Student Spotlight: David Zeglen is Graduate Residential Fellow at the Center for Humanities Research

Student Spotlight: David Zeglen is Graduate Residential Fellow at the Center for Humanities Research

Congratulations to Cultural Studies PhD candidate David Zeglen, who has been awarded a residential research fellowship at Mason's Center for Humanities Research (CHR)!

In this brief interview conducted by Severin Mueller, Dave talks about his new research project, his motivation to apply, and his experiences made so far.

1) Congratulations on your fellowship. Could you tell us a little about your motivation to apply?

My individual reason for applying to this year's cohort was because this year's theme of "Pasts/Presents/Futures" is related to my dissertation about temporal ideologies, and I wanted to engage with scholars in other humanities disciplines that are preoccupied with similar intellectual questions about history and time. But my larger social motivation is based on the fact that American cultural studies scholars (my home field of academic inquiry) should engage more with the collaborative model of research and writing that defined British Cultural Studies at the CCCS in Birmingham. Many contributors and fellow-travelers of the CCCS in its heyday all stressed the importance of intellectual collaboration, and in my unbiased opinion, a lot of the work the Center produced during its existence speaks for itself. So I wanted to immerse myself in a similar environment and build my collaborative skills simply because research is a social relation, not an individual act of intellectual production. 

2) Would you mind sharing your first impressions from your early meetings at the Center and this new environment for your research?

My initial impression was one of utmost respect for the sheer diversity, breadth, and depth of knowledge the individuals in my cohort brought to our meetings. I've learned a great deal from my colleagues about different methodologies and methods towards a research object, and my own writing and ideas have been greatly enriched by their contributions and feedback on my work. I hope I've been able to adequately match their generosity and thoughtfulness. 

3) As a residential fellow you will present your research later this month. Could you give us a brief preview of your talk?


As my dissertation is (finally) coming to the end, I've started doing initial work on my next research project, which is about utopia and the climate crisis. I'm concerned with the question of what kind of cultural meaning to history and time we need to have to mitigate and adapt to climate change. So my talk is going to focus on the concept of "'primitive' communism", and whether it is a useful heuristic that can effectively be put to use in imagining non-capitalist utopian ways of global living. While this work is at its very early stages, I'm interested in identifying communal modes of production from the past that, due to their cultural understanding of time, have structured social relationships beyond the strictly human and incorporated non-humans as having social standing in order to collectively thrive.


Dave will present his research on March 31 at 12 PM, in a talk titled "The Utopianism of 'Primitive' Communism." You can join in person at Horizon Hall 6325 or via Zoom.