assault and domestic abuse survivor. Panelists A-lan Holt (Institute for Diversity in the Arts), Brad Erickson (Theatre Bay Area), Jeffrey Lo (TheatreWorks Silicon Valley), Danielle Stagger (Stanford ’20, BLACKstage), and Shirley Smallwood (Black Artists Contemporary Cultural Experience) then spoke followed by audience Q&A. The symposium concluded with the awards segment which honored Smallwood, Regina Evans (Regina’s Door), Valerie Weak (Counting Actors Project), and Cameron Woods (Stanford ’20, BEAST) for typically unheralded acts that are nevertheless essential for paving the way toward equity in entertainment media. A posthumous award was bestowed upon P. Jay Sidney for his activism in the 1950s to desegregate U.S. television and Jeff Adachi for his many years of advocacy through filmmaking, notably his 2006 documentary The Slanted Screen. In addition to producing the Symposium, I traveled frequently to Los Angeles to collaborate with industry leaders, resulting in contributions to The Report on the Status of Women and Girls in California, interviewing for the documentary Nevertheless, and more.

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