Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Megan Quigley

My classes at Villanova focus on literary modernism, 20th-century British and Irish Fiction, and the relationship between philosophy and fiction. I am currently fascinated by the fact that James Joyce thought it was a good idea to translate a section of Finnegans Wake into Basic English, C. K. Ogden's 'simplified' English language, and the translation actually appeared in 1932. How could a language with only 850 words, mostly nouns, designed to facilitate international communication and favored by Winston Churchill and Henry Ford, possibly translate Joyce's puns and word-play? My book manuscript, entitled Modernist Fiction & Vagueness, which examines the intertwined history of 20th-century British fiction and philosophy, grapples with this translation, as one of many works where philosophical and literary ideas about language's possible precision collide. I focus on the general modernist dream of precision in figures such as Bertrand Russell, Ezra Pound and James Joyce as well as its converse, the praise of the 'vague,' the blur, and the fuzzy, in writers stretching from William and Henry James, to Virginia Woolf, Ludwig Wittgenstein and T. S. Eliot.
My work has appeared in The Cambridge Companion to European Modernism, Modernism / Modernity, Philosophy and Literature, and the James Joyce Quarterly. In 2011-12, I was at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin to look at the James Joyce Papers. and in Spring 2013 I will be a fellow at the Huntington Library in Los Angeles. In July 2013, I will be lecturing at the T. S. Eliot International Summer School in London.

Evan Radcliffe

Evan Radcliffe reading the Times Literary Supplement while
traveling in Brazil, where he grew up.
My field is Romantic literature, and my main focus is on the relation of this literature to the controversies around the French Revolution—in particular, the ways in which Romantic literature reflects and responds to the political and moral-philosophical debates of the 1790s, debates about such topics as patriotism, the value of local affections, the ideal of universal benevolence, and the ways in which traditions enable or constrict moral choices. The essay on which I am currently working grows out of a conference presentation on Wordsworth’s play The Borderers. I contend that although supporters of the French Revolution attempted to enlist both justice and sympathy for their cause, they could not escape the conflicts between the two ideals that earlier moral philosophers first outlined. These conflicts, I argue, were made especially pressing by the way that the constant presence of vengeance in France undermined ideas about justice. I am pursuing how, by exploring these issues in The Borderers, Wordsworth sets up his own future stance as a narrative poet, a stance that is not only specifically literary but also has significant affinities with the ways in which modern philosophers discuss the relations between acting and refraining from action, and between doing and allowing harm.

Much of my scholarship considers questions of narrative, questions that are also becoming more important in my teaching. Along with Romantic literature I teach Greek classical literature, and my interest in literature in relation to moral philosophy has (together with the collaboration between the English department and Villanova Law School in hosting two Law and Literature conferences) resulted in my regularly teaching a session on literature, narrative, and ethics in a course at the Law School.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Lisa Sewell

My focus is on contemporary poetry and poetics, both as a scholar and practitioner. In the graduate program, I teach courses on 20th century poetry movements, contemporary poetry, contemporary women poets, critical theory, and feminist theory. At the undergraduate level, I regularly teach poetry writing and introduction to creative writing. I have published critical essays on a number of contemporary poets including Louise Glück, Brenda Hillman, and Frank Bidart, and I recently contributed chapters to The Cambridge Companion to Post-1945 American Poetry, A Companion to Poetic Genre, and the Dictionary of Literary Biography. I am co-editor, with Claudia Rankine, of two essay collections that focus on 21st century North American poets and we are currently at work on a third. My most recent critical interests center on the work of contemporary poet Martha Ronk in the context of ecopoetics – an area I am just starting to explore.

I have also published two full-length collections and a chapbook of poetry, which won the Keystone Award. My poems have appeared in journals such as the Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Ploughshares, Paris Review and most recently, Harvard Review and Drunken Boat (an on-line journal). I have also received grants and awards for my work, including a Leeway Foundation grant and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. I just completed the manuscript for my third book of poems and hope to begin work on two more projects in the coming months: a collection of poems about endangered species and a mixed-genre memoir.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Lauren Shohet

My fields of teaching and research interest are early-modern poetry and drama (especially in England, and especially Shakespeare and Milton); adaptation studies, the history of material texts, and genre studies. My current work on these topics has taken me into ecocriticism, digital humanities, and translation theory as well. Recently, I’ve written on early-modern women’s elegy, human-non-human networks in Renaissance pastoral, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials in relation to Paradise Lost, and “You-Tube and the Idea of an Archive.” I published Reading Masques: the English Masque and Public Culture in the Seventeenth Century with Oxford University Press in 2010. I recently presented a paper on smell in Paradise Lost, completed an article (in French) on polychronicity in Shakespeare’s Pericles and Mary Wroth’s Urania, and I’m editing an Othello i-pad app for Luminary Shakespeare.

I’m drawn to study and teach literature because it sponsors conversations: between the present and the past, between forms (like sonnets) and historical events (like revolutions), between scholarly analysis and popular debate, between selves and others, between "what" and "what if." At our presently exciting but baffling moment of rapid technological and cultural change, I am interested in exploring ways that canonical texts of English literature and well honed tools of literary and cultural analysis can offer archives, tool boxes, and inspirations for considering vital questions of interest beyond the field, from perspectives unique to the field.

Deborah Thomas

Thomas takes a break after hiking to the putative site of Wuthering Heights (in Brontë country, near Haworth, England) and makes a new friend.

My specialty is the nineteenth-century British novel, with particular attention to Dickens, Thackeray, and women writers of this era. However, I’m generally interested in all aspects of Victorian literature and culture. My current major project is a book-length study of archaeology and Victorian fiction, in which I’m exploring affinities between several major Victorian novels and the emerging field of archaeology—a subject that fascinated the Victorians, although their ideas tended to be filtered through their own cultural preconceptions. For example, one chapter of this book-in-progress discusses the presence and recurrence of certain famous ancient Assyrian sculptures in Victorian popular culture and literature, including some illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

I’m the author of three previous books—Dickens and the Short Story, Thackeray and Slavery, and “Hard Times”: A Fable of Fragmentation and Wholeness—as well as editor of a fourth book, Charles Dickens: Selected Short Fiction. More recently, I’ve published on subjects ranging from a hugely popular mid-nineteenth-century account of the excavation of what was believed to be the long-buried but once great Assyrian city of Nineveh to Margaret Atwood’s late twentieth-century dystopia, The Handmaid’s Tale.