Pomona Professors Julie Tannenbaum and Joanne Nucho Awarded National Endowment for the Humanities’ Summer Stipends

headshots of professors Julie Tannenbaum and Joanne Nucho

Two Pomona College professors are 2023 recipients of highly competitive National Endowment for the Humanities’ (NEH) Summer Stipends. Joanne Nucho and Julie Tannenbaum will each receive a $6,000 stipend to support continuous, full-time work on their respective humanities projects for a period of two consecutive months this summer.     

Post-Grid Futures 

Joanne Nucho, associate professor and chair of anthropology, examines through her research the decentralization of California’s electrical grid amid a climate change crisis and the civic, economic and political factors that come into play. The NEH Summer Stipend will allow Nucho to focus on writing her new book this summer.   

Nucho’s research delves into the relationship between climate change, the history of power grids and privatization in California and the looming threat of a lack of universal access to electricity.  

“Energy is like a basic right at this point—in order to fully participate in the civic sphere and to have a functioning democratic process you need that universal access that the grid promised,” Nucho says. 

“California is a diverse state by every definition of the word. The needs of some rural communities may differ from the needs of mega cities like Los Angeles. We have an opportunity to plan from a situated perspective of place while not forgetting the collective vision of making sure no one is left out,” she says.    

Nucho was born and grew up in California, but her family roots are in Lebanon. Having conducted research for her first book in Lebanon, she witnessed the deteriorated state of the country’s unreliable national power grid. Nucho says people were forced to rely on unsustainable, diesel fueled microgrids, and this in turn created a myriad of new social, political and economic issues. “The uncanny parallels in terms of energy issues [between Lebanon and California] have been very illuminating,” says Nucho. “These are global problems. There are lessons we can learn from the Lebanese who’ve been experiencing them for a long time. That will be a major thread in my book: bringing together those experiences.” 

Rethinking Consent and Responsibility for Unwanted Sex 

Julie Tannenbaum, associate professor of philosophy, is currently working on a new book, co-authored with Stavroula Glezakos of Wake Forest University, that explores questions of legal and moral responsibility when people consent to sexual activities that they did not want to engage in. The NEH Summer Stipend will fund Tannenbaum’s full-time work on the fourth chapter. 

Tannenbaum and Glezakos’ interest in this topic originated from conversations about their own sexual experiences when they were in their twenties. They were inspired to write about it in light of contemporary campus movements and public discussions and debates.  

The forthcoming book will take a cross-disciplinary approach—appealing to philosophy, psychology and law, as well as gender studies—to examine why people consent to sex they do not want and whether “enthusiastic” consent is an appropriate requirement for sexual encounters. “We show this requirement cannot properly settle the question of who is responsible, and for what—such models are overly demanding and incompatible with psychological intimacy and sexual autonomy,” says Tannenbaum. 

“We consider and critique a variety of legal and philosophical models of sexual consent and responsibility, while also paying careful attention to first-person accounts and psychological studies of unwanted but consensual sexual encounters, to develop our own account,” she writes. “We offer an innovative understanding of moral responsibility, arguing that in such cases individuals can be morally responsible for harming another even if the individual’s action was not wrong, not blameworthy, not the result of blameworthy deliberation, and not the result of bad motives.”