Two Pitt Graduate Students Win ACLS-Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Issue Date: 
April 19, 2010

Two University of Pittsburgh School of Arts and Sciences graduate students—Boryana Dobreva, Department of German, and Jonathan Livengood, Department of History and Philosophy of Science—have received American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS)-Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowships from ACLS for the 2010-11 academic year. This is the third year that Pitt graduate students have been recognized by the competition, which is now in its fourth year.

ACLS will award 65 fellowships this year. The award is given to assist graduate students in the humanities and related social sciences in the last year of their PhD dissertation writing. This program aims to encourage timely completion of the PhD. Applicants must be prepared to complete their dissertations within the period of their fellowship tenure or shortly thereafter.

The fellowship may be carried out in residence at the fellow’s home institution, abroad, or at another appropriate site for the research. The total award of up to $33,000 includes a stipend plus additional funds for university fees and research support.

Dobreva’s areas of specialization include German and Austrian migrant literature (20th and 21st centuries), the history and politics of intellectual migration to German-speaking Europe after 1800, postcolonial and Balkan theory, and comparative theory and literature.

In her dissertation, titled “Subjectivity Regained? German-Language Writing From Eastern Europe and the Balkans Through an East-West Gaze,” Dobreva explores the experience of migration as reflected in texts of contemporary Eastern European émigrés who live in Germany and Austria and write in German. The aim of the work is to contribute to the literary-theoretical discourse on European identity self-processing by offering a revised conceptual framework for reading migrant texts. Dobreva is completing her dissertation under the direction of Sabine von Dirke, a professor in Pitt’s German department.

Dobreva’s article “Diasporic Voices or the Aporia of Shifting Identities in Rumjana Zacharieva’s Bärenfell” (Bear Skin, 1998) will be published in Colloquia Germanica Conference Proceedings. She has delivered numerous papers at professional conferences.

In addition to the ACLS-Mellon Fellowship, awards Dobreva has received include a 2009 Austrian Room Committee Scholarship grant, a 2009 NeMLA Summer Research Fellowship Award, a 2008-09 Lillian B. Lawler Pre-Doctoral Fellowship for Excellence in Teaching and Research, a 2008 Pitt European Union Center of Excellence and European Studies Center Research Award, a 2001-02 Bavarian Ministry of Education Grant from the University of Augsburg, Germany, and a 2001 University of Shumen Grant for Research on Balkan-German Relations at the University of Bucharest, Romania.

Dobreva attended Konstantin Preslavsky Shumen University, Bulgaria, from 1996 to 2001, earning BA and MA degrees in German philology. She earned an MA in German languages and literatures in 2004 and a PhD certificate in cultural studies in 2009 at Pitt.

Livengood’s areas of specialization are causation, general philosophy of science, and experimental philosophy-experimental psychology with a philosophical agenda. His research focuses on the psychology and semantics of causal reasoning, normative questions about causal inference from data, and the role and legitimacy of causal reasoning in science.

The title of Livengood’s dissertation is “On Causation in the Sciences and Humanities.” In the work, Livengood proposes and solves a causal inference problem characteristic of many social and medical sciences and considers the prospects for adapting the formalism of structural equation models to produce a theory of cause-identification characteristic of history, ethics, law, and diagnostics.

Livengood is the author of several publications, including “The Folk Probably Don’t Think What You Think They Think: Experiments on Causation by Absence,” with Edouard Machery in Midwest Studies in Philosophy (2007); “Why Was M.S. Tswett’s Chromatographic Adsorption Analysis Rejected?” in Studies in History and Philosophy of Science (2009); and forthcoming, “Philosophical Temperament,” with several coauthors, in Philosophical and “A New Perspective Concerning Experiments on Semantic Intuitions,” with Justin Sytsma, in The Australasian Journal of Philosophy.

Among the honors Livengood has received are the William James Prize (with Justin Sytsma) in 2009 from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology for Best Essay submitted by a graduate student; Pitt Arts and Sciences Fellowships, 2006-07 and 2008-09; and a Pitt Mellon Fellowship, 2004-05.

Livengood earned a BA in philosophy and religion and a BS in mathematics, graduating with general honors, at Truman State University in 2004, and an MA in philosophy at Pitt in 2008.