Alexey Khazanov is pursuing his PhD degree in Economics at Boston College. He graduated from Moscow State University with bachelor’s degree in economics, and received a master’s degree in the same subject from New Economic School — both in Moscow, Russia. Prior to joining the Boston College community, he spent two years working at policy institutions (the Central Bank of Russia and the IMF), as well as a research fellow at his alma mater.
Alexey is conducting research in the fields of Macroeconomics and International Finance focusing mostly on the issues related to sovereign and municipal debt markets. Namely, he considers the economic impact of governments’ borrowing policies on asset prices and economic dynamics. In one of his projects he demonstrates that the presence of the sovereign default risk allows investors to benefit from trading on the currency markets — just until the moment when the government actually defaults on its debt.
The incidents of sovereign defaults can tell a large part of modern world’s economic history. Considered previously a “curse” of developing economies, the possibility of sovereign default became a true test of the sustainability of the European Union in 2010s. Economists have developed a broad set of quantitative tools to address these issues and provide policy recommendations. However, the issue of local governments’ defaults — such as the one that happened in Detroit in 2013 — and its importance for the national economy have not been yet investigated in detail.
The part of dissertation Alexey is working on as a Clough Center fellow is devoted to the impact of local governments’ policies on national economy’s dynamics in the United States.
As in many developed countries, the overall government spending in the US is mildly countercyclical. However, what does happen at the municipal level? How do institutional constraints in spending and taxation affect the policies that local governments conduct? And, most importantly, how is it reflected in economic dynamics at local and country levels? Alexey addresses these questions in his project, working both with the municipal-level data, and with complex economic models.
During the first year with the Clough Center Alexey presented a paper which in broad strokes links local economic performance to local government spending policies. Currently his focus is on more realistic modelling of the US taxation system, which would allow to provide case studies of such periods as the Great Recession or the COVID-induced economic crisis with quantitative rigor. The more detailed approach would allow for a more sophisticated discussion of optimal economic policies mitigating the crises.
Annika Rieger is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Boston College, specializing in environmental sociology and quantitative methods. Her current research project examines the macro-institutional determinants of corporate emissions. Other research interests include technology, regulation, development, and computational methods. Annika received her M.A. in Sociology from Boston College, and B.S. in Sociology from Southern Methodist University.
Annika’s doctoral research examines under which conditions nation-states and other macro-level actors influence corporations to reduce their emissions. Corporations have contributed disproportionately to the climate crisis, and actors ranging from national and subnational governments, to IGOs and NGOs, and even shareholders and activists, have pressured corporations to clean up their act. But who has been successful? This research draws from four classic macro-sociological theories—Varieties of Capitalism, Fossil Capitalism, World Society, and World-systems—each of which propose different pathways through which corporations are pressured to reduce their emissions. The first part of the project focuses on national variation, and examines whether institutional and industrial characteristics are associated with lower corporate carbon dioxide emissions. Which national institutions play a role in successfully reducing corporate emissions? Does the presence of a large fossil fuel industry make such reductions more difficult? The second part of the project focuses on non-state actors, including IGOs, NGOs, and INGOs, and focuses on the intersection of civil society and economic hierarchy. Does pressure from international civil society result in lower corporate emissions? And does this success depend on the economic position of the nation in question? Her research employs multi-level quantitative models and uses a novel mix of national-level and corporate-level data to answer these questions.
Catalina Rey-Guerra is a Ph.D. student in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College. She received her bachelor’s degree in Economics from Universidad del Rosario and her master’s degrees in Economics and Public Policy from Universidad de los Andes. Prior to joining Boston College, she worked for the Central Bank of Colombia, the Colombian Institute for Education Assessment, and on education projects at the School of Government and the School of Education at Universidad de los Andes in partnership with the Colombian Ministry of Education. She is also the current co-director of the NGO Apapacho (apapacho.com.co), a social organization that promotes peace in Colombia through fostering nurturing and respectful parenting.
Catalina’s research focuses on understanding the underlying mechanisms through which poverty and gender inequalities influence early childhood development, particularly of young children living in low- and middle-income countries. Currently, she investigates how family-school partnerships and gender stereotypes, roles, and expectations shape interactions between children and their caregivers, as well as children’s learning environments, ultimately impacting their early development. As a Clough Graduate Fellow, Catalina will analyze global data to understand whether and to what degree women's political participation and attitudes and beliefs towards women's political empowerment might explain developmental disparities between girls and boys across geographically, economically, and culturally diverse countries.
Chanelle Robinson is a third-year doctoral student in Systematic Theology at Boston College. Her scholarship explores Womanist Theology, Theological Anthropology, and Black Studies. Unpacking the historicity of segregation, her research project examines how Viola Desmond’s act of resistance opens up theological conversations about race within the Canadian context.
An educator and a scholar, Chanelle completed a Master of Arts in Theological Studies and a Master of Teaching at the University of Toronto. She earned an Honors Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario. She holds doctoral fellowships through the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, and the Louisville Institute. Chanelle is honored to join the incoming cohort of Clough Graduate Fellows.
Deniz is a PhD student in the sociology department at Boston College. Her research contributes to the fields of race and ethnicity, global and transnational sociology, political sociology, and social theory. She specializes in qualitative methods and holds an M.A. in Sociology from Boston College and a B.S. in Business Administration from Babson College.
Her dissertation project studies the historical and contemporary antecedents regarding the movement to add a new Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) race category to the 2020 decennial census. The project identifies historically significant mechanisms for Arab/MENA racial group formation and seeks to substantiate “racialization”—not as merely a process, but—as a political and social development in its own right.
The project’s implications are of twin consequence for sociological theory, and policy construction and implementation more broadly. Without subjecting processes of racialization to further historical scrutiny, theorizations around identity are often assumed to be sui generis—driven from inevitable and natural outcomes of human difference. For scholars trying to theorize the causes of increased discrimination and the targeting of those of identifiably Middle Eastern or Arab descent, racialization offered as an explanatory theory is liable to substitute the phenomena needing to be explained—the racism faced by these groups—as the cause of the phenomena. Racialization deployed as such actually obscures the mechanisms that produce a “racialized” subject in particular historical time. The conflation of this difference also obscures efforts on the policy-front to redress harm or provide remediation through categorization, and may even elide the limits of what such a categorization can do. While categorization for different ethnic groups have afforded more visibility along with economic and political remediation through civil rights legislation, increased visibility has also proved somewhat tenuous for Arabs and Middle Easterners who have been subject to government harassment and overreach.
Elise Largesse is a PhD candidate and teaching fellow in the Sociology department at Boston College, focusing on the sociology of place and environmental sociology. She received her MA in Sociology at Boston College, and her BA in Comparative Science and Religion at New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Elise’s research interests also include media discourse and visual culture, inequality, risk, community sociology, critical geography, the sociology of development, and research methods.
Elise’s MA thesis, “Anthropogenic Coverage Change: Emergent Vocabularies within the Boston Globe’s Climate Change Coverage,” addressed the diversifying representations of climate change in mass media by altering a method of text analysis typically used in computer and information science and not yet used in sociological studies. By analyzing 35 years of climate change coverage in the Boston Globe, she found coverage shifting from ecological frames into technological, public health and economic/activist frames. These findings were presented at the 2016 annual conferences of the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and at Boston College’s Big Data Research Day in 2016.
Her dissertation work examines the relationships between place, community, environment and economy on Nantucket Island, MA, through a multi-method study involving ethnography, participant observation, document analysis and spatial analysis using GIS data. Phase 1 of research revealed year-round residents’ sentiments of conflict regarding the actions required for long-term and short-term viability of the year-round community, due to the co-amplifying pressures of climate change and tourism. Research phase 2, supported by a Clough Center fellowship in 2020-2021, engaged with island property owners that primarily live elsewhere. Preliminary findings were presented at the annual conferences of the American Sociological Association and the Society for the Study of Social Problems in 2017, 2019 and 2020 (canceled due to COVID-19) as well as the annual conference of the Eastern Sociological Society in 2019 and 2020.
Now supported by a second Clough fellowship, Elise’s dissertation is providing an exploded view of the conflicts, interdependencies, and opportunities present on Nantucket Island: both between its human and non-human natural systems, and between its year-round and seasonal residents. In a climate changed present and future, similar struggles over who has the right or the expertise to determine the fate of a beloved place, who has the right to remain, and who has the right to claim a place identity are already prevalent and spreading quickly. Who gets to determine the future of threatened places, and why? What can we learn from a place already in the throes of environmental and socioeconomic trouble?
In addition to her research, Elise is passionate about teaching, and has taught Introductory Sociology and Introduction to Sociological Thinking for Healthcare Professions at Boston College. She redesigned and has been teaching the Environmental Justice course at Boston College from Fall 2019-Fall 2021. For this work, she was awarded the 2020 Donald J. White Excellence in Teaching Award.
Hilary Ogonna Nwainya is a Catholic priest of Abakaliki in Nigeria, a chartered mediator and a Ph.D. candidate in the Theology Department, Boston College, MA. After studies in Nigeria (B.A.), Rome (B.Phil. and B.D.), MSc and Ireland (S.T.L.), Hilary is now pursing doctoral studies in Theological Ethics at Boston College. His interests include environmental and ecological ethics, fundamental moral theology, human rights, inculturation theologies, indigenous peoples, race, social ethics, war, peace, and peacebuilding.
Hilary’s doctoral research focuses on the centrality of recognition to Catholic social ethics. The central thesis of his dissertation is that recognition is a fundamental and constitutive point of departure for doing a proper social ethics. The key idea underlying this thesis is that the end of ethics is action; and, that recognition marks the beginning of personal and social action in social ethics. In other words, recognition marks a decisive threshold that a moral agent has to cross in the mechanics of ethical responsiveness, moving from understanding what one’s responsibilities are to actually fulfilling those responsibilities while encountering another human being to whom an actual response is due.
Hilary is delighted to join outstanding doctoral candidates in History, Philosophy, English, Economics, Theology, Sociology, Political Science and Law as a returning Clough Graduate Fellow for the year 2021/2022.
Ilaria D’Angelis is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Boston College. She received her bachelor’s degree in International Relations and Diplomatic Affairs from the University of Bologna (Italy). The social and economic developments caused by the European Sovereign Debt Crisis motivated Ilaria to study Economics, while she was an exchange student at SciencesPo in Paris (France). After earning her master of arts in Economics from the University of Bologna, and working as a research intern at the Bank of Italy, she joined the Department of Economics at Boston College in 2016.
Ilaria’s field of expertise is Labor Economics. Her main research interests concern the causes and consequences of inequality in pay in the labor market.
Part of Ilaria’s research explores the determinants of labor market outcomes of young, college educated male and female workers. In particular, she investigates how these outcomes are shaped by workers’ preferences for employment benefits, frictions in job search, and the types of job offers that job searchers receive. Analyzing 21st century U.S. labor market entrants, her research shows that young women are as likely as men to find or lose a job. However, young female workers tend to receive job offers entailing lower wages relative to men, especially so when they are offered work benefits such as parental leave and workhours flexibility. Thus, the gender pay gap expands when employers provide amenities. Because male and female young workers are found to share similar preferences for benefits, their availability generates similar utility gains across genders, thus not fully compensating women for the wage losses they incur relative to men with higher overall welfare. The expansion of the wage and utility gender gaps due to the provision of amenities is particularly detrimental for young women in executive and professional careers.
In other research, Ilaria analyzes long-run trends in overtime work in the United States. Work hours and the likelihood of working more than 40 hours per week (overtime) increased dramatically in the United States during the 1980s and 1990s, especially among highly educated male workers. To the contrary, in the 2000s and the 2010s workhours fell, and the incidence of overtime work decreased strongly among young college graduate workers. In her project, Ilaria links long run trends in work hours to long run trends in U.S. wage inequality, and studies whether the 21st century reversal in the secular pattern of overtime work can be the outcome of a shrinkage in the range of career opportunities available to college graduate workers.
In 2019/20, Ilaria was awarded the Felter Family Fund Summer Dissertation Fellowship from Boston College for outstanding progress in her research.
Isaiah Sterrett is a Ph.D. Candidate in the History Department of Boston College, where he concentrates on the cultural, intellectual, and political history of the United States. Of particular interest to him is the nexus between public affairs and private life. In his present research, Isaiah deals with one of the crucial conflicts of nineteenth-century American culture. Soon after the Revolution, young New Englanders began leaving their homes—sometimes for the city, sometimes for the burgeoning West—as never before. On the one hand, in leaving their homes and forging their own paths, young Northerners helped build a nation, fulfilling their own aspirations and, in many cases, those of their forbears. On the other, however, contemporaries continued to regard the home as the central training ground for balanced, patriotic, upstanding men and women. How, many wondered, would such virtues be transmitted from one generation to the next if not by parents in the home? Who, if not mothers and fathers, would stand between young people and the many perils of the world? These and similar questions are starting points of Isaiah’s culminating doctoral project, which spans the antebellum, Civil War, and Reconstruction periods and is based upon childrearing texts, popular periodicals, as well as contemporary fiction.
Isaiah Sterrett holds a B.A. (2010), cum laude, and an M.A. (2012) in Political Science, both from Boston College. The 2020-2021 academic year will mark his third consecutive year as a Clough Graduate Fellow.
Jared Highlen is a third-year Ph.D. student in Philosophy at Boston College, with research interests in hermeneutics, phenomenology, and political philosophy. He received a B.A. in History and Philosophy at Wheaton College (2013) before completing an M.A. in Philosophy at Boston College (2019).
Jared’s current research focuses on the role of interpretation and tradition in the constitution of the political world. Taking Hannah Arendt’s political theory as a starting point, this project seeks to develop the hermeneutical elements implicit in her account of human action. Arendt places primary emphasis on the novelty of individual action, but she also insists that actions take place before others, who serve as narrators and storytellers. It is only because of this corollary process of interpretation that actions, otherwise ephemeral, can become meaningful contributions to the fabric of the political world, outliving their agents and serving as the basis for historical continuity. Despite the importance of this interpretive activity, it remains underdeveloped in Arendt’s work. What is the relationship between action and interpretation of an action by others? And further, How is it that these “stories” or narratives come to constitute the political world and thereby contextualize future action and interpretation?
On this point, Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutical philosophy is a helpful resource. The first question above deals with the possibility of dialogical understanding: How does understanding overcome difference without reducing it to the same? And the second deals with tradition: How does the present world and present action relate to the world and actions of the past? Thus reformulated, these questions reveal why Gadamer’s hermeneutics is well-positioned to fill out a phenomenology of the political world: it accounts for understanding with the context of dialogue, and, skeptical of emancipatory accounts of knowledge, recognizes historical tradition as determinative for present-day understanding. By revisiting Gadamer’s phenomenological account of the appropriation of tradition and dialogical understanding, this project both expands on the latent hermeneutical elements in Arendt’s political theory, and develops the political ramifications of Gadamer’s hermeneutics, insofar as it describes the way various traditions within a given political community interact and come to constitute dominant meanings, narratives, and discourse.
Jared teaches a year-long introductory course in the Philosophy department at Boston College (“Philosophy of the Person I & II”), serves as President of the Philosophy Graduate Student Association (GSA), and organizes the Northeast Philosophy of Religion Colloquium (NEPRC), an annual seminar he founded in 2018 for graduate researchers to discuss current topics in philosophy of religion. Jared also serves as Assistant Media Director and advisory board member for the Guestbook Project, a nonprofit led by Richard Kearney and Sheila Gallagher that promotes narrative storytelling models for advancing peace and reconciliation.
After obtaining his J.D. at Duke University School of Law and working as an attorney, primarily in constitutional civil defense litigation, John changed course and began his theological education at Wake Forest University School of Divinity, where he received his M.Div. During this time, he spent one semester at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C., as the Moyers Scholar. After graduating, John was ordained as an American Baptist minister and completed his clinical pastoral education while working as a chaplain at hospitals in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, North Carolina. In 2015, he received a Th.M. in moral theology from the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, writing his thesis on conscience and religious liberty in the Baptist and Catholic traditions, and began his doctoral studies in the theology department of Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences that fall.
Working at the intersections of theology and law, and of Baptist and Catholic theological ethics, John’s research interests vary widely. He completed the certificate program of the Center for Human Rights and International Justice and has published journal articles on how the need of Southern Baptist-supported universities to accept federal assistance in the 1960s worked to change Baptist understandings of the relationship between church and state and on the relationship between Catholic and Baptist understandings of the conscience. He also has a forthcoming article rethinking the influence of Francisco de Vitoria and Hugo Grotius on the international law and natural law traditions.
In the fall of 2019, John began work on his dissertation entitled “The Communitarian Conscience: A Theological Response to the Legal Debates about Religious Freedom” under the supervision of Dr. Cathleen Kaveny. This project examines the current legal inability in the U.S. to respond to claims that compliance with generally applicable laws may violate the individual religious conscience and proposes that as an essential element of resolving this impasse, a new understanding of the conscience must be developed within the Christian tradition. That is, the solution cannot be a purely legal or political solution imposed on Christians, as this will only heighten legitimate concern about an epistemological crisis within the Christian tradition itself. Moreover, this impasse is itself the result of an impoverished understanding of the conscience within the Christian tradition which emphasizes subjective beliefs about the morality of an act rather than the collective determinations about moral action which have always been a part of the Christian understanding of the conscience. A central part of this project is a clarification that rejecting a liberal individualist understanding of the conscience does not mean a return to the legalist understanding of the conscience so dominant in the Catholic church up through the Second Vatican Council. Instead, this project argues for an “open communitarian” option grounded in Catholic personalism, an option which can stabilize the relationship between religious and secular traditions for Christians without the need to resort either to a sectarian withdrawal from society or to the individually sized “religious liberty” protections adopted in current jurisprudence.
Kevin March is a third-year Ph.D. student in the History Department at Boston College. Kevin’s primary field is Vast Early America, and his research interests include Native Americans, polities and empires, frontiers and borderlands, identity and kinship, and religious missions and conversion in the Colonial Northeast. He holds an M.A. in History from McGill University (2018) and a B.A. in History from Cornell University (2016). Prior to starting his graduate studies, Kevin interned at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Castine Historical Society in Maine, and the History Center in Tompkins County. He has worked as a freelance writer was a research consultant for the history podcast Reel Fiction, for which he reviewed the Disney film Pocahontas (1995). He has also published articles in the Madison Historical Review and The Castine Visitor.
Kevin’s current research project is on the Wabanaki Confederacy in King Philip’s War (1675-78). Historians have traditionally interpreted this war as a watershed moment that precipitated the rapid decline of indigenous sovereignty in the Northeast. While this interpretation is accurate in southern New England, the documentary record shows that the war’s outcome was different in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont. This region encompassed the homeland of the Wabanaki (“People of the Dawn”), a loose alliance of tribes that included the Penobscots, Norridgewocks, Maliseets, Passamaquoddies, and Mi’kmaqs. In King Philip’s War, the Wabanaki Confederacy used military force to halt English colonization efforts in Maine and expand its sphere of influence by reasserting its hegemony. The Wabanakis realized their aims with the peace treaty of April 1678, under which the English agreed to abandon frontier towns that intruded on their lands and pay annual tribute to the Penobscots.
The 1680s, a rare period of peace in the northeast, allowed Wabanaki leaders to capitalize on their victory and spread their political and economic control by making tributaries out of the colonial frontier towns on the borders of their homelands. The Wabanaki Confederacy’s ascent as a regional power was evident in King William’s War (1688-99) and Queen Anne’s War (1702-13), in which it forged a political, military, and economic alliance with the colonies of New France and Acadia. Wabanaki warriors and sailors conducted dynamic military expeditions against New England that both reasserted their territorial sovereignty and expanded their maritime power. Wabanaki political influence began to unravel under the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended Queen Anne’s War in 1713. French ministers in Versailles conveniently forgot about the Wabanaki Confederacy and ceded its lands without consent to the English. With the arbitrary stroke of a pen, the treaty undermined the Wabanaki Confederacy’s political ascendance and the regional hegemony it had amassed since King Philip’s War.
Kevin’s research will form the basis of his dissertation project tentatively titled “‘Breaking Dawn:’ King Philip’s War and the Rise of the Wabanaki Confederacy.” He believes scholars must take indigenous polities seriously to fully grasp the development of American democracy and is excited to join the Clough Center as a Graduate Fellow.
Luca Gemmi is a Ph.D. candidate in Economics at Boston College. He received both his Bachelor’s degree and his M.A. in Economics from University of Bologna, Italy. During his Master, he spent a semester at the University of Munich, Germany.
Luca’s research focuses on the role of cognitive limitations and information frictions in different areas of macroeconomics and financial economics. In his job market paper, Luca investigates how managers’ beliefs drive credit boom-and-busts and lead to financial crises. He develops a framework in which moral hazard incentives cause managers to be inattentive to risk and therefore to hold overoptimistic beliefs during booms. As a result, they decide to take on too much debt with respect to their future revenues, which increases default risk. The model implies that booms predict higher default rates and systematic negative banks excess returns, in line with existing evidence. He also documents a positive relation between the convexity of CEO’s compensation and their attention choice on a large sample of US firms, consistently with his theory. Luca’s model implies that compensation regulation can play an important role in macro prudential policy.
In a second project with Rosen Valchev, Luca improves on the empirical test of the Full Information Rational Expectation (FIRE) hypothesis, by extending the information structure to consider both public and private information. First, they propose a new empirical strategy that can accommodate this richer information structure, and find that the true degree of information rigidity is about a third higher than previously estimated. Second, they find that individual forecasts over-react to private information but under-react to public information. Luca and Rosen show that this is consistent with a theory where professional forecasters are rational but report a biased measure of their true expectations to the survey in order to “stand out from the crowd”. Overall, their results suggest that forecasters are rational, but caution against the use of survey of forecasts as a direct measure of expectations.
At Boston College, Luca worked as Research Assistant for Rosen Valchev and Teaching Assistant for the graduate course of Macroeconomics, and currently teaches Intermediate Macroeconomics.
Magnus Ferguson is a 5th-year PhD Candidate in the Philosophy Department. He studies political responsibility and moral emotions, and his research draws from a wide range of philosophical traditions including social epistemology, feminist philosophy, hermeneutics, and the philosophy of Hannah Arendt and Iris Marion Young. His dissertation research focuses on vicarious regret, which refers to the experience of feeling implicated in the wrongdoings of someone or some group with which one is affiliated. Some key questions motivating this project are: When a social group or institution with which I am affiliated causes harm, how should I feel about that harm, and what are my responsibilities going forward? All of us are associated with a number of institutions, groups, and identities. For which of these affiliations am I responsible in situations when I, myself, do nothing wrong?
One goal of this project is to disentangle questions of guilt from questions of forward-looking responsibility. We can encourage others to take on responsibilities for harms with which they are affiliated without attributing guilt. Doing so, however, requires a thorough analysis of what it means to bear a forward-looking responsibility, as well as how we can hold each other accountable for the near- infinite and overwhelming responsibilities facing us today relating to environmental degradation, social injustice, economic exploitation, historical atrocities, and others.
Magnus was a visiting Lecturer and Social-Emotional Learning and Civic Engagement Fellow at Tufts University in 2020-21, and in the fall he will be a Visiting Scholar at the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College.
Matthew Gannon is a doctoral candidate in the English Department at Boston College where he studies the politics of aesthetics, particularly the political dimensions of modernist literary technique and form. He has an interdisciplinary academic background, having received his bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and Biochemistry from Bowdoin College and his master’s degree in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago. Though his research is now mainly focused on literature, Matthew retains an interest in the media, cultue objects, and social forms of modernity.
In his research at Boston College, Matthew brings together disparate strands of critical theory and continental philosophy, especially psychoanalysis and Marxism, in order to ask certain fundamental questions about aesthetics, such as: “Why is some art unpleasurable?”; “How does art represent history?”; “What is the difference between a work of art and a commodity”; and “How does art envision or enact meaningful breaks with the status quo?” With a focus on the literature of the former half of the twentieth century, Matthew’s research necessarily leads him to investigate art’s confrontation with the major political events and social movements of that period. Matthew probes the connections between aesthetic form and politics to understand how history in particular can be represented in literary texts. His research seeks to demonstrate how even seemingly apolitical works of art use aesthetic means to disrupt the discursive and aesthetics frameworks of oppressive political regimes, historical narratives, and socialstructures.
The central premise of Matthew’s dissertation, titled “Modernity Against Itself,” is that a fundamental division exists within capitalist modernity between political-economic modernization and artistic modernism. The main argument of his dissertation is that this self- division of modernity might be best understood in terms of related yet contradictory forms: the social forms of modernization as opposed to the aesthetic forms of modernism. The three major sections of his dissertation track literary form’s entanglement with the economic, the political, and the historical forms of capitalist modernity. More specifically, he examines how Wyndham Lewis’s concept of the work of art is opposed to the commodity-form, how Virginia Woolf and Hope Mirrlees poetically represent general strikes in their literature, and how JamesJoyce’s Ulysses rewrites history such that literary tradition becomes capable of waking us from a past marked by nightmarish oppression and suffering.
Matthew has taught courses at Boston College that reflect the abiding preoccupations of his research. He has taught multiple sections of a Literature Core course titled “Literature, History, Politics,” the elective “Epic Modernism,” and several sections of Boston College’s First-Year Writing Seminar that focus on the intersection of literary and political writing. In May 2019 he was awarded the Donald J. White Teaching Excellence Award. His most recent scholarly publication recently appeared in the journal differences and he has also written reviews of academic books for Mediations, Twentieth-Century Literature, and Modern Language Review. In addition, Matthew has published essays in The Los Angeles Review of Books, Jacobin,Salon,and Tribune.
Matthew Allen Mersky is a sixth year English PhD student at Boston College. His work represents the convergence of psychoanalysis, Marxism, environmental studies and literary modernism. In particular his dissertation uses a synthesis of Marxism and psychoanalysis as a way to read the changing historical status of nature in early 20th century modernist literature. The dissertation is based on a simple thesis: that during the rise of global capitalism we began as a society to desire a certain idea of nature, and that climate change is to a large extent the result of this desire. Matthew has taught several literature courses at Boston College, including a course on environmental approaches to literature as well as a course exploring the revolutionary political potential of modernism and 20th century Anglophone literature.
Megan Crotty is a 5th-year PhD in the English Department, and this is her second year participating in the Clough Fellowship. Her work focuses on postcolonial literature of Ireland and the British Commonwealth, and seeks to illuminate collaboration and complicity between subjects in these former colonies that circumvent the former colonial center. The focus of her dissertation is women, violence, and trauma in contemporary Anglophone literature.Megan works at the Center for Teaching Excellence as a Learning Technology Assistant. She has also received a grant from the Institute for Liberal Arts, with the help of Eric Weiskott and Marjorie Howes. This grant supports creating community, programming, and visibility for first-generation college and graduate students enrolled in MA or PhD programs in the English and History departments.
Nicholas Anderson is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Political Science at Boston College. He received his BA in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His research interests include Classical Liberalism, the political thought of German Idealism, and 20th Century political philosophy.
Nicholas’s dissertation focuses on the political philosophy of Immanuel Kant. In particular, it investigates how Kant’s critical project is a response to J.J. Rousseau’s critiques of modern liberalism and modern scientific culture. The dissertation argues that Kant’s systematic philosophy and his account of historical progress together serve as an attempt to provide solid foundations for the hopes brought forth by modern science and early modern political thought. Central to this project is Kant’s novel understanding of the human being. The dissertation argues that Kant’s theoretical conception of the human being as a creature comprised of two incompatible elements, freedom and nature, and his practical conception of the human as an imperfect yet morally striving being, are inseparable from his peculiar form of liberal republicanism and his hopes of inaugurating a new rational culture. By looking back to Kant, the dissertation hopes to engage in the current debates over the so-called crisis of liberalism and constitutional democracy.
Nicholas has twice taught the Sophomore seminar in political theory for the Political Science Department (“The Question of Justice”). He was awarded the Donald J. White Award for excellence in teaching in 2021. He has also received the 2019 Robert C. Wood Prize from the New England Political Science Association for his paper, “Kant as Philosophic Poet: Aesthetic Representation and Radical Evil in Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason” and the 2019 Aristotle Prize from the Metaphysical Society of America for his paper, “Warming the Human Heart: Kant, History, and the True Politics of Hope.”
Nicholas Hayes- Mota
Nicholas Hayes-Mota is a PhD Candidate in Theological Ethics at Boston College. He holds a Master of Divinity from the Harvard Divinity School (2014), and an A.B. in Social Studies from Harvard College (2008).
Nicholas’s dissertation examines the possibility of a “politics of the common good” in contemporary liberal democracies. Arguing that prior theories of the common good have tended to understate the challenges posed to it by pluralism, power inequality, and inter-group conflict, he draws on the community organizing tradition of Saul Alinsky and the intellectual tradition of Catholic social thought to propose a new political ethic of the common good that is more adequate to these challenges. More broadly, Nicholas’s research engages the intersections of political, public, and liberation theologies; social and virtue ethics; and ecclesiology. His work has been published in Ecumenical Trends and the T&T Clark Handbook of Public Theology.
Nicholas’s scholarship is informed by his ten years as a teacher and practitioner of faith-based community organizing, and his ministry in a variety of parish and university contexts. From 2015-2016, Nicholas was a Research and Teaching Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where he worked with Marshall Ganz. While at Boston College, he has taught for two years in the PULSE Program for Service Learning. He presently serves as a trainer with the Leading Change Network (LCN) [https://leadingchangenetwork.org], and a facilitator with the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO), the Boston affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF).
Rachael A. Young is a Ph.D. candidate at Boston College where she focuses on the use of visual and material culture in 20th century Irish and British history. Building upon her M.Phil. research from Trinity College Dublin, she is specifically interested in the use of street art and ephemeral objects as resources of protest and activism. Her doctoral research uses theories of social memory, social justice, and space to study visual objects and urban environments, specifically how objects like street art influence and display the adaption of social memory, as well as how street art physically alters and interacts with the space of the urban environment.
Robin Landrith begins her second year as a Clough Graduate Fellow and her fourth year in the doctoral program in historical theology at Boston College. She holds a master’s degree in philosophical theology from Yale Divinity School (2018) and a bachelor’s degree in Great Texts from Baylor University (2016). Her dissertation focuses on Richard of St. Victor’s theology of the Holy Spirit and twelfth-century conceptions of interpersonal love. This research includes a study of medieval and modern theories of metaphor and analogy in religious speech, especially as they pertain to contemporary debates about the viability of deriving ethical norms from trinitarian theology and vice versa.
Robin has served as a teaching assistant in four courses at Boston College, including God, Self, and Society; Engaging Catholicism; and Perspectives I and II. She has previously taught Latin and twentieth-century world literature. In addition to her teaching role in the classroom, Robin serves as an assistant coach for the Boston College varsity softball team, having played four years of Division I softball at Baylor University, with one appearance at the Women’s College World Series. She served as an assistant coach at Yale University during the completion of her master’s degree, and she begins her third year as a coach for the BC softball team this year.
Her previous work as a Clough Graduate Fellow focused on the role of biblical exegesis in the development of the trinitarian concept of personhood in the early church. This work compared and contrasted Tertullian and Augustine on the use of prosopological exegesis, the practice of identifying the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as speakers in biblical texts, in their respective approaches to the metaphysics of trinitarian personhood. This year’s project analyzes Richard of St. Victor’s use of love as the central metaphor for his own approach to trinitarian metaphysics. Comparing Richard to two contemporary theologians, John Zizioulas and Miroslav Volf, the project asks whether and how consciousness is implied in positing love among the trinitarian persons, and whether and how the Holy Spirit’s mode of loving provides a focus for the analogical link between human and divine personhood.
I am a PhD candidate in Economics with research interests in labor economics, personnel economics, and corporate governance. The main goal of my research is to understand howto improve female representation at the top of the earnings distribution.In my job market paper, I ask why women in top executive roles face more unstable careers and are replaced at a higher rate than comparable men. I provide an answer to such question by analyzing to the role of news media. In a co-authored paper, I evaluate the effects of a gender quota mandated in Italy to improve female representation on corporate boards. We provide evidence that quotas change the selection of board members in favor of more educated and less elderly members, with no significant impact on firm performance. Recent work shows that high-skill, high-earning women not only supply more labor hours than low-skilled women, but also spend more time caring for their children. In a third paper, I focus on the role of information towards explaining some of the recent trends in childcare time, and the widening of the gap in childcare hours across the skill distribution.Before joining Boston College, I earned a master’s degree in Economics in Milan and worked as a consultant at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris. Outside of economics, I enjoy spending time with nature and I am a volunteer at an animal shelter.
Will Stratford is a Ph.D. candidate in modern European history in his second year at Boston college. After receiving his B.A. in English Literature and Philosophy at Davidson College, he worked in Chicago for five years as a high school tutor for the University of Chicago Urban Education Lab, a library assistant for the University of Chicago Library, a volunteer projectionist for the Doc Films cinema, and a bartender. During the 2018/2019 academic year, he taught middle school English for the JET Program in Japan.
In his first year at Boston College, Will spearheaded the introduction of several critical dialogues to BC’s campus. As a member of the Platypus Affiliated Society and a former copy-editor for the Platypus Review, Will began the process of founding Platypus BC as a new student organization at Boston College. Along with its weekly reading group on the history of the Left that he led, Platypus BC hosted its first on-campus public forum, Freedom in the Anthropocene, in February 2020. The panel he organized and mediated included representatives of the DSA, the Green Party, Platypus, and the BC graduate student body. Starting in the 2020/2021 academic year, Will will serve as a teaching assistant for courses on early modern European history and modern global intellectual history.
Will’s main interests concern the history of ideas in the modern era, especially radical political thought and social theory in Europe and America and its concomitant labor history. In his first year at BC, he wrote a research paper on Victor Berger, America’s first Socialist congressman, which has recently been submitted for publication. The paper, “A ‘Student of History’: The Marxism of Victor Berger in the Heyday of American Socialism,” aims to recover the lost history of socialist thought from the obscuring lenses of Progressivism, Populism, anarchism, scientism, and official Communism. As he argues, recent talk of a Second Gilded Age today overlooks the vastly different roles “socialism” played in the contemporary dialogues: in the first Gilded Age, Marxist theory linked the formation of massive socialist parties like the Socialist Party of America to a totalizing philosophy of history and international political change. Rather than fighting for a stronger welfare state like socialists today, even the most conservative Socialists like Wisconsin Representative Victor Berger remarkably campaigned for the abolition of wage labor and the complete overthrow of capitalism.
Will’s current research addresses a little-studied movement in contemporary history, the Antideutsche (anti-Germans), a far-Left political current that emerged during German reunification in 1990. Though it never formed a mass political organization of its own, Antideutsche thought developed into an influential critical tendency on the far Left in German-speaking Europe. As virtually no English scholarship exists on the Antideutsche, Will seeks to make a significant contribution to English-language contemporary intellectual and political history by analyzing and contextualizing this significant new movement. His research looks to intersect three major interdisciplinary conversations: disruptions of familiar left–right political distinctions, revisions of late twentieth-century historical periodization, and reformulations of the power of ideology in politics.
Yiyang Zhuge is a second-year PhD student in the Political Science Department at Boston College, specializing in political theory. She received her BA in Political Science also from Boston College. She is a Don Lavoie fellow and Adam Smith Fellow for political economy at the Mercatus Center of George Mason University. She currently co-teaches “How to Rule the World” at the Political Science Department and translates nineteenth century Classical Chinese for the History Department.
Yiyang’s current research interests lie in the roots of modern human rights and early modern natural rights. She attempts to reexamine the soundness of the original arguments by which the first modern thinkers broke free from the premodern outlook, established a rational and moral reorientation away from classical and medieval notions of virtue and obligation, and launched a movement toward greater freedom, equality and individualism. She has recently delivered papers on Descartes, Aristotle, Montesquieu and Kant at conferences including the New England Political Science Association and the Northeastern Political Science Association.