Mellon Visiting Professorship

photo of Ari Friedlander

Ari Friedlander joined UC Davis in Fall 2011 as Mellon Visiting Assistant Professor of English literature. He received his doctorate from the University of Michigan, where he taught classes on Shakespeare, gender and sexuality, and postcolonial literature. His current book project, entitled Promiscuous Generation: Sex, Crime, and the Birth of Political Economy, connects social and sexual deviance to the development of the concept of “population” in early modern England. A second project concerns the relationship between Renaissance poor laws and the modern concept of disability. His publications include an article on crime, social status, and sexuality in early modern London entitled, “Mastery, Masculinity, and Sexual Cozening in Ben Jonson’s Epicoene,” forthcoming in SEL: Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, and an essay on gender, class, and sexual crime in The Winter’s Tale for The Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare and Embodiment: Gender, Sexuality, Race.

In Spring 2013, Prof. Friedlander will teach the Mellon Graduate Seminar, HUM 250, “The Politics of Reproduction in the Early Modern World.” For more details on the seminar, click here.

Prof. Friedlander shares some of his experiences with and future plans for the Mellon program below:

  • Q: What was it like to be the Mellon Visiting Professor this year? What do you have planned for next year?
  • A: The position has been like a dream come true!  Before coming to Davis, I had avidly followed the brilliant work of so many of the faculty here, but I never imagined I’d one day be lucky enough to be their colleague and friend.  This year I had the opportunity to teach three completely different kinds of classes: A senior seminar on Sex and Crime in Renaissance Drama, an undergraduate survey lecture on Shakespeare, and a graduate course based on my research interest in the early modern figure of “the Rogue.”  It was exciting to have so many different forums in which to get to know the vibrant and diverse community of students here at Davis.  Next year I’ll be teaching two more senior seminars, and a special graduate seminar on “The Politics of Reproduction in the Early Modern World,” for which Mellon is providing special funding to invite eminent scholars from different disciplines to share their work and perspective with our own graduate students.  I’m putting the roster together now, with the help of the Mellon Initiative directors, Margie Ferguson and Gina Bloom, and we’re very excited by the lineup we’re planning.
  • Q: What do you consider to be the most exciting aspect of the Initiative?
  • A:  The two most exciting things about the Mellon initiative are: 1. The opportunity to interact closely with both undergraduate and graduate students – including helping undergraduates who have wanted to discuss their future intellectual and professional trajectories, and advising the Mellon graduate fellows on how to turn their dissertation chapters into article for publication. 2. The collegial relationships I’ve built with the lovely Davis faculty – including formal interactions like the exchange of works-in-progress and sustained discussion about our research, and more informal conversations in hallways, cafes, and our homes.  Everyone here is so engaged, outgoing, and supportive of each other, all of which has been tremendously inspiring to me over the year.
  • Q: How was it working with the Mellon Fellows?
  • A: Working with the Mellon fellows has been one of the highlights of my time here.  They are a strong and lively group of scholars with such different intellectual interests, yet they’ve worked hard to understand one another’s work from the inside, as it were, bridging disciplinary divides and providing one another with insightful feedback and constructive criticism.  Being a young scholar not so far removed from the dissertation myself, it’s been very gratifying to help advanced graduate students revise and polish their work for publication.  One of the most common challenges graduate students face in this process is feeling comfortable in the transition from knowledge consumer to knowledge producer, which in the writing process means focusing less on how what you say is consistent with what other scholars have said before you and more on how your own claims are new and exciting.  In other words, it’s about finding a way to project confidence about the value and import of your research.  So, in a way, I’ve been working with the Mellon fellows on finding their scholarly voice, which is such an exhilarating pursuit!  Our regular meetings to discuss in-progress work have also helped me reflect on my own writing process, reminding me not to mystify the writing process but instead treat it as a series of discrete and accomplishable tasks – a perspective that’s proved immensely helpful in revising my dissertation into a book manuscript!
Mellon Fellows
Prof. Friedlander with the 2011-2012 Mellon Fellows during a Fellows workshop.