2013 Bilinski Foundation Fellowship Recipients
Elena Avilés is an advanced Ph.D. candidate in Hispanic Literature in the Spanish and Portuguese Department. She came to UNM after she earned her B.A. in Spanish and Chicana/o Studies from UCLA and a M.S. in Counseling at CSULA. Her dissertation is a study of the formation of women’s identity, voice, and subjectivity mediated within popular cultural and folkloric representations of La Malinche in Chicana/o culture. Her interdisciplinary study traces the emergence of Chicana literary and visual cultural productions alongside critical works to examine how language use fostered the arts and criticism of Chicana feminists. Elena has spent the last four years as a teaching assistant in Spanish, Chicana/o Studies and Women’s Studies at UNM.
Scott Crago is a fourth year Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of New Mexico. Through a focus on a pilot project for indigenous Mapuche integration known as Plan Perquenco, his dissertation examines ethnicity, gender, state building and Mapuche collective memory during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Plan Perquenco demonstrates that neoliberal reforms under Pinochet were inherently cultural in that they required a fundamental transformation of Mapuche gender roles, familial organization, and individual relationships to natural resources. Through an emphasis on state decentralization, however, this study underscores that these programs provided unintentional spaces for Mapuche community and cultural revival.
Dan Cryer is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Writing in the Department of English. His dissertation follows the social activism of the early twentieth century conservationist Aldo Leopold, arguing that Leopold attempted to extend the rights of citizenship to the natural world and to act as its voice in the Democratic process. Dan served for two years as Assistant Director of UNM’s Core Writing program, was the grad student administrator for the College of Arts & Sciences’ Writing Intensive Learning Communities pilot project, and has worked extensively with UNM’s Writing Across Communities initiative. He was an online course designer at the office of New Media and Extended Learning, and has taught courses in composition and technical and professional writing.
Colleen Dunn is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of New Mexico. Her dissertation, which focuses on the lives of saints produced in Anglo-Saxon England, is driven by a central concern: the choice made by Old English hagiographers writing about female virgin martyrs to forgo (and thereby silence) native Anglo-Saxon women martyred during the Viking attacks, in favor of foreign subjects. Focusing particularly on the adapted lives of St. Juliana of Nicomedia and St. Margaret of Antioch, her research will explore what these cultural productions reveal about early medieval understandings of female sanctity, and further, the far-reaching implications these understandings had for an Anglo-Saxon audience.
Tara Kennedy is a Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy at the University of New Mexico. Her dissertation focuses on the phenomenological tradition in philosophy and how its understanding of the nature of reality and existence can help us to formulate the basis for an ethics that can improve our relationship with the environment. Her project then explores how this ethical system might be applied to the environmental problems posed by bio- and nano-technologies. Finally, she argues that Henry David Thoreau embodied this ethical comportment and suggests ways in which we can learn to be more respectful of the environment by examining his writings and life.
Andrew Marcum is a PhD candidate in American Studies at the University of New Mexico. His dissertation examines the influence of the disability rights movement on the presentation of disability at several popular sites for the consumption of public history in the U.S., including exhibitions related to the history of disability at the Smithsonian and the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C. The study analyzes state-sponsored renderings of disability in U.S. history along-side historical narratives of disability offered by disability rights activists and disabled artists and scholars. Andrew designs and teaches American Studies courses in UNM’s Research Service-Learning Program.
Christopher Steinke is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of History, where his research focuses on the history of Native Americans on the Great Plains. His dissertation, "The 'Free Road': Navigation and Rights of Passage on the Missouri River," examines how Native peoples controlled navigation of the Missouri River in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Identifying new sites of Indian power in the midcontinent, this work argues that the Missouri constituted an indigenous political territory in which Indian nations asserted sovereignty by regulating navigation and granting or depriving rights of passage. Their river blockades and surveillance stifled the political and commercial ambitions of European and American officials, who claimed the Missouri River as a "free" or "clear road" to the West.
Douglas Ryan VanBenthuysen
Douglas Ryan VanBenthuysen is a PhD candidate in the University of New Mexico Department of English Language and Literature, with a focus on Medieval Studies. His dissertation focuses on the concept of authority in the Old English Genesis poem(s), particularly Genesis A, an Anglo-Saxon poem based on the biblical book of Genesis. The dissertation examines both the poet's use of language and connections to Anglo-Saxon culture. Doug's other scholarly interests include Old English Language and Old Norse Language and Literature. In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Doug enjoys spending time with his ten year old son, Mauricio.