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Eric Hayot

A scholar of comparative literature, modernism, and East Asia, Hayot is the author of four books, including Chinese Dreams (2004), The Hypothetical Mandarin (2009), On Literary Worlds (2012), and The Elements of Academic Style (2014); he is also a co-editor of Sinographies: Writing China (2007) and, most recently, of A New Vocabulary for Global Modernism (2016, with Rebecca Walkowitz). He has written about modernism, poetry, video games, the history of modernity, Asian American literature, and other topics. His current projects include a translation of Peter Janich’s Was ist Information? (with Lea Pao) and a monograph on the philosophy of literature.

Jonathan Abel
Associate Director

Jonathan E. Abel is a scholar of Japanese media, film, and literature. As an Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Japanese Studies at Penn State University, Abel focuses his teaching and scholarly interests on questions of global modernism, literary reception, translation studies, film studies, new media, and literary and cultural theory. He has served as Director of Penn State’s Global and International Studies Program and is currently Associate Director of its Center for Humanities and Information. For academic year 2022-2023, he was a Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow.  He is co-translator of Karatani Kōjin’s Nation and Aesthetics: On Kant and Freud (Oxford University Press, 2017) and Azuma Hiroki’s Otaku: Japan’s Database Animals (University of Minnesota Press, 2008). He has edited several volumes, including a special issue of Japan Forum entitled “Beyond Fukushima: Culture, Media, and Meaning from Catastrophe” (2015), Information Keywords a book on humanistic approaches to the study of information (Columbia University Press, 2021), and a special issue of Verge: Studies in Global Asias on “Digital Asias” (University of Minnesota Press, Fall 2021). His first book, Redacted: The Archives of Censorship in Transwar Japan (University of California Press, 2012), examined how authors and censors (under the empire and during the occupation) worked to create a particular kind of literature, full of gaps and fissures, that remains popular in Japan today.  His most recent book, The New Real: Media and Mimesis in Japan from Stereographs to Emoji (University of Minnesota Press, 2023), examines how the marketing and scholarly rhetoric around new media often overlap while contradicting the actual everyday encounter of users and their new media. He develops CineMAP Japan, a project that geotags and visualizes film locations to reveal how space matter and what places mean for cinema.  He is currently working on a book length study, tentatively titled Subtitling the World: Fake News and Fictional Truth, which examines microfiction posted on Twitter and Instagram as test cases for policies about tagging fake news on social media.  

Jennifer Boittin
Associate Director
Associate Professor of French, Francophone Studies, and History

Boittin is Associate Professor of French, Francophone Studies, and History. Her research and teaching look at how colonial spaces in West Africa, Southeast Asia, and the French Caribbean were shaped by intersections between gender, race, class, and sexuality. She is the author of Colonial Metropolis: The Urban Grounds of Anti-imperialism and Feminism in Interwar Paris (2010, University of Nebraska Press), an innovative, intersectional history of radical interwar politics, and of Undesirable: Passionate Mobility and Women’s Defiance of French Colonial Policing, 1919-1952 (in production, University of Chicago Press, 2022), which tracks and maps approximately seven hundred women through French, Cambodian, and Senegalese archives to understand what ordinary people do when they realize they are being policed.

Advisory Board

Jonathan Abel, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies

Richard Doyle, Liberal Arts Research Professor of English

Greg Eghigian, Associate Professor of History

Samuel Frederick, Assistant Professor of German

Matthew Jordan, Associate Professor of Film & Video Studies

Michele Kennerly, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts & Sciences

Daniel Purdy, Professor of German

Christopher Reed, Professor of English and Visual Culture

Mark Sentesy, Assistant Professor of Philosophy

Current Fellows

2023-2024 Predoctoral Fellows

Qiyu Chen headshot

Qiyu Chen is a fifth-year PhD student in Comparative Literature with a dual-title in African Studies. Her dissertation entitled "The Making and Unmaking of African Literary Canons: Circulation, Genre, and Gender during the Cold War" examines the many alternative African literary canons formed during the Cold War beyond the most well-known postcolonial Anglophone African literary canon. Focusing on literary networks on the African continent, and other Third World locales, such as Socialist China, this project discovers routes of circulation and translation of African literature beyond the Western metropolis-(post) colony nexus. This project also brings to the fore less-studied genres (as compared to the African novel) of African literature, such as, short story, autobiography, and theater, evaluating their presentation in print materials and rethinking their relation to decolonization movements. Zooming in onto the stories of individual African intellectuals, this dissertation aims to show their agency or lack thereof when navigating the Cold War publishing infrastructure.

Hector Linares Gonzalez headshot

Héctor Linares is a third-year PhD candidate in History, specializing in Early Modern Global History, Race and Ethnicity and Latin America. His dissertation explores cases of Indigenous and Afro-descendants who successfully negotiated their socioeconomic and political status with the Spanish Crown and achieved aristocratic titles, positions and honors. He is the author of tewnty-one peer-reviewed articles and books chapters, and he has edited five books on Spanish nobility, ecclesiastical elites, and the Spanish Empire with some of the most prominent European publishers, including Silex, Doce Calles, Palermo University Press, and Brill. His research has been funded by numerous institutions, namely: the European Commission, the French Republic, the Folger Library, and the Spanish government. At Penn State he works under the direction of Drs. Ronnie Hsia and Amanda Scott. He is also serving as a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee at the Renaissance Society of America.

Tiyobista Maereg Headshot

Tiyobista Maereg is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Developmental Psychology minoring in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Her primary research interest is the role of context in the ethnic-racial identity development of Black youth, in particular, Black immigrant youth and Black girls.  Her current project explores the racial and gendered messaging Black girls receive from school and social media and investigates how this messaging is recreated through the identity development process for Black girls.

Emma Rossby headshot

Emma Rossby is a dual-title PhD candidate in French and Francophone Studies and Visual Studies. With a focus on contemporary Belgium, her research examines how forms of visual and multimodal storytelling circulate as tools for teaching and learning outside of academic spaces. How, for instance, are bandes dessinées used as pedagogical tools by museums and other cultural institutions to mediate conversations around race, gender, and colonial histories? How do participatory art initiatives illustrate aspects of the history of urbanization and immigration in Brussels? This dissertation is grounded in on-site research in Belgium and brings together tools from visual studies and comics studies, particularly as they intersect with critical race and feminist theories.

Norma Watson headshot

Jasmine Norma Watson is a PhD candidate studying Latin American history and African American Studies with secondary focuses on race & ethnicity and transnationalism. Their doctoral research focuses on AfroBrazilian resistance and placemaking in the 20th century. Using a transnational Africa/Black Diasporic lens, Norma traces common struggles, strategies, and ideologies, throughout the Americas, bringing more AfroBrazilian history into Pan-African and Black international conversations. They utilize various sources like newspapers, radio broadcast, poetry and oral interviews to discuss the ways in which Black consciousness raising unfolded in intimate spaces. Norma’s research also traces AfroBrazilian women’s roles in grass roots organizing and mutual aid with the use of an intersectional lens and Black Feminist and Womanist theory.

Amy Mjema Omolo headshot

Amy Mjema Omolo is a dual-title PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature and African Studies. Her dissertation – Re-imagining Waithood: Narratives of Young Kenyans Negotiating Adulthood – interrogates the concept of waithood to explore representations of relationships, livelihoods, and socio-political critique that young people in Kenya engage in. Some of the questions she contemplates include: How are ideas of youth and waithood liminal within the context of African youth? How have youth in Kenya related with the city, the state, and the global world as they consider what it means to be an adult? How have digital platforms become spaces of resistance, solidarity, and exploration of identities? Ultimately, she asks to what extent and in what ways have/are Kenyan youth negotiating adulthood. Drawing on fields such as Popular Culture and Literature, her dissertation rejects the binary positioning of youth as either vandals or vanguards of society to explore how young Kenyans are self-fashioning adulthood within waithood.

2023-2024 Faculty Fellows

Gabeba Baderoon

Gabeba Baderoon is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, African Studies and Comparative Literature. She co-directs the African Feminist Initiative at Penn State with Alicia Decker and Maha Marouan. Baderoon received a PhD in English from the University of Cape Town and has held Post-doctoral fellowships in the Africana Research Center and the “Islam, African Publics and Religious Values” Project. Among her honors are the Sarah Baartman Senior Fellowship at the University of Cape Town, an Extraordinary Professorship of English at Stellenbosch University, and fellowships at the African Gender Institute, the Nordic Africa Institute, the Rockefeller Centre at Bellagio and the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study. Baderoon is the author of Regarding Muslims: from Slavery to Post-Apartheid, which received the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences Best Non-fiction Monograph Award, and the poetry collections The Dream in the Next Body, A hundred silences and The History of Intimacy. She also co-edited the award-winning essay collection, Surfacing: on Being Black and Feminist, with Desiree Lewis. Baderoon’s work has been honored with the DaimlerChrysler Award for South African Poetry, the Elisabeth Eybers Poetry Prize, the University of Johannesburg Prize for South African Writing and three awards from the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences: for Best Poetry Book, Best Non-Fiction Monograph and Best Edited Collection. The project she is working on for her CHI Fellowship is a poetic autobiography titled, "The Concussion Diaries: Relief Map of a Drifting Mind."

Cathleen Cahill headshot

Cathleen D. Cahill is the Walter L. Ferree and Helen P. Ferree Professor in Middle-American History at Penn State University. Her research focuses on women’s labor and political activism. She is the author of two books, Federal Fathers & Mothers: A Social History of the US Indian Service, 1869-1933 (University of North Carolina Press, 2011) and Recasting the Vote: How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement (UNC Press 2020). She also recently co-edited the collection of essays, Indian Cities: Histories of Indigenous Urbanization (University of Oklahoma Press, 2022). She is looking forward to using her Center for Humanities and Information fellowship to explore how Black women married to US soldiers participated in national networks of communication and activism during the election of 1920. She will also be finalizing a graphic history on the transnational suffrage activism of Chinese-American women.

Rosa Eberly
Associate Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences and the Department of English

Rosa A. Eberly is a free-range rhetorician who studies histories and theories of rhetoric, publics theory, public memory, sound, character, and deliberation. Most recently, Eberly curated the archive of Harry Shearer’s Le Show, now in its thirty-ninth year, for the Library of Congress American Archive of Public Broadcasting. Eberly's curated exhibit was the focus of the CAS 2023 Select Summer Symposium, sponsored in part by CHI.

Since 1996 Eberly has studied and taught courses on relationships among rhetoric, violence, and public memory with emphasis on violence in and against public education. Additional interests include Isocrates and Theophrastus, free speech and democracy, rhetoric and poetics, sound and aural rhetorics, and theories of identity. Eberly is author of Towers of Rhetoric: Memory and Reinvention and Citizen Critics: Literary Public Spheres; co-editor of A Laboratory for Public Scholarship and Democracy and The Sage Handbook of Rhetoric; co-author of The Elements of Reasoning, 2d ed.; and articles on publics theory, proto-public deliberation in rhetoric classrooms, public memory, sound studies, and rhetoric and identity.

Eberly is Associate Professor of Rhetoric in the Department of Communication Arts & Sciences and the Department of English, and she directs the Intercollege Minor in Civic and Community Engagement.

John Ochoa headshot

Field of specialization: Mexican literature and intellectual history, Comparative Literature. PhD Yale, 1999. Before coming to Penn State, John Ochoa was Associate Professor of Spanish at the University of California, Riverside. He was awarded a Ford Foundation postdoctoral fellowship in 2001-02.  His first book, The Uses of Failure in Mexican Literature and Identity (University of Texas Press 2005) studies the relationship between awareness of failure and national culture. It examines the work of several “monuments” of the Mexican canon, including Bernal Díaz del Castillo, J. J. Fernández de Lizardi, Alexander von Humboldt, José Vasconcelos, and Carlos Fuentes; it argues that the acknowledgement of failure, both historical and aesthetic, can actually be constructive and ultimately lead to both self-knowledge and self-definition.

Besides Mexican intellectual and cultural history, his other teaching and research interests include post-colonial theory, colonial Latin American literature, Chicano performance art, and, of all things, culinary history. He has published book chapters and articles on Edward Said’s debt to Foucault, on the novels of Agustín Yáñez and the end of time, and on Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and food. He edited an anthology of work by the Mexican/Chicano poet and performance artist Guillermo Gómez Peña, Bitácora del cruce (Fondo de Cultura, 2006), and has published several studies of his work.

His current research, comparative in nature, explores American exceptionalism. It will pair readings from the United States and Latin America in order to consider claims for the uniqueness of the American condition.

Chang Tan headshot

Dr. Tan specializes in Chinese, East Asian, and Asian diasporic art of the 20th and 21st century. Her research interests include global avant-gardism, public and socially engaged art, eco art and activism, vernacular photography, and museum studies. Her upcoming book The Minjian Avant-garde: Art of the Crowd in Contemporary China (Cornell, 2023) studies how experimental artists mixed with, brought changes to, and let themselves be transformed by minjian, the volatile and diverse public of the post-Mao era, and critically assesses the rise of populism in both art and politics. Dr. Tan has published in peer-reviewed journals such as positions: asia critique, Art JournalDiacritics, World Art, and Third Text. Her curatorial and editorial activities explore the connections between Asian and Asian American art. She currently works on two projects. One studies the intersection between photography, landscape painting, design, and theater in China and the Chinese diaspora from the 19th century to present. The other examines the tension between land ownership and contemporary eco art in the Sinophone world. Her research on these projects have been supported by the Chiang Ching-kuo Foundation and the Humanities Institute at Penn State.

Nancy Tuana headshot

Nancy Tuana is DuPont/Class of 1949 Professor of Philosophy and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State University and was the founding director of the Penn State Rock Ethics Institute.  Dr. Tuana’s overarching area of expertise is feminist philosophy with a twofold emphasis: i) theoretical approaches to liberatory thought including standpoint theory, intersectionality, and anti-colonial theory and ii) the question of how to develop effective coalitional work among different theoretical frames such as Black feminisms, Indigenous feminisms, Latina/x feminisms, Asian American feminisms, trans theory, as well as attention to issues of class, dis/abilities, and environmental justice.  She also works in the field of philosophy of science. A key emphasis of her recent research involves the field of climate and environmental philosophy.  Her most recent book. Racial Climates, Ecological Indifference: An Ecointersectional Approach (Oxford University Press, 2023)focuses on the infusions of systemic racisms and climate injustice.  Tuana has expertise in working as a member of scientific teams to address issues of adaptation to climate impacts that are attentive to the values and lifeways of those impacted.  She is currently a member of the NSF grant Megalopolitan Coastal Transformation Hub (MACH) which is developing a climate-resilient decision-making framework that will support coastal communities in the New York City-New Jersey-Philadelphia region and beyond as they navigate a deeply uncertain future.   Her work contributes to MACH's commitment to the authentic integration of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into its practices.

2023-2024 Visiting Fellows

Tara Ward

Tara Ward is a scholar of twentieth and twenty-first century art and visual culture. Her attention to the ways avant-garde artistic practices are integrated into everyday life has led to a diverse array of research interests from how the Orphist painters used color theory to understand the modern city to how the history of the nude relates to legging fashion to Instagram as an artistic practice.  Deeply influenced by Foucault and ordinary language philosophy, Dr. Ward argues for a very broad definition of art and insists that the visual is as meaningful as text.  Her work has been published by the Guggenheim Museum and the Oxford Art Journal, and her current book project is entitled Appreciation Post:  Towards an Art History of Instagram.

Daniel Cunha

Daniel Cunha is interested historical capitalism, critique of political economy, critical theory, and the Anthropocene. As a PhD in Sociology, M. Sc. in Environmental Science and B. S. in Chemical Engineering, his research is trans-disciplinary, making use of concepts and methods from critical political economy, historical sociology, the world-systems perspective, and the natural sciences. His dissertation on the Industrial Revolution (ca. 1760-1840) conceptualizes it as world-historical, encompassing large-scale environmental and labor regime transformations and equally world-historical social resistance. He has articles published in Mediations, The Anthropocene Review, Critical Historical Studies, Journal of the World-Systems Research, among others, and is a coeditor of Sinal de Menos. His most recent publication, “Climate Science as Counterculture”, appeared in Liinc em Revista (2022). He is preparing a book on climate science which will show how it internalizes transformed subjectivities into its concepts, as part of world-historical developments spanning from the Second World War to May 68 and beyond.

Amrita De

Amrita De is a Postdoctoral fellow in the Center of Humanities and Information at Penn State University. Her research focuses on global south masculinity studies and affect theory. Her works have been published in NORMA, Boyhood Studies, Global Humanities and are forthcoming in other edited collections. She is also working her way through her first novel centered around contemporary Indian Masculinities.