Our Current Fellows

Internal Fellows

Joanne Bernardi (fall 2022)

Professor, Modern Languages and Cultures

Joanne Bernardi is professor of Japanese and film and media studies at the University of Rochester. Her publications include Re-Envisioning Japan: Japan as Destination in 20th Century Visual and Material Culture, an open-ended multimedia digital humanities project based on her original collection of travel, education, and entertainment ephemera; Writing in Light: The Silent Scenario and the Japanese Pure Film Movement (2001); the co-edited volumes Provenance and Early Cinema (2021) and The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Cinema (2020); and translations, curatorial projects, exhibits, journal articles, and book chapters on Japanese cinema; Japanese animation; early and silent cinema; screenwriting and literary adaptation; moving image and media history, historiography, archiving, and preservation; Godzilla and nuclear culture; WWII Japanese-American history; the culture of collecting; and Digital Humanities scholarship and pedagogy. Her Humanities Center Fellowship (Fall 2022) allows her to focus on completing Films for the Living: The Cinema of Jūzō Itami, a monograph under contract with Rutgers University Press. In the ten groundbreaking feature films Itami made as an independent director between 1984 and 1997, he redeployed Japan’s cinematic past in the interest of contemporary social satire, rekindled global interest in contemporary Japanese cinema, and pioneered a reconfiguration of the Japanese film industry. Films for the Living addresses Itami’s entire oeuvre, tapping previously neglected sources to better understand how his work as a producer, screenwriter, actor, designer, and social critic informed his films, and using comprehensive critical analyses of his films to restore his filmmaking oeuvre to the broader contexts of Japanese cinema and global cinematic practice.


Anaar Desai-Stephens (fall 2022)

Assistant Professor, Musicology

Anaar Desai-Stephens’ research investigates the intersections of popular music practice, embodied subjectivity, and political economy in contemporary India. As a Humanities Center fellow, she will be completing a book manuscript on Bollywood songs as mediums for “dreamwork” with attention to how these songs enable personal and political transformation in a neoliberalizing cultural economy. Her work has been supported by Cornell University’s Randel Dissertation and Teaching fellowship, the American Musicological Society’s Howard Mayer Brown Fellowship, and, most recently, the American Association for University Women’s Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship. Trained as a violinist, Anaar is an active performer across a range of genres and is the proud mother of two daughters.


Matthew Omelsky (spring 2023)

Assistant Professor, English

Matthew Omelsky researches and teaches in the field of global black cultural studies. His forthcoming book, Fugitive Time: Global Aesthetics and the Black Beyond, presents a theory of the embodied experience of time in literature, visual culture, and music from across the global black diaspora, including Zimbabwe, Britain, Martinique, Senegal, and the US. Most of his published work to date focuses on questions of time, being, and becoming in African fiction and cinema, speculative fiction, black studies critical theory, and climate change thought and aesthetics. His second book project, which he’ll work on during his time as a Humanities Center fellow, examines how black artists from throughout the world are turning to the science fiction subgenre of cyberpunk to radically reimagine our contemporary world: what it means to be human, what it means to live in the age of climate change, and what it means to live in a moment of resurgent global black protest and migratory dispersal.


Zeynep Soysal (spring 2023)

Assistant Professor, Philosophy

Zeynep Soysal received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Harvard University in 2017. Her research primarily concerns issues at the intersection of the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mathematics, and branches into questions in social epistemology. Her project at the Humanities Center is about the social epistemology of journalism; it will examine the role that journalists should play in the social division of epistemic labor. This project is a continuation of work she did as a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Philosophy and the Division of Emerging Media Studies in the College of Communication at Boston University.


External Fellows

Jennifer Musto, Wellesley College

Associate Professor, Women's and Gender Studies

Jennifer Musto is an Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and the incoming Director of the Knapp Social Science Center at Wellesley College. An interdisciplinary scholar, her research examines the sociolegal dimensions, empirical effects, and intersectional harms linked to carceral anti-violence efforts, particularly carceral strategies to address human trafficking, sex work, and exploitation in the United States. Jennifer has lectured and published widely on topics. Her first book, Control and Protect: Collaboration, Carceral Protection, and Domestic Sex Trafficking in the United States (University of California Press, 2016) describes how anti-sex trafficking interventions in the United States underwrite carceral protectionist interventions that blur the boundaries between punishment and protection and state and non-state authority. Her work has appeared in Critical Criminology, Ethics & Social Welfare, Social Politics, Social Sciences, Dialectical Anthropology and the Anti-Trafficking Review and has advanced empirical research and policy responses to address human trafficking. During the fellowship period, Jennifer will work on a second book project that explores laws and system interventions framed as decriminalized alternatives to punishment.


Shanté Paradigm Smalls, St. John's University

Associate Professor, Black Studies, Department of English

Shanté Paradigm Smalls is a scholar, artist, and writer. Smalls’s teaching and research focuses on Black popular culture in music, film, visual art, genre fiction, and other aesthetic forms. Dr. Smalls’ first book, Hip Hop Heresies: Queer Aesthetics in New York City, which won the 2016 CLAGS Fellowship Award for best manuscript in LGBTQ Studies, will be published by NYU Press in June 2022. Smalls’s writing has appeared in QED,The Black Scholar, GL/Q, Women & Performance, Criticism, Lateral, American Behavioral Scientist, Suspect Thoughts, Syndicate Literature, and the Oxford Handbook of Queerness and Music. Dr. Smalls is currently an Associate Professor of Black Studies in the Department of English and Faculty in the Critical Race & Ethnic Studies Institute, and Founding Co-Director of the LGBTQ+ Center at St. John’s University in New York City. Smalls has held fellowships from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, The Institute for Citizens & Scholars (formerly Woodrow Wilson Foundation), and the James Weldon Johnson Fellowship at Emory University. Dr. Smalls received their PhD in Performance Studies from Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, their MA in Performance Studies from NYU, and their BA in English and Theatre from Smith College.