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2016-2017

Faculty Fellows 2016-17

Jens-uwe Guettel

  • Associate Professor in History and Religious Studies

Socialists, suffragettes, and proponents of moral reform and gay rights transformed Germany before 1914. The rise of this radical-democratic discontent from the German Empire’s founding to the outbreak of World War I provides the basis for The Dialectics of Radical Reform in Germany, 1871-1914, my second book project. It highlights how the most important political decisions in Germany between 1871 and 1914 were reactions to the perceived threats of socialists or other proponents of radical reform. For instance, my book thus explains how Germany's policy of military brinkmanship during July 1914 was directly linked to the authorities' fears of a socialist-organized general strike for democratic reform.

Leisha Jones

  • Assistant Professor - Department of English

In “Invisibility, Visibility and the Virtual”, Leisha Jones examines the composition, function, and membership of invisibly disabled participatory online communities, including an examination of the actualized collective sick body produced and performed in the virtual realm, and the effects it may have on the embodied individual lives of its participants. Other nodes she plans to address include the role gender may play in the assessment of sick bodies by family/friends, employers, and the medical establishment vs. online assessment by peers; the visibility of bodies with hidden maladies in the real and virtual realms; the significance of medical narrative in the diagnosis and/or treatment of illness in both traditional medical and virtual crowd-sourced communities; and the development of assessment criteria for the efficacy of digital healing.

 

Leisha Jone's article "'Being Alone With Yourself is Increasingly Unpopular': The Electronic Poetry of Jenny Holzer," will be coming out Fall 2018.

Michele Kennerly

  • Assistant Professor - Department of Communication Arts & Sciences

Title: Editorial Bodies: Perfection and Rejection in Ancient Rome

One might ascribe remarks about textual care in written verse and prose from the first centuries BCE and CE to authorial anxiety about a censorious political ethos under empire. In such conditions, polish has been read as a marker of the loss of public function and as an index of a hypersophistication devoid of utility. I contend, instead, that explicit attention to editing is more fruitfully considered a reaction to the pressures of participating in a textual culture whose participants perceived plentitude, strove toward formal perfection, and obsessed about preservation. My focus on ancient Roman textual culture promises to give greater historical texture and different theoretical inflection to assertions about our own age of information. In particular, Richard Lanham’s theory of the attention economy characteristic of high-information environments recasts rhetoric as an art of attention—but of getting it, not necessarily of holding it. For the ancient writers upon whom I focus, editing is a technique of immediacy and of longevity. By pumicing, filing, and shaving their texts, they hope to sustain attention “plus uno saeclo [beyond one generation],” as Catullus puts it.

Eduardo Navas, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor - School of Visual Arts, College of Arts and Architecture.

For my CHI Fellowship I will work on a data visualization application that presents multiple types of datasets. The goal is to access data more intuitively with a visual sensibility that lends itself to the qualitative process of research in the humanities, yet deploys the quantitative logic of digital language. To make this possible, I plan to develop a user-friendly interface that will include multiple visualization formats. My interest in this project has precedents in my research on data analysis for image, sound and text in direct relation to remix culture and remix studies.

Bradford Vivian

  • Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences

My fellowship is devoted to completing my current book project, Commonplace Witnessing: Rhetorical Invention, Historical Remembrance, and Modern Public Culture, which examines how idioms of witnessing have infused the discourse of citizens, politicians, and civic institutions in recent decades. The popular appeal of such idioms allows liberal-democratic subjects to think and speak as witnesses obligated to preserve memories of past injustice or tragedy. Witnessing in modern western society represents a widely utilized source of information in the intersecting forms of historical wisdom, legal evidence, and moral persuasion. Commonplace Witnessing examines how prevalent idioms of witnessing influence the production of social meaning and value regarding the ostensible lessons of infamous historical injustices and tragedies.

Predoctoral Fellows 2016-17

Fernando Fonseca P.

My dissertation project focuses on manifestations of the Latin American historical avant-gardes and revisits archival resources to re-evaluate the impact they had on a longer timeline. I aim to display how the Latin American historical avant-gardes were re-materialized and re-purposed beyond their initial creation. To accomplish my aims, I have delimited a corpus of sources from four countries and two languages. In constructing this corpus, my project examines how avant-garde activity has been stored, archived, remembered, and transmitted and how they later were restaged and reinterpreted. I shape my corpus as a repertoire rather than an archive. Thus, the components of the corpus are not solely preserved aesthetic objects used for analysis; they become works, devices, and techniques that require social actors to be conserved and enacted. 

Cory Geraths

cpg128@psu.edu

My dissertation is a feminist rhetorical historiography of Mary Magdalene's diffuse and divergent histories of reception in antiquity, the Renaissance, and the present day. My project responds to interdisciplinary treatments of rhetoric, vision, media, gender, and sexuality. I question the relationships between canonical and heretical representations of Mary by exploring the rhetorical interplay of Mary's canonical and "heretical" depictions on papyrus and in paint. Embracing feminist calls for critical imagination, I read between the lines of the recently-discovered Gospel of Mary, and I embrace Mary's myriad representations in Renaissance, Baroque, and Contemporary painting. Mary's expansive histories of reception in both text and art inform, illuminate, and invite. 

Michelle N. Huang

  • Departments of English and Women's, Gender, & Sexuality Studies

“Molecular Aesthetics: Race, Form, and Matter in Contemporary Asian American Literature” examines posthumanist aesthetics in post-1965 Asian American literature to trace racial formation at the molecular scale. Works by authors such as Ruth Ozeki, Larissa Lai, and John Yau are read through scientific discourses such as quantum physics, evolutionary biology, and disability to demonstrate how Asian American writers use both scientific and formal experimentation to contest the boundaries of the human undergirding generic expectations of ethnic literature. This project revises the emphasis on the individual subject within Asian American literary studies, unearths racial critique in works not typically read as concerned with identity, and demonstrates literature’s importance in studying racial form in an era of postracial discourse.

J. Ryan Marks

  • Ph.D. Candidate - College of English

During my CHI fellowship, I will be at work on my dissertation project, "Drop the Subject: Ranting and Inappopriation in Contemporary American Literature." Cast as uncompromising, negative, monologic, selfish, and alienating, what’s conventionally dismissed as ranting is a form of incivility that, as a result of the limits to how aggrieved are subjects recognized, has been undertheorized. “Drop the Subject” contends that a critical engagement with rants is useful for contemporary American literary criticism exactly because it forces a re-evaluation of what occurs within the broad bandwidth of writing dismissed as expression in the discussion of identity politics. This project coordinates major flashpoints of social transgression in literature and identity politics, from the Free Speech Movement’s attempts in the late 1960s to garner support for civil rights causes on campus through tactical use of obscenity to recent controversies in poetry that reveal how identity politics in the academy is currently critically siloed, discouraging cross-pollination and engagement. A literary study of fiction and nonfiction employing the tactics of ranting pushes the acknowledged influence of political radicalism on style into writing online, where trolling and baiting tactics pull recognizable debates out of their institutionally sanctioned contexts.

J. David Maxson

My dissertation engages the memorialization of traumatic events in New Orleanian history, focusing on the movement of information along the interstices of bodies, material landscapes, and public memory. The commemorations selected for this project represent defining historical moments from New Orleans’ past: the birth of jazz, the history of enslavement, the contemporary murder crisis, and the 2005 flooding of the city. In considering various monuments and commemorative events, this dissertation will examine the ways that traumatic pasts are dredged up and transfigured in service of present needs. Borrowing from scholarship in rhetoric studies, landscape studies, and anthropology, I approach the city of New Orleans as a memoryscape; a turbulent site where specific pasts are reanimated, contested, and changed in the lived present. 

Visiting Fellows 2016-17

Anatoly Detwyler

I recently completed my dissertation, "The Aesthetics of Information in Modern Chinese Literary Culture, 1919-1949," at Columbia University's East Asian Languages and Cultures Department.  My research focuses on the historical and creative interconnections between the modern global communications revolution of the 19th and 20th centuries, on the one hand, and the rise of modern literature and art during China's dynamic "New Culture" period, on the other.  I argue that in a variety of foreign and nativized forms, the entity of information provided China's writers critical leverage for engaging with the changing epistemology of the modern subject.  Through a variety of formal experimentation and topical engagement with information, writers innovated important new modes of writing and reading, in the process aligning Chinese literature with a nascent information age.  As a Fellow at the CHI, I will expand my dissertation into a book manuscript.  I will concurrently pursue several ongoing "digital humanities" projects that use the quantitative analysis of textual corpora to rethink the history of literary form and the sociology of production in modern China.

Sara Grossman

sjg52@psu.edu

 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 sarajgrossman.com.

Laura Helton

Laura Helton is a historian of American and African American literature and memory from the nineteenth century to the present.  Her research interests include social histories of the archive, gender and knowledge production, collections and collecting practices, print cultures of the long civil rights movement, and the making of historical narratives.  She holds a PhD in history from New York University and was most recently a fellow at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African American Studies at the University of Virginia.  She is currently working on a book manuscript,Collecting and Collectivity: Black Archival Publics, 1900-1950, which examines the emergence of African American archives to understand how historical recuperation shaped forms of racial imagination in the early twentieth century. She is co-editor of a forthcoming issue of Social Text, “The Question of Recovery: Slavery, Freedom, and the Archive.” Her recent public humanities work includes a partnership between NYU and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture that seeks to increase access to “hidden” collections.  She will join the Department of English at the University of Delaware as an assistant professor of print and material culture studies in 2017.

Xiao Liu

  • Assistant Professor

xxl212@psu.edu

Xiao Liu is an Assistant Professor of East Asian Studies at McGill University. Her research focuses on cybernetics, information technology and digital media, Chinese cinemas, science fiction and fantasy, and (post-)socialist media culture and critique. Her essays on cybernetics and digital media theory, melodrama and socialist politics, parody videos and information economy, and contemporary Chinese cinema are published and forthcoming in venues such as Grey Room, Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, Social Identities, Journal of Chinese Cinemas, Frontier of Literary Studies in China, the anthology China’s iGeneration and others. At CHI, she is completing a book manuscript, entitled Information Fantasies: Precarious Mediation and Postsocialist Imaginations in China, which focuses on the cultural practices and media imaginations around information technologies, cybernetics and systems theory in China around the turn of the 1980s. By placing this specific history in dialogue with media theory this project rethinks some key issues in current discourses of digital media.

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.

Autumn Womack

Autumn Womack comes to CHI from The University of Pittsburgh where she is an Assistant Professor in the Department of English. Autumn's current research project, "Re-Form Vision: Race, Visuality, and Literature, 1880-1930, intersection of emergent visual technologies and African American writing in the first quarter of the twentieth century. In four case studies, "Re-FormVision" argues that writers and thinkers like Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. Du Bois, Kelly Miller, and Sutton Griggs treated mediums as diverse as the social survey, the reform stage, and early motion picture as sites where visual practices were (re)formed and where the limits, and possibilities, of visual technologies were tried and tested.

Drawing on seldom considered archives and overlooked texts, his project ultimately contends that the new visual experiences and methods fomented at these sites doubled as rubrics for late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century African American literature.