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Visiting Fellows 2017-18

Sara Grossman

 Sara J. Grossman specializes in the environmental humanities with teaching and research interests in nineteenth and twentieth-century environmental history and culture, environmental justice, disability studies, and environmental poetry. Her first book of poems is forthcoming with New Issues Poetry & Prose in 2018. She is also at work on an academic monograph titled A Natural History of Data, which is a two-century cultural history of weather data collection, computation, and archiving in the United States. She received her PhD in American Studies from Rutgers University in 2016 and holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Poetry. In the fall of 2018, she will join the Department of Environmental Studies at Bryn Mawr College as Assistant Professor of Environmental Humanities. For an updated list of projects and publications, please visit

Alyssa Reichardt

I’m a historian of North America and the Atlantic World, with a focus on the intersections of European and indigenous empires over the long eighteenth century. My more general research interests revolve around communication studies, historical geography, and state formation. I am currently at work on a book manuscript, “War for the Interior,” which examines the contest for the heart of North America between 1727 and 1774. Reconstructing information circuits and their role in strengthening (and weakening) French, British, Iroquois, and Cherokee territorial claims, I combine textual and GIS methods to map the development of continental and transatlantic communications infrastructure over the long Seven Years’ War. I hold a Ph.D. from Yale University, and in Fall 2018 I'll join the Kinder Institute and Department of History at the University of Missouri as an assistant professor of History and Constitutional Democracy.

Jocelyn Rodal

I received my PhD in English from U.C. Berkeley in 2016, and I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Rutgers Center for Cultural Analysis before coming to Penn State in 2017. I’m currently at work on a book manuscript titled Modernism’s Mathematics: From Form to FormalismThat project reads literary modernism alongside a contemporaneous modernist movement in mathematics. Looking at authors such as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Ezra Pound, and Virginia Woolf, I argue that modernists were using mathematics to create and elucidate form—form that, in turn, engendered formalism in literary studies. Modernism’s Mathematics uses mathematical theories of syntax and semantics to understand form, arguing that formalism, as a reading practice, has structural and historical roots in mathematics.

Victoria Salinger

I am currently working on turning my dissertation on German conceptual artist Hanne Darboven into a book manuscript. I discuss Darboven’s calculation-based art in the context of changing perceptions of mathematics and math pedagogy in the United States and Germany in light of the Cold War, as well as the gendered history of computers, computation, and data processing. I argue that Darboven’s choice to eschew discursive language for numerical calculations is not an avoidance of subjectivity or mimicking of a depersonalized aesthetic of administration, but rather a consciously political choice, engaged with questions about the changing nature of labor, authorship, and responsibility in the information age.

Nathan Vedal

Nathan Vedal (PhD, Harvard University) is a scholar of late imperial Chinese cultural and intellectual history, focusing on the history of knowledge production and history of the book. His book project, Scholarly Culture in Late Imperial China, examines broad patterns of intellectual change from the 16th through 19th centuries on the basis of the shifting methods, interactions, and practices of Chinese scholars. As a CHI fellow, he will extend this research into the cultural, material, and epistemological dimensions of knowledge production through projects on the formation of scholarly disciplines in China, as well as on the circulation of censored books in the late imperial period.

Grant Wythoff

Gadgetry: A History of Techniques explores how complex information technologies like the smartphone become legible to us through everyday practice, habit, and belief. I draw on my background in literary studies to trace the many ways that small decisions by individual users add up to critical transitions between paradigms in media history, describing these moments of indeterminacy and possibility as "fictions." Digital media technologies are not a force that comes down from on high to alter patterns in human relations, they are the product of what we imagine to be possible with our tools, from the micro-level of pragmatic functionality to the macro-level of cultural imaginaries and consensus visions of the future in science fiction.