Writers House Hosts Dinner with EGSA Speaker Regina Martin


On Thursday, March 8, 2018, several English graduate students joined visiting scholar Regina Martin for conversation over a delicious dinner at Washington Place Bistro & Inn. Martin is the 2018 EGSA-invited colloquium speaker.

This dinner discussion was generously funded by Writers House, an initiative to construct a university-wide hub centered on the act of writing in all of its rich permutations. Writers House is also a co-sponsor of Martin’s colloquium. John Orlock, Samuel B. and Virginia C. Knight Professor of Humanities, currently serves as the inaugural director of Writers House.

Dr. Martin is Associate Professor of English at Denison University, where she teaches and researches 19th- and 20th-century British literature and literary and cultural theory. Her research interests in British literature have focused primarily on modernism, contemporary literature, economic criticism, and the history and theory of the novel. Her articles on the novels of Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, Charlotte Lennox, Jean Rhys, Samuel Richardson, H. G. Wells, and Edith Wharton have appeared in PMLA, Criticism, Twentieth-Century Literature, and The Eighteenth-Century Novel. She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled “Modernism and Finance Capital: British Literature, 1870-1940,” which interprets British modernism as a historical moment of financial crisis very much like our own. She has also begun work on her next book project, tentatively entitled “Literature and Professional Society,” which is a study of the rise of the professional classes in Britain during the twentieth century and their influence on that century’s literature. Martin earned a B. A. and an M. A. from the University of Oklahoma and a Ph.D. from the University of Florida. After completing a post-doc at The Georgia Institute of Technology, she joined the English department at Denison in the fall of 2012.

Martin discussed her own academic career and research and shared advice on teaching, writing, tackling the academic job market, and approaching interdisciplinary work. Students enjoyed her and one another’s company in advance of Martin’s colloquium the next day.

“Finance Capital and British Modernism”
Date: Friday, March 9, 2018, 3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Location: Clark 206

In the late nineteenth century, the profits in British manufacturing declined and capital flooded into London’s international banking networks. “Finance Capital and British Modernism” examines how the transition to a financialized economy infuses British literature between 1870 and 1940. For example, Virgina Woolf’s The Waves imagines a new form of value resembling the accumulation of value under finance capital, and Joseph Conrad’s imperial novels, Lord Jim, Nostromo, and Victory, bear witness to the rise of the modern corporation, whose development was catalyzed by financialization. “Finance Capital and British Modernism” argues that finance capital is not just a form of capital accumulation that greases the wheels of commodity production but a complex historical process involving the development of new forms of value, class and institutional structures, and the new novelistic poetics of modernism.



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

Writers House Hosts Dinner with Julie Orlemanski


On Thursday, November 2, 2017, several English graduate students joined visiting colloquium speaker Julie Orlemanski for a mentoring conversation over a lovely dinner at L’Albatros Brasserie. This opportunity was generously funded by Writers House, an initiative to construct a university-wide hub centered on the act of writing in all of its rich permutations. John Orlock, Samuel B. and Virginia C. Knight Professor of Humanities, currently serves as the inaugural director of Writers House.

Dr. Orlemanski is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Chicago, where she specializes in late-medieval literature and literary theory. She has just completed a monograph entitled “Symptomatic Subjects: Bodies, Signs, and Narratives in Late Medieval England,” and her new book project is “Things without Faces: Prosopopoeia in Medieval Writing,” which addresses fictional bodies in the Middle Ages. Her work has appeared in Exemplaria, postmedieval, JMEMS, Textual Practice, JEGP, and numerous edited collections. For the academic year 2017-2018, she is a Visiting Associate at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

Orlemanski discussed her own academic career and research and shared advice on coursework, teaching, publishing, conference presentations, graduate student activism, and work-life balance. Students enjoyed her and one another’s company in advance of Orlemanski’s colloquium the next day.

“Embodying Fiction and the Limits of Literary Theory, in the Middle Ages and Beyond”
Date: Friday, November 3, 2017, 3:15 p.m. – 4:15 p.m.
Location: Guilford Parlor

What, exactly, is fiction? And does fiction have a history? Recent scholars have argued that fictionality only “arose” or “emerged” in the nineteenth century, with the rise of the realist novel. Against this claim, Professor Orlemanski argues for the importance, but also the difficulty, of investigating medieval fictionality. One way such an investigation might proceed is through medieval literary theory, or the corpus of commentaries, prologues, and treatises in which medieval thinkers described the nature of textuality. Though Orlemanski attends to this body of thought, she also points out its limits. The practice of fiction-writing in the Middle Ages, especially in the vernacular, often developed at a remove from such explicit theorization. Accordingly, Professor Orlemanski explores how concepts of fiction are embodied, immanently, in medieval poetic writing. In particular, she shows how the fictional bodies of literary characters incarnate ideas about these characters’ ontology, or the nature of their being. Finally, Professor Orlemanski turns back to the charge of anachronism that might be leveled at her approach, and she seeks to address the question of whether fiction can truly be said to have a history.


Melissa Pompili Wins the 2017 Neil MacIntyre Essay Prize


The winner of the 2017 Neil MacIntyre Essay Prize is Melissa Pompili!

Congratulations go to Pompili, a fourth-year Ph.D. student, for her essay “Strange Encounters with Dead Selves: Medical Memoir, Apostrophe, and (Re)animating Subjectivity.”

Please join the entire Department on Friday, December 8, 2016 for a presentation and celebration of this winning essay.

Melissa Pompili’s 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. Her theoretical investments include biopolitics and affect theory, and her work falls at the intersections of literary studies, the rhetoric of health and medicine, and the medical humanities. Pompili also currently serves as the President of the English Graduate Student Association (EGSA).