Postdoctoral Fellows


Elisabeth Narkin | A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow 
Ph.D. Art, Art History and Visual Studies, Duke University
Constructing Dynasty: Architecture and the French Royal Family

Elisabeth is an architectural historian of early modern France whose research focuses on the intersection of the domestic spaces of châteaux and the social spaces of court relationships. Her current project, Constructing Dynasty: Architecture and the French Royal Family, examines the manner in which the royal family's architecture projects, residential habits, and use of buildings--both independently and within the monarchy's territorial network--advanced a conception of the sixteenth-century monarchy as legitimate, enduring, and in touch with its subjects. With a focus on the royal children as central actors in the crown's long-term socio-political strategies, the project explores domestic architecture from the perspective of its users and argues that their relationship with buildings shaped the built environment as well as French politics. In addition to object-based inquiry and social history, Elisabeth deploys analytical tools like digital mapping and 3D modeling alongside spatial theory to understand spaces that physical changes and non-traditional sources might otherwise obscure.

Marie Saldaña | A. W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow 
Ph.D. Architecture, UCLA
1767: Two Trips to the Northern Frontier of New Spain

Marie Saldaña received her PhD in Architecture at UCLA in 2015. She studies the interrelationship of geography and landscape with the built environment. Her current work focuses on the geographic, demographic, and architectural history of Texas and Northeastern Mexico in the Spanish colonial and early Mexican periods.

Sydney Boyd | Project Manager Fellow
Ph.D. English, Rice University
Narrative Durations

Sydney’s project focuses on how musical performances engage with specific environments to map sound acoustically and theoretically. Her dissertation, "Narrative Durations", studies how musical duration affects literary perceptions of temporality in the twentieth century novel and necessarily investigates conceptions of spatiality. The project led her from authors to composers whose work presses against convention to formulate new abstractions of the human by using sound environments to manifest varying temporal experiences. Works written explicitly for listening to a fluctuating environment (such as Cage’s 1952 so-called “silent” work 4’33”) give way to work that relies on a specific architecture, such as Alvin Lucier’s 1981 “I am Sitting in a Room,” a work that comprises increasingly abstract acoustic frequencies of a voice recorded and re-recorded in a room. Tracing these ideas means accepting a transformation of contemporary awareness, where bodies exist in space and time, where we listen to and create alternative environments that provoke new experiences, and in turn, where we continually redefine what it means to be human.

Laura Richardson | Project Manager Fellow
Ph.D. English, Rice University
Houston in the Roaring 20s

Laura studies American and British modernisms. Her book project, Critical Women: Alternative Modernist Hermeneutics, uncovers alternative methods of literary analysis from female poet-scholars between 1920-1945. Laura's Spatial Humanities traveLog project, Moves Like Louis Armstrong, 1901-1922, follows the early years of Louis Armstrong’s life, mapping his movement from his roots in New Orleans through his experiences on a Mississippi River steamboat. The combination of location points with audio recordings of Armstrong’s style in a string of specific geospatial and temporal locations allows for a clearer visualization of Armstrong’s contribution to the migration of Dixieland jazz from its origins in New Orleans to the urban Midwest.