Congratulations to fourth-year Ph.D. students Eric Earnhardt (left) and Cara Byrne (right), who have been selected for Arthur Adrian and Roger B. Salomon fellowships for the 2015-2016 academic year! The awards will enable each to have a service-free period next year to devote to the writing of dissertations.
Earnhardt’s dissertation research focuses on modernist poetry. As he describes his work, “It is generally accepted that commission of the pathetic fallacy largely disappeared in modernist poetry. Yet, a growing number of commentators find that this account is unsatisfactory. Having returned to the original language of the pathetic fallacy and traced its application to animal life in the poetry of Matthew Arnold and G. M. Hopkins, I will be working through my revised take on Ruskin’s formula as it applies to the poetry and criticism of T. S. Eliot and Wallace Stevens, especially their shared tutelage by Georges Santayana (and noting important passages in Frost, Moore, Jeffers, and Williams). My introduction and conclusion will attempt to explain and extend my argument with regard to current debates over science and literature, literature and the environment, animal studies, and ‘post-‘ humanism.”
Byrne’s dissertation-in-progress has the working title “From Black Misery to Happy to be Nappy: Transformative Race & Body Politics in African American Picture Books.” She notes, “Authors of African American children’s literature have long recognized the political power of picture books and have created works that establish black children as political agents deserving rights. In his 1969 picture book Black Misery, Langston Hughes states: ‘Misery is when you start to help an old white lady across the street and she thinks you’re trying to snatch her purse.’ Through a simple sentiment accompanied by an illustration, Hughes poignantly presents the difficulties facing black children in the 1960s. I examine several key African American picture books, first establishing the origin of the genre in 1836 and then tracing its complex history. Although frequently overlooked, picture books authored by canonical African American writers, including Hughes, James Baldwin, Alice Walker, and bell hooks, carry messages about the frailty and strength of the black child’s body, ultimately affecting larger assumptions about black childhood and racial identity.”