Prof. Dorothy Noyes

College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of English and Professor in Comparative Studies, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, US

Duration of stay:
May – June 2022

In cooperation with Dr. Tobias Wille

Dorothy Noyes is College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Professor of English, with a joint appointment in the Department of Comparative Studies. Noyes studies political performance and the traditional public sphere in Europe, with an emphasis on how shared symbolic forms and indirect communication facilitate coexistence in situations of endemic social conflict. She also writes on folklore theory and the international policy careers of culture concepts. Among her books are Fire in the Plaça: Catalan Festival Politics After Franco (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003); Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life (Indiana University Press, 2016); and Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Guide for the Academy, co-authored with Regina F. Bendix and Kilian Bizer (University of Illinois Press, 2017). Her current book projects are Exemplary Failures: Gesture and Emulation in Liberal Politics and, co-edited with Tobias Wille, The Global Politics of Exemplarity. Noyes served as President of the American Folklore Society in 2018 and 2019, and received the Society’s Kenneth Goldstein Award for Lifetime Academic Leadership. She has lectured or taught in more than 20 countries, and in 2019 was awarded an honorary doctorate from the University of Tartu. In 2021 she received the Ohio State University’s Distinguished Scholar Award. In summer 2022 she will begin an appointment as Director of Ohio State’s Mershon Center for International Security Studies.

Research project title:

1. Trust and Suspicion in Interdisciplinary Knowledge-Making
2. Exemplary Failures: Gesture and Emulation in Liberal Politics

Research abstract:

Noyes will help the researchers at ConTrust to reflect on their own culture of interdisciplinarity, developing a reflexive account of trust and suspicion as complementary dimensions of knowledge production. Recognizing the sources of tension inherent in research collaboration, we can identify strategies to generate learning from conflict. Preliminary results of the work will be documented in a concept paper.
Noyes will also draw on the research group’s expertise to further her own monograph on exemplarity in liberal politics. Her book describes a trajectory in which the mediation necessary to mass societies has extended the reach and availability of symbolic politics as an instrument. Facilitating the amplification and emulation of acts deemed exemplary, mediated transmission undoes the context of interpersonal answerability that can guarantee follow-through, creating feedback loops that can further damage trust in political action.

Publications (selection):

– “Talking About the Weather: Common Sense, Common Sensing, Commonplaces.” Journal of American Folklore 134 (532): 272-291. Summer 2021.
– “Blaming the Polish Plumber: Phantom Agents, Invisible Workers, and the Liberal Arena.” Journal of International Relations and Development 22: 853–881. 2019.
– Sustaining Interdisciplinary Collaboration: A Guide for the Academy. With Regina Bendix and Kilian Bizer. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. 2017.
– “Compromised Concepts in Rising Waters: Making the Folk Resilient. In Dorothy Noyes, Humble Theory: Folklore’s Grasp on Social Life, 410-437. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 2016.


9 May 2022
Lecture: The Theater of Clemency: Trust, Mediation, and Distance in Social Reconciliation

10 May 2022
Workshop with ConTrust junior researchers

25 May 2022
Workshop: Trust and Suspicion in Interdisciplinary Research, with Profs. Regina Bendix and Kilian Bizer, both of Georg-August University, Göttingen, and Filipe dos Reis (Groningen).