Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Center forHumanities and Information

You are here:



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

Information and The New Real: The Bloated Cultures of New Media Part of a longer book-length study entitled The New Real: Media, Marketing, and Mimesis Made in Japan, the chapter that I propose to complete during a CHI Residential Fellowship focusses on four kinds of digital literature. The chapter will analyze the data of Japanese cell phone novels, twitter novels, visual novel games, and episodic video narratives. Bringing these tools to bear on my studies of the born-digital cultural material as a CHI fellow will bring to my work a methodology in which interpretation meets form.

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

2022-2023 Predoctoral Fellows

Heidi Biggs

Heidi Biggs (they/she) is a PhD candidate in the College of Information Sciences and Technology studying Human Computer Interaction and Design. They are an interdisciplinary sustainability scholar, holding a B.A. in English Literature and a Master of Design (MDes) in interaction design from the University of Washington. Stemming from an interest in the Anthropocene Era, climate change, and queer theory, and inspired by speculative and research through design traditions, their work has used making, somatics, first-person exploration, design ethnography, and performative engagement to shift their own and other’s awareness of their ecological imbrications via aesthetic experiences with environmental or ecological data. Carrying this work forward, they look to understand the relations that emerging, intelligent data applications build (both materially and ideologically) between humans and their environment and how those mediations might be part of larger systems of power and oppression.

Íñigo Huércanos Esparza

Íñigo Huércanos Esparza (Pamplona, 1995) is a PhD candidate in Spanish Literature. He is currently working on his dissertation, which analyzes the manifold ways in which Spanish romantic poets reacted to the epistemological dilemmas brought about by the development of modern scientific practices and its underlying theories of knowledge (empiricism/positivism.) Covering roughly the period 1800-1850, and by means of an interdisciplinary approach combining literary studies, history of science, and philosophy, he is exploring the following questions: what are the epistemological value hierarchies of these romantic poets? That is, what forms of knowledge (objective, introspective, spiritual, artistic, social…) do they privilege, and which ones do they scorn and why? Where do Spanish romantics stand in the face of the increasing tensions between religious tradition and scientific progress? How is poetry a suitable means of expression to render these tensions?

Íñigo’s articles dealing with these and other topics have appeared in journals such as the Bulletin of Spanish Studies and Hispanófila.

Jennifer Buchan

Jennifer Buchan is a doctoral student in the Communication Arts and Sciences department where she studies rhetorics of control and gender, especially those marked by commitments to whiteness and patriarchy. Jen’s dissertation, entitled “Evitable AI: Rhetorical Speculation in the Futures of Artificial Intelligence” develops a theory of rhetorical speculation, or a theory of how speculation about humanity’s future(s) produces, shapes, and constrains public imagination and deliberation. Specifically, this dissertation assesses political, popular, and scientific discourse about the future of artificial intelligence (AI) as an archive of rhetorical speculation as they connect through common appeals to the myth of AI inevitability. “Evitable AI” understands speculation about the future of “thinking machines” as neither new nor idle but, instead, as historically repeating, strategic discourse that captures public imagination about what may be possible in and for AI and human futures.

Steven Casement

Steven Casement is a graduate student studying Early Modern Global History with minor fields in Modern European and Environmental history. His research takes a transnational approach to diplomatic history in the British Isles, focusing on the motives that have encouraged diplomatic ties with England during the Early Modern period. His doctoral research uses the Restoration as a lens with which to understand diplomatic policy in England, focused toward Habsburg Spain in the 17th century.  Using letters and treaties made between English resident ambassadors and their superiors, as well as their counterparts in Spain, his project aims to understand what forged the human links and personal relationships established through epistolary means and the medium of diplomacy, that transcended borders and national spaces during the reign of Charles II (1660-85). 

Taylor Hare

Taylor Hare is a fourth-year Ph.D. Student in English. Taylor’s doctoral dissertation, entitled Reading Access: Disability and the History of the Shakespearean Text, brings book history and disability studies together to examine the various ways in which editors, printers, and publishers have defined and acted upon the principle of accessibility in the presentation of Shakespeare’s plays. By reading key Shakespearean book-objects through the lens of access, from the First Folio to the first tactile editions, this project reveals how implicit and explicit claims to access have animated the Shakesperean textual tradition from its earliest moments, and it demonstrates the importance of comparing these claims with the lived experiences of readers.

2022-2023 Faculty Fellows

Kathlene T Baldanza

Kathlene Baldanza is Associate Professor of History and Asian Studies. She is the author of Ming China and Vietnam: Negotiating Borders in Early Modern Asia (Cambridge, 2016) and co-author, with Zhao Lu, of Miscellany of the South Seas: A Chinese Scholar’s Tale of Shipwreck and Travel in 1830s Vietnam (University of Washington Press, 2023). She will use the CHI fellowship to research an article on the information networks that influenced American diplomacy in Vietnam in the 19th century.

Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz

Jessica Vantine Birkenholtz is Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Asian Studies, and Religious Studies. She is a feminist scholar of religion who specializes in women, gender, and religion in Hinduism and South Asia more broadly. She has been doing research in Nepal since the early 2000s, where her work centers primarily on the construction and intersections of Hindu religious and gender ideologies, identity, and practice in and around the Kathmandu Valley. Her book, Reciting the Goddess: Narratives of Place and the Making of Hinduism in Nepal (Oxford University Press, 2018) earned the 2019 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion. She is currently working on two projects. The first is an English translation of Nepal’s most sacred Hindu devotional text, the Svasthanivratakatha, which is supported by an NEH Scholarly Editions and Translations Grant and under contract with Oxford University PressHer second project presents an ethnographic, intersectional study of sexual and gender minorities in Nepal that uses religion as its primary lens and attends to the intersections of religion, secularism, ethnicity, and queerness in modern Nepal. Her work has been published in Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, and the Journal of Hindu Studies, and she is co-editor of Religion and Modernity in the Himalaya (Routledge 2016).

Susanne M Klausen

Susanne M. Klausenis Julia Gregg Brill Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. Her main areas of research are the history of fertility politics in modern South Africa, nationalism and sexuality, and transnational movements for reproductive justice. She has published articles in a range of scholarly journals including the American Historical ReviewJournal of Southern African Studies, South African Historical JournalNew Zealand Journal of History, and Journal of Women’s History, and is the author of two books: Race, Maternity, and the Politics of Birth Control in South Africa, 1910–39 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004) and Abortion under Apartheid: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Women’s Reproductive Rights in South Africa (Oxford University Press, 2015). She is currently working on a monograph on the criminalization of interracial heterosex in South Africa during apartheid.

Jayoung Song

Jayoung Song is Watz Early Career Professor and Assistant Professor of Korean and Applied Linguistics. Her research focuses on Korean applied linguistics, computer-assisted language learning, intercultural communication, and second language reading, all of which she incorporates in her teaching. She has published articles in peer-reviewed journals such as Language Learning and Technology, Recall, Natural Language Engineering, and The Korean Language in America. Her articles also appear in books such as The Routledge Handbook of Korean as a Second Language and Assessing Speaking in Context. Currently, she is working on several projects regarding the effects of innovative technology such as VR and AR on second language acquisition, which are funded by U.S. Department of Education. At Penn State, she is a co-researcher of the Institute of Korean Studies Seed Grant and Director of Penn State Korean Applied Linguistics Conference. 

Ellen Stroud
Associate Professor of History

Ellen Stroud is Associate Professor of History at Penn State University, where she teaches U.S. Urban and Environmental History. Her first book, Nature Next Door: Cities and Trees in the American Northeast, is part of University of Washingoton’s Weyerhaeuser Environmental Books Series, and she is currently finishing her second book, an environmental history of corpse disposal in the United States. Her scholarship has been supported by the EPA, the NSF, the NEH, the ACLS, the National Humanities Center, Harvard University’s Warren Center, and the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and her recent articles on the dead body project have been published in the Annual Review of Law and Social Science and Modern American History. As a CHI fellow, she is beginning work on a new project, on the challenges of measuring the natural world.

2022-2023 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.