American Literature

Four amazing events--attend them all!

Fordham's English Department is sponsoring four fabulous events in the next nine days--attend them all! 

Here's the basic information--you can see details on the posters

  • Wednesday April 11, 5pm, in Keating First (RH), Haben Girma will present the first Fordham Distinguished Lecture on Disability: "Disability & Innovation:  The Universal Benefits of Inclusion."
  • Friday April 13, 4pm, in Law School Room 3-09 (LC), Kyla Wazana Tompkins will present a lecture titled "So Moved: Ferment, Jelly, Intoxication, Rot." 
  • Monday, April 16, 5pm, in Pope Auditorium (LC), the Reid Family Writers of Color Reading Series presents Rigoberto González, author of Autobiography of My Hungers.
  • Thursday, April 19, 5:30pm, in Law School Room 1-01, Rebecca Wanzo will give a talk titled "Black Panther: 'Post'-Civil-Rights Hero in Revolutionary Times."

English Faculty Receive Fellowships

Congratulations to English Department faculty members who have been awarded Fordham Faculty Fellowships! 

Please consider a tax-deductible donation to the Lauer Scholarship

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In her 42 years of teaching at Fordham, Professor Kristin Lauer fostered the varied aspirations of her legions of devoted students--from dancers to those in law and law enforcement, from social workers to professional writers--by sharing her passionate belief in the great usefulness to life of writing well and studying the examples of great writers.

This scholarship will annually draw attention to a student who has embraced the major with a demonstrated sense of direction and purpose. She might have an internship where her music reviews are already appearing on-line.  He might be volunteering as a tutor of English at a local school and have begun work toward a teaching degree.  She may have written an account of her experience working in a hospital, or a lab, or aan animal preserve on her way to applying for a Fulbright or other prestigious fellowship. In putting a spotlight on examples like these (drawn from actual students), this prize will inspire majors and potential majors to connect their work in the classroom and the library with their ambitions in the world beyond.

Honoring Kris’s inspiring legacy, this scholarship looks to the future by recognizing and supporting students who see the English major as integral to a directed and meaningful life.

 

In honor of Professor Kristin O. Lauer's legacy, an anonymous donor will double all gifts, up to $100,000! For every $1 given, this generous donor will contribute $2 to the campaign! To donate,  please go to https://www.givecampus.com/schools/FordhamUniversity/kristin-o-lauer-scholarship

Will Fenton and the Digital Paxton Archive

In the latest issue of Common-place: The Journal of Early American Life (17.4), Fordham English doctoral candidate Will Fenton discusses his digital humanities project, the Digital Paxton (digitalpaxton.org), a digital archive, scholarly edition, and teaching platform dedicated to Pennsylvania's first major pamphlet.

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Framing his project in terms of the print edition on which scholars have relied for almost 60 years (John Raine Dunbar's The Paxton Papers), Will discusses how the digital supports a more capacious--and less definitive--critical edition: "Tallying 400 pages, The Paxton Papers is already a formidable print edition, and one which continues to support research. But what else might we choose to include in twenty-first-century Paxton Papers? What if we weren’t bound, as Dunbar was, by the constraints of the codex format? The answer may not be a definitive edition for the Paxton event, so much as a tool with which contributors may magnify and telescope records, juxtapose them against one another, read them against contexts, and discover new ways of looking at—and beyond—the 1764 pamphlet war." Visit Common-place to read the piece, accompanied by various images from the Digital Paxton archive.

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Ph.D. Student Jamie Bolker on "Navigation in the Age of Robinson Crusoe"

"Since electronically assisted navigation over land and sea (and space) has become the norm," writes Fordham English Ph.D. candidate Jamie Bolker, "it is easy to forget how difficult traveling from point A to B was in centuries past." In fact, Bolker continues, "getting lost at sea was such a tremendous problem for the British Empire in the eighteenth century that navigational struggles inspired government intervention and new forms of literature." 

Bolker received a research fellowship at the Phillips Library of the Peabody Essex Museum for work on her dissertation. While examining the library’s copy of a large English sea atlas she found that the book’s eighteenth-century owner, a sea-captain himself, had scrawled the words "Robinson Cruso" in the back pages, and then a few pages later had signed his own name followed by “Hon. Robinson Late of Salem.” This is only one example Bolker has found in support of her hypotheses that “literary and navigational practices” were complexly “intertwined…in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world,” and that “eighteenth-century British American sailors engaged with contemporary literature” in rich and interesting ways. Her blog post on the topic, originally published on the library's website, highlights Bolker’s discoveries during her fellowship. 

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At Fordham, Bolker is working on her dissertation: “Lost and Found: Wayfinding in Early American Literature.” The dissertation, building on the insights of her article, considers how getting physically lost shaped notions of individual identity from 1704-1854, a period in which selfhood was shifting from Puritan notions of wilderness as inimical toward Transcendentalist ideals of finding oneself in nature.  Each chapter centers on figures whose identities were made or unmade throughout their journeys, such as lone female travelers, shipwrecked adventurers, frontiersmen, fugitive slaves, and land surveyors. Bolker has received research fellowships from Fordham University, the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture, Phillips Library, and the Winterthur Museum and Library. In spring 2017 she will complete a residential Dissertation Fellowship at the Winterthur in Delaware. 

 

Rebecca Sanchez's Book Profiled in Inside Fordham

Inside Fordham today published an article profiling Fordham English faculty member Rebecca Sanchez's new book from NYU Press, Deafening Modernism: Embodied Language and Visual Poetics in American Literature. In her book, Sanchez, says, “I wanted to make good on the claims that disability studies has always been making....to think about the relationship between bodies and language, but where there’s no obviously disabled character as the subject.” 

Deafening Modernism treats modernist poetry by Hart Crane, short stories by Sherwood Anderson, films by Charlie Chaplin, and others. Sanchez locates these texts' experiments with language and communication in relation to contemporaneous panics in the U.S., anxiety over "the fact that we had such a heterogenous citizenry." "There was a desire," she argues, "for a language that a lot of people were calling 'American.' The language had to be standardized and people's bodies had to look a certain way." In contrast, a film like Chaplin's Modern Times argues "that you don’t have to speak or communicate normatively to tell a story that you can do with your body,” she said. “There are other ways to pass information, and that was hugely relevant to what was going on in deaf education at the time, where people argued that you have to learn to speak.”

For a fuller account of Professor Sanchez's compelling argument in Deafening Modernism, read the article by Tom Stoelker in Inside Fordham