Tisch Library on the Tufts University Campus.

Tisch Library Graduate Student Research Fellows

Meet the 2015 Recipients of Tisch Library's Research Fellowship in the Humanities

Each year Tisch Library sponsors Graduate Student Research Fellows in the Humanities. These students receive an award supporting their living expenses as they conduct summer research, a librarian consultant to help with the use of Tisch resources and provide access to other needed collections, and designated space within the library. In the summer of 2015, four members of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences received this fellowship, representing the Departments of English, History, and Drama and Dance. 

Kyle Kamaiopili, Ph.D. Candidate in English

Liquid Ancestors: From Kahiki to Maui to Nantucket and Back Again

“The research fellowship, for me, was an opportunity to seek out a connection between my scholarly work and my personal family history. As a participant in the community I am researching, these stories and people mean something to me that, as a scholar, is difficult to express and maintain an aura of professionalization. I took the fellowship work as a chance to begin working out my identity/role/placement as a privileged member of a historically displaced group—an identity that, I hope, helps my future work maintain a concrete tie to where I come from. 

"My project is ongoing, and the primary question I'm left with is to what end or use gathering this information can/is/will be 'useful' for, and what my role as a researcher might be given the deeply problematic history of research in indigenous contexts. This was the most surprising thing about my research project: my own eventual rejection of where I began, methodologically. I began looking for, basically, bio-data about this group of peoples; I ended up formulating a critique of the gathering of that bio-data.”

Joseph Ledford, M.A. Candidate in History

The Iran-Contra Affair and the Cold War: A Neat Idea and the Reagan Doctrine

“I received the Tisch Library Graduate Fellowship to support the research for my master’s thesis on the Iran-Contra Affair, a project in which I move beyond the scandal of Oliver North’s 'neat idea' to show what Iran-Contra reveals about the late Cold War in general and the Reagan Doctrine in particular. The Tisch Fellowship facilitated my research this summer in myriad ways, from financial support and work space to History and Humanities Librarian Connie Reik’s critical help with resources and collections. Above all, it provided me with the formative experience of conducting in-depth research with primary sources, which is invaluable as a master’s student. I located many sources that were quite surprising, but one is especially memorable: an FBI note on a high-level meeting between President Ronald Reagan and his top officials buried in special counsel Lawrence Walsh’s official report.

"It quotes President Reagan, who quips to his aides that “[T]hey can impeach me if they want, visiting days are Wednesday." The President’s knowledge of the arms-for-hostages deal and his desire to proceed forward with it, even in the face of impeachment, shows his willingness to violate the law to free the hostages and culpability in the ensuing scandal. I was elated to find such a humorous and candid admission by Reagan.”

Matt DiCintio, Ph.D. Candidate in Drama

"As White and As Fair as Any White Person": The (In)Human Body in Early American Performance and Print

“The fellowship allowed me to transition from the early stages of my research, when I kept asking, ‘Where can I find what I know is out there…?’ to having found more than I can deal with in a dissertation. It was a fruitful and frustrating transition that snuck up on me, and I found myself thankfully lamenting how many freaks, beasts, and gadgets I won’t MS093.001.DO.04967.basicbe able to cover.

Tisch Digital Library image of a elephant that was "rented" for Tufts Homecoming in 1983.But the part of my research that fascinated me most was, surprisingly, not from the era I researcheighteenth-century America. This summer I met with archivist Pam Hopkins to learn more about Tisch’s collection, and she and I chatted about Barnum, Jumbo, and the centuries-long human fascination with elephants. She asked me if I knew about the time Tufts rented a live elephant for Homecoming. With glee, I said Jumbo2no, tell me more… and she showed me the 1983 pictures from Tisch’s Digital Library. Elephants have been astoundingly popular in America even before the first live pachyderm arrived in 1796. The fact that I’m a Jumbo and that, mostly by coincidence, I study circus and animal acts, has given me a unique window into the eras of early America that my dissertation covers."

Patrick McGroarty-King, Ph.D. Candidate in Drama

The Bostonians’ Production of Robin Hood

“Given the somewhat double-coded nature of the sexuality in the Bostonians' original production of Reginald De Koven's Robin Hood, it's fascinating to trace the rise and fall of critics' awareness of its suggestive nature, from early reviews approvingly noting the absence of 'legs' (despite a prominent trousers role showing off Jessie Bartlett Davis's gams) to saucy caricatures of a sexed-up revival in the 1920s to the bewildered confusion that greeted a revival in the 1940s. Paging through archival clippings and seeing how thoroughly perceptions shifted through these periods was delightful.

"I was surprised at just how little work has been done on this organization given their centrality to this era of American musical theatre. There have been studies of a leading performer with the troupe, and studies of composers they partnered with, but the troupe as an organization has largely been marginalized. I'm still working to track down the business correspondence and paperwork for the Bostonians; their Boston Ideals years are easier to find. I'm also interested in seeing how I can extend some questions about how their waxing and waning popularity traces a shift in public taste during the period that I'm exploring.”