You are here: Home / People / Predoctoral Fellows 2017-18

Predoctoral Fellows 2017-18

Sarah Adams

My dissertation, “A Rhetorical History of Embodied Listening: Pedagogy, Performance, Technology,” examines and historicizes the embodied and vibrational form and effects of sonic information. In particular, my project examines the situation of classical music in the early twentieth century. While certain rhetorics of listening—like phonograph advertisements and conductor’s expectations during concerts—encouraged listeners to understand listening as an intellectual exercise, the pedagogical program of Eurhythmics taught students to listen with their entire bodies. In exploring the tensions between these listening practices as well as their resonances with the history of rhetorical education, I demonstrate that sonic information, and rhetoric more generally, necessitates a listening practice that engages the whole body.

Gregory Coles

How can individual voices at the margins of society claim the salience of a collective identity without essentializing diverse “marginal” identities or erasing the particularities of the people who inhabit them? My dissertation, currently titled “Advantageous Incapacity: Reading the Margins with Kenneth Burke,” argues that this question demonstrates the need for a more fluid semiotic model in rhetorical studies, a model theorized through Burke’s engagement with C.S. Peirce (often considered the founder of semiotics) and others. Power on the linguistic margins, I propose, often resides within the negotiated space where meaning is deliberated and in flux—a space which is not inherently central or marginal in location, but which traverses both locations.

Jeremy Johnson

This dissertation project, entitled Algorithmic Architects: A New Rhetorical Order, explores the effects of algorithms on political discourse and decision-making. Threading together ancient Greek rhetorical theory and posthumanism, the project characterizes algorithms as shaping worldly order through information flows and their material consequences. Algorithms are world-makers, taking an active agential role in current political tumult. Through analysis of Google bombing, copyright algorithms, and “personalized publics” on Facebook and Twitter, this project demands continued research and timely interventions regarding the immense political power of algorithms and their creators.

Derek Lee

Parascience And Revolution: The Paranormal Mind In Twentieth-Century Literature And Science

My dissertation explores the paranormal mind as a historical, phenomenological, and epistemological concept across twentieth-century literature and science. The belief that our minds possess suprahuman capabilities like telepathy or clairvoyance has fascinated scientists, philosophers, and writers alike ever since the rise of the psychological sciences at the end of the nineteenth century, but the dominant narrative is that increased scientific scrutiny has effectively marginalized such pseudoscientific theories. My project rejects this position. Drawing primarily from post-1945 literature (particularly speculative fiction, ethnic fiction, and the occult), philosophy of science, as well as biological and physical discourse, “Parascience and Revolution” deploys the paranormal mind as a heuristic to not only follow the permutations of twentieth-century literary phenomenology but also to theorize the epistemic forces actively producing heterodox thought-forms. In arguing for the unscientific outgrowths endemic to our scientific processes, this project elevates paranormal consciousness from an esoteric nexus of study to a vital site for understanding the flow and evolution of dissident information.

Michael Maguire

A Disciplinary History and Theory of Contemporary Literature

My dissertation explores the tumultuous history of the university’s relationship with contemporary literature. I trace the constitution, production, and circulation of knowledge about contemporary literature from the first MLA panel on the subject to the formation of four key academic journals in the 1950s to the problems of research in a field wherein copyright restrictions obtain and distant reading methodologies appear necessary for a synoptic view. My project insists that the future of literary studies depends on the continued production of its object, and thus contemporary literature is the site at which our discipline must engage most urgently.

John Schneider

My project examines post-1945 U.S. literary history as one crucial site for understanding the culture of professional expertise—the codes, norms, and beliefs that shape intellectual labor around higher education. Following some of the ways that specialization has remade the figure of the “intellectual” in the era of knowledge work, I look to a series of writer-critics whose prose confronts the challenges of laboring within an economy driven by information. In examining the critical response to these challenges, I hope to historicize some of the broader roots of the literary humanities’ crisis discourse, an ongoing response to literary studies’ precarious place in the contemporary university.