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People

Directorate

Eric Hayot
Director

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.

John Russell
Associate Director

Russell is an Assistant Professor in the University Libraries responsible for supporting digital scholarship. Prior to coming to Penn State, John was the Scholarly Communication Librarian at the University of Oregon, where he supported open access, digital initiatives, and regularly taught a graduate course on digital scholarship methods. John teaches the online course “Introduction to Digital Humanities for Librarians” for Library Juice Academy, and is also a Contributing Editor for the dh+lib website.

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

2021-2022 Predoctoral Fellows

Jeff Nagel is a doctoral candidate in Penn State’s Department of Communication Arts and Sciences where he studies the intersection of absence, queerness, memory, and social movements. His dissertation, entitled “Queering Absence: The Rhetoric of the Homophile Movement,” examines key moments in American homophile activism (a direct precursor to the modern gay rights movement) and connects archival recovery with queer rhetorical theory. These moments reveal a complex relationship between queerness and absence, and the underappreciated debt modern queer organizing has to these earlier efforts. His work appears several journals including Rhetoric Society Quarterly, QED: A Journal of GLBTQ Worldmaking, and Women’s Studies in Communication.  

Alexandria Herrera is a fourth-year dual-title Ph.D. Student in Latin American History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Alex is currently working on her doctoral dissertation. The project examines how transnational networks of Guatemalan, American, and European doctors, public health officials, politicians, city police, and sex workers created and shaped prostitution regulations and medical knowledge about sexually transmitted infections in 19th and 20th century Guatemala City. The project focuses on the medical and public health justifications for policing sex workers’ bodies for STIs, particularly syphilis, from 1890 to 1940.  

Jerome Clarke is a Ph.D. Candidate in African American Studies and Philosophy. His dissertation—Digital Colorline: Race, Machine Learning, and the Critique of Technology—reconstructs the idea of systematic racism given the germane algorithmic bias of today’s learning models. As racialization manifests as outputs of facial recognition, predictive policing, and recidivism assessment, contested notions of fairness and transparency undergird public discourse on machine auditing and design. Though debates often focus on systems that exacerbate or learn society’s racial antagonisms, scant engagement with theories of race throw little into relief and partly result in a political standstill between public-private partnerships and their critics. This project maintains that learning models disrupt common and expert notions of societal racism, political recognition, and just distribution. Conversely, certain computing frameworks obfuscate how race operates socially, and they implicate how designers, critics, and users alike understand and use learning technologies. Intervening in debates of Black Studies and Social Philosophy, this dissertation argues that the reflexive frameworks of abstraction and data positivism muddy our understanding of how, at each end of black box algorithms, stat and statistics serve as racist bludgeons.

“Sonic Informatics: ‘Processing’ the Ethnicized Soundscape in Zimbabwean Migrant Fiction” 

My project “Sonic Informatics: ‘Processing’ the Ethnicized Soundscape in Zimbabwean Migrant Fiction” explores the literary representation of black Zimbabwean migrants in South Africa. I employ sound as a methodology for reading contemporary Zimbabwean migrant fiction to demonstrate how migratory aesthetics engage with what I term the Ethnicized Soundscape. I argue that a sonic approach to reading and interpreting narratives of displacement challenges the treatment of sound as a supplementary effect of vision rather than as epistemology in its own right, a way of knowing. A sound-focused reading disrupts how conventional genres of migration convey information about displaced people. Processing the Ethnicized Soundscape through literary texts is the contemporary conjunction between orality and literacy. My work employs Sound Studies methodology to offer a unique way of analyzing fiction that depicts migrants’ lived experiences because aurality in sub-Saharan Africa is perceived as orature; that is, the oral written down. I maintain that studying the Ethnicized Soundscape provides a broader understanding of inter-black migrant relations in South Africa. The ear, I argue, is the computational system that receives sound and makes meaning. In this context, informatics work with the ear as the computer that emits soundbites interpreted within the Ethnicized Soundscape. Sonic informatics is a new intervention that I bring to studying black African migrants’ communicative practices in South Africa.

My dissertation examines the role of literature in the formation of queer communities by tracing the reworking of taxonomizing language throughout the long twentieth century till now. I argue that the literary deployment of taxonomies fundamentally shifts their meaning and the social uptake of these labels in ways that bring attention to the failure of taxonomies and the communities that spring forth from this failure. This dissertation examines the poetry found in German lesbian magazines, early 20th century queer/trans novels from Western Europe, contemporary speculative fiction, and U.S. poetry slam. Engaging with and contributing to gender studies, literary studies, trans studies, fat studies, and queer studies, this project focuses on moments when lived experience and relationality escape naming and expand the possibilities of community and kinship. Through an interdisciplinary approach combining interviews, archival research, and textual and visual analysis, I contend that the unmaking and remaking of taxonomies through literature is fundamental to the work of speculative community formation—of finding, providing for, and knowing queerness, and of expanding networks of queer solidarity. 

My dissertation, “Encounters between Eshu and Dionysus. Afro-Greek mediations in Cuban and Brazilian theater,” inquires into the intersections of ancient Greek and African-based cosmologies and their mediations within Cuban and Brazilian performances. From the 40s up to the present, Afro-Atlantic religions such as Cuban Santería and Brazilian Candomblé have been transposed into the Cuban and Brazilian stages and interacted not only with different media and technology (theater, cinema, radio, puppetry), but also with Greek myths, dramas, and aesthetics. By dialoguing with multiple disciplines like Media and Theater Studies, Classical Reception, Race and Afro-Atlantic Studies, my project will explore the systems of mediations and structures (artifacts, technologies, and practices such as possession and ritual) involved in these Afro-Greek interactions and how they complicate important questions of Cuban and Brazilian history, such as national identity, race, gender and humanity.

2021-2022 Faculty Fellows

Cruz, Ariane

Ariane Cruz is an Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  Her manuscript, The Color of Kink: Black Women, BDSM, and Pornography, is published with New York University Press.  Her publications appear in journals such as differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Camera Obscura, Feminist Studies, Hypatia, Women & Performance, Sexualities, The Journal of American Studies, The Black Scholar, and Souls: A Critical Journal of Black Politics, Culture, and Society.  Her writing also appears books such as The Feminist Porn Book: The Politics of Producing Pleasure, Black Female Sexualities, The Philosophy of Pornography: Contemporary Perspectives, Black Sexual Economies: Race and Sex in a Culture of Capital, and Women’s Lives, Multicultural Perspectives.  As a scholar of black feminist sexuality theory, her research interests lie at the intersections between black female sexuality, black visual culture, and performance.

Maha Marouan

Maha Marouan is an African feminist scholar, writer and documentarian. She is associate professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and African Studies. Her publications include Witches, Goddesses and Angry Spirits: The Politics of Spiritual Liberation in African Diaspora Women’s Fiction, (Ohio State University Press, 2013), a co-edited volume on Race and Displacement: Nation, Migration and Identity in the Twenty-First Century (University of Alabama Press, 2013) and a documentary entitled Voices of Muslim Women in the US South (Women Make Movies, New York, 2015). Her academic and creative works appeared in The Boston Review, Transition Magazine of Africa and the African Diaspora and Journal of Islamic Africa. Her research and teaching interests include, Religions and Literatures of Africa and the African Diaspora, Comparative Literature, Transnational Feminisms and Women and Immigration. 

Tracy Rutler is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Penn State. She is the author of Queering the Enlightenment: Kinship and gender in eighteenth-century French literature (Liverpool University Press, 2021), and has published articles in scholarly journals such as The French Review, Criticism, and Esprit créateur. She is currently working on a second monograph, titled Careful Science: Reimagining Disability in the Early Modern Francophone World, which seeks to uncover certain healing practices that have been suppressed or erased with the rise of modern Western medicine. Turning particularly to practices of care both within France and in several early French colonies, this book will show how early modern authors, philosophers, and healers understood the capacities of the human body, and might just help us to understand how notions of (dis)ability could be understood in more adaptive and inclusive ways.

Daniel Zolli teaches and writes about late medieval and early modern European art, with particular interests in the materials and techniques of art, workshop practice, art’s theorization in oral tradition, “shop talk,” and popular folklore, and – most recently – art’s entanglements with toxicity and the environment. He is co-editor of three books: Sculpture in the Age of Donatello (D. Giles, 2015), The Art of Sculpture in Fifteenth-Century Italy (Cambridge U Press, 2020), and Contamination and Purity in Early Modern Art and Architecture (Amsterdam U Press, 2021). At the CHI, he will work on his monograph, Donatello’s Promiscuous Technique: Collaboration and Experimentation in a Fifteenth-Century Workshop.

2021-2022 Visiting Fellows

Jeffrey Binder

Jeffrey M. Binder specializes in humanistic perspectives on computation, especially in relation to issues of language. He has written on topics ranging from the history of the back-of-the-book index to the use of technical terms in Walt Whitman’s poetry; he has also developed numerous software experiments in computational text analysis and artistic uJeffrey M. Binder specializes in humanistic perspectives on computation, especially in relation to issues of language. He has written on topics ranging from the history of the back-of-the-book index to the use of technical terms in Walt Whitman’s poetry. He has also developed numerous software experiments in computational text analysis and artistic uses of artificial intelligence. His work has been published in such journals as ELHAmerican Literature, and Media Culture and Society; his most recent article, “Romantic Disciplinarity and the Rise of the Algorithm,” appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Critical Inquiry. He is currently working on a book about the history of the idea of algorithm from the sixteenth century to the rise of machine learning.

Georgia Ennis

Georgia Ennis is a linguistic anthropologist specializing in media and the environment. Utilizing community-engaged and collaborative methods, her research explores Indigenous media production, language revitalization, and environmental knowledge in a changing climate. Her book-in-progress, Mothering Earth: Women, Media, and Cultural Reclamation in the Western Amazon, follows Amazonian Kichwa (Quichua) women as they mobilize media to strengthen relationships and knowledge key to environmental reclamation and food sovereignty.  At the CHI, she is also developing Voices of the Amazon, a digital archive of Amazonian Kichwa media. 

Past Fellows

Visiting Fellows 2020-2021

Jeffrey Binder

Jeffrey M. Binder specializes in humanistic perspectives on computation, especially in relation to issues of language. He has written on topics ranging from the history of the back-of-the-book index to the use of technical terms in Walt Whitman’s poetry; he has also developed numerous software experiments in computational text analysis and artistic uJeffrey M. Binder specializes in humanistic perspectives on computation, especially in relation to issues of language. He has written on topics ranging from the history of the back-of-the-book index to the use of technical terms in Walt Whitman’s poetry. He has also developed numerous software experiments in computational text analysis and artistic uses of artificial intelligence. His work has been published in such journals as ELHAmerican Literature, and Media Culture and Society; his most recent article, “Romantic Disciplinarity and the Rise of the Algorithm,” appeared in the Summer 2020 issue of Critical Inquiry. He is currently working on a book about the history of the idea of algorithm from the sixteenth century to the rise of machine learning.

Georgia Ennis

Georgia Ennis is a linguistic anthropologist specializing in media and the environment. Utilizing community-engaged and collaborative methods, her research explores Indigenous media production, language revitalization, and environmental knowledge in a changing climate. Her book-in-progress, Mothering Earth: Women, Media, and Cultural Reclamation in the Western Amazon, follows Amazonian Kichwa (Quichua) women as they mobilize media to strengthen relationships and knowledge key to environmental reclamation and food sovereignty.  At the CHI, she is also developing Voices of the Amazon, a digital archive of Amazonian Kichwa media. 

Jennifer Shook

Jen Shook is a digital and performance dramaturg whose research and practice live at the intersection of literature, performance, media and digital humanities, Indigenous and critical race and gender studies, and cultural memory. Her book project Unghosting Tribalographies: Oklahoma-as-Indian-Territory in Performance, Print, and Digital Culture follows ritual and virtual reenactments and memorial performances in and out of the transcultural space of Indian Territory, connecting politics and policy with the print public sphere as well as to plays, poetry, and multimedia performances that borrow and revise early archives. In addition, she’s developing Instead of Redface, a digital resource amplifying contemporary Indigenous playwrights. More at http://www.jenshook.com/ 

Christopher Willoughby

In my book project Masters of Health: Racial Science and Slavery in American Medical Schools (under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press), I relate the untold history of how teaching racial differences and the abuse of enslaved people’s bodies became standard practices in U.S. medical education. Through an analysis of schools across the United States before the Civil War, my project argues that white, male students were indoctrinated to imagine African descended patients as suited for hard labor in the tropics, immune to the worst illnesses of slavery, and anatomically distinct from whites. This story also unfolded on a global scale, with students comparing non-white bodies from around the world in service of a global system of white supremacy. Masters of Health alsorelates select stories of those objectified by medical educators, like an enslaved rebel from Bahia, Brazil whose skulls ended up in Harvard’s anatomy museum.

Predoctoral Fellows 2020-2021

Aaron Witcher

Though its primary sense refers to the flight of slaves from plantation spaces to forested and/or mountainous regions, marronage has grown in significance and meaning since the era of slavery and colonialism in Martinique. The term marronage, then, refers to a large gamut of resistance (political, cultural, memorial, or otherwise) whose dynamism renews its relevance and purchase even into the eras beyond slavery and indentured servitude. Drawing on the theoretical and poetical works of poet-philosopher Édouard Glissant, my dissertation, entitled “Tourner autour du Mahagony: Marooning poetics of Martinican literature,” explores how the dynamics of marronnage—notably flight, fugitivity, and re-membering—are taken up by a number of Martinican authors and translated into poetics that propose new, more marron articulations of Martinican (indeed, Caribbean) identity and history. The latter, like the acts of marronage that inform and inspire them, draw a portion of their animus from their relations to what Glissant calls entour, namely their natural and cultural “surroundings.” The work performed by these poetics points therefore to relational and ecological modes of being and re-membering.  

Ashley Rea

Computer programming literacy is increasingly understood as vital for participation in today’s global economy, but faces significant issues of access, representation, and equity. In response to information technologies that exacerbate existing disparities of gender, race, and class, the industry of coding education designed for women and underrepresented communities is growing rapidly. My dissertation, “Programming Women: Rhetorical Education, Literacy, and Coding,” analyzes contemporary programming literacy education for women and underrepresented groups through a rhetorical study deploying a mixed-methods approach. Grounded in an intersectional feminist theoretical framework, my research seeks to understand how coding literacy is understood, taught, and practiced in these contexts. In doing so, my research has the potential to enrich the already provocative theories of the rhetoricity of code through its focus on the material, social, and digital contexts where programming is taught and made. 

Nikki Orth

My dissertation project investigates a series of recent and popular commemorations of the transatlantic slave trade that frame themselves as the first of their kind. These commemorations share a commonality as texts where discourses of race, inequality, and justice are written and rewritten. Alongside their commonalities, these sites are also quite different in terms of scope and function. This dissertation will pursue answers to a series of questions concerning public memory contestation. The primary question that guides my project is, how do commemorations of the transatlantic slave trade and its legacy in the United States function in this contemporary moment of heightened, even lethal, memory dissensus?

Kira Homo

I’m broadly interested archives as a locus for the conscious construction of early modern institutional identities. My current research involves the Society of Jesus, a Catholic religious order founded in the mid-sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century, the Society had created and instituted both detailed collection plans for their institutional archives and a robust publishing network dedicated to disseminating favorable reports of Jesuit activities around the globe. My dissertation project, currently titled “Monks, Mariners, Merchants, Murderers: The Jesuits in Seventeenth-Century Goa,” examines the suspicious death of a Jesuit priest and administrator named Antonio de Andrade and the tensions between the various public and private accounts of his life and his death. 

Katherine Ellis

In my project, “Decoding Masculinities, Traumatic Violation, and the Legacy of French Medical Literature (1914 – 1939),” I employ critical discourse analysis of key French medical journals’ written and visual publications during World War I. At the heart of the modern trend of medicalizing trauma, these scientific documents have for some time been objects of academic study; however, we often foreground our fascination with French doctors’ personae without asking how contemporary masculinities, as well as their own experiences of psychological upheaval, could have fundamentally shaped their conceptualization of what trauma is. In conversation with masculinities studies like the seminal works of Robert A. Nye, Cynthia Enloe, and Iris Marion Young, I therefore interrogate the nature of WWI French medical masculinities while asking if and how masculinist discourse allowed for French doctors to express their personal trauma without exacerbating the country’s perceived crisis of masculinity.

Richard Daily

I am a dual-title PhD Candidate in the History and African American Studies departments, with a minor in Womens, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. My research focuses on the race, sexuality, incarceration, and cultural production in the twentieth century. My dissertation project focuses on lived experience, incarceration, and the networks of information and care developed during the Black Gay Cultural Renaissance. I focus on the body of published and private work of Black gay men, exploring the role of information and how their work illuminated carceral ontologies. I also work with the Center for Black Digital Research on the Social Media and Communications team.

Faculty Fellows 2020-2021

Anna Ziajka Stanton

Anna is Caroline D. Eckhardt Early Career Professor and Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature. She is a scholar of Arabic literature and culture, world literature, and translation theory, as well as an active translator of Arabic texts in multiple genres. Her current book project examines the ethics of literariness in English translations of Arabic literature as a matter of literary and linguistic forms, and the embodied and affective encounters that such forms invite from a translator, reader, or critic. She is also interested in the question of how 21st-century Arabic literary prizes are reshaping the ways that the modern Arabic novel circulates in today’s world literary field. Her scholarship has appeared in Philological Encounters and the Journal of Arabic Literature, and is forthcoming from the Journal of World Literature. Her translation of Hilal Chouman’s novel Limbo Beirut was longlisted for the 2017 PEN Translation Prize and shortlisted for the 2017 Saif Ghobash Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation.

Jooyeon Rhee

Jooyeon Rhee is assistant professor of Asian Studies and Comparative Literature. Empire of Crime: Cultural Topography of Japanese Imperialism in Detective Fiction is her second book project that investigates detective fiction works that were produced mainly in colonial Korea (1910-1945). It considers detective fiction as a colonial archive since it encapsulates the paradox of colonial modernity in which the confrontation between rational and irrational, social and anti-social, order and disorder, reality and fantasy of modernity manifests in such intensity in the forms of murder, deviant sexuality, transnational economic/social mobility, etc. During her residency, Jooyeon will examine fiction penned by Japanese residents in colonial Korea by focusing on the spatial significance of crime narratives as a way to see how the writers perceived their positions and formed their identities away from the center of the empire.  

Christopher Reed

Christopher Reed is Distinguished Professor of English and Visual Culture. His twelve books treat various aspects of the social significance of art and design, often in relation to literature. At the CHI, he will explore the implications of Vilém Flusser’s theories of visuality to the development of modern art and literature, starting with Nathaniel Hawthorne.

Maha Marouan

Maha Marouan is an African feminist scholar, writer and documentarian. She is associate professor of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies and African Studies. Her publications include Witches, Goddesses and Angry Spirits: The Politics of Spiritual Liberation in African Diaspora Women’s Fiction, (Ohio State University Press, 2013), a co-edited volume on Race and Displacement: Nation, Migration and Identity in the Twenty-First Century (University of Alabama Press, 2013) and a documentary entitled Voices of Muslim Women in the US South (Women Make Movies, New York, 2015). Her academic and creative works appeared in The Boston Review, Transition Magazine of Africa and the African Diaspora and Journal of Islamic Africa. Her research and teaching interests include, Religions and Literatures of Africa and the African Diaspora, Comparative Literature, Transnational Feminisms and Women and Immigration. 

Emmanuel Bruno Jean-Francois

Emmanuel Bruno Jean-François is Assistant Professor of French & Francophone Studies, and Comparative Literature at The Pennsylvania State University. He is the author of Poétiques de la violence et récits francophones contemporains (Brill, 2017) and has published numerous articles in scholarly journals such as the PMLA, the International Journal of Francophone StudiesNouvelles études francophones, and Lettres romanes. Jean-François has recently co-edited a special issue of Cultural Dynamics on“The Minor in Question.” He is currently working on a second monograph, titled Indian Ocean Creolization: Empires and Insular Cultures. The project is an interdisciplinary study of creolization and networks of solidarities in the southwestern Indian Ocean; it examines how “insular” histories and cultures are contact zones that can have a direct bearing on our apprehension of larger processes within imperial dynamics.

Sabine Doran

In the wake of “color revolutions” (e.g., the Orange Revolution in Ukraine, the Purple Revolution in Iraq) as they unfolded in the streets, squares, and media platforms of the 21st century, my project, entitled Stigmaesthetics: Blood and Pixels in Multi-Media Art, endeavors to theorize the racially and politically charged topoi of the color red, specifically in the topoi of “open wounds,” “pure blood,” “contagious” or “mixed blood.”  Stigmaesthetics explores, primarily in multi-media installations, artistic engagements with stigmatic wounds of racial and social and injustice from the end of the twentieth century to the present, as they perform the mixing of the technological and the corporeal both formally and aesthetically. In short, this project explores an aesthetics of rupture: the ruptures that punctuate relational networks of circulation through virtual corporealities of blood.