photo (1)Natasha Barnes (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Associate Professor of African American Studies and English

Natasha Barnes is an associate professor in the departments of English and African American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Her first book, Cultural Conundrums: Race, Gender, Nation and the Making of Caribbean Cultural Politics (2006) published by the University of Michigan Press, attempts to historicize the manner in which “the popular” has come to occupy a central position in the Caribbean postcolonial imaginary.  She has held fellowships at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and Cornell University’s Society for the Humanities. In 2009, she was awarded the Cox Family Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the University of Colorado, Boulder.  Professor Barnes is the humanities area editor of the second edition of Gale’s Encyclopedia of Race and Racism (2013) and has been awarded a Silver Circle Award for Teaching Excellence in 2009. In 2012-3, she was awarded a fellowship at UIC’s Institute for the Humanities.  Of late her work with grassroots memorial community organizations has led her to volunteer instruction at Stateville Prison where she taught a semester-long course on Richard Wright in 2014.

She is currently writing a book about at the exhibition history of the James Allen/John Littlefield “Without Sanctuary” lynching photography collection and has published articles in Small Axe, Researches in African Literatures and the Journal of American History.

Professor Barnes received a BA in English Literature from York University
in Ontario, Canada; an MA in English Literature from York University,
Ontario and a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University
of Michigan.

covielloPeter Coviello (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Professor of English

Peter Coviello is Professor of English, specializing in American literature and queer studies. He received his BA from Northwestern University, and his MA and PhD from Cornell. From 1998 to 2014 he taught at Bowdoin College, where he served as Chair of the departments of English, Africana Studies, and Gay and Lesbian Studies. He is the editor of Walt Whitman’s Memoranda During the War (Oxford 2004) and the author ofIntimacy in America: Dreams of Affiliation in Antebellum Literature (Minnesota 2005) andTomorrow’s Parties: Sex and the Untimely in Nineteenth-Century America (NYU 2013), a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in LGBT Studies and Honorable Mention for the Alan Bray Memorial Book Prize from the MLA’s GL/Q Caucus. With Jared Hickman he co-edited a 2014 special issue of American Literature entitled “After the Postsecular.”

He has written about Walt Whitman, the history of sexuality, queer children, 18th- and 19th-century American literature, Mormon polygamy, stepparenthood, pop music, and much besides. This work has appeared in PMLA, American Literature, ELH, GLQ, and Raritan, as well as in venues like the LA Review of Books, Avidly, Frieze, and The Believer.

Patrick Jagoda 2012 Patrick Jagoda (University of Chicago)
Assistant Professor of English

Patrick Jagoda is an assistant professor of English at the University of Chicago. He is co-editor of the journal Critical Inquiry and co-founder of the Game Changer Chicago Design Lab. His first book, Network Aesthetics (University of Chicago Press, 2016), explores how literature, films, television, videogames, and digital media art alter human experiences with interconnected life in the early twenty-first century. He has also co-edited two journal special issues: “New Media and American Literature” for American Literature and “Comics and Media” for Critical Inquiry. He is currently at work on a book project about experimental games. For more information, see: http://patrickjagoda.com/.

SpigelLynnLynn Spigel (Northwestern University)
Frances Willard Professor of Screen Cultures

Lynn Spigel is author of Make Room for TV: Television and the Family Ideal in Postwar America;Welcome to the Dreamhouse: Popular Media and Postwar Suburbs; TV By Design: Modern Art and the Rise of Network Television; and has edited numerous volumes including Television after TV: Essays on a Medium in Transition. She is the book series editor for the Console-ing Passion book series at Duke University Press. She writes and teaches about the cultural history of media and media audiences, with special focus on issues of gender, technology, and media’s relation to everyday life.

Moderator:

JulieOrlemanskipicJulie Orlemanski (University of Chicago)
Assistant Professor of English

I teach and write about texts from the late Middle Ages, a period that organized its categories of discourse very differently than we do today. I am fascinated by how medieval literature, science, and religion sometimes overlapped and at other times assumed sharp distinctions, as separate and contrasting modes of knowledge. All of my research seeks to respond to what is distinctive in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century constellations of discourse. In practice, this also demands thinking about how we come to know the past. Hence, I have a strong interest in the theory and practice of hermeneutics, historicism, criticism, and other forms of knowledge production in the humanities.

My current book project, Symptomatic Subjects: Bodies, Signs, and Narratives in Late Medieval England, investigates the interpretation of bodily signs in the later Middle Ages. During this period – between the appearance of the Black Death and the arrival of the printing press – medical writing in Middle English increased remarkably. Medicine joined other discourses to create new conditions of “corporeal literacy” in England: astrological, environmental, dietetic, and hereditary factors mingled with Christian understandings of demonic and divine influence to explain why certain bodies looked and behaved the way they did. In this context, medieval thinkers developed increasingly complex interpretations of bodily signs. Middle English writers drew on the newly accessible vocabulary of the physical body and its ailments to depict “symptomatic subjects,” or individuals struggling to control and explain their own bodies. Poets like Geoffrey Chaucer, Thomas Hoccleve, and Robert Henryson and prose writers like Margery Kempe showed subjectivity taking shape in the narrative interplay between symptoms and speech-acts, flesh and language. In narrating how actions and identities are determined by external causes, they produced accounts of the intricately “distributed” nature of human agency.

I am also beginning work on a new project, tentatively entitled Things Without Faces: Remediation and Medieval Allegory. In it, I redescribe the workings of personification allegory (and other tropes of anthropomorphism, like apostrophe, ethopoeia, and sermocinatio) through the concepts of media theory. To what effect and what end, I ask, are “things without faces” – collectivities, objects, institutions, and abstractions – “remediated” through human bodies? If, according to Marshall McLuhan, the medium is the message, and “the message of any medium is the change of scale or pattern that [the medium] introduces,” then what is the message, as it were, of personification? Through readings of Boethius, Martianus Capella, Bernard of Clairvaux, Jean de Meun, William Langland, and Chaucer, I argue that figuration is productively understood as a communication technology shaped for the reader’s sensorium and imagination, and shaping these in turn. Things Without Faces explores the ways in which allegory organizes the interplay of perceptive and figurative corporealities, or the relationship between bodies as aesthetic receptors and bodies as formed content.