New IATH Fellows for 2013-2014

May 6, 2013

IATH is pleased to announce the new Fellows for 2013. Each year IATH offers a two-year Resident Fellowship to a UVA Faculty member, providing office space at the Institute, design and development support, training, technical staff, budget resources, and support for raising additional grants and gifts for the research project. One or more Associate Fellowships are also awarded, and include consulting services on project design and technical issues, equipment loans, and grant assistance.

Eve Danziger

Eve Danziger

The new Resident Fellow is Eve Danziger, Associate Professor of Linguistic Anthropology. Her project, “A Worldview in Words: Lexical Categories of the Mopan Maya,” will encompass a searchable multimedia archive of Mopan Maya texts, based on audio and video recordings of Mopan speech that she collected during field trips to Mopan territory. Mopan is the only surviving member of its branch of the Yucatecan subfamily, which in turn is one of only two Mayan subfamilies that are directly associated with the famous Classic Maya of antiquity. It is an indigenous minority language of Central America, native to Belize and Guatemala, but is not yet well-documented.

Prof. Danziger’s collection of recordings will vastly expand and diversify the available corpus of Mopan language materials. The archive will also allow her to pursue the project's larger goal: exploring how a person’s idea of reality is influenced by the grammatical patterning of his or her native language and testing the idea that what may seem to be an intuitive divide between action and object is not a natural, inborn property of language, but is in fact a construction of Indo-European languages. The dominant paradigm in today’s linguistics proposes that all languages share an inborn “Universal Grammar,” in which nouns and verbs are basic and universal units. Mopan, however, does not make the usual kind of distinction between nouns and verbs in its lexicon and has a typologically unusual system of spatial reference. The development of a larger and searchable database of Mopan texts and transcripts will allow her to examine how this language fits into or challenges current linguistic theory.

Stephen Railton, Professor of English, and Brad Pasenek, Assistant Professor of English, both received Associate Fellowships.

Prof. Railton began developing his "Digital Yoknapatawpha" project in collaboration with the UVA Library's Digital Media Center, SHANTI, and several Faulkner scholars in 2010. It creates a virtual Yoknapatawpha from a series of maps of the fictional county that William Faulkner created and used as a setting for fifteen novels and many short stories. The maps will dynamically show how Faulkner created and re-created Yoknapatawpha, as his stories and his social and historic ideas evolved. Prof. Railton recently received an NEH Start-Up Grant to develop the project further in collaboration with IATH, the UVA Library Digital Media Lab, and SHANTI.

Prof. Pasenek is starting up a computational/linguistic study of 18th century English poetic diction, using text analysis and visualization techniques to examine the iterative, mechanical use of stock phrases in 18th century English poetry. He is interested in drawing on natural language processing, machine learning, and computational linguistics to bear on his goal of using mechanical methods to identify and study mechanistic diction. This project will build on his work in The Mind is a Metaphor, a database of metaphors used in (mostly) British 18th century literature.

IATH's Fellowship program supports two distinct areas of research: (1) the development of tools, scholarly resources, or scholarly projects utilizing digital technology for analysis, investigation, modeling or other research activities; and (2) the study of the nature, ethics, history, or future of digital technology as applied to some aspect of the humanities. Fellows developing scholarly tools or projects aim at creation of a new digital product, or at least a prototype, during their tenure. Information about the Fellow application process is available here.