Tag Archive for Fullilove

Board of Trustees Confers Tenure on Fullilove, Irani

Courtney Fullilove and Tushar Irani.

Courtney Fullilove and Tushar Irani.

At its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on Courtney Fullilove, associate professor of history, and Tushar Irani, associate professor of letters and philosophy. Additional tenure announcements may be made after the May meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Brief descriptions of their areas of research and teaching appear below.

Courtney Fullilove is a historian of 19th century U.S. social history. Her research interests in state building, agriculture, medicine and law are united by an engagement with the politics of development, particularly in the areas of sustainable development, biodiversity, intellectual property law and cultural heritage. Her book, The Profit of the Earth: The Global Seeds of American Agriculture (University of Chicago Press, 2017), characterizes U.S. agricultural expansion in the 19th century as a complex appropriation and reconfiguration of local knowledge and resources. She teaches courses on the history of science and technology in the United States, as viewed from a global perspective.

Tushar Irani’s research focuses on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. In addition to his scholarship on Plato, he works on questions of philosophical method, the history and practice of rhetoric, and the history of ethics. His recent book, Plato on the Value of Philosophy: The Art of Argument in the Gorgias and Phaedrus (Cambridge University Press, 2017), provides an innovative reading of Plato’s views on the role and purpose of argument in civic life. He offers courses on the philosophy, literature and history of the ancient world, the history and practice of civil disobedience, and virtue ethics.

Fullilove Writes about Tombs of the U.S. Post Office

The Dead-Letter Office at Washington, sketched by Theodore R. Davis from Harper's Weekly, Feb. 22, 1868.

Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, wrote an article titled  “Dead Letters—By a Resurrectionist: Liberty and Surveillance in the Tombs of the U.S. Post Office,” published in the January 2012 issue of Common-Place.org.

In the article, Fullilove describes a history of the 19th century Division of Dead Letters. Until World War I, all undeliverable letters were processed through the central office in Washington. By law, unclaimed letters were burned, pulped, or otherwise destroyed. But Fullilove discovered this wasn’t the case.

“Here was a riddle,” she writes. “In a non-existent box were four letters that should have been destroyed. Their presence was evidence that the information system had failed at every point: in the aborted transit of the letters, their survival in the archives of an office committed to their destruction, and the absence of those archives from the public record meant to guarantee their preservation. Why were the letters saved and the archives lost?”





Courtney Fullilove: Historian Specializing in 19th-Century United States

Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, will teach  a course on the history of drugs and medicines, and "Confidence and Panic in 19th Century U.S. Economic Life" during the spring 2010 semester. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Courtney Fullilove, assistant professor of history, will teach a course on the history of drugs and medicines, and "Confidence and Panic in 19th Century U.S. Economic Life" during the spring 2010 semester. (Photo by Stefan Weinberger '10)

Courtney Fullilove has joined the History Department as assistant professor. She specializes in research related to the study the development of technical knowledge in the fields of agriculture, medicine, and manufacturing in the 18th and 19th century United States.

A graduate of Columbia University’s Ph.D program in history, Fullilove was attracted to Wesleyan for many reasons, among them its historical significance and liberal arts idealism. She says that being a part of a place where “everyone is creative and engaged” is satisfying to her.

“I’m a historian, so I like to think about the fact that Wesleyan was founded as a tiny bastion of Methodism in the 1830s, ” she says. “There’s a way in which Wesleyan retains the best qualities of small 19th century religious and Utopian communities: it has purpose, and people believe in being here.”

In terms of her work, Fullilove has broad interests that focus on one specific purpose: “people’s access to the things they need to live: food, medicine, clothes, shelter.”

“Since human necessities often entail a lot of know-how in addition to material resources,” she says. “I’m interested in how the know-how has been organized over time, and who has had control of it. Much of my recent work has involved the U.S. Patent Office in some way, but patents are just one legal mechanism to secure ownership of knowledge, which is my real interest.”

Fullilove researches how “farmers made seeds and plows, and how local healers made tinctures and poultices.” She uncovers “the ways local knowledge was codified, represented, or effaced in institutions of commerce and law.”