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rachel ablow

Rachel Ablow
Associate Professor of English
University at Buffalo
431 Clemens Hall
Phone: (716) 645-0690

Painful Persuasions: Belief and the Body in Victorian Literature and Culture 

This project examines the idea of psychic violence in Victorian England.  Specifically, it argues that the massive expansion of pluralism taking place during this period raised a host of questions about the origin and nature of belief — questions that were often addressed through figurations of interiority as coterminous with the body.  Such figurations could make beliefs seem as natural and constitutive of self as any other parts of one’s body.  They could also make persuasion, education, and conversion seem like acts of violence.  This project seeks to illuminate the significant continuities between Victorian concerns about belief and the body and recent debates about issues as apparently disparate as the legalization of torture, the definition and consequences of hate speech, and the relationship between trauma and experience.

Rachel Ablow teaches and publishes in the areas of Victorian literature and culture; history of the novel; gender and sexuality; history of the emotions. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University.


Nancy Anderson
Assistant Professor of Visual Studies
University at Buffalo
202 Center for the Arts
Phone: (716) 645-0544

The Scale of the Event: Art/Science/Image, 1945-1970 

I am pursuing a book-length historical and theoretical analysis of the impact of advanced scientific imaging technologies for seeing “small” on both the worlds of science and art in the two decades following World War
II. Fields of scientific inquiry into the very small–molecular biology and quantum physics–of course, had their births before WWII, but I will argue that the cultural and epistemological implications of these fields truly began to be absorbed widely across society at the end of the War and in the early Cold War period. For example, two iconic images that prove the magnitude of the effect of these technologies and disciplines on life, culture and society in the second half of the 20th century would be the mushroom cloud and the double helix. While addressing the social and epistemological effects of such visualizing technologies as the electron microscope, x-ray crystallography, the image intensifier and the bubble chamber, I will also devote considerable attention to key collaborations between scientists, artists, architects, designers and engineers during this period, especially as they tackled themes of mutual interest: scale, pattern, structure, form, modularity, and rhythm.

Nancy Anderson lectures in the Department of Visual Studies.

rodolphe gasche

Rodolphe Gasché
Distinguished Professor of Comparative Literature
University at Buffalo
386 Clemens Hall
Phone: (716) 645-2066 x1094

The Stelliferous Fold: Essays on Literature and Literary Criticism 

The aim of this project is to elaborate on the principles of, and the methodology for, a reading of literary texts that proceeds on the assumption that, rather than being (reflexively) closed upon themselves, literary texts comprise heterogeneous elements and remain structurally open. The first aim of such an approach is to reconceive of the notion of the text as it has been determined in Greece and Rome as a woven fabric, that is, as an artifact, and a technical metaphor, in terms of a matricial law by which the distribution and arrangement of various elements that make up a text, can be accounted for. In order to develop this law of the text, special attention will be given to certain recurrent images in literary works such as hinges, folds, and veils.

Rodolphe Gasché is Distinguished Professor and Eugenio Donato Chair of Comparative Literature. He has published several books, most recently The Idea of Form: Rethinking Kant’s Aesthetics (Stanford, 2003). He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in philosophy from the Freie Universität Berlin (Germany).

damien keane

Damien Keane
Assistant Professor of English
University at Buffalo
405 Clemens Hall
Phone: (716) 645-0681

Ireland and the Problem of Information

From its symbolically formative moments in 1890s, the field of modern Irish writing has been structured by debates over literary autonomy and political commitment, over the ideal virtues of art and the practical effects of direct social engagement. “Ireland and the Problem of Information” argues that these ideal virtues and practical effects are less a matter of political ends and means or disciplinary style and taste than one of continual misrecognition of the stakes of Ireland’s modernization. The project closely attends to a series of institutional and classificatory exchanges in the middle decades of the twentieth century, particularly as they are materialized in the interplay of emergent sound reproduction technologies and the written word, in order to understand an historically specific instance of a much wider issue now confronting the Humanities, namely the administration of information. Posing urgent questions about conditions of access, the works of Joyce are fundamental to this undertaking.

Damien Keane teaches and published in the areas of nineteenth and twentieth-century Irish writing and transnational late modernism. He received his M.A. from Queen’s University, Belfast, and his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.


Carla Mazzio
Associate Professor of English
University at Buffalo
513 Clemens Hall
Phone: (716) 645-0702

Calculating Minds: Literature and Mathematics in the Renaissance 

This book project explores the irrational dimensions of mathematical theory and practice as they informed literary and aesthetic innovation in the Renaissance. Mazzio aims to complicate the long-standing link between the development of mathematics and the “rise of rationalism” in England and Europe and argue instead for the irrational and affective dimensions of various processes and discourses of calculation.

Carla Mazzio specializes in Renaissance literature and culture and has special interests in literature and the history of science and medicine. Her published work has focused on literature and the history of the human body, the history of the book, and the cultural as well as aesthetic history of the inarticulate person or community. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from Harvard University.

vasiliki neofotistos

Vasiliki Neofotistos
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University at Buffalo
380 MFAC
Phone: (716) 645-0405

Averting War in the Balkans

How do social actors in multi-ethnic states navigate indeterminacy in times of political crisis? Why do states facing recurring crises of governance not disintegrate into anarchy despite many indications to the contrary? To answer these questions, I use in my book project the case study of the Republic of Macedonia and focus on the 2001 armed conflict between Macedonian security forces and the Albanian National Liberation Army. My project is an ethnographic account of the tactics that members of the Orthodox Macedonian and Muslim Albanian communities deployed to tackle uncertainty regarding the viability of the Macedonian state, and also reinstated, albeit temporarily, a structure of power that prevented the eruption of civil war. Moreover, I argue that studies of political violence take into account the element of contingency and the multifarious ways in which social actors practice daily life when indeterminacy is of the highest order.

Vasiliki Neofotistos teaches and publishes in the areas of political anthropology; the anthropology of war and peace; the interface between social anthropology and policy-making; conflict management and prevention; post-conflict stablization; and democracy building.

Cynthia wu

Cynthia Wu
Assistant Professor of American Studies
University at Buffalo
1010 Clemens Hall
Phone: (716) 645-2546

Conjoining the Republic: The Siamese Twins in American Literature and Culture 

My work exists at the convergences between race and disability in the United States, and I am completing a manuscript on representations of Chang and Eng Bunker, conjoined twin entertainers from the nineteenth century.  This project uses a cultural studies approach to examine the Bunker twins as historical figure, medical specimen, and literary/visual trope. As migrants from Asia, they inhabited a subjugated position in a racially-stratified United States.  However, as anatomically-anomalous subjects who profited from the display of their body, they also assumed class privilege in the prebellum South.  The wide array of cultural productions about Chang and Eng from the nineteenth century to the present indicates that they functioned as rhetorical devices at key moments in history to express ambivalence about the paradoxes and complexities of citizenship and nation building.

Cynthia Wu specializes in Asian American and comparative ethnic cultural studies. Her primary research focuses on the convergences of race and disability in American cultures, and she has secondary interests in the intellectual history of critical race theory and queer theory. She received her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan.

jason young

Jason Young
Associate Professor of History and African-American Studies
University at Buffalo
574 Park Hall
Phone: (716) 645-8422

“To Make the Slave Anew”: Art, History, and the Politics of Authenticity  

This project focuses on an intriguing program of racial uplift and racial representation taken up by both blacks and whites in the early decades of the twentieth century. In describing and documenting the presumed quaint peculiarity of black rural culture in the South, a host of academics, including anthropologists, historians, linguists, ethnographers and others sought not only to capture the history of slaves before the eldest survivors of the system died, but also to recapture the vestiges of “authentic” African elements in black culture at its presumed demise before the onslaught of modernity. In this way, many rural blacks living at the turn of the century came to stand in as surrogates for antebellum slaves while around them raged a virtual culture war about the meaning of race, slavery and representation at the dawn of a new age.

Jason Young specializes in 19th Century U.S. history and slavery. His current research interests focus on the Black Atlantic; U.S. Slave culture and religion; pre-colonial Kongo. He received his Ph.D from University of California, Riverside.


james sullivan

David Gray Chair Library Fellow
James D. Sullivan
Associate Professor of English
Illinois Central College
One College Drive
East Peoria, IL 61635
Phone: (309) 694-5357

“American Poetry Broadsides from the 1970s to the Present”

Unconventional publication formats often bear traces of how people produced, distributed, and consumed them.  Broadsides, therefore, to a greater degree than most book publications, can suggest the cultural milieu in which they have been made, read, and otherwise used as literary or art objects.  As objects for display, they present the poetic text precisely as a thoroughly contingent material artifact in a specific material form that appears in a particular material and historical setting.  It’s these material qualities that offer the traces of use that I’d like to read.  To do this research, of course, I need to go where the things are. I need to read poems and colophons, check versos, take note of paper and ink quality, and examine the printing technique—all things hard or impossible to do via photograph.  Buffalo has one of the largest and most well organized archives of contemporary American poetry broadsides—many thousands of them.

James D. Sullivan teaches courses in literature, creative writing, and composition at Illinois Central College, a community college that serves the area around Peoria, Illinois.  He is author of On the Walls and in the Streets: American Poetry Broadsides from the 1960s and articles on Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Lowell, and employment practices in higher education, with another one forthcoming on M. M. Bakhtin and Stuart Hall.  He received a B.A. from Loyola University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

James Joyce Library Fellow

elizabeth bonapfel
Elizabeth M. Bonapfel
Graduate Student, Department of English
New York University
19 University Place, 5th Floor
New York, NY 10003

“Visual-Verbal Arrangements: Punctuating a Modernist Poetics”

That James Joyce is the twentieth century’s greatest linguistic experimenter is perhaps his defining hallmark as a writer. But what non-linguistic or extra-linguistic strategies does Joyce use to challenge the ontological priority of the word? How do Joyce’s innovations participate in the modernist “crisis of representation”?

My work with the James Joyce Collection at Buffalo is part of my dissertation project on how visual-verbal arrangements—such as punctuation marks, compound words, collage techniques, and the aesthetics of page layout—articulate a form of extra-linguistic materiality and sensory synaesthesia in modernist texts. At Buffalo, I will use the James Joyce Collection to trace the progression of Joyce’s visual signifiers from the dashes and ellipses of Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to the compound words and complex page layout of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. I will examine the collection’s manuscripts, page proofs, first editions, and the prized Finnegans Wake notebooks to better understand how Joyce developed multiple modes of signification. I aim to incorporate my work from the archives at Buffalo into a larger project that explores how the material particularity of visual-verbal arrangements can reshape our understanding of modernist poetics.

Elizabeth Bonapfel is a Ph.D. candidate at New York University.  Her research interests include transatlantic modernism, nineteenth-century literature and culture, rhetoric and poetics, gender studies, visual culture, mass culture, circulation studies, and book history.  She received her B.A. from Haverford College.

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