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Predoctoral Fellows 2018-19

Patrick Allen

  • Graduate Assistant in English

psa116@psu.edu

How does reading printed texts by and about Black doctors transform our understanding of American medical history, scientific racism, and the push for professionalization? So asks my dissertation, A Practice of Print: Race, Doctoring, and Medicine in Post-Bellum, Pre-Harlem Black Print Culture. Black medical professionalism was never merely about physical treatment but was instead always entangled in projects of racial uplift and the critique and reform of (extra-) medical structures. Performing what I call a Black critical medical humanism, the doctors I write about—both real and fictional—challenged prevailing discourses of African American inhumanity and ungrievability in order to promote a new kind of medicine—one that might indeed do no harm.

Bethany Doane

  • English Graduate Assistant

bcd160@psu.edu

My dissertation project draws on critical theory, feminist studies, and genre literature in order to posit the aesthetic and conceptual significance of “weird fiction,” and its legacies in the horror genre. This interstitial and speculative mode attempts to think toward the unthinkable by imagining what lies beyond human perceptual, epistemic, and phenomenological limits. It therefore engages directly with the conceptual framework of the contemporary nonhuman turn. Following the weird’s fascination with the “outside” as one of interpretive ambivalence, the project also maps the political contexts of how various media, from pulp magazines to blogs, has enabled certain gendered and racially configured reading communities and practices.

Maxwell Larson

  • Graduate Assistant in English

mjl415@psu.edu

My dissertation is about two distinct methods of textual analysis: critical and computational. Although current debates surrounding Digital Humanities and “distant reading” might lead literary scholars to believe that any relationship between computational methods and critical methods is relatively new, I trace their interpenetration back to the origins of electronic computing in the 1940s. By pairing four early computational methods of textual analysis—generative grammar, stylostatistics, content analysis, and cliometrics—with four literary intellectuals who engaged with them—Christine Brooke-Rose, J.M. Coetzee, Clarence Major, and Henry Louis Gates, Jr.—my dissertation attempts not to combine computation with critique, but to understand why we imagine them as divided in the first place.

Johann Le Guelte

  • Graduate Assistant in French

jll1069@psu.edu

My research examines the visual politics of interwar French colonial propaganda, and the ways authorities used photography as a central tool for the attempted formation of a visual empire. I focus on the production and reception of colonial photographic propaganda to determine how state-sponsored photographs became official colonial information in the minds of many French citizens and irrefutable evidence of the civilizing mission. In my dissertation, I also examine transnational instances of photographic resistance to the French Empire in both Senegal and metropolitan France; where various photographic realities of empire coexisted.

John Rountree

  • Graduate Assistant in Communication Arts and Sciences

jmr6588@psu.edu

My dissertation project, currently titled "Congressional Town Hall Meetings: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Participatory Democracy," examines the history and rhetorical functions of town hall meetings with congressional representatives. Using rhetorical fieldwork, I analyze town meeting practices in four different districts—OH-3, (former) PA-5, NY-19, and NH-1. Through textual analysis and interviews, I show that town meetings are a nexus point within a political community. They enable participants to contest the boundaries of that community, to reconstitute who is a legitimate part of that district, who deserves to speak, and whose stories demand recognition in larger policy narratives.

Anna Torres Cacoullos

  • Graduate Assistant in Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese

ait5095@psu.edu

My dissertation, “Writing with Cinema: Facing the Screen and Page in Modernist Spain,” interrogates how early film technology, before the advent of sound in 1927, called into question the age-old dialogue between image and text. Specifically, my project explores how the cinematic medium altered the written word in the prose fiction of modernist and avant-garde writers in Spain, inspiring a reconsideration of the form, method, and function of the literary. Cinema and the paraphernalia it generated—posters, film reviews, pamphlets, periodicals, and magazines—problematized the status of the written text and its mode of conveying meaning. I read this paraphernalia as “texts,” or rather, paratexts, to understand how the “moving picture” was mediated by a synthesis of word and image.

Miaosi Zhang

  • Graduate Assistant in History

mzz5162@psu.edu

My dissertation, currently titled “Materiality of the Myriad Things (wanwu): Commerce, Natural history, and Diplomacy in Britain and China in the eighteenth century,” focuses on the cultural and intellectual encounters through natural history, commerce and diplomacy between Britain and China in the eighteenth century. My project examines the transmission of medicinal plants, spices, and tea from China to England in the late eighteenth- to early nineteenth century, along with the cultural influence of these natural products in English society. I intend to situate the Sino-Anglo cultural and commercial exchange in a global network of knowledge circulation during this period.