Michael Chiappini and Melissa Pompili at RSA Conference


Congratulations to two Ph.D. students presenting at the 18th Biennial Conference of the Rhetoric Society of America in Minneapolis, Minnesota, May 31 – June 3, 2018.

Michael Chiappini presents “Archives as Rhetorical Ecologies: Producing Queer Histories through Immersion” as part of the panel “Archival Queers at the Kinsey Institute: Queering Historical Productions of HIV and AIDS.” 

Melissa Pompili presents “Strange Encounters with Dead Selves: Medical Memoir, Apostrophe, and the Making of an American Physician” on a panel titled “Medical Institutions and Rhetorical Constitution.”

The theme of the conference, “Re-Inventing Rhetoric: Celebrating the Past, Building the Future,” calls participants to a dialogue of three partsThe conference theme encourages the rethinking the canon of invention. How is invention related to reinvention, the hermeneutic act of interpreting what it is to imagine what has never been?


Philip Derbesy, Daniel Luttrull, and Melissa Pompili: 2018-2019 Adrian-Salomon Fellowships


Congratulations to third-year Ph.D. students Philip Derbesy and Daniel Luttrull and fourth-year Ph.D. student Melissa Pompili, who have been selected for Arthur Adrian and Roger B. Salomon fellowships for the 2018-2019 academic year! The awards will enable each to have a service-free period next year to devote to the writing of dissertations.

Derbesy, Luttrull, and Pompili will be celebrated at 2018 Adrian-Salomon event on Friday, April 27 at 3:15 p.m. This event will feature lectures by the 2017-2018 fellows, Michael Chiappini, Megan Weber, and Megan Griffin.

Derbesy’s research investigates the influence of film on the post-45 American novel

Luttrull’s work concerns didacticism and moral philosophy within American Romanticism.

Pompili presented elements of her dissertation in her 2017 Neil MacIntyre Essay Prize lecture, titled “Strange Encounters with Dead Selves: Medical Memoir, Apostrophe, and (Re)animating Subjectivity.” Her research focuses on the sometimes contradictory subjectivities that are required by the biopolitical state from the early twentieth century to the present moment. Her dissertation, “Internal Medicine: Bioaffect, Medical Discourse, and the Making of a Physician,” attends to the paradoxical subject position that physicians come to occupy through medical training, and the aesthetic products that they produce during their education in order to affectively (as in emotionally and psychologically) accommodate that subjectivity.

The Adrian-Salomon Event
Date: Friday, April 27, 2018
Time: refreshments at 3:00 p.m.; lectures begin at 3:15 p.m.
Location: Clark Hall Room 206

“Discipline and Anarchy: Towards a Practice of Queer Rigor” by Michael Chiappini

What are literary archives good for? As humanistic fields such as rhetorical studies, queer studies, and performance studies celebrate what is termed “The Archival Turn,” the value of archival work to literary studies seems troubled by our recent turn away from historicisms. Through an examination of archival materials from the papers of William S. Burroughs and Kathy Acker, this talk briefly asks how we might rigorously bring archival materials to bear on literary texts without, on the one hand, subordinating these texts to their historical periods or authorial biographies or, on the other hand, turning archival materials into trivia or footnotes.

“Once and/or Future King: Shakespeare’s Henry V” by Megan Griffin

As the last-written in Shakespeare’s most famous sequence of history plays, Henry V‘s relationship to the politics of its day, and to sovereign power in general, is inextricably bound up with considerations of history and historiography. In this talk, Griffin will analyze Henry V in light of both its complicated chronological relationship to Shakespeare’s other history plays, and its engagement with contemporary debates about Elizabeth I’s possible successors. In doing so, she will argue that Henry V reaches for a kind of historical myth-making that consciously defies notions of linear history.

“The Minutia of Everyday Life: Language and Social Decorum in the private writings of Aphra Behn, Elizabeth Inchbald, and Richard Brinsley Sheridan” by Megan Weber

Through access to the British Library Archives, provided by the Dean’s Fellowship, Weber noticed a connection between how authors write to their peers and the lessons concerning social decorum that appears in their fictional work. Her talk examines how the seemingly small details contained in the three authors’s personal letters and diaries become the same language used in their outward facing publications.

Michael Chiappini Presents Baker-Nord Work-in-Progress Lecture


Graduate Student Work-in-Progress: Thinking Like a Virus: Rhetoric, Aesthetics, and AIDS Literature
Date: Thursday, February 22, 2018
Time: 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Location: Clark Hall Room 206

Ph.D. Dean’s Fellow Michael Chiappini will present his research in a Graduate Student Work-in-Progress lecture sponsored by the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

What does it mean to call a text “AIDS Literature”? What is the effect of applying this label to a text that does not attempt a faithful representation of the AIDS Crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, but instead deploys HIV and AIDS as literary metaphors? By analyzing texts such as the later experiments of William S. Burroughs, the novels of Kathy Acker, and the artwork and memoirs of David Wojnarowicz, Chiappini seeks to trouble the prevailing understanding of AIDS literature by refocusing our attention to texts that do not aspire to narrative fidelity to the Crisis, but instead employ HIV and AIDS for the sake of artistic experimentation.

Pre-lecture reception begins at 4:15 p.m. in Clark 206.

Featured image: “Untitled” (Portrait of Ross in L.A.), 1991 by Felix Gonzalez-Torres