2019-20 Events

Rural Humanities Showcase

Friday, September 6, 2019
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

Rural Humanities is an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation-supported initiative in public and engaged humanities that uses the tools of the humanities to critically approach, learn from, make visible New York State’s histories, cultures, challenges, and futures.

1:00 p.m. Panel 1

  • Kurt Jordan, Archaeology and Anthropology, Cornell, Reflections on Collaboration with Haudenosaunee Communities: The Townley-Read and White Springs Projects
  • Sturt Manning, Classics, Cornell, Time and Histories in the Rural NE: Radiocarbon, Tree-Rings and Post-Colonial Timeframes and Historical Syntheses 1500 to 1900
  • Scott Peters, Development Sociology, Cornell, Rediscovering and Reconstructing the “People’s College” Ideal
  • Sara L. Warner, Performing & Media Arts, Cornell, and Godfrey L. Simmons, Jr., Performing & Media Arts, Cornell, The Next Storm: A Community-Based Play about the Impact of Climate Change on the Finger Lakes

3:00 p.m. Panel 2

  • Jon McKenzie, English, Cornell, Civic Storytelling in Rural Communities
  • Debra A. Castillo, Comparative Literature and Latina/o Studies Program, Cornell, Latinx Culture Collaborations in our Community
  • Mary Jo Dudley, Cornell Farmworker Program, Why Care About Undocumented Farmworkers?
  • Lyrae Van Clief- Stefanon, Creative Writing and English, Cornell, Thriving Artists in Appalachia: Teaching at Hindman, Witnessing at Berea
  • Caroline Levine, English, Cornell; Anndrea Mathers, English, Tompkins Cortland Community College; and Christian Sisack, English, Onondaga Community College, Community College Collaboration

Future of the Humanities Lecture

Friday, September 13, 2:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

Sara Guyer
Director of the Center for the Humanities at University of Wisconsin, Madison; President of CHCI, the global Consortium for Humanities Centers and Institutes

The Humanities of Testimony, Revisited

The theories of testimony that emerged in the 1980s and 1990s to account for surviving atrocity take on new relevance and meaning in the context of today’s crises of truth. This paper revisits the theory of testimony and its risks in the time of great derangement (Ghosh), pervasive falsehood (Trump), and academic freedom (Derrida), arguing for the enduring possibilities posed by what Geoffrey Hartman called “the humanities of testimony."

This lecture was part of a two-day conference hosted by the Institute for German Cultural Studies, "Re-Imagining the Discipline: German Studies, the Humanities, and the University."

View: Future of the Humanities Lecture

Summer Writing Support at Cornell

Looking for summer writing support? Be sure to check this page each summer. It is updated as new programs for graduate writers are announced by different units at Cornell.

Questions about summer writing support may be sent to the ELSO email account.

Fall Conference

October 18-19, 2020 
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House


Friday, October 18

2:30 p.m. Welcome Lecture

Caroline Levine, David and Kathleen Ryan Professor of Humanities, English, Cornell University
The Humanist’s Guide to a Genuine Sustainability

4:00 p.m. Keynote 1

Benjamin Kunkel, Writer, Co-Founder of n+1
Toward a Marxian Energetics

Saturday, October 19

9:30 a.m. Nuclear Energy and Ruination

  • Lori Khatchadourian, Faculty Fellow; Near Eastern Studies, Cornell University, Life in Ruins: The Vibrant Afterlife of Socialist Modernity
  • Yu-Fang Cho, Society Fellow; English and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies, Miami University of Ohio, Bikini (Re)traces: The Strange Bodies of Transpacific Nuclear Modernity
  • Anindita Banerjee, Comparative Literature, Cornell University, Parabolas

1:00 p.m. Keynote 2

Imre Szeman, University Research Chair and Professor of Communication Arts, University of Waterloo
Eight Principles for a Critical Theory of Energy

3:00 p.m. Animal Energy

  • Athena Kirk, Faculty Fellow; Classics, Cornell University, Brutes to Flutes: Ancient Greek Animal Powers
  • Ariel Ron, Society Fellow; History, Southern Methodist University, King Hay: Horses and Economic Nationalism in America’s Nineteenth-Century Energy Transition
  • Rachel Prentice, Faculty Fellow; Science & Technology Studies, Cornell University, Moving and Balancing Together: Multi-species Sociality and the Senses
View: Fall 2019 Conference

Invited Society Scholars: Cymene Howe & Dominic Boyer

Monday, November 11, 7:00 p.m.
Willard Straight Theater

A film by Cymene Howe & Dominic Boyer
Rice University, Department of Anthropology

Film Screening: Not Ok

Glaciers have been distinctive features of the Icelandic landscape ever since human settlement on the island 1200 years ago. But since the early 20th century Iceland’s 400+ glaciers have been melting steadily, now losing roughly 11 billion tons of ice every year; scientists predict that all of Iceland’s glaciers will be gone by 2200. One of Iceland’s smallest known glaciers is named “Ok.” Not Ok is its story. This is not a tale of spectacular, collapsing ice. Instead, it is a little film about a small glacier on a low mountain--a mountain who has been observing humans for a long time and has a few things to say to us.

Screening Co-sponsored by Cornell Cinema


Wednesday, November 13, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House

Cymene Howe & Dominic Boyer
Rice University, Department of Anthropology

Of Flood and Ice

Our changing cryospheres and hydrospheres promise misery to millions across the planet. But they also reveal forms of material connectivity that could potentially be mobilized in the struggle against climate change and the petroculture that produced it. In this presentation, we juxtapose Cymene Howe’s research on the loss of glaciers in Iceland with Dominic Boyer’s project on Houston area flood victims’ recovery from Hurricane Harvey to explore a concept we call “hydrological globalization:” the sociomaterial connections and cultural impacts that follow from the redistribution of water across the planet.


Jessica Abel     jra259@cornell.edu
Trinity University, BA
Research interests: Modernism, Narratology, Formalism, James Joyce, Hemingway. Dissertation: Teaching Joyce's Ulysses: Laying Foundations for First-Time Readers.

David Aichenbaum     dba55@cornell.edu
Tufts University, BA
Research interests: 18th Century British Literature, Narrative Theory, History of the Novel, 18th Century Moral and Aesthetic Philosophy.

Esmeralda Arrizon-Palomera     ea349@cornell.edu
Loyola-Marymount University, BA

Christina Black     csb244@cornell.edu
Oxford University, MSt; Barnard College, BA
Research interests: 18th c. British literature (especially Swift, Pope, Fielding, and Sterne); Metaphors of digestion (especially appetite, incorporation and waste); Rhetoric; Hermeneutics. Dissertation: How Fielding, Swift (and probably Sterne) train their readers / critics to receive their works through materials and metaphors of appetite, digestion, and waste.

Nicolette Bragg (Job Market Candidate)     nsl35@cornell.edu
Clemson University, BA
Research interests: Contemporary World Literature; Feminism, Sexuality, and Gender Studies; Critical theory. Dissertation: Creature of Theory: The Mother as Figure of Thought.

Michaela Brangan     mjb492@cornell.edu
Cardozo School of Law, JD; University of Washington, BA

Gregory Brazeal     gpb8@cornell.edu
Harvard Law School, JD; Stanford University, BA
Research interests: Law and Literature; Political Theory; American Literature; Modernism

Abram Coetsee     ac2364@cornell.edu
University of California, Berkeley, BA

David Cosca     dmc377@cornell.edu
San Francisco State University, MA; University of California, Berkeley, BA

Verdie Culbreath     vmc47@cornell.edu
Northeastern University, MA; University of Texas at Austin, BA
Research interests: American Literature to 1865; The Civil War; Visual Studies; The History of Photography; Critical Race Studies; Queer Studies; Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Ezra Dan Feldman (Job Market Candidate)     edf25@cornell.edu, website
Cornell University, MFA; Harvard College, BA
Research interests: Narrative Studies, Character, Science Studies, ​Speculative Fiction, Speculative Realism, Creative and Expository Writing. Dissertation: Flat Narratology: Surface, Depth, and Speculation in Contemporary Metafiction, argues for the narrative significance of such objects as phrases, frames, and events on a par with character, setting, and plot.

Jane Glaubman     jg835@cornell.edu
University of California, Berkeley, ABD Eng. Lit.; Northeastern University, BA

Jesse Goldberg (Job Market Candidate)     jag525@cornell.edu, website
SUNY Geneseo, BA
Research interests: Black studies; American studies; African American literature (19th century to present); performance studies; race, law, policing, and carcerality studies; Black feminist theory; queer of color critique; temporality. Dissertation: The Excessive Present of Slavery: Between Ethics and Law in Literature and Performance.

Amber Harding     aeh238@cornell.edu, website
Colgate University, BA
Research interests: Modernism, 20th Century Literature, Narrative Theory, Architecture and Space in Literature, Speculative Fiction.

James Ingoldsby     jpi4@cornell.edu
University of Sussex, MA; Vassar College, BA
Research interests: 20th Century and Contemporary American Poetry, African American Literature, Marxist Literary Theory.

Molly Katz     mrk247@cornell.edu
Colorado College, BA

Matthew Kibbee     mk282@cornell.edu
Tufts University, MA; University of Chicago, BA

Jungmin Kim     jk2236@cornell.edu
University at Buffalo, MA; University at Buffalo, BA

Lena Krian     lk397@cornell.edu
University of Mainz, MA
Research interests: Contemporary American Literature (with a focus on indigenous literatures, spatial studies, settler colonialism, and gender studies). Dissertation: The Prison of My Skin: Confinement and Relationality in Contemporary Native American Literature focuses on confined spaces: the boarding school, the prison, the reservation, and the nation.

Ji Hyun Lee     jl479@cornell.edu, website
New York University, MA; Brown University, BA
Research interests: 20th- and 21st-century American and British literature; Literary criticism and theory; Trauma studies; Holocaust studies; Apocalyptic literature; Science fiction; African American literature; Modernism and postmodernism. Dissertation: Science Fiction and Trauma: The Apocalyptic Tradition since World War I explores the relationship between science fiction and the conceptualization of trauma by 1) articulating how traumatic events are at the heart of science fiction and 2) examining the entanglement between the emergence of science fiction and the development of the science of traumatic experience.

Matthew McConnell (Job Market Candidate)     mcm289@cornell.edu
Cornell University, PhD; University of Tulsa, BA

Kenneth Morrison     kem272@cornell.edu
Western KY University, MA; Duke University, BA

Kaylin O'Dell (Job Market Candidate)     kam448@cornell.edu
Vassar College, BA
Research interests: medieval literature (with a focus on theories of reading, performance, and rhetoric in Anglo-Saxon England). Dissertation: Theatre of the Mind: Performance and Private Reading in Anglo-Saxon England, studies the relationship between performance, textuality, and private reading—specifically, how medieval texts act as spiritual guides or scripts that embed themselves within the mind, affecting and instructing the devotional experience.

Nasrin Olla     no77@cornell.edu
University of Cape Town, BA

Zachary Price     zbp3@cornell.edu, website
University of Chicago, BA
Research interests: Gender and Sexuality, Cinema Studies, Horror, Queer Theory. Dissertation: focuses on disease narratives in 21st century cinema.

Nancy Quintanilla (Job Market Candidate)     nq28@cornell.edu
University of California-Irvine, BA

Daniel Radus     dmr55@cornell.edu
Penn State, MA; Cornell University, BA

Jonathan Reinhardt     jgr93@cornell.edu
University of Chicago, MS; Loyola University of Chicago, BA

Emily Rials (Job Market Candidate)     ekr34@cornell.edu
Stanford University, BA

Mee-Ju Ro     mr846@cornell.edu
University of Toronto, MA; Queen's University, BAH

Aaron Rosenberg     adr64@cornell.edu
Cornell University, PhD; Oxford, MSt; Duke University, BA

Sara Schlemm     sjs428@cornell.edu
Yale University, BA

Ben Tam     yt344@cornell.edu
Georgetown University, MA; University of Hong Kong, BA

Ruoji Tang (Job Market Candidate)     rt338@cornell.edu
University of California, Berkeley, BA
Research interests: British and European Romanticism, Eighteenth and Nineteenth-Century British Literature, Poetics, Aesthetics, Environmental Criticism. Dissertation: Romanticism and the Persistence of Nature argues for the environmentalist legacy of a "rhetoric of nature" drawn from British Romanticism that challenges the globalizing tendencies of contemporary ecological thought.

Katherine Lonsdale Waller     klw225@cornell.edu
McGill University, MA; Rice University, BA

Mariam Wassif     mlw255@cornell.edu
University of Georgia; BA

Claire Whitenack (Job Market Candidate)      clw227@cornell.edu
University of Oregon, MFA; University of Cambridge, MPhil; University of Virginia, BA
Research interests: Old English Literature; The History of Science (especially medicine); Medieval Prognostics, Regimens, and Computi; Verse in Medieval Medical Texts.

PhD: Year Three

Mariana Alarcon     ma888@cornell.edu
Universtiy of Colorado, Boulder, MA; Southern Methodist University, BA

Elizabeth Alexander     ema86@cornell.edu, website
Amherst College, BA
Research interests: Queer literature, Black literature, Afrofuturism/speculative blackness.

Kristen Angierski     kna4@cornell.edu
SUNY Buffalo, MA; Cornell University, BA
Research interests: Ecocriticism and Ecofeminism, Animal Studies, the Anthropocene, "Cli-Fi" (literary fiction about climate change), Environmental Law, Water Scarcity.

Marquis Bey     mb2444@cornell.edu, website
Lebanon Valley College, BA
Research interests: Black Feminist Theorizing, Critical Theory, Transgender Studies, 21st Century African American Literature.

Gabriella Friedman     gf258@cornell.edu
Whitman College, BA
Research interests: 20th and 21st American Literature, African American Literature, Native American Literature, Speculative Fiction, Feminist and Gender Studies, Ghosts and Spectrality.

Amelia Hall     alh294@cornell.edu
Georgetown University, BA
Research interests: Nineteenth Century British Literature, Digital Humanities, History and Theory of the Novel, Science and Literature, Literary Formalism, Religion.

Matthew Kilbane     mk2327@cornell.edu
Purdue University, MFA; Oberlin College, BA
Research interests: Twentieth-century American poetry, Lyric, Technology and literature, Popular song.

Thom May     tjm295@cornell.edu
Cambridge University, MPhil; University of Warwick, BA

Brianna Thompson     bt298@cornell.edu
University of Virginia, MA; University of Nevada, Reno, BA

Katherine Thorsteinson     klt55@cornell.edu
University of Manitoba, MA; University of Toronto, BA

Amber Vasquez     avv23@cornell.edu
California State University, Los Angeles, MA; California State University, San Bernardino, BA

Invited Society Scholar: Brent Edwards


Thursday, March 19, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A. D. White House

Brent Edwards
Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University

Black Radicalism and the Archive: Inventories of Fire

What would it mean to consider archiving (documentation, classification, preservation) not as passive and retrospective, but instead as interventionist and aspirational—an integral component of black radical practice? This lecture explores this question through the example of civil rights activist James Forman's extensive research in the late 1960s for his unfinished biography of Frantz Fanon.

4.13.21 | Student Support in Response to Trauma

I hope you’ll join me to celebrate the life of our precious community member, first-year student Shawn West, who passed away last week. Here is an excerpt about this wonderful young man from Saturday's Cornell Daily Sun article:

SHAWN WEST, a student in the College of Arts and Sciences, was from New York City. According to Cornell Vice President Ryan Lombardi, he was a promising young computer coder, who enjoyed developing video games, refurbishing vintage game consoles and was interested in the human impacts of technology and the relationships between users and devices. A resident of Ujamaa, a multi-year residential community for Black Cornellians, he was involved in several clubs and activities on campus, including the Office of Spirituality and Meaning-Making, the Skateboarding Club and Zen Meditation at Cornell. He also enjoyed photography and composing poetry on an old Royal typewriter. 

Read more about Shawn West: First-Year Student Remembered as an ‘Engineer Poet’ and Compassionate Leader

Many of our students are grieving, particularly if they personally knew Shawn or have recently lost someone dear to them. I know that I am struggling to find ways to process my feelings of grief and sorrow. We have lost so many and so much this year.

Please think about the ways in which you might support your FWS students right now -- perhaps by excusing absences, extending deadlines, canceling or making optional assignments, or giving students time during class to conduct research or draft essays.

Campus-wide trauma-informed pedagogical responses like these, together with our compassion and flexibility can help lift students up and make it possible for them to successfully and more comfortably complete this ever-challenging semester.

Consider sharing with students, in an email or Canvas post, this document made by FWS student Katie Gorton. Her handout is a well-designed, two-page compilation of many of Cornell’s essential wellness resources: Cornell Wellness Resources Guide by Katie Gorton

If you feel that any of your students need additional support, please read for guidance the following repost from September 28, 2020 in which my colleague, FWS Director David Faulkner, offers advice on how to respond to students of concern.

Tracy Hamler Carrick

Responding to Students of Concern (repost from 9.28.20)

Under normal conditions, FWS instructors often are in the best position to notice and respond to the signs of a student in distress: spotty attendance, subdued or evasive affect, obvious sleep deprivation, a sharp decline in the quality of work or contribution. Students are a little more likely to open up to an instructor who knows their name and sees them as an individual in a small, intimate seminar.

Pandemic conditions multiply the stressors; the online environment makes these signs harder to detect—Zoom flattens our intersubjectivity—and makes campus resources harder to access. In person, masks and distancing have similar effects.

There are no easy solutions, but here are a few starting points:

  1. Recognize that you are not alone, any more than is the student. None of us is obligated or even qualified to solve all students’ problems.  We know that it is sometimes uncertain whom to contact. The answer is, anyone. Reach out to anyone for help: your adviser or course leader, your department chair, a member of the Knight Institute faculty. There are no inappropriate moves here. Follow this link to The Indispensable Reference for Teachers of First-Year Writing Seminars where we offer some protocols and procedures to follow if you notice a student who seems to be in trouble: Students of Concern: Protocols and Procedures.
  2. Contact Advising Deans sooner rather than later if a student continues to miss class sessions and deadlines. Advising deans can only direct students to support services and/or provide guidance about enrollment if they know what is going on. Keep the University drop deadline in mind. Students can drop courses up until April 5, 2021 to drop courses without a W appearing on their transcripts.
  3. Without other evidence or context, don’t automatically assume that a student who turns off video in Zoom meetings is in distress. (See separate posts here on “video on/off” policies.
  4. Reaching out regularly to students need not be either intrusive or overly time-consuming, and it’s just good pedagogy in online teaching. A quick e-mail check-in or a 10-minute Zoom meeting, on a personal rather than teacherly note, can provide insight to you and a lifeline for a student.
  5. If these invitations are refused or you sense deeper issues at stake, you will always find a sensible, reliable first resource in contacting the advising/student services office in the student’s college. If they are struggling in your seminar, they are likely struggling elsewhere (in larger, more impersonal classes), and it remains the case that you will have been the first to notice. The advising office is best positioned to see the larger picture and help the student holistically, with both academic and emotional support. You will find the student’s college listed in your course roster; the contact information for student services in each college can be found here: Students of Concern: College Contacts.  
  6. You should also submit a confidential Student of Concern/Early Intervention Report. You can access this form from your Canvas Dashboard by selecting the ? at the bottom of the left bar menu.  When the "Help" pop-up window appears, select "Students of Concern" at the bottom of the menu. 
  7. Cornell Health has developed several online resources for instructors:

As always, please do not hesitate to reach out to me, David Faulkner, at df259@cornell.edu, or to any member of the Knight Institute faculty.

David Faulkner

Invitational Lecture: Noliwe Rooks


Wednesday, April 22, 4:30 p.m.
Guerlac Room, A. D. White House

Noliwe Rooks
Cornell University Director of American Studies, Professor of Africana Studies & FGSS

“Legalize it?”: A Story of Cannabis, Race, Global Capital and Civil Wrongs

As Cannabis legalization efforts expand across the United States, Black elected officials and grassroots activists are leading the fight to have legalization and regulation tied to reparation efforts aimed at benefitting those who are behind bars, or have convictions for selling the now, “somewhat “legal drug. One unintended result is that in many states, segregated Black communities with high levels of poverty, instead of benefitting from the promised influx of jobs, capital and entrepreneurial opportunity, have become a means for venture capitalists, international organized crime syndicates, and police departments (who are expanding their arrests of Black people participating in the still existent underground cannabis market) to earn billions. Using a Public Humanities/Black Studies approach, this talk will look at the underside of cannabis legalization efforts.

Spring Fellows' Workshop


Friday, April 10, 2020
Guerlac Room, A.D. White House


Exploring the 2019-20 theme, Energy, with panel presentations by Society for the Humanities Fellows:

  • Willie Hiatt
  • Alena J. Williams
  • Dana E. Powell
  • James Redfield
  • Erin Soros
  • Hannah LeBlanc
  • Catherine M. Appert
  • Joan Lubin
  • Alexandra Dalferro
  • Mary Grace Albanese
  • Jon Mendia