Designated Emphasis Student Chiara Ricciardone Receives Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship

The Program in Critical Theory is pleased to announce that UC Berkeley graduate student Chiara Ricciardone has been selected to receive the 2015-2016 Critical Theory Dissertation Fellowship. The annual fellowship is awarded to a Critical Theory Designated Emphasis (DE) graduate student with a record of achievement and a promising dissertation project. The Fellowship’s funding is generously provided by the Magistretti Graduate Fellowship Fund, through the UC Berkeley College of Letters and Sciences, Division of Arts and Humanities.

Ricciardone is working towards her Ph.D. in Rhetoric with a Designated Emphasis in Critical Theory. Her dissertation, Disease and Difference in Three Platonic Dialogues, considers the philosophical significance and rhetorical function of disease in Plato’s Gorgias, Phaedo, and Timaeus. Other scholars have focused on Plato’s philosophical therapy, dismissing disease as a metaphor for disorder. In contrast, Ricciardone claims disease and lack of health in Plato are symptomatic of the philosophical problem of difference. To make this argument, she analyzes Plato’s rhetorical strategies for manifesting differences as pathological pains, showing that these experiences are generative of the philosophical subject. Ricciardone’s investigations explicitly challenge a bias, shared by Platonists as well as post-Structuralists like Michel Foucault and Jacques Derrida, that Plato emphasized the identity of forms to the exclusion of the varieties of difference. Drawing on critical theory to overturn such limiting interpretations, she argues instead that Plato both cultivates and cures sensitivity to disease and difference in his texts.

The 2014-2015 Fellowship recipient was Joshua Williams (Performance Studies), for his dissertation on the politics of race and animality in Kenyan and Tanzanian performance art from the 1930s through the 1990s; the 2013-2014 recipient was Ramsey McGlazer (Comparative Literature), for his dissertation on counter-progressive pedagogy in modernist literature and cinema; the 2012-2013 recipient was Mareike Winchell (Anthropology), for her dissertation on the legal and affective legacies of land reform in post-revolutionary Bolivia.

Photo credit: Trav Williams, Broken Banjo Photography.