Mellon-Morgridge Professors

With generous support from the Mellon Foundation and John P. and Tashia Morgridge, our program supports up to four rotating professorships in the humanities as Mellon-Morgridge Professors (MMPs). By supporting current faculty, Constellations aims to redirect a portion of each professor’s time and energy toward building better and more innovative humanities classes.

Current Professors:

Prof. Giuliana Chamedes was selected as a new Mellon-Morgridge Professor of the Humanities in 2020. In the 2020-21 academic year, she developed a new Constellation on Fascism, and will be teaching “History 366: From Fascism to Today” again in 2022-2023.

Dr. Chamedes is a member of the Department of History, who specializes in international and global history with a focus on the place of Europe in the wider world. Her first book, A Twentieth-Century Crusade: The Vatican’s Battle to Remake Christian Europe is the first comprehensive history of the Vatican’s agenda to defeat the forces of secular liberalism and communism through international law, cultural diplomacy, and a marriage of convenience with authoritarian and right-wing rulers. She is currently working on her second book project, Failed Globalists: Economic Justice, Decolonization, and the Decline of the European Welfare State, 1973-1993, which examines the emergence of a radically new way of conceptualizing state-economy relations.


Prof. Frédéric Neyrat began his appointment as a Mellon-Morgridge Professor in 2018. He is a member of the English Department with expertise in the environmental humanities and contemporary theory. He developed our Planetary Humanities Constellation.

Dr. Neyrat is the author of several books, including The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation, and Atopias: Manifesto for a Radical Existentialism. Dr. Neyrat recently launched Alienocene, an electronic journal that gathers texts, sounds, and images seeking to reshape the relationship between the human and the inhuman, the terrestrial and the extraterrestrial, the near and the distant, what is familiar to us and what persists in remaining – despite everything – alien.

Prof. Jenell Johnson has been a Mellon-Morgridge Professor since 2017, establishing our Health & Inequality Constellation.

Dr. Johnson’s work is recognized internationally for reshaping our understanding of science and medicine in the field of Rhetoric and Communications, in Communication Arts as well as in Science and Technology Studies. Much of her work looks closely at issues related to how we understand the meaning of neuroscience, psychiatry, and mental disability. These interests are best illustrated in her first book American Lobotomy, and the edited collection The Neuroscientific Turn, a collection of essays from humanists and scientists reflecting on the growth of the “neuro-disciplines.” Johnson is the director of UW-Madison’s Disability Studies Initiative. She leads a double life as a cartoonist and has recently published a comic anthology entitled Graphic Reproduction.



Prof. Ralph Grunewald was introduced as a Mellon-Morgridge Professor in the Fall of 2022. He is a member of the English Department and the Center for Law, Society, and Justice.

Much of Dr. Grunewald’s work addresses fundamental questions of how truth, guilt, and justice are interconnected in different justice systems. His approach is interdisciplinary, combining legal and humanities scholarship. In his new book, Narratives of Guilt and Innocence: The Power of Storytelling in Wrongful Conviction Cases (New York University Press, forthcoming), Dr. Grunewald analyzes how narrativization (the way “facts” and “stories” are told) in the criminal process affects the outcome of a case, potentially leading to wrongful convictions. His fall 2022 Constellation course, Criminal Justice in America, is an introduction into the criminal justice system in the United States, focusing on timely and pertinent questions and inspiring students to think critically about the law as a human-made system.

His 2023 Constellation, Truth and Crime, will expand this focus by inviting students to explore and discuss why we are so fascinated by true-crime stories, what legal truth is, and how “evidence” and “facts” are ultimately constructed. Can podcasts and TV shows produce a more accurate picture of a case and achieve a “truer” form of justice by exposing details the law might not have accounted for, or is their purpose just to entertain us?

Past Professors:

Prof. Mario Ortiz-Robles served as a Mellon-Morgridge Professor from  2018-2022. He is a leader in the emerging field of Animal Studies in which he created one of our first Constellations.

Dr. Ortiz-Robles’ home department is English, but his wide-ranging intellectual interests have allowed him to forge strong connections across the UW-Madison campus. His Constellation aspired to build off the success of his Borghesi-Mellon workshop in Animal Studies and created a hub for scholarship and research focused on representation, rights, and animal-human relations. He has an extensive publication record that includes his book Literature and Animal Studies, which asks “Why do animals talk in literature?”

Prof. Laura McClure is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classical Literature Studies and an internationally recognized scholar of gender and women in the ancient world. She teaches in the department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, and the Integrated Liberal Studies program. For Constellations, she developed the Bodies & Society Constellation from her signature course, Classics 351: Gender and Sexuality in the Classical World. Taught annually, this course demonstrates the relevance of ancient ideas about gender to modern conceptions as well as the ways ancient women exerted agency and influence within their own traditional societies. Professor McClure is the author of the textbook used for the course, Women in Classical Antiquity: From Birth to Death (2019)and two scholarly monographs, Spoken Like a Woman: Speech and Gender in Athenian Drama (1999)and Courtesans at Table: Gender and Greek Literary Culture in Athenaeus (2003). She is currently working on two books for Oxford University Press, one on women’s receptions of the Greek chorus, and a biography of an Athenian courtesan called Phryne.