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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

 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

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

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.