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Predoctoral Fellows 2015-16

Joshua DiCaglio

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • College of English

My project explores the rhetorical and philosophical problems related to scale, both in the humanities and in the sciences.   The aim is to address the phenomenological and hermeneutic struggles that occur when we encounter much larger or much smaller views of reality. One aspect of this encounter is the discerning of meaning on multiple scales, which first becomes apparent through information theory and biosemiotics. Scaling these kinds of informatic loops allows a reconceptualizing of the meaning of meaning and the scope of and relationship between what different kinds of discourse describe. 

Abram Foley

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • College of English

During my CHI Predoctoral Fellowship, I will be completing my dissertation, Assembling Contemporary Literature: On the Critical Work of Literary Art.  The dissertation examines the relationship between literary practices – such as editing and publishing – and experimental aesthetics in post-WWII writing in America. Considering aesthetic positions in light of the literary practices which advocate and undermine them, and vice versa, I argue that presses and little magazines form critical assemblages that offer unusual avenues for approaching the history of contemporary literature. 

V. Jo Hsu

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • Department of English

The focus of my dissertation makes me very conscious, even here, of the word “I.” My research emerges from that discomfort, probing the conventions that have shaped the ways we write and read about the self in academic discourse. Beginning in the field of English studies, my self-conscious “I” investigates the different ways scholars in Rhetoric and Composition have celebrated or censured personal writing. I ask how the “personal” is defined on each occasion and what forms of speech and silence these practices create. Then drawing from other disciplines (including psychology, autobiography studies, sociology), I search for an approach to writing and critiquing autobiography that accounts for the “self” growing and changing over time, and that uses that dynamism to challenge reductive tendencies in identity-based discourse.

Lea Pao

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • Department of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies

My dissertation project, “The Informatics of Poetry,” examines the relation between poetry and information and suggests a method of reading poetry that evolves with a consideration of how the conceptualization of information and its defining forces have shaped and continue to shape poetry, our idea of poetics, and our methods of reading. By laying out a typology of informational practices in poetry, this project aims to renew and re-engage the discourse of information and poetics. It will show, for example, how poetic form manages these practices of information (via representation, organization, transmission, and storage), and how various methods of reading and literary criticism—from formalism and structuralism to Digital Humanities approaches—have developed alongside something like “information” as literary quality. 

Kaitlyn Patia

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • Department of Communication Arts and Sciences

Title: Democratic Vistas: The Rhetorical Expression and Promise of Democratic Faith

My dissertation engages the messiness of information in the face of seemingly intractable difference and the unknown: why might individuals marginalized by difference – based on race, gender, or class – have faith in a more equitable or just future despite circumstances that might suggest otherwise? I analyze how marginalized collectivities in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries expressed a faith in the power of discourse to challenge and eventually change social injustices, a faith in agitation, and a faith in democracy itself. In particular, I examine the rhetoric and activism of Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Jane Addams in order to better understand the operation of “democratic faith” within marginalized collectivities in relation to traditional notions of certainty, knowledge, and evidence.

Matthew Price

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • College of English

Of Minor Spaces presents a new description of the structures and dynamics of narrative geography in British fiction. Drawing on both older and newer methods of analysis, it demonstrates that spaces can be read using narratological methods commonly reserved for literary characters—that is, as oscillating hybrids of real and fictional, structural and referential significance, in a differential system of major and minor nodes. As a whole, the work shows how novelistic spaces signify in diverse, dynamic, but nevertheless mappable ways; how these geographies refract and reflect the production of socio-historical space; and how we might use these tools and the information they yield to better understand the un-typologized terrains in which we read (and live) as sites with specific latent associations yet to be named.

T. Franklin Waddell

  • Ph.D. Candidate
  • College of Communications

As television programming is increasingly accompanied by interface cues related to the collective opinion of other viewers, there is a corresponding interest regarding how such cues affect the assumptions of traditional media effects theory. The proposed dissertation will examine how social media comments that supplement television programming affects viewers’ perceptions of social reality, with a focus on how construct accessibility and bandwagon perceptions interact to affect first order and second order cultivation judgments, as informed by cultivation theory and the MAIN model.