Six leading scholars in nineteenth-century and modernist American literature join the Penn State community to examine the co-evolution of technologies, media, and social worlds over the last two centuries. By taking up the circuits structuring cultural and political relations, and the ways they are imagined in American literary spheres, this symposium productively mediates the connection between two critical periods and fields.
PANEL ONE: 10:00-11:45 | CIRCUITS: KINSHIP & AMERICA
Nancy Bentley, “Syntax, Network, Kinship”
Nancy Bentley is Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and the author of Frantic Panoramas: American Literature and Mass Culture (2009). Her current book project, New World Kinship and the American Novel, examines the relations among kinship, sovereignty, and secularity in the nineteenth-century United States.
Susan Scott Parrish, “Noah’s Kin: Mediating Modern Disaster through Kinship and Region”
Susan Scott Parrish is an Associate Professor in the English Department, the Program in the Environment, and the Honors Program at the University of Michigan. The author of American Curiosity: Cultures of Natural History in the Colonial British Atlantic World (2006), her research addresses the interrelated issues of race, the environment, and knowledge-making in the Atlantic world from the seventeenth up through the mid-twentieth century.
Ivy Wilson, “Black Bourgeois Reading Publics and the Print Networks of Radicality”
Professor Wilson teaches courses on the comparative literatures of the black diaspora and U.S. literary studies with a particular emphasis on African American culture at Northwestern University. His recent publications include Specters of Democracy: Blackness and the Aesthetics of Politics in the Antebellum U.S. and, with Dana Luciano, Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies.
Moderated by Janet Lyon, Associate Professor of English and Women Studies
PANEL TWO: 2:00-3:30 | CURRENTS: TECHNOLOGY & THE BODY ELECTRIC
Maurice Lee, “Off the Grid: Escaping Information Networks in Nineteenth-Century Fiction”
Maurice Lee is Chair and Professor of English at Boston University, where his work focuses on nineteenth-century American literature and culture with special emphases on the intersections of literature, philosophy, and science. He is the author of Uncertain Chances: Science, Skepticism, and Belief in Nineteenth-Century America Literature (2012) and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Frederick Douglass (2009).
Dana Luciano, “Time and Again: The Circuits of Spirit Photography”
Dana Luciano is Associate Professor of English at Georgetown University and the author of Arranging Grief: Sacred Time and the Body in Nineteenth-Century America (2007). Her recent work includes the essay collection Unsettled States: Nineteenth-Century American Literary Studies (2014) and a forthcoming special issue of GLQ: The Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies titled “Queer Inhumanisms” (spring/summer 2015).
Grant Wythoff, “The Perversity of Things: Scientifiction and Theories of Media c. 1920.”
Grant Wythoff is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Society of Fellows in the Humanities and a Lecturer in English at Columbia University interested in the history and theory of media technologies, twentieth century American literature, digital methods, and science fiction. His current projects include a cultural history of the gadget and a critical edition of Hugo Gernsback’s work titled The Perversity of Things: Writings on Media, Tinkering, and Scientifiction, forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.
Moderated by Eric Hayot, Director of the Center for Humanities and Information, Department Head and Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature and Asian Studies
WRAP-UP SESSION: 3:30-4:00